Getting 2014 Started

Happy New Year to all! I’m excited to get 2014 up and running. I’ve got lots of new projects and new ventures beginning in the coming months. I’ll be starting the year with an evening at The Film Interchange on January 15th where I will be talking about a topic that is the inspiration for my first E-book that will be coming out in February.  The book is called “Money for Movies” and the topic is pretty self-evident: Financing.

It’s what occupies most of a producer’s day – whether you’re looking for it, trying to figure out how much of it you need or managing it during the course of a production – every day, financing is on your mind. I think it’s fair to say that we’ve all developed our methods of budgeting and managing the money required for making a project. It’s the first piece, “finding it” that presents the biggest challenge.

I still struggle with this one every day. How can I know who’s got money and what they are looking for? What do I need to present that will get them excited about my project? What are the things that I can DO?

The idea of “activities” is really important when you are sitting around waiting for that phone to ring. (By the way, it never rings all by itself unless you get to work!) It’s crucial that you have something to DO both to move your project forward and to maintain your sanity.

Without realizing it, I started organizing myself around certain types of tasks and out of that was borne what I call the “Five P’s of Financing” – the Package, the Plan, the Pitch, the Prospects and the Partners. It seems like all of my activities for every type of project (I know, I know… enough with the “Ps”!) fall under one of these headings.   The headings seem self-evident but in summary, here’s what I am talking about:

Package: this includes your script, your cast and your director

Plan: includes things like your schedule and your budget

Pitch: how you sell your project and, by the way, it’s much, much more than what is referred to as the “elevator pitch”.

Prospects: the places – the companies, the individuals – that might bring full or partial funding to your project.

Partners: the people and/or companies who can help you along the way.

I also try to take something that I learned about filmmaking in general and apply it to the mystery of finding money. Research is your friend. It’s what we used to call “a trip to the library” except now the library is at your fingertips; on your laptop or smart phone or tablet. To paraphrase Robert McKee, research is good because it will either point out something that you didn’t know or confirm something you did know. Research is a key tool for the writer, the director and the actors but it is also something done by every department head on a film. And it can be fun.

What kind of research does a producer do? Well, that depends on which of the Five Ps you are working on. It might be finding out the latest about tax incentives if you’re working on your budget. It might involve researching visual effects, locations, comparable films… a whole array of areas that will help you learn more about the market and about your project specifically.

I’ll be getting into much greater detail about all this at the January 15th evening at Film Interchange so be sure to join us if you can.

In the meantime, I wanted to wish everyone a happy and healthy holiday and a prosperous new year.

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