Monday, June 22, 2009

Dear Indie Producer

At dinner this weekend, I was asked, "How do you find investors?"

I posted on "how do you find financing?" a year ago, but today, as I'm in the midst of shopping an offering to prospective investors, I have a few things to add.

First off, know what you're selling. Be able to talk about your project in product/genre, scope, market, cash-flow, projected Return On Investment, and sales terms.

Secondly, and more importantly, know what type of investor you believe will "vibe" to your project. Will they be friends and family supporting your Big Dream? Will they be accredited investors who pool their monies in an Angel or Venture Capital group? Will your project lend itself to international co-production/financing partners? Will your ideal investor be someone who's as passionate about the topicality or genre of your project as you are? Will they be folks who thrill to support vanguard/experimental/pushing-boundaries content? Will they be constituents of your website who'll donate monies to your project?

Know what you're asking for, and don't be coy. Be specific.

Some samples:
  • I'm seeking accredited investors for $500K of an $800K action-adventure movie to be shot on HD in 2011. My minimum investment amount is $50K, and my offering closes in March 2010. The remaining $300K will be/has been secured through an international co-production arrangement.
  • I'm seeking $500 donations from a minimum of 100 constituents of my website over the next four months for an experimental narrative-with-archival-training-footage on Crime Scene Investigators and the history of their craft.
Once you identify your ideal potential investor(s), develop a contact list:
  • Start with your writer/director/filmmaker. Is there anyone in their orbit who has said, 'Call me when you're ready...'? Put them on your list.
  • Same thing goes for you, the producer. If you have any angels in the wings, now's the time to make your "ask."
  • If you're inspired by a panelist's comments at a conference, approach or contact them for feedback on your project/plan.
I've trolled through many, many film-related web sites reviewing past panels and panelists from the last two-three years. I've read transcripts of panels, watch videocasts, listen to audiocasts. If I've landed upon someone whom I'd love to "pick their brain" about my strategy, I'll seek them out for their feedback. If, then, they think I'm on a good track, I'll ask them if they might be comfortable referring me to someone as an investor, co-producer, financier, etc.
  • If your film lends itself to a certain field or demographic (archaelogy, Asian-Americans, weepy romances, etc.), brainstorm/research potential entities or nodes of support there, too.
What magazines, associations, organizations, conferences, retreats, websites, etc. exist in support of that field or demographic? Do some homework: look at panelists, boards of directors, editors, event/fundraising coordinators, you name it...

I'm not advising that you contact them for money, per se. But, if they're in the field/group that's pertinent to your project, ask them for feedback, clarification, potential buy-in when it's finished. And, if they're amenable, ask them if they can think of anybody (person or entity) who might be inclined to support the project with resources and/or investment.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, June 1, 2009

More producers? Nope...

Remember the additional producers I thought we'd seek? Not doing that now. Mostly, because I've managed to finally whittle the final numbers, projections, estimates, and so forth down for the project's lifespan... and, it's just not a compelling enough financial scenario to warrant additional producers. Now, if circumstances lend themselves to a financier(s) coming on board, with credit(s) given for producing, that will be something else to consider. But, for all the work and responsibility that being a producing partner would entail, at this budget level, more producers on board is a luxury we can't afford.

And, that's okay.

AND, I've finished the Fighting Version of the Business Plan. OH MY GOD. Hallelujah!

My completed first draft was 40 pages (including 5 appendices). The Fighting Version is 22 pages (including 3 appendices). The time is nigh to begin soliciting investors... Wheeee!

While in Austin, we confirmed our editor, website designer/developer, and attorney. We had a productive meeting with our Art Director, Ia, who's aiding Jentri in storyboarding the script. We also had promising meetings with several DPs. We'll be making a final decision about that key role by mid-June.

My toddler starts daycare two days a week at the end of this month. I'm really psyched about having more time to tend to this blog!

Thanks for reading.