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Putting together an investment packet for a film

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Tyle RenakePutting together an investment packet for a film
by on Sep 1, 2011 at 11:17:03 pm


I was wondering what is a good idea of what to put together in an investment packet when you start looking for funders for a film project.

We have so far the actors attached, Story synposis, Teaser Trailer, and attached crew. Is there anything else to include, like target audience, research...etc? Anything that is vital? Or anything i should take away? I heard its not a good idea to include the full script, as they are not interested in the story as much as they are in the quick reads?

Thanks for the advice!

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grinner hesterRe: Putting together an investment packet for a film
by on Sep 3, 2011 at 3:12:51 pm

Just a field where it states how much they'll be out of pocket. You could tell em that without killin' a tree, man.
If they talk about return, just laugh like you think they are kidding.

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Jonathan ZieglerRe: Putting together an investment packet for a film
by on Sep 4, 2011 at 7:05:18 pm

Well, think of every film as a new business venture where you are making a single product with a lifespan of about 5-7 years. It can be longer, but most movies don't last much more than that.

SEC laws are pretty clear: you can't guarantee a return on investment. This is something reserved for specific financial products like annuities In fact, you have to tell your investors that they are in danger of losing some or all of their money.

The question is who are your investors? Are they qualified investors (those making $200k/yr or more) or unqualified investors (the folks the rest of us know who make considerably less)? Qualified investors usually know the ropes already so they know the SEC regs and they'll sniff out the newbies in a flash. No biggie. The problem is those who make less money will ask you the wrong questions about the investment. For example, they'll want a guarantee of investment return, a specific time-frame, script approval, putting their cousin in the film, etc. because they want to be a big shot and the small money they can offer is not really very disposable.

Any sane business person would tell them to get stuffed, but you want their money so you have to deal. Don't make any promises you can't keep - you could get into big trouble with the SEC and you don't want that. Hire a lawyer - an entertainment lawyer familiar with SEC rules for investing - offer them a % of gross for their services (typically no more than 5-10%). There are only a few instances where you can offer an investment to unqualified investors and you need to do so carefully and within specific legal guidelines. Lately, they've been cracking down on flim-flam filmmakers making invalid or illegal movie investments. The worst part is that everyone tells you to ask dentists and other professionals without following proper guidelines - that advice is terrible.

If you were to invest in a film, what do you want to see? You want to see a couple name actors, a name director, a knockout script, a solid, detailed budget in the $150k-250k range, SAG approval so you can get SAG actors, a solid schedule, an experienced producer, line producer, and AD. You want to know that the money you are entrusting them with will eventually come back to you. You want to see a marketing plan with detailed numbers on how you plan to spend the budget advertising, going to film markets, film fests, print, online, and periodical ads, etc. Just like a new product release, you have to make people aware of this new product and somehow encourage them to spend their $ on it.

Don't worry if you don't get US theatrical release. International markets are wide open and they have money. You can sell your film to Europe, Japan, China, South America, Latin America, and the US and Canada (there are actually more markets than that). A lot of US-made films go to other countries for theatrical and/or video release before getting a deal in the US. The more successful you are in other markets, the more likely you are to get a good deal in the US. If your film does well, then your next film will be much easier to fund.

The trick? Make money on a cheaply produced film (say in the $5k range), then use the money and clout to fund a $25k film, then use that to fund a $250k film...get the idea? Also, films are sold to video, cable, satellite, pay-per-view, video-on-demand, theatrical release, home DVD/bluray, Netflix, iTunes, Amazon, etc. The list can go on and on. Prefer film MARKETS over film festivals. There are fewer film markets and the people who are there are there to buy films whereas festivals are for fans who just want to watch the latest thing. You can get a deal from a fest, but you're more likely to get a deal at a film market. Once you have a deal, then get it to festivals to help sell to other markets that haven't sold yet.

There are plenty of films that make money and never see a US theater. Many go direct to DVD or straight to cable or satellite or go to international markets. Maybe you'll be the next big thing in Japan? ;)

Don't forget "free" crowdfunding sources like Kickstarter, too. If you will go this route, don't forget to look into the numerous strategies for funding.

Jonathan Ziegler

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