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November 21 at 8:15am

Towards A Sustainable Investor Class: Have A Good Time

If you don’t enjoy what you do you won’t stay with it.  

Freud and The Ancient Greeks all recognized that you need a balance between work, love, and play.  For a system to be sustaining, it should have an equal balance between all three. It has be something you care about, that your labor and time can improve and produce just rewards, and it has to deliver joy. Film investment can be [...]


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November 14 at 8:15am

Towards A Sustainable Investor Class: Deliver Risk Appropriate Returns

The Film Industry has historically sought out “dumb money”, people willing to make the sucker bet.  This is akin to basing the global transportation system on fossil fuel — at a given time ,you run out the resource and have the joy of having destroyed your planet or culture in the process.  Why are we doing this? Isn’t it time this process stopped? Can we just find the photos of those responsible now, put them on the wall, and say “These people destroyed what we once loved?”

It is as if The Studios make sport of trying to make sure that the creators and their supporters don’t earn their fair share.  By now everyone knows both the tales of [...]


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September 6 at 8:15am

Staged Financing MUST Become Film Biz’s Immediate Goal

Each day I become more and more convinced that staged financing could be a cure to much of the Film Biz’s ills.  Staged financing?  What?  Is the phrase not exactly center of your conversations right now?  Why not?!! Whatsamattawidyou? Don’t you know a good solution when you see one? [...]


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December 18 at 11:00am

We Need To Make Indie Film Work For Investors!

It’s pretty simple.  When people make money doing something, more money enters that system.  And it is pretty simple in the reverse: when some people make a bucketload and those that invested in it make virtually nothing, less money flows into the system.

If distributors don’t pay creators their fair share of the profits, their won’t be movies made. Or maybe the investors will get wise and stop selling the distributors the film.  After all we are at a time that you can really do it yourself (by doing it with others).  And to be clear, “fair share” doesn’t mean paying them what contract swindles them out of — it means paying them an ethical cut.  And that sure in hell ain’t 12.8% of the profits — which is what happened on one of the most successful indie films of recent times. [...]


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February 18 at 8:15am

The New Model Of Indie Film Finance, v2011.1 Domestic Value & Funding

This was once going to be a single post.  Today is part three.  There will be at least two more to come.  I started it here. And then yesterday we tried to determine the factors for accessing foreign value.  Today, let’s look stateside.

Until the double whammy of Toronto 2010 & Sundance 2011, it looked like the US acquistion market for feature content had fully collapsed.  No reasonable P&L would have shown more than a modest six figures for US acquisitions.  Hybrid & DIY models have not been developed yet to consistently deliver returns in excess of this amount (or even at these figures).  Perhaps this is now changing, but it would still be foolish for any filmmaker or investor to expect this and we can’t budget for such expectation.

How many of the 7500 films produce in the US annually return 20% of their negative cost from US licenses?  Although it puts emerging filmmakers at a great disadvantage, I think the surest determining factor for predicting US acquisition potential is [...]


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February 16 at 8:18am

The New Model Of Indie Film Finance, v2011.1, Foreign Value

Today continues my efforts to try to define the takeaway from the two most recent and robust US acquisition markets of Sundance & Toronto.  I (and hopefully we) will try to extrapolate from them where we are today.  How can we use our most recent experiences to determine the reality of our filmed dreams today?  How can we move to a more realistic model of indie film finance?

Foreign estimates still set the initial value for films, and it is CAST that is the predominate determinator for this value.  Before a film is shot, there are three types of actors that mean something to foreign buyers:

  • 1) stars that have been in big hits in the relevant territories;
  • 2) stars that have been in popular television shows in those territories;
  • 3) stars that can be expected to generate a great deal of publicity everywhere.

Other than stars, there are a few other aspects of a film that create foreign value.  Stars are another entity altogether from cast or actors — and it is really the stars that determine foreign value.

Are there any other factors that help shape what your project is determined to be worth overseas? Fortunately, yes!   [...]


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November 22 at 8:00am

Film Finance Overwhelm (pt.2)

Stacey Parks returns with a guest post — and a sequel.

Because Film Finance Overwhelm (Part 1) was such a popular post, I decided to do a Part 2. And because many of the comments and emails I got came in the form of questions, I decided to make the format of this post in Q+A form. I think seeing the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions will clear things up for many of you.

As a refresher, the 4 Film Financing components I talked about in Part 1 – the ones that are working in today’s market to independently finance films outside of the studio system are as follows:

1. Tax Incentives
2. Partnering With Production Companies
3. Pre-Sales
4. Crowd Funding

So let’s move on to Q+A…shall we?

Q: What are the benefits from both sides of partnering with a Production Company or more experienced Producer?

A: The obvious benefit to the new or less-experience Producer is pretty obvious – you get to leverage someone else’s track record to get your film made. But what about the benefit to the other Producer (the bigger one)? [...]


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