The 10 things you MUST do to attract film investors have been cultivated over 16 years in the film industry and being able to work with 1000's of filmmakers. Our experience allowed us to analyze and learn from those who have achieved success and made their indie film vs. those we never hear from again. We lay out all the crucial steps to set you up to be the former - the successful indie filmmaker. This article focuses solely on investors, and not crowd funding or donations, as that is our specialty. You'll notice several themes throughout the article: you must do the work, you must take financing and investors seriously and you must close the gaps where you cannot meet both those criteria on your own.
This is the first time I wrote a scenario and would like to shoot a film according to my scenario. It is a film about xyz. Now I am looking for some funding to implement my ideas and make a fiction film.
- Signed, Lazy, Inexperienced, Unprepared Filmmaker who will not succeed
Do The Work
Is there anything about the sentences above that make you want to write a check? Do you even want to respond to the email? Does that sound like an investment opportunity to you? Of course not. It sounds lazy, unprepared, inexperienced and like someone who can't bother to read two articles about film financing before reaching out. Who would trust that person with their money?
Unless you are self or friend and family financing, there is only one way to get strangers to invest with you, and that is to DO THE WORK! There is no way around this. There is no list of investors where you email them your great idea for a screenplay and get money in return. You must read and learn for days and weeks about production, financing, marketing, distribution and just as important, who are the right investors for your project? The learning curve is not just for investing purposes, it directly benefits your movie. Home movies have their place, we all love to watch them. But what is the point of making a commercial movie if you have no idea who it is for, how it will be seen, how much it will cost to make and who is going to fund the production?
Every single contact you have with anyone about money needs to highlight what is in it for them. Imagine you have $100,000 to spend on anything you want in the world. Now go over your over pitch, which needs to be an offer, not an About Me statement. Ask yourself, does it make you want to write that $100K check? Is it compelling? Irresistible? Investment-Worthy? If it is not all those things and more, go back and do it again. Rehearse it with everyone you know until it leaves the right investors with no choice, but to want to invest in your project.
If this overwhelms you, or you think you can shortcut the process, go get a job as a screenwriter or filmmaker and get paid to make other people's work. There is nothing wrong that and maybe you can make connections for down the road when you are ready to do the work required to be an indie filmmaker.
However, if what you want now is to make your own movie, then get serious and start learning from the 1200+ articles on this site, our FREE Business Plan Course and/or our Film Financing Toolkit. If you can’t manage to do that much, consider whether or not you really want to be a filmmaker.
Know Your Role
Are you a director, producer, finance person, all of the above? Get clear on what you can and will do for your film, where you have the credibility in these roles for which someone might pay, and then find all the right people to complement the areas where you need to demonstrate more experience. 10 Keys to Film Finance states, "Don't pitch yourself as the "creative type" who doesn't really understand film finance. "Every self-respecting producer should know the nuts and bolts of co-production, accessing soft money, working with tax credits and so on."
Know the costs of the film as well as tax credits, pre sales, soft money, product placement and other financing methods." Producers deal with money every day, whether it be fundraising, budgeting, allocating or investing, finances are a part of a producer's job. If this isn't your comfort zone, and just thinking about finance sends you running for the hills, then don't be a producer, hire one. It's perfectly OK to be the creative person, but then you need find the finance person. You can't pretend to be into finances if all you want is to work on the creative side. However, if you are a producer, then act like one and embrace everything having to do with finances and film. As the PSA says, "The more you know..."
Take Investors Seriously
Here are examples of actual emails Filmproposals receives all time - about 10 per week (including the typos). Do any of these people sound like they take investors seriously? Are they making an offer? Do they value the time and money of the person they are contacting? Did they put any amount of time into understand financing? Who wants to break out their check book after reading these? Would you even hit the reply button to bother with so much as "no thank you," never mind pick up the phone?
- "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"
- "Hey Melissa, Thanks for accepting my invitation [on Linked In]. You betcha I'm looking for funding! How can you help? Stay Groovy, James"
- "My name is Jonathan and I am a screenwriter, editor, filmmaker and teacher. I was making an angel movie entitled "XYZ" for international distribution, but unfortunately run into an Asian scam: after paying a big upfront for one million dollar financier, he gave us green light and we started the project only to discover I was betrayed and now owe money to my family...."
