In this post, you will learn how I was able to get my company’s press release in MarketWatch in just two days. The best part? I was able to do it for just $149.
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Top 11 example loglines from some of the biggest African American films to hit the box office. I will be good to look at some examples from films you have already seen.
If you are new to the business side of film-making you may not know this little secret (or not so Secret) trick for meeting acquisition reps.
What You Will Learn
How do I get film funding?
How can I get my project “green lit”?
If I had a quarter for every time a filmmaker asked me this question I would be rich from this question alone. Most of the problems that filmmakers run into every day have to deal with raising money or at the very least could be fixed with the right budget..
Filmmakers contact me daily to help them with raising money for their project. When I ask who is the executive producer they usually say, “I am”.
I don’t like to shoot down anyone’s dreams, but one of my industry friends posed this question to me “what good is an executive producer who can’t raise money”? If your goal is to become the executive producer on your own project, you will have to find a way to bring the funds to even get the project off the ground.
If you ask me (whether to sell a script versus try to raise the money yourself) I will always choose the second option. Sure if you sell your screenplay you may get an upfront payment along with writing credit, but that is pretty much where it ends.
In fact, if you do end up selling your screenplay outright, you are pretty much out of the picture after the initial purchase. (That goes for any of the logistics behind the scenes as well.)
You end up watching the film in theatres just like everyone else. That is also when you will find out what scenes were left in the film, and which scenes were taken out.
Let’s say the producers decide to change the whole cast from an African American family to a Hispanic one. There is pretty much nothing you can do. So my advice is if this is your pet project or a project that is near and dear to your heart I would always advise you “not” to sell it.
Ok so let’s say you have decided that you will raise the money yourself. How do you do it?
First things first, In order to raise money for your project you will need to find investors. I will have another post explaining how to find investors in more detail but this post is mainly about what you need to give to an investor in order to get the money for your film. (At Indie Black film we have a database of investors that we can introduce you to if you don’t have any investors in mind.)
Whether you hire an executive producer or you fill the role yourself you will need what is called a “package”. This “package” has everything an investor would need to determine if your film is worth investing in. It will include things like a business plan, show Bible, budget, etc.
I’ve done an interview with one of our partners who find investors for filmmakers. In the interview, he explains exactly what is a “package” and what should be in it.
It was converted into an audiobook for ease of digestion. The audiobook is on sale on our website for $9.99 But
I will give it to you here for free.
This audiobook is also on Audible for $3.99. If you click the link below you can sign up for a free 30 day trial of audible in which you get one free credit (which you can use to download the book for free).
100 Percent Risk Free
The great thing is even if you cancel after three days you still get to keep the book forever.
TIp – If your project has everything packaged correctly then I can introduce you to an investors as soon as tomorrow. But if it is incomplete then we need to finish it. Please take a listen when you have the free time (the book is really short a little over 30 minutes)
If anything you may want to listen just to verify you do have everything you need.
If your package is complete and you are ready to proceed to the next step contact us by email.
email@example.com Please put “Film Funding” in the subject line.
I work with this specific investor by bringing him filmmakers who need to raise funding. The best thing about it is there is no up-front charge for him to raise money. He only receives a small finder’s fee if he’s able to get your project funded (working on a pro-bono basis just like an injury attorney. If he can’t raise any money for you, you lose nothing).
Also, I have two example business plans that I can send you if you would like to see what one looks like. (real examples of films the speaker from the audiobook was able to raise the money for). It’s a great listen for anyone looking to raise money. You can pretty much bet any investor that you run into will require similar information.
Now that your package is ready it’s time for the moment of truth.
Ok, My Script Is Done. Is It Time To Start Taking Meetings With Investors?
The short answer is no. Most filmmakers think that once they finish the script it is time to start raising money. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.
The fact is most film investors rarely even read the script before deciding to invest in a film. They care nothing about your artistic vision or creative genius. It is all about dollars and cents. $$$
What is the most important factor to an investor?
Here is the definition of “attachments” from a quick google search when we are speaking in terms of film production.
An Attachment Agreement is a contract set up between a producer and a talent. … Once an Attachment Agreement is in place, the producer can more confidently go and find a financier, a network, a studio or other production company to develop or produce the project.
We have to get what’s called a “Letter Of Intent (LOI). A letter of intent doesn’t guarantee that the actor will necessarily be in your film, but it does guarantee that if you are able to raise the money, they will read the script. That will be all that some investors will need to move forward.
A script by itself means nothing. If you took a script by itself to a major film studio you would probably get laughed out of the room. Everything depends on “attachments”.
Sure, Brad Pitt may cost around 2 million to secure his schedule, but a lot of the A-list actors (like him) are booked for the next 3 years. So the question isn’t the money. the question the investor is asking themselves is
if I give this producer the money, is it a real possibility that they can get this actor to go into production now (who wants to wait 2 years to even start production of a film)?
At least if you have an (LOI) then the investor can be sure that you in fact have some of the connections that you say you have. Their worst fear would be to give 5 million dollars to some executive producer who ends up buying a Lambo with the money (and the film never gets made).
