Thursday, May 14, 2009

Do People Really Make Movies on Credit Cards?

Yes. Should they? No. Will they continue to? Yes. Have I? Partially. 

Credit cards are an evil component of filmmaking. It's very easy to get low on cash when making a film and then start throwing the credit card around to pick up the slack. The next thing you know, you've spent thousands and thousands of dollars on your little indie film and it's all on your personal credit. 

Unfortunately, credit is not free money. It does need to get paid back. And when your film is over, you may find that you may never pay off that credit from the sale of your film. So when you go to use that credit card during the making of your film, make sure you are prepared to pay that card off from your personal funds. 

I know of success stories where filmmakers put hundreds of thousands of dollars on credit cards to make their films and they were able to pay off the credit cards from the sale of the film. However, I know many more stories of filmmakers leveraging their homes and using their credit cards and never even making a dent in that debt from their films. It's a huge gamble to use your own credit and expect the film to pay it off. Huge gamble! Did I just say Huge Gamble? Yes.

When you use a credit card on your film, you need to assume that you will have to personally pay off the debt (which is actually more likely to happen). Consider it a miracle if your film pays off your credit card expenditures. 

That being said, try your best to not use your own personal credit cards on filmmaking. It's hard enough to survive as an independent filmmaker, much less having to pay off a film that is collecting dust on your bookshelf. 

Yes, I have used credit cards to pick up the slack on my films. BUT, I do expect to be the one to pay off the bill. So before I plunk down my own personal credit, I ask myself if I am willing to cover that expense. If so, I do it. If not, I don't. It comes down to making a choice and living with the consequences. 

Producers are the go-to money people but if you don't have it, speak up. Don't just pick up the tab because you are the producer. This is where smart pre-planning and budgeting comes into play. Make sure you have enough money to get you through production and if you run out, have a plan for finding more. Fortify yourself with a million back-up plans that aren't your own credit cards. 

Remember, you are in this for the long haul. You don't want to go broke from your first film or you may never achieve your goal of being an independent producer. We've all been there and the temptation is strong to just whip out the credit card, but stop and really think about what that means for your future. 

No comments: