Archive for the ‘Financing’ Category

Passion First Funding Portal Announced

Sunday, January 26th, 2014

A new equity-crowdfunding film financing company, Passion First Funding Portal was announced this week at the Sundance Film Festival. It is one of the first new financing portals established from the relaxed rules by the 2012 Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (a.k.a. JOBS Act) that permit general solicitation of accredited investors; think of it as a Kickstarter/IndieGoGo-type site where “qualified” contributors get a financial return on the success of a film.  Its founder, Rich Guay is a veteran producer behind several feature length films and documentaries (Ghostdog: The Way of the Samurai, Kinsey, Dogfight, etc.).

Passion First Funding Portal is a new and exciting way for experienced filmmakers and accredited investors to meet and explore the opportunities for working together. This is all being made possible by the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, a piece of federal regulation that is intended to open up traditional capital markets to emerging businesses.”passionfirstfunding.com

Passion First is currently awaiting approval of by the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) and will be launched in the upcoming months. If you’d like to get more information and receive updates, go to their website: passionfirstfunding.com

Equity Crowdfunding, a New Financing Opportunity for Independent Filmmakers

Saturday, August 24th, 2013

Last year, President Obama signed into law the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (a.k.a. “Jobs Act”) (full doc PDF). The Act “requires the SEC to write rules and issue studies on capital formation, disclosure and registration requirements.” Starting this Fall, the most import aspect of the Act relevant for indie filmmakers is the provision on Crowdfunding.

Current SEC rules restrict start-up companies (e.g. indie film productions) from seeking investors on a broad scale via advertising to the masses. That kind of offer would be considered a “security.”

The common dream of aspiring filmmakers often began with a script and some actors, and then an effort to raise money to make the movie by asking everybody to invest in their project. Ads were placed, bulletins posted, and Internet messages were spread asking for people to invest. The aspiring filmmakers then would be told how illegal that is, shocked to learn that they were offering “securities” which had to be registered with the SEC. They learned that any offering to the public of any kind of ownership in future possible profits is a security. That’s “equity.” – filmmaker, Michael Barnard

I remember several years ago Ethan Hawke and Civilian Pictures partnered up on a film project titled, Billy Dead – where an initial public offering was planed to raise $7.9 million by offering 900,000 shares of “Billy Dead Inc.” stock at $8.75 a share. Not sure why it didn’t come to fruition, but we can speculate that the complexities of SEC rules and regulations made it impossible to get this project green-lit by any attorney or accountant on the production team. Or maybe the SEC just didn’t approve it in the end.  You can read more about this endeavor here: SFgate and Money.CNN.

Now, Title II of the Jobs Act will allow filmmakers who seek funding to advertise investment opportunities on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and crowdfunding sites. Investors must be qualified or “accredited” to participate. The Hollywood Reporter explains that aspect…

Potential investors must be “accredited,” defined as an individual (or married couple) with a net worth of $1 million excluding their primary residence or an income exceeding $200,000 in the two most recent years ($300,000 for a couple). Under those rules, about 9 million Americans qualify.

Even “unaccredited” investors ultimately can participate via Title III, which should go into effect in 2014. Individuals with a net worth or annual income of $100,000 can invest 10 percent of their income, and those with a net worth or income less than that may invest up to 5 percent or $2,000, whichever is greater. (A filmmaker will be able to raise only up to $1 million a year per film from these investors.)” – from The Hollywood Reporter – ‘Forget Kickstarter: How Obama’s New Law Could Change Hollywood Crowd-Funding’

There are some equity crowdfunding startups that will take advantage of this new opportunity. Here are a few to check out:

EarlyShares


CrowdFunder


Slated


FilmFunder

I believe that the pros out number the cons on this whole “crowdfunding equity” scheme. Let’s take a look:

CONS: [list style=”list11″ color=”black”]

  • Still going to be complicated accounting.
  • No proven model for indies.
  • Big studio productions can still dominate/overshadow the independent film offerings.