Another question an investor may ask is
how much money have you already raised for your film?
how much of your own money have you put in?
(10% of the budget is always better than coming with absolutely nothing)?
There are scenarios where we are able to raise money with none of the budget already raised to start, but it always sounds better if a producer feels confident enough in their film to put up some of their own money.
Investors want to know if you have any skin in the game.
Even if you only come with 10K of a half a million-dollar budget. At least that shows investors that you have something to lose. It also shows that you believe in the project enough to put your money where your mouth is as they say.
Most larger investors like to invest in bigger-budget films at like 30 million+.
Then there are smaller micro-investors who wouldn’t fund a movie over 100k.
Everything starts with the budget of the film that you’re trying to create. Large investors would never invest in a lower budget film as they are trying to make the big money and hit a home run on each project (a lot of them being large hedge funds), but lower-tier investors see low budget films as an asset. Lower money spent upfront equals less money that has to be paid back at the end.
Larger investors will almost always ask to see your attachments and the smaller investors may invest just to feel like they are a part of Hollywood.
There are a million safer ways to invest your money than in the film industry. Most of the smaller investors just want to feel a part of the Hollywood experience. Maybe offer them a meet-in-greet with some of the actors.
If you have any more questions about film investing or you have a package that is complete and would like to get started shoot an e-mail to info@Indieblackfilm.com. Make sure to put “Film Funding” in the subject line.
WHO IS THIS FOR?
This post is for filmmakers who:
- have a completed film
- would like to know how to find distributors who are looking to for films to buy.
WHAT WILL YOU LEARN?
In this post you will learn:
- the best place to pitch a completed project.
- how to contact these companies along with how to book a meeting.
WHERE FILMS GET BOUGHT AND SOLD
If you are new to the business side a film-making you may not know this little secret (or not so Secret) trick for meeting film acquisition reps. These reps are not hiding under a rock somewhere, nor is there some secret handshake that you must to know in order to get a meeting.
The acquisition agents job it is to find films to buy. Every year these reps attend this event with checkbook in hand. The ultimate goal of this event is to buy and sell films on both sides.
Sure a couple of films may get purchased at a major film festival but for the most part no one is there to buy films. They are there to admire the creativity of the films not the marketability/sell-ability of the project. And whats more unless you make it into one of the top 5 festivals in the world the festival run is more for show than an effective marketing strategy.
Most of the films bought and sold at the AFM are what we called in the old days straight to DVD movies (So even if you don’t have someone as big as let’s say a Denzel Washington in your film you can still sell it).
This event is called the “American Film Market”. Every year a hotel in Los Angeles is converted into a mass film networking event.
All of the furniture in the rooms are taken out and an office is set up in each of the 400 rooms. Distribution companies across the world go to this event every year to buy and sell films.
From distributors large and small to airlines companies who need to buy films for their flights if you have a film to that needs distribution this event is a must attend.
HOW TO BOOK MEETINGS AT THE AFM?
You will lay the groundwork for your AFM experience in the weeks leading up to it.
If you visit the American film market’s website you will see a list of all the distribution companies who will be attending that year. Contact information will also be supplied on for each company. Click Below.
This is where a little research on your end will come in quite handy.
- Search through the list to find distributors who deal with films similar to yours. (It will look very unprofessional to contact a company that doesn’t even deal with your genre or style film.It also shows that you didn’t even take the time to do the due diligence to research the company you are reaching out to. It is the equivalent of submitting a hip hop song to a country music radio station)
- Once you have a list of all the companies that deal with films that are similar to yours reach out to them and ask to schedule a 10 or 15 minute meeting with one of their acquisition Representatives. (Since this is the whole reason that they go to the AFM they will gladly set up a date and time)
***You want to skip the first 3 or 4 days of the event since that is when the distributors themselves will be trying to sell the films they already have in their catalog.***
Most companies will be busy at this time therefore it will do you no good to try to set a meeting during that time. If money is an issue I would advise maybe skipping the first 3 days all together.
Tip -You can save money by only buying a ticket for the last couple days of the event instead of the full week.
If done right you should be able to schedule 5 or 6 meetings a day for everyday you attend the event.It’s that simple.
Acquisition reps are very busy people (as most people in this industry tend to be) so you should start by asking for a short 10 minute meeting to start. If they are interested in what you say in that 10 minutes then they will ask to see your film.
If you follow these instructions I can’t promise that they will pick your film, but I can guarantee that you will get a chance to pitch it to them directly. Now if you are able to close the deal or not, that is a totally different story entirely.
WHO THIS IS FOR?
- anyone with a completed film and is looking for distribution.
- anyone trying to increase their chances of their film being picked up by a distributor.
WHAT YOU WILL LEARN?
In this blog post you will learn the #1 reason that film distributors reject films. If I made a list of the top 5 reasons films are rejected then this would be #1 on the list. (If you take this into account when you are in production and the distribution phase it will make your life a lot easier)
THE #1 REASON FILMS ARE REJECTED
It may come as no surprise to some of you but #1 reason independent films are rejected for distribution is that they have “No Cast”.
