Many Filmmakers, like everyone else effected by COVID-19 are itching for some level of a return to normalcy. Unfortunately, like many others think that there may never be a full return to normal. It may well end up as a pre-COVID and a Post COVID period. Similar to how the world changed before and after the great depression, 9/11, The internet, or World War II. Societal traumas tend to leave lasting scars, and that tends to effect the market as a whole and certain industries in meaningful ways. So let’s look at what one executive producer thinks is likely to happen in the film industry as a result.
Last week I laid out a glossary of general use film financing terms, but the blog ended up a bit too long and dense to be a single post. So, I broke it into two. Last week was the basics, this week is more of the next level, and focuses entirely on investment terms. Some of these may seem tangential and unnecessary, however if your goal is to close an investor, you’ll need to thoroughly speak their language. If there’s something you don’t see here, check out last week’s blog here.
A colleague of mine asked me if I had a glossary on film financing terms in the same way I wrote one for film distribution (which you can check out here.) Since I didn’t have one, I thought I’d write one. After I wrote it, it was too long for a single post, so now it’s two. This one is on general terms, next week we’ll talk about film investment terms.
Pretty much every filmmaker wants to find money to make their movie. Unfortunately, many don’t quite realize that in order to raise the kind of money you need to make anything above a micro budget movie, you’ll generally need a lot already in place. It’s something of a catch-22. Investors need name talent to market the film, and distribution to make it available. Distributors need name talent and a tested team to give any meaningful commitments, and name taken need to know they’ll be paid. There are ways around all of this, but generally they require money up front. This blog is about how you raise it.
If you’re a screenwriter, you have two options. Produce it yourself, or option your work to a producer. In order to option your work, you need to understand who is going to buy your movie. Unfortunately, there’s more bad and incomplete information than there is good information out there. Recently, a client of mine forwarded an email he got back from a contact in Hollywood who worked as a script doctor. This email epitomized that bad information, so I thought I’d redact any contact information and publish it for others to learn from as well. (I did check with my client first, and he was good with it.)
Here’s what the script doctor said Hollywood wanted. Their responses in title, mine in the paragraphs following.
Every filmmaker wants to see their work on the big screen. However, given the state of the indie film theatrical market, very few filmmakers can pull it off outside of the festival circuit. Especially for their first films. It requires a lot of skill, and an idea that appeals to a wide audience, ideally an audience you already have an in with. So how do you scale your films to that point? Well, this blog can get you started.
Last week we talked about the 4 major types of Media Entrepreneurship, so this week I thought I’d expand on the most common production company that my readers seem to run. That’s the small production company that they hope to scale into something bigger. Here’s why your production company is a small business, and how to treat it like one so you can see it grow.
Traditionally, when we think of entrepreneurs we think of Steve Jobs starting Apple in a Garage, or Jeff Bezos Traveling across country to raise funds while writing his business plan in the back seat of the car while his wife drove. However, there’s more to entrepreneurship than that. Entrepreneurs find new and novel solutions to problems by building organizations despite a huge amount of risk and uncertainty.
Since this month is Entrepreneurship month on both this blog and the blog I run over at ProductionNext, I thought I’d start out the month with a little of an expansion of Film Entrepreneurship in general. In this post, I’ll adapt a rather notable post by Steve Blank from a decade ago to the current landscape media entrepreneurs face, as well as where you’ll most likely find those entrepreneurs.
To cap off my first ever distribution month, I thought I’d talk a little bit about where Independent Film Distribution is heading. Markets are going to be a big center of commerce for the film industry for a few years, but they’re going to continue to wane for the truly independent filmmakers, which means one of the biggest areas for entry for filmmakers is likely to go away. With the fall of Distribber, and how Amazon looks like it’s going to scale back its filmmaker direct distribution programs there’s only one real path left for filmmakers. That path is to build an audience that’s highly engaged with your content, and distribute not only your film to them, but other products related to your Intellectual property (IP.)
It’s no longer a controversial statement that streaming has changed the whole game for independent film distribution. It hasn’t been one for quite a while. However, it is becoming apparent that not only has streaming changed the game, it might as well have become the game, at least here in the US. That’s not really a good thing for indies. Here’s why.
If you’re going to read and understand your distribution agreement, then there’s some terminology you have to grasp first. So with that in mind, here’s a breakdown of some key terminology you ABSOLUTELY need to know if you’re going to get traditional distribution for your film.
At least until recently, a lot of filmmakers assumed that they could get on any platform they needed to be on just by calling up Distribber or another aggregator like Quiver. With the fallout of the fall of Distribber, many filmmakers are wondering what they can do for distribution. So, I thought I’d share some knowledge as to what platforms a filmmaker can still get on themselves using aggregators like Quiver, and what platforms you’ll need an accomplished sales distributor, or producer’s rep to get on.