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PROS:
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  • Having a stake in your success will make fans more involved/engaged in the promotion of your film via social media and word-of-mouth.
  • Profit incentive is better than that typical Kickstarter rewards – specially for indie films without any “name” stars.
  • Makes indie filmmakers rely more on the pitch video to sell their vision.
  • Opens up indie financing opportunities in a big way – you can do a lot with a $1 million dollar budget.
  • No proven models for indies – so you can be a pioneer of this!

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Time will tell if this will work and propel a whole new batch of independent filmmakers whose vision can come to realization through the help/investment of financiers who believe in the art (and commerce) of film.

What If Seed&Spark Is Successful?

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

There’s been a lot already written about Seed&Spark. My first thoughts on S&S are that it’s a very interesting take on the whole crowdfunding landscape with an angle on a ‘fair trade’ filmmaking movement. The “wedding registry” wish-list is also a unique set up that gives an alternative to a cash donation. That makes a lot of sense since filmmakers will have an endless list of expenses that will use that cash. Any donation of meals, locations, loaning equipment, etc. will go a long way for a tight indie budget. Some contributors may find it easier to provide a needed service or product – rather than straight up money – times are tough. Additionally, Seed&Spark will offer a distribution outlet (80/20 split) – with 100% of the rights maintained by the filmmaker. Plus, they have a bonus (a.k.a. “Spark”) that incentivizes and rewards their consumers/moviegoers/fans to join and watch as many films as possible. Great ideas all around – right? Absolutely!

Then I had some additional thoughts on this… comes in as more of a question: what if this type of service succeeds, really succeeds and becomes the go-to standard for all indie filmmakers? Let’s think about this for a moment… it would be great, wouldn’t it? I have been looking at a lot of different filmmaking services and websites since I started working on my first feature, Nothing Without You. Through that process – I started Filmlinker. I usually gravitated to whichever service was applicable to that stage of production we were in – i.e. screenwriting, financing, pre-pro, production, festivals, distribution, etc. Back to my question – what if this type of service succeeds and becomes the go-to standard for all indie filmmakers? I think it would cover ALL the stages – from start to finish of what independent filmmakers are looking for – making a film, getting it to an audience and sustaining a creative career. Remember when YouTube first launched (before Google bought it)? YouTube now supports several video creators.

Crowdfunfing sites like IndieGoGo and Kickstarter have facilitated the financing possibilities. The current filmmaking technologies have brought production costs way down. Social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) has allowed filmmakers to communicate directly with and grow their fan base. There’s a plethora of self-distribution choices (VHX, Vimeo On-Demand, IndieFlix, Distribber, etc.) and many more that seem to launch everyday. All good – but Seed&Spark is combining all these services into one.

Let’s root and support this type of initiative. The future can be now.

Free Producer’s Master Class with Ted Hope and Christine Vachon

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

Chris Jones – who runs workshops at the Guerrilla Film Makers Master Class just made available the 4-hour Producers Master Class seminar, titled, American Independents Day in London with veteran indie producers, Ted Hope [IMDB] and Christine Vachon [IMDB]. They’ve both produced 68 films each – so they obviously have a lot to teach us.

You can get all four hours/parts HERE (for free) – all you have to do is register an account on their site.

Here’s the first hour:

Here’s some of the eye-opening insights that they discussed:

What is the film business? The film business is about people keeping their jobs. That’s the most important thing by anyone who is employed in the film business. Not getting your movie made. Not getting an audience for your film…”  — Ted Hope – On how to strategize the production of your film – knowing their primary agenda is an advantage on how to approach it with your project.

Filmmakers are still seeing the web [production or distribution] as the second best [option] or a failure – the same way that they looked at TV a few years ago… now it’s astonishing how many A-list directors are directing their first television pilots… Scorecese with Boardwalk Empire, Jonathan Demme, David Fincher… it’s no longer a ghetto if you’re in director jail.” – Christine Vachon  – In reference to producing and distributing to the web.. Vachon uses Vuguru as an example of a web production company that she’s currently working with on some projects.

