Indie Film Financing is like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride at Disneyland
Dealing with the starts and stops of indie film financing is a wild ride that can cause creative whiplash. Reminds of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride at Disneyland I loved as a kid. There are many dangerous roads and colorful characters you will meet in the world of indie film financing.
Most indie filmmakers looking for film financing are not going to be dealing with Hollywood connected producers with power to greenlight a movie with A-List stars to be produced with a multimillion dollar film budget.
Indie filmmakers without a proven track record of making money for film investors have to get creative with film financing and pitch their movie to people that are sometimes not even in the entertainment business. When real estate development and construction were thriving in Southern California I had a small pool of developers and construction business owners that would invest in entertainment projects.
When the housing crash and recession hit my film financing sources dried up from outside investors. It hit hard because these film investors had always delivered the money for film production without any BS or games. As business people they are like the title of EPMD – Strictly Business.
They were risk takers in real estate development and construction, so indie film financing didn’t scare them. When their cash flow took a big hit I could see the writing on the wall for my future film financing – not good.
I began to reach out to movie investors and other indie film producers with contacts to companies that were known to finance indie films. It became start and stop ride just like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride that became mentally exhausting. I have a script titled “Crazy Love Story” that has fell out of film financing twice and another script titled “Killing the Azul’s” (formerly titled Stash Spot) that fell out of promised film financing once when we already had an attached cast of notable talent.
Both experiences hurt me because I love to create entertainment. “Crazy Love Story” hurt the most as a screenwriter. I did two rewrites without pay to include elements they wanted and did a title change after getting notes back from a production company that dangled the carrot of film financing with a decent film budget in front of me. Looking back my role playing the mule was a great lesson in making movies.
I told myself after that I would never be a mule going after a dangling carrot again. Not because of ego, but it’s just a flat out waste of time and creative energy. Networking with other indie filmmakers I’ve heard this happened to them too. A producer ties up the rights to your script with a carrot of promised film financing that never happens. That’s a nasty hang for any filmmaker.
Some movie producers are like what is known as land speculators in real estate development. Film speculators tie up as many promising scripts as possible and try to pitch them to film investors hoping one deal closes. In real estate development a land speculator ties up as many different acres of raw land and then tries to flip them to a home builder.
Often they let the properties fall out of escrow and when the dust settles they’ve wasted a land owner’s time when the land owner could have sold their property to a real estate developer that performs. There are movies producers that operate the same way. They option as many scripts as possible and never perform on securing film financing.
Here’s some food for thought on indie film financing:
Network with other filmmakers to learn what producers and production companies are really film financing performers or only carrot danglers.
Most film investors aren’t interested in your creative vision and cinematic pitch. They want to know your movie distribution plan and their rate of return on investment.
Producers and production companies with film financing track records usually don’t accept unsolicited film pitches. Consider hiring an entertainment attorney or signing with an agent that can open those doors to film financing.
First-time filmmakers scare the hell out of film investors. Think about teaming up with another indie filmmaker that has movies out that have made money. It gives you more credibility with film investors.
Avoid letting your film financing highs get too high or lows too low from a mental standpoint.
Even if you sign a deal with a producer or production for film financing remember the money is not real until you have control of it.
This is indie filmmaker Sid Kali typing FADE OUT
Categories: Indie Film Production Tags: crazy love story, entertainment attorney, fall out of escrow, film budget, film financing, film financing sources, film investors, finance indie films, housing crash, Indie film financing, invest in entertainment projects, land speculators, movie investors, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, real estate development, secure film financing, Sid Kali