In the film world cast is everything. 95 percent of the marketing effort will be cast driven. Also how much you receive per territory depends heavily on the cast members in your film.
The distributors mindset is this,
“no one wants to see a film with a bunch of no name actors”.
Which is true 95 percent of the time. (Although there is a way to get distribution for a film without any major cast members but I will tell you about that later in this post)
Indie filmmakers spend money every year to attend the American Film Market without a clear plan of action. If they would have spoken to me first I probably could have saved them a couple thousand dollars in hotel fees, travel, Etc. (Not to mention the hours of time wasted)
A low budget film with no cast is almost always a no-go. Without big name actors the chances you receive a second meeting with reps is quite slim.
The goal of your first meeting is to get the acquisitions rep to view your screener. Plain and simple. And the most important factor that will determine whether they watch your screener or not will be who is in it?
You could have the greatest story in the world but without major stars attached to the film, it will be hard to even get an acquisitions representative to even watch it.
To them there is nothing worse then a 2 million dollar movie with a bunch of no name friends and family as actors.
WHAT IF MY FILM HAS NO BIG STARS IN IT? (OR ANY STARS FOR THAT MATTER)
The information you just read applies to a traditional distribution deal. 90% of indie filmmakers films do not fall into this category of traditional distribution. Fortunately for them there is another option. That option is called “self distribution”.
Gone are the days of physical video stores like Blockbuster and Hollywood video. In those days the distributors held a monopoly on the physical shelf space available for films.
Back then the only way get into a store like Blockbuster was to go through a distributor. With the invention streaming platforms like Netflix and Hulu the old business model is a thing of the past.
In the old days the major benefit to signing with a distribution company was to put your movie in these stores. (a minimum guarantee is pretty much out the window unless you had a A-list celebrity in your film).
With everything going digital, the benefit of these traditional distributors are almost non-existent. That coupled with the horrible deals that were structured at that time, for 9 out of 10 filmmakers I run across I tell them to choose the self distribution option.
Yes a distributor can put your film all major platforms but most offer no marketing or advertising budget. What is the point of being on all of those platforms if no one know its there?
Secondly since all of the shelf space is now digital you can get on most if not all of those same platforms all by yourself.
**I know Amazon direct allows you to upload your film yourself to the platform. The process is a little complicated but very doable. For iTunes and Google Play the filmmaker cannot upload their film directly but has to go through what’s called an “aggregator”. **
An aggregator acts as a middleman in between the filmmaker and the platforms like iTunes.
So your choice is to either go with traditional distribution and give away almost all you’re rights for 17 years, or to pay an aggregator upfront to put yourself on the same platforms but keep 100% royalties.
Even if your film is picked up by a distributor you will have to market and promote it yourself.I know it sounds great to say to all your friends and family that your film is with so-and-so distribution company, but if nobody watches your film what’s the point?
Now that you know what a distributor is and what it does you can make your own decision on whether to self-distribute or not.
What if your film doesn’t have a bunch of big names in it is there anything you can do?
Yes there is.
Without the household names in your film you will have to show the distributors the demand for your project and that people genuinely want to watch your film. You do that by putting your movie on the platforms and then marketing it yourself.
Just like music has the Billboard Charts, film has the IMDB.
Films are categorized popularity. If your film makes it to the top 100 on the IMDb charts then trust me you won’t have to pitch your film companies will come looking for you.
Actors, producers, writers, ect are also ranked by popularity.
With the free IMDB account you won’t be able to see the rankings but if you upgrade to the pro account that feature will become available. Along with each persons/companies contact information.
That is also a way to judge the popularity of your actors are in the film.
Take this with a grain of salt, but safe to say if your actor is in the top 5k on the IMDB you will have no problem selling your film with them as the lead role. (If it doesn’t you will almost always have to release and market the film yourself before taking even taking a meeting)
In closing the most important factor for acquisition teams to think about when deciding on whether or not to offer distribution film is” cast”. If you were blessed enough to have a budget big enough for a big-name cast then you are lucky. You will have no problem selling your film.
If you are like majority of independent filmmakers (without a budget big enough to attract A-list actors) then self distribution is probably your only option.
Lucky for you there are several ways to market or promote a film with no celebrities. (Though the concepts are a little more advanced) I have had clients that I have worked for that were able to receive a distribution deal 4 weeks after self release and marketing of the project.
For most the question shouldn’t be “how can I sell my movie”? It should be how can I find people to watch my movie?
If your movie is as good as you say it is you should have no problem finding an audience on your own.
In a distributors’ mind they are thinking
“if your film is that good then why are you not selling it yourself”?
In these days of digital marketing you don’t need an astronomical budget to reach the consumer. This is not the norm, but I have marketed for projects where we spent less than $1,000 and we were able to sell the film.
If you can prove that your film has an audience they will buy it. I don’t care if you filmed yourself coughing for 90 minutes if you can show that there is an audience for it the distributor will buy.
I know this is not what lot of you wanted to hear but this is the hard truth.
If you have no “cast” then you will almost certainly have to self distribute to get the ball rolling.
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