Is it necessary or even a good idea to create a Business Plan for your independent feature film?
The short answer is no, it isn’t necessary and yes, it is a good idea.
It isn’t a necessity because I have very rarely in my 35 year career had to deliver a full-fledged Business Plan to an investor in order to get a deal done. I’ve sent different parts of such a plan to various parties – the financial projections for example being requested by an investor’s accountant or the budget sent to a Completion Bond company where a bond is an investor requirement– but never the entire B-plan.
Getting an investor in the gate has to do more with the level of trust they have for you individually and with the personnel involved in the project. You’ll need a team to get a film made, whether that team is a dozen people or 10 dozen people depending on the size and scope of your production. Filmmaking is not really a “go it alone” kind of deal.
So if no one will ever ask for it, why should you do it?
For me, the main reason is how the process of putting together this document will make you a better fund raiser.
You need to fully think through all of the steps in your production from determining the right amount of money, getting that money, spending that money most effectively and getting that money back to your investors.
Filmmaking is a process, often a long and complicated process, and those of you who embrace that and take all of the right steps are better positioned to succeed. You need a roadmap to get through, to anchor you, and the Business Plan along with its offshoots- Look Books, Schedules, Budgets, etc. – will set the guideposts you will follow on your journey. You may, from time to time, need to update things as new information comes in or as circumstances change but revising an existing plan is much easier than creating one from scratch.
The critical component in creating a Business Plan is in fact, the act of creating it. Going through that process will force you to clearly articulate what your project is about, substantiate the value of your project and create a detailed plan for completion and exploitation of your project. You will become more knowledgeable about your project anyhow it is positioned in the marketplace. Just as important, you will have the confidence that comes from being on solid ground when discussing it.
Should I buy an off-the-shelf business plan? We’ll take a look at that question next time.