To Crowdfund Or Not To Crowdfund? Is That The Question? Part 3

“…Consider this: Movies get funded and made every day. I repeat: MOVIES GET FUNDED AND MADE EVERY DAY!Sure, it is tough but it happens. Projects get green lit from the  studios, independent films find their funding, crowdfunded pictures get their money to move forward, and more. These happen all the time.  It all boils down to a simple thought: If others can do it so can you! Keep the faith.”

Crowdfunding Part 3

“In my book the single most important ingredient for hoping to get a project launched IS to have a great movie to make.  It makes it much more likely you will be able to move ahead when you start with something that has incredible value. You should have an excellent script. Top of the line!

First and foremost here is what you need to consider and ask yourself: Do you have a film project worth investing your time, money and energy in? Do you have a film project worth another person investing their time, money and energy in? Do you have a film project worth an audience investing their time, money and energy in? Well, do you? Be honest.

These are important questions. Do you have something great that is worth making? If you can honestly answer yes, you may be on your way. If you cannot, keep looking for a great project.

No one wants mediocre or just okay? Everyone wants to be captivated, they want their attention grabbed and they want to go on a two hour roller coster ride. They want to laugh or cry or both. They want to be involved and live through the characters.

Movies are supposed to be for escape so people can forget the drudgery of their circumstances for a while and be transported somewhere more fun, enjoyable or even terrifying. They want to be entertained and not wonder why they wasted minutes of their life. Make sure your film project is worthy of you, your funders and the people it is intended to please – your audience.

It is true that even with the best script, the best director and the best available cast, the movie still may not get made.  There are many factors in getting a movie produced and all need to line up for it to go. That is the art of juggling a production. There are so many things to work on all at once it IS  like trying to keep a number of balls in the air. Some  productions will make it some will not. This is critical whether crowdfunding or using more traditional methods.

It is important to put together the best possible project so start with. You start with the best script. You seek the best producing team, the best cast and the best crew. You may or may not need any of these ‘attached’ to seek funds but ultimately you want to have the best to work with regardless. Often, you raise seed money first to be able to launch your LLC, set up a bank account and hire on the others.

It is important to have a good entertainment attorney who can advise you when and how to certain things. For example, when DO you launch you LLC,? Some say that should come first, (as I just described) get some money and incorporate.  Others advise that you wait, you don’t need to set up an LLC until you have funds coming from your sources. Investors understand the LLC will follow.

Savvy investors know the all the steps you should too. Seek wise, legitimate, experienced legal counsel. This is not an area you want to skimp on.

Even though some movies do not get made  the money out there for movies is still plentiful.  The proof that there is more than enough money to go around  IS this: even mediocre and terrible movies get funded and released. Haven’t we all wondered, ‘how on earth did this ever get made?’

Whatever  the reasoning behind the financing of a ‘bad movie’, which may have reasons, (often  tax shelters) the movie still got made and released. Most of us like to think that filmmakers don’t set out to make a bad movie but that is simply not the case, there are those who do.

My point is funds can be found! Money is plentiful! Bad movies are part of the  proof that the money is available if the conditions are right.

What are the right conditions that got the movie made regardless of whether  it was a good or bad. It was the ‘deal’,  the tax shelter, a vanity project, it was for any other reasons that some people invested. Apparently, it was to make money or to lose money but it was not to release a great movie. Funny, you wouldn’t think it to be the case but bottom line rules. Good or bad movies are financed because the investors saw fit to invest.

Funds exists. You just have to tap into them.  You are better served if you do everything smart and right from the get-go. Aim high! Make a really good movie. Make a great movie. If you are going to put all this time and work into it you should absolutely love it.

The attitude a filmmaker needs is to maintain is a positive attitude. You should have a great script you are passionate about, that you believe in 1000 per cent.  If you absolutely believe in it and are passionate about it others can jump on board because the believe in you and trust in your commitment. If you have a great script and great package it makes it more likely others will be interested too.

