I’m in a frenzy prepping for Berlin’s dynamic European Film Market (EFM). It’s been crazy 14 hour days since I returned from Raindance Roma. I have three of my own projects I’m pimping as well as a host of meetings for the Raindance Film festival and European training organisations interested in our revolutionary Postgraduate Film Degree.
One of the hardest things for a filmmaker to raise is a development budget: the initial seed money to get the wheels of film commerce turning. It’s an important element often overlooked by low budget filmmakers.
Here is my list of the development costs a film producer needs to plan for:
1. Face-to-face meetings
Nothing beats the one-on-one. Sure, you have emailed, Skyped, Vibered, WhatsApped and telephoned, but meeting in the flesh is the surest way to close a deal. An essential skill is to use these one-on-one meetings to your advantage as well as to avoid the networking faux pas.
The best place to meet people is at a film market like the European Film Market in Berlin (February), the Marche de Film in Cannes (May), or the American Film Market (AFM) in Los Angeles (November). Travel and accommodation to these events costs money. so does accrditation. Book these essentials early. Add up your costs and see what it will cost to get you to these markets and add it into your development budget.
For details on how to maximise your budget at Cannes, check out our Cannes Survival Guide.
2. Festival and market accreditation
Accreditation is also an important cost to be budgeted for. It’s silly to spend all the effort travelling to these markets only to discover that you have to stand outside.
3. Option fees and story rights
Paying for the screenplay rights to life stories, novels, and short stories can get expensive. The first time you walk into a law office and find the true cost of acquiring intellectual property will dazzle you with the cost of the legal fees alone. Either get a friendly lawyer who will produce for you and share in the financial risks and rewards or, drum up enough money to get you safely out of the lawyers office.
Screenwriters want money. Some more than others. You have a choice here: Work with an inexperienced writer for little or no money,; or; work with a professional writer at guild and union rates.
5. One Sheets
Once you start to build momentum for your project, you will want to make a ‘one sheet’ which has a strong visual image on one side, and on the back a brief summary of the story as well as the key elements you have already secured: Writer, Director, Producer and Cast (if any). You might also want to include proposed start and completion dates as well as any interesting elements to the production.
Examples of One Sheets For Films
6. Getting The Money
There are ten different routes to securing finance. In this day and age, it is unlikely that you will rely on just one.
As I throw my last pair of socks into my overnight bag and steel myself for the mad dash to the airport I always pause to see what I have forgotten. Know the feeling? Plans for going to a film market are never completed. They are abandoned, usually in the hour before the airport dash.
Somehow it always seems to work out.
Hope to meet you at a film market soon.