I’ve written previously about what goes into an indie film deck, but as I get more and more submissions from filmmakers, I’m realizing that most of them don’t fully understand the difference between a look book and a deck. So, I thought I would outline what goes into a look book, and then I’ll come back in a future post to outline when you need a look book, when you need a deck, and when you need a business plan.
What goes in a look book is less rigid than what goes in a deck. It’s also designed to be a more creatively oriented document than a deck. But in general, these are the pieces of information you’ll need in your look book. I’ve grouped them into 4 general sections to give you a bit more of a guideline.
You’ll often see the term stakeholder. I use this to mean anyone who might hold a stake in the outcome of your project, be they investors, distributors, or even other high level crew.
Basic Project Information
This section is to give a general outline of the project, and includes the following pieces of information.
The title should be self explanatory, but if you have a fancy font treatment or temp poster, this would be a good place to use it.
The logline should be 1 or 2 sentences at most. It should tell what your story is about in an engaging way to make people want to see the movie. You probably want to include the genre here as well,
The synopsis in the look book should be 5-8 sentences, and cover the majority of the film’s story. This isn’t script coverage, or a treatment. It’s a taste to get your potential investors or other stakeholders to want more.
Character descriptions should be short, but more interesting than basic demographics. Give them an heir of mystery, but enough of an idea that the reader can picture them in their head. Try something like this. Matt (white, male, early 20s) is a bit of a rebel, and a pizza delivery boy. He’s a bit messy, but nowhere near as bad as his apartment. He’s more handsome than his unkempt appearance lets on, If he cleaned up he’d never have to sleep alone. But one day he delivers pizza to the wrong house and gets thrusted into time traveling international intrigue.
Even that’s a little long, but I wasn’t actually basing it on a movie, so tying it into the film itself was trickier than I thought it would be. That would be alright for a protagonist, but too long for anyone else.
Filmmaker and Team bios should be short, bullet points are good, list achievements and awards to put a practical emphasis on what they bring to the table DO NOT pad your bio out to 5000 words of not a lot of information. Schooling doesn’t matter a lot unless you went to UCLA, USC, NYU or an Ivy League school.
These are general creative things to give a give the prospective stakeholder an idea of the creative feel of the film. They can include the following, although not all are necessary.
The inspiration would be a little bit of information on what gave you the vision for this film. It shouldn’t be long, but it definitely shouldn’t be something along the lines of “I’ m the most vissionnarry film in the WORLD. U WILL C MAI NAME IN LAIGHTS!” (Misspellings intentional) Check your ego here, but talk about the creative vision you had that inspired you to make the film. Try to keep it to 3-4 sentences.
Creatively similar films are films that have the same feel as your film. You’re less restricted by budget level and year created here than you would be in a comp analysis, that said, don’t put the Avengers or other effects heavy films here if you’re making an ultra low budget piece. I’d say pick 5, use the posters.
Images denoting the general feel of the film is just a collection of images that will give potential stakeholders an idea of the feel of the film. These can be reference images from other films, pieces of art, or anything that conveys the artistic vision in your head. This is not a widely distributed document, so the copyright situation gets a bit fuzzy regarding what you an use. That said, the stricter legal definition is probably that you can’t use without permission. #NotALawyer
Color palette would be what general color palette of the project. This is one you could leave out, but if there’s a very well defined color feel of the film like say, Minority Report, then showing the colors you’ll be using isn’t a terrible call, Also,, it's generally best to just let this pallet exist on the background of the document on your look book.
Technical/ Practical swatches
This section is a good Indicator of what you already have, as well as some more technical information about the film in general. It should include the following.
Photos are great here, if you use cities or states include the tax incentives for them, The equipment should only be used if it’s higher end like an Arri or Red. If you’re getting it at a fantastic cost, you should mention that here as well.
Also, you should consider tracking these assets using ProductionNext. It’s free to set up an account and start a digital inventory of your props, wardrobe, equipment, set dressing, locations, and crew that you can plug DIRECTLY into your projects when it’s time to use ProductionNext’s tools to breakdown your script, use the stripoard to schedule your film, and our budgeting tools to make sure everything is accounted for. Check the link below for more information
Light Business Information
The look book is primary a creative document, but since most of the potential stakeholders you’re going to be showing it to are business people, you should include the basics. When they want more, send them a deck.
Here’s what you should include
These are important to assess the viability of the project from a distribution standpoint. It can also affect different ways to finance your film. If your director is attached, don’t include that. If you have an LOI from a distributor, don’t mention potential distributors. Unless your film is under 50k, don’t say you won’t seek name talent for a supporting role. You should consider it if it’s even remotely viable.
Thanks for reading, Check back next week for how and when to use each of these documents. If you like this content, consider joining my email list! I’ve got lots of great templates you get when you join, and you also get a monthly blog digest segmented by topic to make sure you’re informed when you start talking to investors. Click below to join.
Also, I just redid my submission system. If you’ve got a development stage Project you want to talk about, then submit it. Now there’s separate forms for completed projects and development projects. Use the links below.
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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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