Thursday, December 18, 2008

Finding Investors

There is no magic formula to finding money for an independent film. Even the established financiers look to wealthy individuals or companies to open up their pocketbooks and back their movies. For every film being made, someone had to pitch a money source in order to secure the financing. This idea of having to go out and hit up people for money can make even the most outgoing individual weak in the knees. I won't sugarcoat it. It's not easy and a lot has to do with finding the right investor at the right time. And it means hitting up a lot of dead ends before finding an interested party.

Your passion for your film being made will help carry you through the process. You need to feel so compelled about getting your film made that you ignore your weak knees and approach those wealthy people that you feel should be able and open to investing in your film. You may be saying to yourself, I don't know any wealthy people. That may be true, but you may have some friends or friends of friends who do. Don't be afraid to ask around. And don't be afraid to mention you are a filmmaker when you meet a wealthy person and let them know you are always looking for investors for your projects. You never know when or where you will find a lead to an investor interested in movies. 

To date, every film that I have produced has been backed by private equity. Sure, I hit up all of the established studios, mini-majors and financiers at the same time. However, I have been able to find the private money to back the film before finding studio funds. I decided I wasn't willing to let my fate be in the hands of the film companies that have thousands of projects banging down their doors. I decided it was worth it to me to go out of my comfort zone and approach wealthy individuals for my production budgets. That's not to say I wouldn't welcome the day a studio called and gave me a greenlight. In fact, I pray for that day. But until that day comes, I will keep on sussing out and approaching people with money.

My advice to a filmmaker thinking of approaching private investors with their film would be to start small. You may even want to do a short film first. Then make a film for less than $100k. Then one for less than a million. Work your way up to the million plus budgets over time. This way you will have the experience that will help you to ensure your investors make their money back. One of the biggest problems we are seeing in independent film is that billions of dollars are being used to make films each year and a large chunk of these investment dollars are not being made back. That means this industry is losing millions each year. And how can we sustain a thriving independent film industry when the amount of money being gained by the industry pales in comparison to the amount being lost?

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