Your pitch to film investors promised them your film project would cost $XXX. After you accept their film financing and begin production, you realize you need additional production funds. How do you go back to your film investors and ask them for more money?
This scenario is quite common for filmmakers. Running out of money does happen, especially with low budget films, and usually the well runs dry just as you enter post-production.
Here are some tips on how to approach investors for more money:
Reveal the Actual Budget and Hot Costs
When approaching an investor for more money, be sure to have all of your numbers thoroughly researched and presented. Investors will want to know where their money has gone and why you were not able to stay in budget, so be prepared to show them where every penny has gone.
The most professional way to do this is by sharing a summary of the production’s Hot Costs, a comparison of each day’s actual costs vs. budgeted costs. Be clear, factual and honest with your Hot Cost comparison. The Hot Costs may reveal there was an unexpected storm that knocked the power out and forced production to buy generators or a location dropped out and a set needed to be built as a replacement.
Have a New Budget and Top Sheet
Movie investors want to know how any additional investments will be allocated, so be prepared to share a new budget. This should be as detailed as possible and presented to the investor with a comparison Top Sheet.
The Top Sheet outlines what the initial budget was vs. what the new budget is. A summary should also accompany the new budget and comparison Top Sheet. The summary is a written outline explaining each cost (i.e. “$5,000 more than budgeted will go to the sound team as they will be bringing in additional foley artists.”). More Info: Sample Film Budget Template Worksheet
If you are not honest with your investors, they will question what is happening with their money. The worst thing you can do is be dishonest. Your investors are business people and understand plans do not always work out as initially thought. It is always best to be thorough when explaining the situation and above all honest. It is better to be open and simply say, “If I don’t have these extra funds, the movie cannot be finished.”
Whether this is your first or tenth film, you will make mistakes and learn from them. Most independent filmmakers under-budget their productions, so do not be afraid to approach the investor. Your priority is to make a good film and the investor wants to see that happen. They are on your side and chances are a few more dollars wont break their banks. Remember to have your numbers prepared, present your new budget and be honest.
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