Over the last couple of weeks while traveling, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a few different film investors who all expressed the same frustration. As it turns out their biggest problem right now is actually finding suitable projects in which to invest. Of course since I run a website populated with filmmakers actively looking for film investment, this realization came as a bit of a shock because at any given moment, in my world, there’s no shortage of projects that need funding.
From the investors perspective though, the trick is to find projects that are suitable to fund.
What does that mean? Well of the investors I spoke with they are all looking to come on board projects only AFTER a producer has fully developed the script, packaged it with marketable cast, and even gone out and gotten a few pre-sales on it. In other words, they are looking to come in only after at least 50% of the ‘market’ financing is already in place. Why? Well obviously because this mitigates their risk tremendously and also puts them closer to recoupment and profitability.
The other problem they expressed frustration with is gaining access and trust from the Hollywood ‘gatekeepers’. For example, as a new investor in the business one of my clients said it’s really tough to get people to believe him and take him seriously when he talks about his film fund. What happens is that agents, lawyers, and managers have heard it all before, only to be burned by fly by night full of sh%t amateurs. So they don’t just jump when someone calls and says ‘ i have money I want to invest’. It actually has to all go through the proper channels, which usually means referrals from trusted individuals.
The challenge as I see it for most filmmakers is getting that initial bit of ‘development’ funding or whatever you want to call it – the money to keep you going during the process of building up your film’s package. Everything from hiring help, paying lawyers fees, optioning rights, paying writers, getting a business plan and any marketing collateral done, etc. I personally haven’t met any investors jumping to get involved at this stage of the game because at that point, it’s at least a few years from recoupment let alone profitability (and that’s if there even IS recoupment and profitability).
So the filmmakers dilemma is really to find investors, family members, friends, your own bank account – whatever you can do – to fund the development of your projects, then hustle like hell to get it to a stage where you actually are providing a value proposition to an investor. Remember, scripts and ideas and even concepts are a dime a dozen. What really matters are developed ‘packages’ complete with talent and team with a track record.
Then of course the other challenge is figuring out how to actually connect with these investors once you DO have your package in place…
What are your thoughts on all this? What has your experience been with film investors good or bad?
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