So chose something you will still be passionate about years from now because it could be a long road. It can be easy but it usually isn’t. Raising money is an art and a science that you should learn to do well if you want to produce your own projects.

Once you have  your budget and your producer package together you need to plan how to get financed either by traditional means, crowdfunding, both or by some new novel approach.

The bottom line is that you will have to be dedicated and you will have to know where to look. Fund raising can begin anytime you have a legitimate project to fund raise for.

You will need to know where to look for your money. Perhaps, your investors will be those who are in the field, or interested in the field you movie is about. Perhaps, they are medical people. law enforcement, attorneys, scientists, bankers, who have money and are interested in your topic. Perhaps, they are financial people who have no actual interest in your topic but like a well put together project that has potential.

You could piece them together from all over or it could mostly come from a few or even from one source. You will have to do the leg work to find out who and from what walks of life your investors come from. This is another area where a smart entertainment attorney may be of some help. Sometimes attorneys know people whom they can put you in touch with who are looking for investments. The entertainment attorney may be a useful resource in this area.

Besides a great script/project you REALLY need to know and understand people. You need to understand why and how people invest.  You want to get inside the investor or contributor mindset. You need to understand them to know how to approach them, to pitch them and to sell them. You not only have to know how to do these things you have to know when and how to close them.

Your first thought should be about getting to know these people and understanding their wants and needs. You need to learn how to create rapport with others and how to add value to them.

If you know why they invest and in what they invest you help yourself out in many ways.  As a producer you will spend more of your time raising money than making movies so you ought to understand how the people think that you are trying to get money from. This may be more  important than anything else for you to appreciate and know.

Savvy investors, if they even give you the time of day, will see you coming miles away. They will size you and your project up within seconds of first contact. This is the world of finance! It is not art. This is the world of business. No one cares about you as much as they care about their bottom line. So be prepared. Be professional!  You must have something they want. Be able to speak to them in the language that they speak (finance – not their native tongue) and in the world they understand.

At the very same time understand if you have a great project you may have something of value others will want. YOU also have to qualify investors just as investors will qualify you. Not everyone you approach or who approaches you is worth your time. You will want to learn how to separate the legitimate investor from the person who will waste your time because it makes them feel good to act the big shot around town. Getting legitimate investments is a two-way street.

You have to understand the laws and the rules too. You do not want to violate any in this area. Trust me, you don’t.  Do your homework.

As filmmakers we all want to just make films. In order to do that and make and pay living wages we need to finance our projects. You would be best served to read everything you can. Find someone who will mentor you in the art of financing or fund raising.

Today, filmmakers may be better off getting an MBA and going to business school than going to film school.  At the end of the day it is the business part of show business that rules and that determines who is successful and who isn’t.

Crowdfunding, at least for the time being, may be a way around all the legalities of traditional investing. Still, you have a responsibility to the funding platform, your ‘funders’, your team to be ethical, honest,  and completely above board. Be transparent so people know who you are and what you are all about.

Remember, HOWEVER, you raise funds it takes an enormous amount of energy, planning and working the process.  It is a lot of hard work. The people best suited for it may be the people who already have a passion for it. Perhaps, if this is not an area that you are drawn to you can partner up with someone who is. It requires dedication, passion, know-how and commitment. It requires being both smart and wise.

DO NOT EVER use the funds except as specified and when specified. They should be in escrow or considered escrowed in the case of crowdfunding. You owe perks to you funders always make sure you raise enough for what you intend to do and then some.

So when it comes to getting funded you have to do your homework More about all this next time.” Rex Sikes

Enjoy your day!

(Disclaimer: I do not purport to be an expert in crowdfunding or traditional means of financing. Nor am I able to dispense legal advice. Filmmakers are best served by finding a qualified entertainment attorney to work with and guide them in these areas. I bring up the topic to share a viewpoint and to encourage thinking and discussion).

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