So in this blog series, we’ve been talking a lot about why filmmakers would invest in an independent Film. Sadly, if you go by numbers alone the answer is that they shouldn’t. Film investment is an unpredictable, volotile, high risk endeavor. But, if you’re the type that isn’t scared by that, there are some reasons to considerer it. Sure, it will probably never make you as much money as tech, but it might has other benefits that aren’t offered by tech investment.
1. Smaller Potential Downside
If a Tech company fails to exit, generally you’re out everything you put in. Films exit once they’re completed, and investors begin recouping when they do. Further, a smart filmmaker won’t fund their project solely by equity, si the investor is more likely to get their money back. So, while you may not have be able to find a decacorn, the potential to lose everything you put in is somewhat less likely. It can be even less likely if you invest in finishing funds.
Read More: THE 9 WAYS TO FINANCE AN INDEPENDENT FILM.
2. Tax Credits
Nobody likes to pay Uncle Sam, most people would rather see their name in lights than pay the government. Many states offer a tax incentive to get filmmakers to attract productions outside of territory. Often, those incentives are structures as tax credits an investor could buy at about 85-90 cents on the dollar. Other commissions offer it as a rebate that goes back to the filmmakers and subsequently back to the investors, if it’s not re-invested to finish the film.
A strong investment portfolio is a diversified investment portfolio. Some industries do better than others when times are tough. Historically, Film is a sector that’s somewhat reversely dependent on the economy. That means when there’s a downturn, film investments sometimes do better. The period of greatest growth was in the great depression, and until recently it’s still been one of the least expensive ways to get out of the house.
But will that continue to be true? Perhaps not. Theater sales are continually declining, and DVD sales are in the toilet. However, in todays world, most independent films never get a theatrical release. if they can market themselves to the right audience, they can still make sales to people in their homes, for less than a cup of coffee. Admittedly that marketing job is no small feat.
Even if you don’t want to invest in social activism, you can enable an artist to create something that brings joy into the hearts of countless people. Sometimes by scaring the pants off of them. The arts are more than just storytelling, they help us communicate who we are as a people. In many ways I know more about Luke Skywalker than I do about my uncle, and more about Harry Potter than most of the people I went to my real high school with. These cultural touchstones have a huge impact on who we are as a society.
The US is terrible about helping to fund the arts and culture, so to some degree it comes down to society itself to perpetuate it’s own culture. If you can afford to help filmmakers make better movies, you should consider it.
4. Supporting Arts and Culture
While every cultural or artistic entrepreneur should learn how to make their money back, it’s not the sole purpose of any cultural or artistic endeavor. It’s about communicating an idea, perhaps for entertainment or perhaps to spend a different level of consciousness.
If there’s a cause you care about, you should fund some filmmakers looking to do more to spread awareness of that cause. Then when you tell your friends to watch it to share your views, you also get the benefit of making a sale. Many ideas were only able to take root through the power of mass media.
5. Non-monetary incentives.
We all have hobbies, most of them cost us far more than they make us. If you’re the sort of person who can afford to lose 5 figures here or there, investing in films can be very interesting. if you can’t afford quite that much, you may want to look into different funds. I’m in the process of starting one, you can find out more here.
Some of my best friends became my friends because we talked about the money behind the film industry. These non-monetary incentives might even be useful sooner than you would think. If you start networking with filmmakers you may even get a deal when it comes time to make your next whiteboard video from the filmmakers you invested in.
6. Do something other people aren’t
I hear you. that Nerd you were shouting in #4 has been replaced by hipster. Don’t worry, you’re about to go back to nerd, since I’m going to lay some science on ya. If we look at the general attractiveness of beards, we learn that as they’re less common, they’re more attractive. Now, whether or not to invest in film is a multifaceted concept. I’m not saying ti will help you find a lady, (or gentleman,) but I am saying that it’s almost certain to start an interesting conversation.
If you’re at a Silicon Valley Networking event, it’s important to seem like a very interesting person. The same is true for any party. Attraction is somewhat based on scarcity, so you want to stand out from the pack. Investing in films is a good way to do that. You never know how it might help you stand out from the pack and talk to that person over by the bar with their eye on you, be it for your interesting investment or your beard.
7. Glitz and Glamour
If you’re a tech investor, you may have made a lot of investments that made you a very good return. Some of them may have been solely for the strong potential for ROI, or because the entrepreneurs could execute and build something that made a return. It could have changed the world of B2B Payroll invoicing. But while those make a difference in the lives of many myself included, it’s not really exciting.
Film is different. You get to meet interesting creative people. You get to talk about things other than how that API with that box shaped that processes your payments isn’t working as you planned, or the calendar integration isn’t as easy as it should be. You get to see what happens on set, or what it was like meeting that guy from that Quinten Tarantino movie for a day. And when you’re done, you can talk to the people at the tech event and share some awesome stories.
Thanks for reading. I’ll be back with more next week about why more people don’t invest in film. In the meantime, if you want to consider investing in film, try joining Slated. They’re a great resource to help you find projects that give you the best chance at a return. While all of the things above are great, they’re not worth losing every cent you put in. Slated helps you rate your projects, and find the ones with the best chance of success.
This entire 7-part series examines why film is an unsustainable investment. Part of the reason for the lack of sustainability is the fact that not enough producers understand the investment metrics of the film industry, and not enough filmmakers understand the business side of their craft. To help counter this, I've launched an Executive Producer Expressway Program. It's all about helping all stakeholders better understand the industry, and how to actually make money while being in film. The program is designed to transform both filmmakers and potential investors into capable executive producers, and it all starts with a free strategy session. Book yours today.
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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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