Q: Do you approach investors first or talent first? That is, if you have a script that is fully developed, what is the first phone call you make?
Kelsey (via the Film Method mail bag)
That’s a good question because it can be a bit of a catch 22. It really depends on the topic of the script. For example, the first feature I made was written and directed by a survivor of the Columbine High School shootings. Because of the topic and the fact that a survivor was directing, we didn’t need actors attached in order to secure funding. The writer/director played that role for us in a way.
If you are going to make a movie that is a bit more typical, it might be about the same topic, but you don’t have a direct relationship to the subject, then you will most likely need talent attached. This can be really challenging because in order to attach talent, they will require funding most of the time. You see where the catch 22 comes in. This is why it is so important for you as a producer or filmmaker to network and create the relationships within the film community. It can take years to cultivate the types of relationships you need to get someone of name attached to your project, so you should start now. But, I will say this, you NEVER know what an actor or manager is looking for so put your project out there. Start to contact agents at the same time as investors. If it’s your first film, try to find someone who has done it before so that they can help you navigate the waters.
I wish I could tell you specifically which to go to, but like most things in this process, there is no one-way to do it. The most important thing is to have a solid business plan, a solid script, passion and perseverance. It will take a while and it will be bumpy at parts so if you are not 100% thrilled and passionate about the project, not only will the people you’re talking to be able to tell, but there will be nothing to get you through those rough patches.
In this episode we welcome back our friend John Cones from Season One. John sheds light on some of the very important rules and laws about raising money for your film and he also talks about the filmmaker’s obligation to his or her investors during the pre-production period. When should you start pre-production? When the money is in the bank.
Episode Twenty Guests
John Cones- Securities Attorney
John Cones is a securities/entertainment attorney who has practiced in Los Angeles for eighteen years advising independent feature film producers and others on matters relating to investor financing of feature film and other entertainment projects. He has prepared or participated in the preparation of business plans and/or the required securities disclosure documents, along with Blue Sky compliance for more than 250 such offerings during his 18 year securities law career, including public and private production-money offerings for feature films, television pilots, documentaries, infomercials, live stage plays and Internet companies. His clients have produced or distributed some 51 feature and documentary films with funds raised through such offerings. Mr. Cones also works with entrepreneurs on investor financing of business start-ups. In addition to several articles, he has authored six books on those same topics including Introduction to the Film Industry- A Guide for Students, Filmmakers and Scholars, Dictionary of Film Finance and Distribution- A Guide for Independent Filmmakers, Film Industry Contracts, 43 Ways to Finance Your Film, The Feature Film Distribution Deal and Hollywood Wars. He also hosts a Q&A Internet site about investor financing of entertainment projects at http://www.mecfilms.com/coneslaw/finforum.htm He is a member of the California and Texas bar associations. Mr. Cones resides in Westlake Village, California.
For more information about John or to contact him please visit his website.
Jenna Edwards- Resident Producing Advisor
For more information about Jenna see the About page or click here.
The task of raising money for your independent film can be a bit overwhelming. The good news is that there are professionals who are willing to help independent filmmakers foster relationships with investors. There are also attorneys who can help protect the creative types to ensure that laws are followed while raising money for their films.
When in the business of making a film, one should think about hiring people who know about business. People such as accountants and lawyers provide invaluable services… and they don’t have to cost an arm and a leg! Before you are tempted to tune out this “business-centric” episode, you might want to re-consider in order to learn something you didn’t know about the significant role of an accountant in a film project. In this episode we’ll discuss business tasks that you may be able to handle yourself and those that may be easier handled by a seasoned professional.