Indie film financing and movie distribution reminds of what it would feel just like dancing nude on stage (much respect for exotic dancers at Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club!). You show up to pitch your movie project and have to be able to dance to a movie investor’s music. It’s their stage and not yours being an indie filmmaker seeking film funding. They need you to make a sellable movie which appeals to movie distributors so the production will make money.
Most investors I’ve met with are not enthusiastic about putting hard money into indie art house films because those are tough sells to movie distributors and overseas film buyers aren’t usually enthusiastic about seeing them. The dialogue and scenes of certain art house type films don’t translate well to foreign buyers and movie viewers. Action, horror and skin does not want subtitles for people to follow the story is what I’ve been told by distributors. Talking head movies will make no sense to viewers that don’t understand subtle lines spoken in a foreign language.
Independent film financing continues to alter as indie movie distribution gets more financially shaky. The place it’s hitting indie movie producers hardest is right at the foundation – film financing. Film investors at this time aren’t feeling worked up about putting money into movies that not have bankable name actors. This isn’t like so-called indie movies that have A-list actors or are produced for an incredible number of dollars. Those kind of indie film passion projects you possibly can make once you’ve caused it to be in the entertainment business at the studio level.
Indie film investors and movie distributors won’t expect you to have A-list actor, however they do want producers to possess actors (B-list or C-list or D-list) with some name recognition or celebrity. The initial question film investors and movie distributors ask is who the cast is. This really is where most indie movie producers are blown out of the water because they have an as yet not known cast of actors. Plus there’s a glut of indie movies being made because technology has caused it to be more affordable to make movies.
The bright side is that entertaining indie movies are increasingly being made that could not otherwise ever have observed light of day before. The downside is meaningful movie distribution (getting paid) for indie produced films continues to shrink as indie films being made rises (supply and demand 101). I talked to 1 movie distributor that caters to releasing independent films and they told me they receive new film submissions daily.
They were honest saying they get very sellable movies and ones which can be less than appealing, but with so many movies available they no more offer a majority of producers advance money against film royalties or pay a lump cash “buy-out” to secure distribution rights. Their business viewpoint is most indie filmmakers are simply happy seeing their movie released. The term they used was “glorified showreel” for an indie filmmaker to show they are able to make a feature film. So, they acquire many of the movie releases without paying an advance or supplying a “buy-out” agreement.
Not building a make money from a film doesn’t make financial sense for film investors that expect to see money made. When people put up money to generate a movie they desire a return on the investment. Otherwise it’s no more a film investment. It becomes a movie donation of money they’re giving out without expectations. I’ve been on the “dog and pony show” circuit meeting with potential film investors and learning invaluable lessons.
I’m in the habit now of talking to indie movie distributors before writing a screenplay to see what kinds of films are selling and what actors or celebrity names mounted on a potential project attract them. This isn’t like chasing trends, but it offers producers a sharper picture of the sales climate for indie films. Sometimes distributors can give me a quick list of actors or celebrities to think about that suit an unbiased movie budget. Movie sales outside of the U.S. are where a bulk of the money is good for indie filmmakers.
Movie distributors and film sales agents can inform you what actors and celebrity talent is translating to movie sales overseas at the indie level. These won’t be A-list names, but having someone with some type of name is a superb selling point to help your movie standout from others. Brief cameos of known actors or celebrities was once a good way to keep talent cost down and add a bankable name to your cast.
That’s changed lately from my conversations with distribution companies. Movie distributors now expect any name talent attached to really have a meaningful part in the movie instead of a couple of minutes in a cameo role. Cameo scenes can still work when there is a visual hook that grabs the attention of viewers in certain way. But having name talent say a couple of lines without special hook won’t fly anymore.
Another way to make an indie film in need of funding more attractive to investors is to attach talent that has been around a film or TV show of note. ดูหนัง HD Their name being an actor might not be that well-known yet, but rising stars that have appeared in a popular movie or TV show can provide your movie broader appeal. In the event that you cast them in a supporting role keep working days on the set down seriously to the absolute minimum to truly save your budget. Try to write their scenes for them to be shot in 1 or 2 days.
When you’re pitching to serious film investors they may wish to get an in depth movie budget and distribution plan how you want on making money from the film’s release. The Catch-22 that happens a lot is that most movie distributors that focus on releasing indie films won’t commit to any deal until they’ve screened the movie.
There’s not built-in distribution like with studio budget films. Film investors that are not traditionally the main entertainment business could possibly get put off whenever a producer does not have a distribution deal already in place. They don’t understand the Catch-22 of indie filmmaking and distribution. This really is where a movie producer really needs a good pitch that explains the financial dynamics of indie film distribution.
Most film investors will give an indie movie producer’s financing pitch that mentions self-distribution in it. From a film investor’s business perspective it requires entirely a long time for an indie movie to generate money going the self-distribution route. It’s just like the old school method of selling your movie out of the trunk of your vehicle at places, however now it’s done online using digital distribution and direct sales using a blog. That’s a long grind that most investors won’t be interested in holding out for. Moving one unit of a film at any given time is too slow of trickle for investors.
A possible way across the Catch-22 would be to reach out to movie distributors when you are pitching to film investors. With a strong budget number and possible cast attached you can gauge to see when there is any meaningful distribution fascination with the movie. It’s always possible a vendor will show you that they would offer an advance or “buy-out” deal. They usually won’t offer you a hard number, but even a ballpark figure of what they could offer can inform you if your budget makes financial sense to approach movie investors with.
I know one savvy indie movie producer which makes 4-6 movies per year on very good budgets and knows they’re already building a make money from the advance money alone. The film royalty payments are a bonus. The producer keeps budgets extremely affordable and streamlined at every phase of production. Once you’ve a background with a distribution company you know what you can expect to be paid. Then you can offer film investors a percent on the money invested into the production which makes sense.
Social networking with other indie filmmakers allows you to hear what’s happening with movie distribution from other people’s true to life experiences. An awesome thing I’ve been hearing about is that there are film investors that won’t put up money to make movie that will probably be self-distributed, but they will roll the dice on a feature that will probably specific film festivals. Not the art house film festivals. The ones that are extremely genre specific like for horror or action films. Like Screamfest Horror Film Festival or Action on Film (AOF). Film buyers attend these events and meaningful distribution deals are made.
Independent film financing and movie distribution are regions of the entertainment business all filmmakers will have to deal with and learn from each experience. I was in the hot seat today pitching to a movie investor. I’ve streamlined the budget around I could without making the plot lose steam.
The jam I’m in as a manufacturer is there are hard costs that cannot be avoided including plenty of gun play including two rigging shots where baddies get shot and are blown backwards off their feet. Badass action films need experienced and seasoned film crews to pull-off hardcore action shots off clean and safe. The cast I do want to hire has the right appeal and name recognition for this indie action movie to rock viewers. There’s nothing that can get lost in the translation in this film for foreign film buyers and movie viewers.
What I think got lost in the translation with the potential film investor today is if I keep taking out below-the-line crew to truly save money I’m planning to have to do rewrites to the screenplay to take out action scenes. These are selling points that may hurt sales if they are written out. But it’s my job being an indie filmmaker to balance a budget that appeals to film investors. We’ll see how this goes. This really is indie filmmaker Sid Kali typing fade out.