With just a few days left before Christmas, things are really starting to quiet down… it’s kinda nice, right?
One of the big lessons I learned in 2016 was a doozy… to sum it up, unless I’m packaging a film myself or at least have a hand in the entire process, I can’t just come on a project at the end and put the financing together anymore.
I did that for a time as an EP but got burned introducing ‘packages’ to my financing contacts only to find out either the talent wasn’t really attached, or there were other issues like chain of title not clean, unrealistic writer demands ultimately holding up the rights, unnecessarily high development costs that skew the budget, budget and schedule not being vetted by a reliable line producer and turning out to be higher than originally sold, other financing that really isn’t there, and many more things if you can believe it.
I also find that teams feel entitled to whoever comes on near the end to find financing since they’ve been on the project so long and demand high fees in the budget and control, when in reality the financing entities are the ones who have ultimate control and have a say in who has to lower their fees to meet the budgetary threshold.
Just like the newsletter I wrote ‘when you think you have financing but you don’t’.….I would classify this under when you say your film is packaged but it isn’t.
So looking back at 2016 that’s definitely one of the turning points for me because it forced me as a producer to set boundaries on how I’ll work and won’t work on a project. For the rest of the year, I became a lot more selective with the projects I took on both as a producer and EP/Advisor and walked away from some seemingly ‘good opportunities’ which I know were filled with landmines underneath the veneer. (yep, I learned how to spot them a mile away!)
The other part of the turning point was recognizing that diversifying my slate beyond just features was suddenly a priority. If I can’t rely on projects I don’t have a hand in developing, and I can only physically develop a few features at a time, in order to have a sustainable business I turned my focus to developing other types of media like television and digital. I’ll go into that more in future newsletters but that’s where I’ll be focusing a significant portion of my business and attention in 2017.
To be clear, I’m still producing and EP’ing features, but that’s only part of my business going forward and the ones I choose to work on I’ll be totally passionate about since from development to production, you have to be willing to play the long game and settle in for what can be a long journey (and sales cycle).
In short, the reason I’m recounting all this for you is because I hope this major lesson I learned in 2016 resonates with some of you reading this, and that you can learn from my experience.
Now that things are quieted down for the next week as we bring 2016 to a close, it’s a good time to take stock of the highs and lows from the year, evaluate what needs to change going forward, what to double down on, and where your growth opportunities are for next year.