I knew public funding wasn’t an option because, well, it is scarcely available, takes a long time to apply and the lottery funding usually only goes to people who have a proven track record. This being our first film, I had to convince people of our worth as a producer and director team and that we had an amazing idea that just had to be made into a movie.
I also knew that crowd-funding over the time we had wasn’t likely to raise much, especially seeing as we had no concept art or any form of trailer to enable us to stand out amidst the thousands of other film projects online (IndieGoGo). So our main avenue for raising money was going to be private equity. I knew we wouldn’t be able to raise much in the time slot I had allocated so I had to be realistic about the budget. I basically worked out the minimum amount we could shoot on. What were the necessities and how cheap could we get them.
If you want to be taken seriously by investors you must do your research, and also be realistic and honest. I drew up a business plan which detailed everything a potential investor should know about us, the film, the industry, the market and realistically what was achievable. And this wasn’t easy; you can’t get sales estimates for your film without a sales agent attached, which we didn’t have. Also accurate sales figures for comparable films are seldom available. Check out Jim Barratt’s blog on the availability of industry research and statistics.
The best advice I can give when writing an investment proposal is to be as honest as possible, and also as modest as possible. I’ve seen so many of these things where people have a comparables section containing films like Blair Witch, Once or Paranormal Activity. I think you will have more chance of winning the lottery than your film being a breakaway hit comparable to one of those films. I’ve also seen a business plan where someone has quoted the box office gross of a comparable film and clearly suggested that if their film takes a similar amount, the investor will take 50%. They seem to have forgotten about deducting tax, exhibitor share, distributor share, sales agent fees, expenses, more tax. Don’t mislead your investors. Do your research.
By the time we started shooting we had 50% of the budget, which was enough to get the film ‘in the can’ so to speak. Throughout production and well into post, I continued the investment quest. We didn’t want to wait til we were fully funded because there were opportunities and deals available to us at the time, and, well, I was impatient. In hindsight this may have been a poor choice. Post-production has been slow, in part due to the lack of funds and slow process of raising the rest of what we needed. However, if I had decided to postpone the shoot until we had all the money we could have hoped for, I may still be in development with it today.
By the time we were on the final straight, and money was becoming increasingly hard to find, I decided to try something different to attract the attention of potential investors. We had a trailer by then, so I decided to summarise the business plan in a short video – A Video Investment Pitch. We duplicated DVDs of the video and stuck them through a few doors in our area. We also put the video online and sent the link out to who ever we could find.
Sure enough, 4 weeks later we had the rest of the money!
In the end we did also get some lottery funding from Screen South, my regional screen agency, to help finish the film. This was after showing them a rough cut of the film.
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