The Art and Science of Independent Film Financing

I believe there is an art and science to dealing with independent film financing. The art is being able to find money to make a movie and the science is being able to use that money wisely.

It’s a tragicomedy of sorts when a filmmaker is able to secure money to make their movie only to burn through it before they can finish their movie. Running out of money can happen during filming or post production.

The art of film financing can be difficult for some filmmakers because they are looking at their potential movie from a creative perspective. Making movies is a business. Filmmakers need to package their movie with investors in mind. Unless you’re totally self-funding a movie you’re going to need to apply standard business principals to attract other people’s money (OPM).

Movie investors by nature are risk takers because it’s not like they are putting money into a blue chip stock. They are investing in a screenplay, director, cast, and film crew. What motivates movie investors to put hard earned cash into financing a film vary. Most common motivations I’ve experienced are they want to make a profit, they just flat out want to be involved with the making of a movie, or they believe in you as a filmmaker (that’s the best in my view). Or all three!

Before you begin approaching investors do a few things first. Get a website or blog up about your upcoming movie. Post what the movie is about, who is involved, and how movie investors can contact you. It does not have to be flashy. Basics are good. A movie poster, full synopsis of what the movie is about and any other information you want people to know about your movie.

Prepare an investor pitch package and save it on PDF to email out. I like to include a mock movie poster (always smart to have artwork), a killer tagline (snappy slogan used to hype a movie), a brief concise synopsis (summary of the plot), and any letters of attachment from key cast and crew. When people get serious you can send them a full version of the screenplay, rough budget and what compensation you are offering (potential return on investment stuff).

The science of independent film financing is how to budget money once you get it. It’s a lot harder then it might sound. Sadly, many indie movies go unfinished because the filmmaker runs out of money. Sure, there are times a “Force Majeure” (superior force) comes into play stopping a movie from ever getting finished. Most of the time it simply boils down to poor budgeting. A film budget in my opinion is as important as the screenplay.

Film financing is much more detailed then I can share in this short post. I recommend you join (it’s FREE) to hear how industry professionals handle film financing. I also recommend reading The First Movie Is The Toughest: A Filmmaker’s Story Of How It Was Done cover to cover (shameless plug for my own book). You would be amazed that budgeting begins before you type one word of your screenplay. Budget first, screenplay second. This is indie filmmaker Sid Kali typing FADE OUT.

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