How Do You Vet Film Investors on FilmProposals?

by Jeff (Connecticut)

Melissa - I think FilmProposals.com is an interesting idea. However, occasionally when I've followed up on some of the featured investor leads, they have turned out to be a bit sketchy -- either of the bait-and-switch variety, or even up-front-fee-scammers. I am curious how you vet these individuals?

I would love the opportunity to touch base with you personally about your web site and to find out how and why you started it. I'm curious whether you are a filmmaker, venture capitalist, etc.

FYI, I have a camera ready movie project based on a short story by a superstar author and with 'Famous Actor' attached. Would love to tell you more.

Thanks, Jeff (email removed)

The Harsh Reality of Finding and Working with Film Investors

FilmProposals Answer (to all Filmmakers):

Hi Jeff - thanks so much for your great question! Normally, I ignore the 50+ identical questions per week I get just like yours, but in this case, I am going to answer. Please bear in mind, I am speaking to ALL FilmProposals site visitors and independent filmmakers - not just to you.

This is going to be a very harsh response...but it is honest and I believe sometimes people need to hear reality. I know in my experience, I grew the most from the times in my life when someone 'gave it to me straight.'

You MUST demonstrate you take Film Investors seriously before Investors will be serious about you...

First, why I started this site is on the About FilmProposals page. You contacted me from the private submission form which CLEARLY states the ONLY reasons for private contact, and specifically says it is NOT for "Film Making, Investing, Producing or Publicity questions." Should I assume you read and ignored everything on that page or didn't understand what was written?

Strike 1 - No one is giving 3 seconds of time, much less $1,000s, to anyone who clearly can't follow instructions.

How does FilmProposals vet the film investors on the site? Some I have worked with personally, some I know from the industry and some are free to post their information online. In the last category, only 2 have been approved in the last year, as the majority of submissions are loan scammers and rejected. As long as they are legitimate companies, they are free to post.

I don't know your definition of sketchy, bait and switch or up-front-fee-scammers. What makes a company or investor legitimate or a scammer? There are a dozen answers to that question and everyone, depending on their background, will have a different take on this. Of course, your attorney is the only one who can make this judgment.

Is a fee-for-service necessarily a scam? NOT AT ALL! Based on what you said above, "FYI, I have a camera ready movie project based on a short story by a superstar author and with A-List Talent attached. Would love to tell you more," FilmProposals would charge you JUST for a 15 minute conversation.

Strike 2 - Your email is all about you and nothing about the Investor!

These examples are actual emails, of which we receive 10x/week (including typos). Of course, we delete them all without responding:

  • "I have a great idea of movie and want to sell. Basically the idea is about vampires. Are you interested?"
  • "i have superb script nd m really intrested to make a movie so plz help me finance"
  • "i am a good actor and script writter looking for q producer to produce my movies"
  • "I want to make a film about the drug abuse on our First Nation and hold nothing back I don't need much call me 506 xxx -0205 thank you"
  • "How do I get investors like Angel to cone on board"

When you start to see all these emails together, can you begin to understand why NO ONE is going to respond? Do they all read alike to you? Do any of these make you want to hit the "reply" button and say "He** Yes, Sign Me Up"? These emails are EXACTLY what we say NOT TO DO all over the Film Proposals site and in our Film Financing Tools. As a matter of fact, we offer best practice scripting for how to successfully approach investors.

FilmProposals gets 1000s of visitors per day, 1000s of Independent Film Pitches and our Facebook Fan page has over 30,000 fans. The number of (want to be) independent film makers to potential investors is about 1 Million to One. While that is probably an exaggeration, I'm sure you get the idea. You are in some serious competition. Stand Out!

Think about this, why would anyone respond to your statement above at no charge? Give us ONE reason to even respond...

Do you know business? Do you have a budget? Have you ever managed money before? Do you have an attorney? Do you have a business plan? Have you raised any money yourself? What percent? Are you an experienced film maker or new to the industry?

Strike 3 - I can delete your email or waste my time asking you VERY BASIC questions. Which would you do?.

And the most important question of all...for FilmProposals and ANY investor...WHAT DO I GET OUT OF TAKING THE TIME TO TALK TO YOU? Why should I choose to talk to you over the 100s of requests received on a weekly basis?

Take a look at this Film Investor, who CLEARLY states in her post, "Contact Me Directly." Yet, you can see over 10 film makers just posted their information online. Same thing with this Film Investor. Note: All commenting and contact information has now been removed from the Film Investor pages for this reason.

Would YOU want to work with these people? Would YOU write them a check and trust them with your money? They can't even follow simple directions.

As you can imagine, just getting through all the questions I mention above could take 3-4 hours (and that's without reading a script). When you're talking to business people, who are usually the ones with money to invest, they ALWAYS need to know what's in it for them. You have less than 30 seconds to convey this, and when you don't, they will focus on the next project that does tell them what they get, without a second glance at yours.

While I know this is harsh response to your question, it is for the good of all independent film makers. There are so many of you out there, many with wonderful ideas and potential, but there isn't a company in the world who could work with all your film financing requests at no charge.

What makes FilmProposals different is that we ALWAYS respond to our customers. Not just because they've paid for our Business Plan Tools, but because I know we will speak the same language after they learn about the film business. We also know they will be one of the very few who DO get an investors attention after using our Film Business Plan tools. That doesn't mean we connect every customer to an investor, or even the majority of them, but as it turns out, the majority of them, once prepared, are easily able to find their own Film Investors.

Response Submitted by: Alexis

Harsh?

(trying to do too many things at once leads to not following directions)

Is it harsh? Maybe. Is it honest? Yes. Too many people suffer from rectocranial inversion and are not looking at the REAL big picture. Business (in general, not just this one) is tough. A bank won't give out a loan to someone that walks in and says, "I want to open a bike shop... I know a lot about them and Lance Armstrong is a friend and will promote for me." Why should an investor be any different about a film project?

Also, what do you have to back up your claims/needs? Have a line item budget for all the money you are asking? On top of that, how about the letters of intent? Even better, a director's reel, to show you can handle a project of the size? How about information about projects you have produced? Let them know you are serious and they will treat you as such.


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