Here’s the outline of the first part/hour:
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0.20 Introduction of Ted Hope & Christine Vachon
1.30 Killer Films and how Christine started producing films.
4.30 How to find an audience for you’re film.
6.30 How to produce lots of films regularly & why its important to make the right choices.
9.20 The making of a horror film and how to make a B movie.
13.50 Why ignorance is bliss and how direct contact with industry professionals pays!
16.00 Lessons learnt and why its important to go out to film festivals.
19.05 The film Super and how to negotiate your terms.
20.40 How fear is the key ingredient to making films & why its good to keep an open mind to do things in a different way or platform.
23.35 Online film platforms and the benefits from distributing online.
27.25 The importance defining a brand & how to make a living out of making films.
31.30 Ways of getting an audience for your low budget film & the importantance of communicating through different platfroms.
34.50 Why you can expand your brand into different genres & how it is easy to get trapped.
36.30 How to find the right producer for you & why its about finding the right fit for that project.
39.45 Why it’s important to play the long game in working with collaborators.
43.00 How collaboration teams are the way of the future & why you should have a wide range of collaborators.
46.20 Legal issues and how to get your project permitted.
49.00 How online video on demand services have changed the model of distribution.
51.25 How does online platforms effect the way we tell stories.
53.00 Why making content for platforms like Hulu can benefit your career.
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Get access to all the four parts/hours at americanindependentsday.com.

Photo above from Andy Wright of Evermore Films (who attended the seminar and wrote about his experience here).

JuntoBox Films Can Green-light Your Film

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

JuntoBox Films is a collaborative film studio and social media platform that allows filmmakers to pitch their ideas and have film fans rate & vote on projects that can ultimately be funded, produced and distributed. To get started, create a project and profile in the JuntoBox platform. This is where you’ll present ideas to the JuntoBox Films Collective (see their “How-to Junto”).

Filmmakers will then rise up through the Five Levels of development by building their film’s profile through fan participation and completion of various tasks. When a project has risen to the top of the JuntoBox ladder, it is eligible for development. JuntoBox Film’s co-chair – actor, producer and director, Forest Whitaker recently announced that they will be funding and green-lighting five films in 2012!

JuntoBox’s 5 Levels

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images/illustrations from juntoboxfilms.com

Beyond a business, JuntoBox is aspiring to be part of a new business culture that aligns talented people in need of support with accomplished mentors who want to give something back and encourage the stars of the next generation.” — JuntoBox founder Philippe Caland

The success of this type of initiative is crucial to the development of truly independent films. Check it out, sign up and and show your support by pitching your film idea and/or rating other’s projects.

Mobcaster is Crowdfunding Indie TV

Friday, September 14th, 2012

Mobcaster is another crowd-funding site, but specializes exclusively on indie produced television content. It has it’s own online TV channel (Mobcaster TV) – which will broadcast the funded shows’ series and will share ad revenue (50/50 net split) with the show’s creators.

Mobcaster sells advertising around the series broadcast on Mobcaster TV and all Showrunners of such shows are entitled to half of our net advertising revenue. Because Mobcaster TV is dedicated to audience supported (and funded!) TV, Showrunners will have the opportunity for greater revenue participation than nearly anywhere else online!” – from mobcaster.com/faq 

Mobcaster’s biggest success to-date is a show called The Weatherman (watch the pilot episode here). It not only surpassed its $72,500 goal, but it will get a distribution deal with TiVo’s digital streaming service.

I watched The Weatherman pilot episode and it was really funny, well written and produced (by Dark Heart Productions). They are setting the bar pretty high for all the other proposed shows that will try to get funded through Mobcaster.

If you have an idea for a TV show – go ahead and pitch it (free of cost) to the Mobcaster audience. Follow their steps: Pitch -> Fund -> Produce -> Broadcast.