If you want investors to take you seriously, you must - and I can't emphasize this enough - must show you respect their time and money. The only way to show this respect is to put serious time, effort and thought into your pitch. This time and effort also goes towards finding out who they are, what their passions are and the type of the investor they are. Have they invested in prior movies? Which genres? What was your favorite thing about that movie? What about their business? Whether they are a dentist or film executive producer on prior movies - demonstrate you've done your homework. Again, a pitch is NOT about you. It's about them. As a matter of fact, we have very specific scripting we offer in our Film Investor Tip Sheet that clearly lays out how to tailor your contacts to each investor, guaranteeing your best return on every outreach made.
What can you learn from how they live their life or make money? What do you admire about them? Does every email you send show you have researched them personally and lay out why, specifically, you are contacting them? This site offers dozens of articles directed at film investors - telling them what to look for when investing in a film, and using key advice from their information sources, like the Wall Street Journal, NY Times, Bloomberg, etc. These articles tell them what to look out for when investing with you…and we offer you every opportunity to prepare yourself to overcome any concerns they may have. Put yourself into an investor mindset and look at things from their perspective.
Take Financing Seriously
You either need to become an expert on film financing, or you need to partner with someone who is. Once again, this shows you are committed to making your film and that you are protecting your project, your company and the investors. If you choose to do the work, then get familiar with terms like soft money, hard money, deferred payment, profit participation, product placement, cross-promotion, tax credits, distribution agreements, ancillary sales, advance sales and about 1000 other ways film financing may come together.
Too many filmmakers think they are just going to magically receive a hand out, but we can assure you that if you put the effort into your finances, and work all the angles available, you'll find you not only need less from investors, but are also more likely to get them because you've demonstrated you take financing seriously and you've done the work to find and appeal to them. Start here: Film Funding Options and How to Attract Film Investors.
Put Skin in the Game
You don't have to have your own cash to invest in your film, but if you want other investors to part with their money, then you need to show them you've put real time and effort into contributing to your negative pick up costs. You do this with in-kind donations, product placement, location donations, crowd funding and financing donations, tax credits, back-end talent agreements and more. You'll be surprised how much of your expenses you can cover without paying cash you may not have, but that contributes real value to your production. And for the record, donating your "$1M producer/director fee" does not count towards the bottom line and holds zero value to your investors unless you've already made a name for yourself. More Info: Film Finance for Independent Filmmakers.
Show Me the Money
A contact to any potential investor must be an OFFER. It is not a request, it is not an "about me and my movie" statement. Words like I, Us, Our Movie should only be used when absolutely necessary and preferably not at all. Investor outreach is ONLY about what you are doing for them. What they get out of the investment. Like all film investors, FilmProposals get thousands of emails per year from filmmakers just asking for money with "I want..." "I need..." "I have..." opening statements.
There is no bigger turn off to any investor. Contacts like these advertise that you have no film making experience, no connections, no industry experience and have not bothered to read one of the 1200+ articles on this site about film financing. Not reading the site shows they've taken no interest in the potential investor. Imagine you're on a dating app and are about to approach the most beautiful person on there, who you know is getting a dozen messages a day. Do you open with "hey, I'm a great person, with great ideas, a great family and a great job." Or do you open with "hey, I loved what you said on your profile about xyz. I really admire that you..."
Put it all out there - show respect, show thought, show effort, show you take the investor's money seriously, because I guarantee you, they are serious about their money. Anything less is just plain lazy and insulting and you might even get yourself on blacklists for any future productions you have.
Know Your Audience
Everything about your film has been to done with your “customer” in mind. Honing in on them will drive everything you do, including finding the right investors for your specific project. Stop thinking about you, your film, your production – think of the audience. It is THEIR film. Analyzing your customers will often lead you to exactly the right investors for your type of project and it will show in your business plan that you have thought through who is actually going to pay to watch your movie. Like any business, you need to prove there is a market for yours. More: Six Things You Absolutely MUST Know Before Approaching Film Investors
Typos? Poor grammar? Words like "u" and "plz." Are you kidding? Could you show more disrespect for the person you are contacting, while also asking for money? We have a field day laughing about these emails internally (and we post them below) because we know these people won't ever raise a dime. There's a total of 11 words in this sentence, "How do I get investors like Angel to cone on board" and this person couldn't even bother to proofread them. Yet, they think a complete stranger is going to give them money! If you can't manage 11 words, you certainly can't manage a film production.
