There was an interesting discussion recently in the Film Specific forums started by a writer/producer looking to move their project forward. The person was asking how best to attach a name director, specifically how to get past the agent gatekeepers at CAA who represent the directors they are going after.
This is such a great question because I know so many of you are in the very same position – got a great script and need attachments to move the project forward / attract financing…
So what to do?
Well in this particular situation the film in question is budgeted in the $2 – $3 million range. And at this budget level there are 2 things much more important than bringing on a Director. They are:
1. Having a marketable genre, and
2. Bringing on bankable cast
So in this particular situation the recommended course of action is actually make sure you’re dealing with a marketable genre first and foremost (horror, thriller, action, Sci-Fi) and then go about attaching bankable cast for 2-3 key roles in the film. Approaching it this way will help with financing a film at this level – whether you’re planning to finance with private equity, or a combination of pre-sales, private equity, and gap.
Now what if you’re not up to the task of dealing with the gatekeepers and getting cast attached on your own? Then it may help to partner with a bigger Producer first, someone with relationships and a track record who can help facilitate getting that done. But remember, even when trying to bring on a bigger Producer as a partner you have to be clear on what you’re bringing to the table. If it’s not one of the Big 3 – talent, money, or distribution – it better be a very commercial project that would motivate a Producer to want to partner with you. Otherwise, it seriously helps if you have made some progress on any of these Big 3 before trying to bring on a Producer. In other words, it boils down to what we talked about in the previous post No Money, No Cry whereby you need to start somewhere and really try and bring on some assets to your film yourself.
NOW… what about for films that aren’t budgeted in the $2-$3million range? Well anything lower than that, the same rules apply ie: Cast and Marketable Genre are more important than Director. It’s once you get into the $10 million and higher that Director becomes equal to, or in some cases more important than cast…especially with high concept action, thriller or sci-fi films that really require an experienced director to execute properly. So in certain scenarios with higher budgeted films, the strategy actually becomes to bring a ‘name’ Director on board fist, and then leverage that to attract bankable cast. Financing at this budget level is almost always accomplished with a combination of pre-sales, private equity and gap and having a name Director on board in addition to Cast and Producer actually becomes very critical.
So where are you at? What are your thoughts on all this and what are you doing to effectively move things forward in the right order with your projects? Comment below and let me know!