This Year’s Roy W. Dean Summer Grant Deadline is Approaching

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

The deadline for applications for The Roy W. Dean Summer Grant is June 30, 2012.  It is set up for documentaries, shorts and low budget features. The grant award is $1,000 cash and over $30K in donations for music, website creation, editing & post-production services – plus a lot more resources that are essential for you to make your film.  “We want films that are unique and make a contribution to society,” explains Carole Dean, president of From the Heart Productions – which manages the grants.  “We have been giving grants for 20 years and are proud of the films sponsored by us who have been shown on Discovery, Court TV, TLC and PBS.”  Full information on applying for grants and prior winners can be found here: fromtheheartproductions.com/grants.shtml

Carole Dean is also the author of The Art of Film Funding.  Her book is full of financing information along with guidance on music rights, legal requirements, fair use and other pitfalls that often cost filmmakers.  When you enter the grant you get a free 15 minute consultation with Carole Dean to improve your paperwork or discuss funding ideas.

Dean’s From the Heart Productions (a 501c3 non-profit) recently partnered with Indiegogo to support films that are fiscally sponsored by the organization.  Fiscal sponsorship is an ideal approach for financing documentary films.  This is a way for artists to apply for funding through a company that has a 501 (c ) (3) nonprofit status, which can make donations tax deductable.  Unlike Kickstarter, Indiegogo campaigns do not have to reach their full goals to receive the contributions.  So far, From the Heart Prod. has successfully helped filmmakers raise over $150,000 through Indiegogo.

(more…)

Amazon Studios Wants Your Movie or Screenplay

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Amazon (yes – that Amazon) is getting into the movie biz. Amazon Studios was just launched as a place where budding filmmakers and screenwriters can submit their work for cash and prizes. A combined $2.7 million in monthly and annual awards will be doled out in this program’s inaugural year.

Amazon Studios will also partner up with a major Hollywood studio. Here’s the gist:

Amazon Studios has a first-look deal with Warner Bros. Pictures, which means we’ll be presenting our top projects to Hollywood’s biggest studio for consideration as theatrical feature films. And winners of the Amazon Studios Annual Awards won’t just get money—they’ll also get a meeting with Warner Bros. development executives. [from Amazon Studios home page]

Deadline for submission is January 31, 2011. Click here to get started. You should first read their FAQ’s – especially your rights. (fyi…you’ll be entering into an 18 month, exclusive development agreement with Amazon Studios – but you’ll get paid!)

Storybids Connects Content Creators with Advertisers

Friday, January 2nd, 2009

Storybids is an interesting site that looks to give content creators a link to the product placement marketplace. Storybids provides an outlet for auctioning online content to advertisers to include their products in online video content. Their tool provides an option for filmmakers/content creators to off-set production costs and even make a profit on their creation. If this endeavor is successful, it will lay a foundation for independent filmmakers to bridge to monetization resources traditionally only available to big budget productions.

Now advertisers are turning to the Internet and shifting their budget to online videos, product placements and viral videos. By 2010, experts estimate online advertising will grow to an $11 billion business. Agencies just aren’t geared for these types of media – and there is a new generation of computer savvy film and video makers out there who have great ideas that need a distribution channel. That’s what Storybids.com is all about.” [from storybids.com]

 

DETAILS Mag & NEHST Studios Want Your Film Pitch

Friday, October 31st, 2008

NEHST Studios and Details Magazine are collaborating on a project to produce a film with you. Yes you! NEHST, whose founder produced Sling Blade [imdb] and Details, a men’s lifestyle and fashion magazine want your film pitch.

Here’s the gist:

The DETAILS/NEHST Movie Project is a unique initiative that enables aspiring filmmakers the access to get their film made. Anyone who has a movie idea can “pitch” their idea via this website. DETAILS and NEHST will then review the submissions and if they find the right project, they’ll greenlight the idea. The DETAILS/NEHST collaboration allows those wanting to break into film—or those just toying with a movie idea—to bypass the red tape of Hollywood and have their ideas reviewed by real producers.” [from the official DETAILS/NEHST Movie Project site]

If you have a script, treatment or just an idea for a film – they are interested in hearing from you. Go to their official “how-to pitch page” and submit your idea. There’s a $10 submission/administration fee – but that will also get you a one year subscription to Details Magazine.