And How to Fund Your Film too
The beauty of film is the art of the artists. Actors creatively express the creations of the writers, producers and director. It is a world of art.
One probably never would dream of the corporate influence upon these expressions of art. But it is there, all over it. One might argue, though it would definitely have to be an insider, that negotiating with film financing companies is an art in and of itself. This art is born out of the creativity on the part of film producers and film investors. The goal of the producer is to somehow obtain enough funding to carry out her or his vision of the film. The goal of the movie investor is to influence the film as much as possible in such a way as to make it hyper sellable at the box office and conducive to the company’s marketing objectives. Together, these two parties must find a win-win option. The sometimes experimental and free mind of movie artists and the overly disciplined minds of the film equity sources must create workable, common ground.
Chris O’Falt with IndieWire catalogues some of these recent deals between equity sources and producers. In these negotiations, one thing seems consistent throughout. The two parties are entering into an agreement in which neither knows for sure how it will all turn out. The film producers hope to get as much money with as little consequences as possible. The film equity investors want to invest as little money as possible while getting as much return on profits as possible. In O’Falt’s accounts, the two typically find a win-win solution. And that win-win relationship leads to future projects with similar negotiations. Producers can make films. Companies can make profits. Both are doing what they always had set out to do.
Bryan Sullivan with Forbes spells out the various methods available to funding a film. He mentions some of the negotiations he has seen take place between film producer and film investor. Of these, he mentions equity, pre-sales, loans/gap or bridge financing, tax credits, crowdfunding, and deferred payment. Sullivan fleshes out these negotiations in the example of the Coen brothers. Their first film was nothing short of a struggle, when it comes to finding investors. He writes that “many people don’t know that the brothers struggled to raise $750,000 for their first film ‘Blood Simple’ (1984). They ultimately locked in about 65 private investors (entrepreneurs, doctors and small business owners) with most of them contributing $5,000 to $10,000. The film grossed just under $4,000,000 at the box office.”
Funding a film can be done. And finding a film equity investor is not impossible. Sharon Swart of Variety sees the positive effects of this struggle: “It means fewer and, hopefully, better projects will get made, which should help ease the glut of films that flooded the marketplace over the past several years.” Win-win negotiation is the only way. Two completely ways of viewing the world must enter into dialogue and find common interests on common ground. The artist must think with financial discipline. The corporation must free itself to dream beyond the value of a dollar. Together, these two unlikely partners can create a world of experience for the moviegoer.