How to Finance Your Film: Do Your Homework, Know the Right People
The IFP Masterclass How to Finance Your Film is now available online and you can watch it below.
The Masterclass starts with the usual roundtable where each participant presents his/her job, give his/her credits and then goes into more details in how to finance a film. To quote moderator Ira Deutchman, there’s only a number of ways to get your film financed. He continues:
When it comes right down to it you only have two things that you could sell to finance a movie. One of them would be the rights to the film itself where distributors, or TV companies or video distribution companies would end up exploiting those rights. The other one would be some sort of equity investment, which is the vast majority of what will end up getting financed from films that you’re carrying into the room mainly because to get a film financed with presales, which is what I was describing a moment ago, requires typically that you have either big stars attached to the movie or that you are a filmmaker or have a filmmaker who has a major track record involved with it.
Besides Pariah‘s producer Nekisa Cooper, all the speakers worked somewhere on the chain that helps filmmakers getting their films funds and were giving advice as well as selling their beef (rightfully so if they’re good at what they’re doing). Being a producer, Cooper is the one who used the system and found how to make it work to actually make her movie happen, and it seems that she did a good a job since Pariah won an Excellence in Cinematography Award at Sundance this year.
I was planning to write down the key points about what was said during the Masterclass but somewhere in the middle of my article, I took a right and changed course:
While watching the panel I realized that whatever is the theme of a workshop, you’ll always end up hearing the same advise: Do Your Homework; an advise hiding another one, rarely said out loud, Know The Right People.
Do your homework is a key aspect in filmmaking at all level and means do your research, be knowledgeable, be aware of what is available for you, where and how, know your strengths, your skills, your needs, and work hard.
But it also means do your homework so you know who are the right people to ensure you will get the right help.
And I’m not talking about Networking in the let-me-give-you-my-business-card-between-two-flute-of-champagne way here. (Especially since nobody drinks champagne, let’s be honest for once.) I’m talking about knowing the existence of the people who can give you practical advice and/or who can unlock funds or grants for you.
Because filmmaking is all about uniqueness. Your movie/project will (hopefully) never be exactly the same than this other movie that did that and won this, so you will never be able to replicate an exact formula and you will always have to find your own way to make it work. This is a big country and there’s many ways to get a movie done but if you don’t know the right people, you can easily get screwed over, especially when it comes to money.
You just need to listen to executive director Pat Kaufman from the New York State Governor’s Office for Motion Picture and Television Development talking about the different types of incentives available depending on the States or Province you pick, to understand that you can get many headaches if you don’t… do your homework and know Pat Kaufman or one of her peers working in another State. Not knowing her doesn’t mean you won’t be able to make it, it just means that you might fall in an easily avoidable trap if you had knew her.
Because making films is not only about telling a story. It’s also about money. (flash news, right.) The money you need to make your movie, the money you hope to make back, the money you lose or win. Whether you like it or not, money and filmmaking are living hand in hand and the best way not to be crashed by money is to do your homework and know who knows about money and who will be willing to give you a good advise instead of letting you crash against a wall.
Knowing what and who exist is by far one of the hardest task, and one that needs constant update. It sometimes feel that it’s never enough and that you’re just catching up, watching others going faster, being smarter or just [ ] Fill the blank.
If you don’t live in a key city, or even if you do but haven’t find a way yet to build your pack of wolves and just have your talent, hard work and passion for yourself, then you can start with watching this video, that will give you a few more names and companies to write down on the list of What is out there to make an independent film happen aka, doing your homework.
Moderator: Ira Deutchman (that you might be familiar with from the 15 Years of Distribution article.)
Panelists: Nekisa Cooper, Pariah‘s producer // Cinereach founder Philipp Engelhorn // Executive director of New York State Governor’s Office for Motion Picture and Television Development Pat Kaufman // VP & Senior Premier Corporate & Professional Services Relationship Manager, Entertainment & Media, HSBC Richard Sheehan // Senior Partner at Gray Krauss Des Rochers Jonathan Gray[via indiewire]