2019 was a quite a year for most of us, and while we’re entering 2020 with more stable an economic footing than we’ve expected, there are definitely some notable industry trends heating up that I thought weigh in on a bit and let those of you who frequent my tiny corner of the internet know my thoughts on the matter.
AFM this year will be interesting. Here’s the current state form someone who’s been going for 10 years, and has been a Practicing Producer’s rep for 6 years. Two quick things before we get started. First, You should definitely go to AFM at least once. It’s eye opening, and if I hadn’t done it I probably wouldn’t have a career.
Second: These opinions are mine alone, and have not been approved, endorsed, or otherwise condoned by the International Film and Television Alliance (IFTA) owner of the American Film Market. (AFM is also a Registered Trademark of the IFTA.)
With AFM 2019 right around the corner, it’s time for filmmakers to prepare for the market and do their best to get a traditional distribution deal. For those of you who don’t know, AFM is still the best place for American Filmmakers to get traditional, non-DIY distribution. So, with that in mind, here are the major things you need to prepare.
Much of my job as a producer’s rep is negotiating deals on the behalf of filmmakers. However, now that I’m doing more direct distribution, I’m realizing there are several things about this process that most filmmakers don’t understand. As I tend to write a blog whenever I run into a question enough that I feel my time is better spent writing my full answer instead of explaining it again, here’s a top level guide on the process of negotiating an independent film distribution deal.
The concept of filmmaking entrepreneurship has been coming into vogue for quite some time now, but has really started to take hold in the zeitgeist of our industry in the last 3-6 months. The culmination of this being the launch of the Filmtrepreneur website, blog, and podcast. From Alex Ferrari (Best known for Indie Film Hustle.).
If you’re a filmmaker who’s got a film that’s nearing completion, you’re probably going to want to get some opinions on it before you think you’re ready. This involves test screenings. Given that I’ve been hosting some of these screenings through THIS MEETUP GROUP, I’ve learned a few things that work and others that don’t.
For those of you who are unfamiliar, a community screening model is an alternate version of a theatrical where instead of booking theaters across the country. There are so many places with high quality sound systems across the country that it can make a lot of sense to book these secondary locations instead of spending the money to four wall a theater. Since we talked about what a community screening package generally includes, I thought I’d go over what it takes to book those screenings this week.
If you’re making a film with an extremely niche audience, it can make A LOT of sense to consider hosting some community screenings in place of a more traditional theatrical run. While this tactic most commonly used for documentaries that have a strong social message, it’s also a tool that can be quite effective when utilized by narrative films targeting a very well defined niche. Here’s what goes into the package you’ll be selling to anyone who might want to screen your film.
How to Title your Film so it SELLS
They say don’t judge a book by its cover, so you’d think it should follow that you shouldn’t judge a film by its title. You would think wrong. Title is a hugely important part of your film marketing, and it should be something you think about from the very beginning, not simply as an after thought. So here’s how to go about creating a title that will stick.
I started a youtube Channel! I’ve been debating whether or not to do so for a while, but I wanted to make sure I did it right. With the release of this blog and this video, I’m now going to be releasing around One video a week, and maybe more in the future. Why am I doing this? You can read on to find out, or just watch the video below.
They say that most people know whether or not they would get into bed with someone in the first conversation. Admit it, you didn’t realize I was talking about investors giving you money right there, did you? Jokes aside, there are a few key things your investor is going to need to know about your project in order to give you any serious consideration.
Filmmakers Ask me about Recoupable Expenses all the time. A lot of filmmakers think that recoupable expenses mean money they have to pay. Except in some VERY limited circumstances, that’s not the case.
A recoupable expense is simply an expense that a distributor or sales agent fronts to your film. Another way of looking at this is that your distributor is your last investor, as they’re putting in a zero interest loan in the form of paying for fees and services necessary to take the film to market. Most of the time, the distributor will need to get that money back before they start paying the filmmaker. Distributors and sales agents have businesses to run and general put money into anywhere between 24 and 60 of films every year. Without the ability to recoup what we put in, distributors would not be able to continue to invest in new films.
The IndieFilm Purchase Process
If you want to understand how best to market something, you need to first understand the steps that a customer would take in buying it. This isn’t just true for film, it’s true for everything any entrepreneur might want to sell. It’s called the purchase process or purchase cycle. Here’s what it looks like for film.
My name is Ben, I'm an Entrepreneur, Producer's Rep, and Author. I'm the founder of Guerrilla Rep Media, Co-Founder/CMO of ProductionNext, and founder of Producer Foundry. Together, the organizations seek to help make filmmaking a more economically sustainable endeavor. I am dysic, I have capitalization issues, and the blogs are often unedited. opinions all my own.
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