Top Tips from FilmProposals.com
Finding film investors and financing is likely the biggest challenge faced by most first-time and experienced independent filmmakers alike. Becoming knowledgeable about film financing now will make financing faster and easier and allow you more control over your projects throughout your filmmaking career.
Many thanks to Melissa, author of FilmProposals.com, for her
top film investor tips. FilmProposals.com focuses on financing of narrative
films, however many of the lessons can be applied to documentary funding
especially for those choosing an “investment model” of raising funds vs. a
1) What are the top struggles of filmmakers who visit your site?
Finding film financing. Period. Whether it's film investors,
grants, prize money, crowd-funding or other funding, finding the money that can
turn their dreams into reality is the number one challenge of our site
2) What is your advice to help filmmakers seeking funding?
We change the financing story they tell themselves. Many filmmakers find us by doing a web search for "film investors," which is completely the wrong approach. We have never once seen anyone find film financing from someone’s online list of film investors, which doesn't exist, and emailing them blindly. They put so much time and effort into their script, cast, crew, etc but then think they will just find a list of film investors somewhere on the internet and the film financing will take care of itself because their project is so much better than the other 1000's of potential filmmakers out there.
This could not be further from the truth. If you can't tell
your financing story well, then no investor will trust you can tell your film
story either. If you can't do it, find someone who can, because, again, not
doing it says you don't have the experience to hire the right people on your
team, which also reflects on your abilities as a filmmaker.
3) What is the #1 mistake filmmakers make when approaching potential film investors?
They ask for what they want, rather than offer the film investor something. We get dozens of emails per week, all of which say something along the lines of "I need $XXX" or "I want to make a film and need $XX" or "I have a great idea and need $XX." They all read the same to FilmProposals...and the answer is, "So What? What's in it for me?" Nothing in those sentences compels us to hit the reply button.
If your initial approach to film investors doesn't start with something like, "We are seeking investors for an amazing new comedy and believe we can offer a 25% Return on Investment, on a $100K investment, with positive cash flow starting as soon as 6 months from the release date," game over. Why would anyone even bother to respond to you? What makes your request stand out from all the others? Even with crowd-funding, which will get you donations, and not investments, the best campaigns offer the donor something. It may not be an ROI (Return on Investment), but there's always some type of perk(s) awarded. By definition, people invest in order to earn a return on their investment.
You may find an investor by identifying those interested in
or passionate about your move topic (and we cover exactly how to do that in our
Film Financing and Investor Manual and other materials), but even then, if the
best you have is "here is what I need," it doesn't show you are
serious about film financing at all. You MUST demonstrate you take film
investors seriously before investors will be serious about you.
4) What is the biggest misconception filmmakers have about financing their films?
Many filmmakers think they only have to find financing once,
and after they have a successful film, people will throw money at them. The
truth is, the ever-changing financing process is a career-long challenge
regardless of how successful or famous you become. We highlight some film
financing lessons from producers such as Steven Spielberg, Lee Daniels, Kevin
Smith, Richard Linklater, Quentin Tarantino and more, showing how film
financing is a never-ending process and they have to deal with it during every
phase of their careers.
5) If you could give filmmakers one piece of advice regarding film financing, what would it be?
Embrace it. Whether you like it or not, money controls every
industry, especially the entertainment business. That's not to say quality
films don't get made, or you have to compromise your creative integrity. But,
unless you plan on financing your entire film career yourself, you will always
have to deal with financing. You might hire experts as your success and
experience grow, but financing will always be the hurdle between you and
production. The more you know and understand, the faster and easier it will
become and the more control you will retain over your projects throughout your
6) Why did you launch FilmProposals.com?
I worked in the entertainment industry for years, and I also had many personal contacts I've known since childhood that are household names - directors, producers, actors and Broadway stars. When I lived in Los Angeles, everyone I met wanted to do something with movies, and I was very naive. So initially, I would introduce my new acquaintances to my long time (famous and successful) friends, because they asked me to.
I watched it happen dozens of times - I would introduce them to my friends, they'd pitch, but nothing came of it. They did not understand how to pitch to film producers and investors. So my successful friends would say, "Hey, you know what you should tell your friends..." or "you know how I got started? I did XYZ..." Initially we gave presentations in LA, and hundreds of people would come and my friends would rotate as special guest speakers. Then, many of them got REALLY famous with busier schedules, non-compete clauses from studios and frankly, felt it was a waste of their time anyway because there was a huge gap in their level vs someone who hadn't started in film making yet. So I turned those presentations, including all the great tips and information from my friends, into the Filmproposals website and Movie Investor Package, which they continue to help me update and refine today.
In summary, remember you must demonstrate you take film
investors seriously before investors will be serious about you. You do this by
proving you've put serious thought and effort into all the various film
financing opportunities available and are able to present a concise, clear and
professional investment opportunity.
If you enjoyed this article, be sure to check out this Movie Investor Package from FilmProposals. This toolkit will take you from "I want to make a film and need $XX" to "We believe we can offer a 25% Return on Investment, on a $100K investment, with positive cash flow starting as soon as 6 months from the release date."
The toolkit includes a Film Financing and Investor Manual,
Financial Projections Template, Business Plan Template, Budget Template and
several other bonuses to help with finding film investors and financing. As a
bonus, they offer their Film Investor Tip Sheet, which includes best-practice
scripting to help you stand out from the crowd and pitch your film in a way
that makes Film Investors want to invest in your movie.
For filmmakers looking for investors, a newly updated 28 page report provides the latest global box office and movie attendance trends. Not only are these great statistics for your film business plans and to discuss with film investors, but they will help you target your audience and distribution plan. Of course, the key 2015 MPAA statistics, along with 2016 Oscar winners and Q1 2016 box office numbers, are already integrated into the Movie Business Plan Package.
This article was written in collaboration with FilmProposals, a web-based guide with free advice, tips and inspiration for indie filmmakers of all levels.
More Info: www.filmproposals.com
Please note: Desktop Documentaries has an affiliate partnership with Film Proposals and may therefore benefit financially if you choose to purchase any products from Film Proposals. Learn more in our Disclosure Statement.