Want to be a successful Film Writer, Director and Producer? Then read these SOLID GOLD tips from Marty Hardin, who was kind enough to walk us STEP by STEP through how he successfully raised his film financing for Devouring Venus. His process, and the pitch he put into his outreach is so dedicated, pure, honest and factual, it funded his movie. This is how every filmmaker should reach out for investments.
Send a Link
All contacts should be short and to the point, along with a link to read more, should your contact choose to do so. This is where you provide even more details about your offer, along with showcasing your talent as a filmmaker and that of your cast. Prior films, graphic art, demo reels, pitch decks, etc. Of course, please be mindful of two things: confidentiality of your creative ideas and the legalities of soliciting active vs passive investors blindly and publicly. If you need a place to document everything and don’t have your own website, use our template (coming soon).
When reading these Film Financing lessons from famous producers such as Steven Spielberg, Lee Daniels, Kevin Smith, Richard Linklater and more, notice that one of the biggest take-aways is that film financing is a never-ending process...no matter how famous these producers and directors are, all successful filmmakers see film financing as an innate part of film production throughout their careers. Unless you plan on financing your entire film career without help, you will always have to deal with financing. As your success and experience grow, you might hire experts, but film financing will always be the hurdle between you and production. It is better to learn and embrace financing opportunities, as well as make your mistakes now, on a smaller budget, then try and learn on the job when millions are at risk.
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10 Things You MUST Do To Attract Film Investors
The main theme you may have noticed above is that every filmmaker who actually succeeds has worked HARD to secure funding for their movies. They were resourceful, creative, inventive, detailed and diligent, using their talent not just to make their films, but also to finance them. Please take the time to learn from the best as they offer some of most valuable filmmaker lessons you can learn. If you are really serious about fundraising, then check out our Film Investor Templates, which include a step by step process to help you achieve the 10 things you must do to attract film investors.
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How to Lose a Film Potential Investor in 10 Days (or Less)
Reach out with anything that reads like these emails - all of which have been received by FilmProposals. If they don't have a "..." at the beginning or end, then this was the entire email received, including all typos, punctuation and grammar. Enjoy, just please promise you won't be like these folks...
- Hello, sir. I am a filmmaker. I have a completed screenplay that I want to produce. I really want to raise fund for it with your support. I will be glad if you can support me.
- Making my book into an action/suspense movie!
- my name is jerry and has justed finished off with a screenplay. My question to you is do you wanna help me finance it. I can send it to you in case you are interested.
- 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 have bollywood movie project with all big star cast so need investor of producer
- WE HAVE 5 TOP HOLLYWOOD FILMS, WITH EUROPEAN PRODUCTIONS AS JV A CLASS CAST, LOOKING FOR INVESTORS PLEASE CONTACT!!! ILAN
- 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
- Hey Melissa, Thanks for accepting my invitation [on Linked In]. You betcha I'm looking for funding! How can you help? Stay Groovy, James
- My name is Jonathan and I am a screenwriter, editor, filmmaker and teacher. I was making an angel movie entitled "XYZ" for international distribution, but unfortunately run into an Asian scam: after paying a big upfront for one million dollar financier, he gave us green light and we started the project only to discover I was betrayed and now owe money to my family..
- I have three screenplays that i am looking for investor to help me produce. two out of the films are action, while the other is a fantasy. How can you help me out, pls.
- I am seeking serious minded movie studio to turn my non fictional book, available on Amazon, into either a moneymaking fictional suspense/action thriller or into an easily reworked bumbling comedy version, if required to. Thank You,
- in brief,i just want capital to start filmmaking being video cameras,computers,microphones,green or blue screen,lights and etc thanks.
- Dear Sir, We are a Production company base in xxx. And having a story to develop as a Joint Production with Holland. I would like to have interested investor for this movie. Furthermore I would like to have the respective person whom I can communicate further . The budget is estimated 3.6million Euro.
- Manuscript .Content Notes.
- I am in the process of directing a ice hockey movie in the UK called beyond the blue line but before I can go ahead I need financial backing and I was wondering if you can help I am looking to raise £50,000 to get the movie rolling, with the funding I will be able to start the movie as early as October this year. I hope you can help and hope to hear from you soon Regards Nigel
- I have the idea to make a social drama with elements of thriller...(then the email goes into ..theme, story, characters, script highlights...and finishes with)...And also, I have no doubt that the film will be the prize-winner of many international film festivals. The purpose of creating this movie: development in Kazakhstan civil, democratic society, modeled on the American model. I am looking for sponsors ready to allocate funds for this project...
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