Indie Movie Funding as well as Movie Submission : Dance Naked

Indie film financing and movie distribution reminds of what it would feel just like dancing nude on stage (much respect for exotic dancers at Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club!). You show around pitch your movie project and need to have the ability to dance to a video investor’s music. It’s their stage and not yours being an indie filmmaker seeking film funding. They desire you to make a sellable movie which interests movie distributors so the production can make money.

Most investors I’ve met with are not interested in putting hard money into indie art house films because those are tough sells to movie distributors and overseas film buyers aren’t usually interested in seeing them. The dialogue and scenes of certain art house type films don’t translate well to foreign buyers and movie viewers. 123 movies  Action, horror and skin does not need subtitles for folks to follow the story is what I’ve been told by distributors. Talking head movies can make no sense to viewers that don’t understand subtle lines spoken in a foreign language.

Independent film financing continues to alter as indie movie distribution gets more financially shaky. The area it’s hitting indie movie producers hardest is right at the foundation – film financing. Film investors at this time aren’t feeling worked up about putting money into movies that do not need bankable name actors. This is not like so-called indie movies which have A-list actors or are produced for an incredible number of dollars. Those kind of indie film passion projects you can make once you’ve managed to get in the entertainment business at the studio level.

Indie film investors and movie distributors won’t expect you to have an A-list actor, but they do want producers to have actors (B-list or C-list or D-list) with some name recognition or celebrity. The initial question film investors and movie distributors ask is who the cast is. That is where most indie movie producers are blown out of the water because they have an as yet not known cast of actors. Plus there’s a glut of indie movies being made because technology has managed to get cheaper to make movies.

The bright side is that entertaining indie movies are being made that might not otherwise ever have observed light of day before. The downside is meaningful movie distribution (getting paid) for indie produced films continues to shrink as indie films being made rises (supply and demand 101). I talked to one movie distributor that provides releasing independent films and they said they receive new film submissions daily.

They were honest saying they get very sellable movies and ones which are less than appealing, but with so many movies on the market they no further offer most producers advance money against film royalties or pay a lump cash “buy-out” to secure distribution rights. Their business viewpoint is most indie filmmakers are simply happy seeing their movie released. The definition of they used was “glorified showreel” for an indie filmmaker to produce they are able to make a feature film. So, they acquire many of these movie releases without paying an advance or supplying a “buy-out” agreement.

Not making a profit from a movie does not make financial sense for film investors that expect you’ll see money made. When people set up money to produce a movie they desire a reunite on their investment. Otherwise it’s no further a movie investment. It becomes a video donation of money they’re offering without expectations. I’ve been on the “dog and pony show” circuit meeting with potential film investors and learning invaluable lessons.

I’m in the habit now of talking to indie movie distributors before writing a screenplay to see what types of films can sell and what actors or celebrity names attached with a potential project appeal to them. This is not like chasing trends, but it provides producers a sharper picture of the sales climate for indie films. Sometimes distributors gives me a quick listing of actors or celebrities to think about that suit an independent movie budget. Movie sales not in the U.S. are where a bulk of the cash is good for indie filmmakers.

Movie distributors and film sales agents can inform you what actors and celebrity talent is translating to movie sales overseas at the indie level. These won’t be A-list names, but having someone with some kind of name is a great selling point to greatly help your movie standout from others. Brief cameos of known actors or celebrities was once an effective way to keep talent cost down and put in a bankable name to your cast.

That has changed lately from my conversations with distribution companies. Movie distributors now expect any name talent attached to really have a meaningful part in the movie as opposed to a few momemts in a cameo role. Cameo scenes can still work if you have a visual hook that grabs the attention of viewers in certain way. But having name talent say a couple of lines without special hook won’t fly anymore.

Another way to make an indie film needing funding more appealing to investors is to install talent that has been in a movie or TV show of note. Their name being an actor might not be that well-known yet, but rising stars which have appeared in a favorite movie or TV show may give your movie broader appeal. If you cast them in a supporting role keep working days on the set down to the absolute minimum to save lots of your budget. Try to write their scenes to allow them to be shot in one or two days.

When you’re pitching to serious film investors they may wish to be given an in depth movie budget and distribution plan how you want on earning money from the film’s release. The Catch-22 that occurs a lot is that most movie distributors that appeal to releasing indie films won’t commit to any deal until they’ve screened the movie.

There is not built-in distribution as with studio budget films. Film investors which are not traditionally part of the entertainment business can get put off when a producer does not need a distribution deal already in place. They don’t understand the Catch-22 of indie filmmaking and distribution. That is where a movie producer really will need a good pitch that explains the financial dynamics of indie film distribution.

Most film investors will give an indie movie producer’s financing pitch that mentions self-distribution in it. From a movie investor’s business perspective it will take entirely too long for an indie movie to generate money going the self-distribution route. It’s such as the old school way of selling your movie out of the trunk of your car at places, however now it’s done online using digital distribution and direct sales using a blog. That’s a lengthy grind that most investors won’t be interested in waiting around for. Moving one unit of a movie at any given time is too slow of trickle for investors.

A possible way round the Catch-22 would be to touch base to movie distributors while you are pitching to film investors. With a firm budget number and possible cast attached you are able to gauge to see if you have any meaningful distribution interest in the movie. It’s always possible a distributor can tell you that they would offer an advance or “buy-out” deal. They often won’t provide you with a hard number, but a good ballpark figure of what they might offer can inform you if your budget makes financial sense to approach movie investors with.

I am aware one savvy indie movie producer that makes 4-6 movies annually on affordable budgets and knows they’re already making a profit from the advance money alone. The film royalty payments really are a bonus. The producer keeps budgets extremely affordable and streamlined at every phase of production. Once you have a track record with a distribution company you know what you are able to expect you’ll be paid. Then you can certainly offer film investors a percent on their money invested into the production that makes sense.

Social networking with other indie filmmakers lets you hear what’s happening with movie distribution from other people’s true to life experiences. A very good thing I’ve been hearing about is there are film investors that won’t set up money to make movie that is going to be self-distributed, but they will roll the dice on a characteristic that is going to specific film festivals. Not the art house film festivals. The ones that are extremely genre specific like for horror or action films. Like Screamfest Horror Film Festival or Action on Film (AOF). Film buyers attend these events and meaningful distribution deals are made.

Independent film financing and movie distribution are areas of the entertainment business all filmmakers must handle and study from each experience. I was in the hot seat today pitching to a video investor. I’ve streamlined the budget as much as I could without making the plot lose steam.

The jam I’m in as a maker is there are hard costs that can’t be avoided that include a lot of gun play including two rigging shots where baddies get shot and are blown backwards off their feet. Badass action films need experienced and seasoned film crews to pull-off hardcore action shots off clean and safe. The cast I wish to hire has the right appeal and name recognition because of this indie action movie to rock viewers. There is nothing that will get lost in the translation in this film for foreign film buyers and movie viewers.

What I do believe got lost in the translation with the potential film investor today is if I keep taking out below-the-line crew to save lots of money I’m planning to want to do rewrites to the screenplay to take out action scenes. They are selling points that will hurt sales if they are written out. But it’s my job being an indie filmmaker to balance a budget that interests film investors. We’ll observe this goes. That is indie filmmaker Sid Kali typing fade out.

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