Hey Frank, Do You Know Any Investors?

How many times to do I hear that one? Happened again last week. It's really beginning to become a burr under my saddle. It's becoming a euphemism for "do you know any suckers who will give me a gift of money?". These filmmakers rarely have a business plan, which means they have no idea how they will ever return the money lent to them, much less give the "investor" a return on that "investment". That's really fraud. That's why there are laws against these types of scams. These filmmakers seemingly have never heard of the Securities and Exchange Commission or its regulations. Raising funding for movies is really hard... and a rigorously regulated enterprise. Let's face it, most ultra low budget movies are going to be self-funded. If you do find anybody to give you money... it IS a gift. So when I hear questions like that so naively thrown out there, it says someone obviously was too lazy to do the homework. And it demeans those of us who are working hard to learn about the business of this business.
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  • Aw, Thanks guys. Appreciate your thoughts. As I mentioned to Marty this week, the problems with these producers is something that is internal with them and not easily solvable with outside influences...although I could take a baseball bat to Leonard Carillo for his selfishness.
  • Wow! Sounds like the challenge has been issued! Hey Frank, why can't we get Joyce off her duff and get this Doing Time" done? I know someone who spoke to her recently and She said it was in "post" production. Hey, I'd even be willing to help gosse it a little...broker a meeting...make some encouraging phone calls...whatever it takes!
  • Dang it Jason... You said it all, and with very kind words...Thank you! Actually I've already shot TWO full length feature movies as the DP. Unfortunately, the producers could never get their acts together to actually release both "The Final Job" or "Doing Time". I learned the lesson to never shoot other peoples work with the "expectation" that they will finish their work. If they can't do it, all your efforts go down the drain with them...and destroys the friendships involved.
    At first I was taken aback by your word "practice" as it relates to my 20 other short movies I've made. One the one hand, those little movies stand on their own as film works... On the other hand, you're right...Is that all I'm going to do? You're holding my feet to the fire...and challenging me to raise my personal bar. Thank you for that. You're asking the question" WILL you do it Frank?? Full length features are such a commitment of resources...a year or two in the making when you add in all the pre-production and post-production marketing, etc....It might even seem the making of the movie is the easiest part...certainly, the most fun part. But you are issuing a personal challenge nonetheless... and I appreciate it. Thank you Jason.
  • Frank, I am in total agreement with what you say. I would only add that I am excited to be in the audience when you make your first film. I've seen your practice work in films such as "Beatrice And The Bicycle Thief" and "11 Bravo Diaries", as well as all your previous amateur work. I'm really thinking that your first film will be a good one with all the practice you've put in. Not only that, with all the investors you are connected with, you will have no problem getting the funding for your films. There is no limit to what, not only you can imagine, but what you can create with the amount of money you will have access to. Definitely looking forward to your first film. Jason.
  • Julie... I think we're really talking about two different things here: (1) What it means to be a filmmaker and (2) How to get money for my venture. I think you're addressing #1 while I'm talking about #2. I don't feel at all demeaned by new filmmakers. Quite the opposite, I go out of my way to support new filmmakers who are serious about working on their craft...I think that's well known in this town. I'm not talking about filmmaking per se, I'm not talking about distribution, I'm not talking about business risks, I'm not talking about "foolproof" investments. I am talking about HOW filmmakers ask for the money. I'm talking about being serious about business if you going to play with business people. That's the two worlds of filmmaking... There's the fun, artsy part... and then there's the business part if you chose to enter it (and you don't have to if you're doing things just for yourself). But to ask "Hey Frank, do you know any investors? shows a naivete of the business part, at best... and has nothing to do with their perhaps seriousness as filmmakers.
    Besides, if I did...Why in the world would I share that valuable information with people who don't seem to take the business part seriously and then have those investors get angry with me because of the wannabees I referred to them. That would damage my reputation... which is another part of that silly question.
  • To knock people for the way in which they phrase a question is again, judgemental. If you're looking for funding, you're looking for funding, regardless of the way in which you phrase the inquiry. And let's say you do have a detailed business plan for your finished film -- there is still absolutely no guarantee you will sell the finished product. Regardless of how you present it, filmmaking is a financial risk, that was my point. Your comment about the "Lightning Strike" -- every single film that gets distribution or is shown in theaters is a lightning strike. You can say it any way you want, but with risk comes luck. Somehow I doubt there is anyone out there that can present a foolproof method of making a profit on their film. The simple fact is, as a filmmaker, you put your product out there and you hope someone buys it. There are no guarantees and there will never be guarantees. So yes, luck is a HUGE part of the filmmaking industry. And I think you tipped your hand to me with your comment that the word investor implies the "potential" for a return. Nowhere in that statement does it guarantee investors a return. And I'm sorry if you feel demeaned by new filmmakers, but that's the nature of this business. I may not know everything about the film industry and I don't pretend to, but I know I make films and so far, I've been taken very seriously. A filmmaker's body of work speaks of their seriousness, not the way they ask about investors.
  • I understand the nature of your comments Julie...but I still stand by mine. You tip your hand with your last few sentences that I think make my point...where you talk about "filmmakers look for "business partners"'. Most filmmakers I know don't have a clue about "business" in general, much less the business of "the film business". So when a question is blurted out such as "...do you know any investors?"...How can that be the credible search question for a "business partner" when there certainly is no mention of a business plan or prospectus presentation, which a "business partner" is sure to require. It has all the indices of someone simply asking "who can I get some money from?" AND the very use of the term "Investor" does indeed imply that there will be a potential for the return of the Investment and a return on the investment. For most of these people, that plan doesn't exist. It is merely a hope and a prayer...with somebody else's money.
    I didn't say that these folks weren't serious about making their movie... but how can they be "serious about the filmmaking business" as you mentioned, when they don't approach it in a business-like manner?
    This post had nothing to do with predicting a film's financial outcome. Or to bring up films that were the financial equivalent of a Lightning Strike... Should that be part of their Business Plan? Here in Step 12 we will have incredible good luck.
    As you said, "not all investments are 100% about money". That's correct, but then they should be rightly called Gifts or Donations, not investments,,,again, which implies a "return".
    And I do not mean they are an idiot by blurting out the question. I do mean it appears they have not done their homework and perhaps should have phrased their request to ask "Do you know any people we might give our investment presentation too?". The simplistic way the question was presented is somewhat demeaning to those who gone to great lengths to have studied the Business of The Business. We know better if we are to be taken seriously in the Business Community.
  • I'm sorry, but I have to disagree. To just assume anyone who is looking for funding is not at all serious about the filmmaking business seems to me to be a very judgemental thing to say. Investing in any film is a risk, even a big budget studio film. Even the studios themselves cannot predict what audiences will respond to, and they often lose money on films. And every year, there is at least one ultra low budget indie film that finds mass audience appeal -- Napolean Dynamite, Paranormal Activity to name a few recent ones. And yes, the filmmakers probably funded these films themselves, but if there was an investor, they stood to get their return back. Yes, it would be a risk. But if you believe in what a filmmaker is doing creatively, it is a smart decision to invest. Not all investments are 100% about money. Just because someone is coming to you to ask the simple question of "Do you know of any investors?" does not mean they are an idiot. And it is not naive to ask around, especially to ask someone who has been in the business here for a long time and may know serious film investors. It is only fraud if they promise a return and never plan on giving one. I don't believe seeking investors to get your film made is a scam; it's a business and just like any business, filmmakers look for "business partners". EVERY business is a risk and EVERY investment carries that risk, whether it's in the film industry or not.
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