Film Finance Strategy: 5 Steps | Raindance Film School

You’ve attended new author readings on Zoom and you’ve found a terrific script. And you’ve toured fringe theatre and found a clutch of hot, new undiscovered actors. and you want to direct too. Now all you need is the finance to make your sweet-heart dream a reality. And to get the money all you need is a film finance strategy.

Step 1: Create a film business plan

Like raising money for any business you need to create a business plan. In this plan you must be realistic. Try and outline the worst-case scenario and not just the up-side. You will also need authoritative people to verify your claims, especially when it comes to projected income,

Your film finance strategy will also change according to the amount of money you are seeking to raise. Under roughly 100K you will be mainly raising from friends and family. Over this amount you will be approaching private investors and industry. This will demand a very different film finance strategy.

Regardless, investors will want to know who is behind this project. Big yourself up. They want to know what names are involved (if any). Any investor will want to know how you plan to repay the money. Be armed with your specifics on who your target audience is. Have innovative ideas of how to reach them via your marketing strategy. and lastly, how many sales before you break even?

Equally of interest is your marketing strategy. Make sure you include key artwork in your business plan.

Creating a good solid and easily-understood business plan is probably the single most important piece of writing for your film project. Other than the screenplay, of course!

Download a good, free, detailed Film Business Plan template HERE

Raindance offers a single evening course on how to create a film business plan.

Step 2: Understand how film sales and marketing works

You would get top ‘idiot marks’ if you ever tried to make a film and raise investment without understanding the basic principals fo film sales and marketing.

Are you able to convince a film finance company that you know what happens at a film market? Are you familiar with how the major film festivals programme films? How many acquisition executives do you know? And while we’re at it, do you know what types of assets a distributor will need you to supply for the release of your film in your territory?

If you don’t have answers to these questions you wont be able to complete your business plan.

While there are many film sales and marketing courses out there, none of them really prepare you for the real world. especially the world that is changing so rapidly right now.

If you want the latest in film sales and marketing so you can complete your film finance strategy, check out marketing guru deborah Sheppard and her Film Sales And Marketing class.

Step 3: Consider the basic legal contracts required

No business plan is complete until the legal contracts are in place. It’s an area that many screenwriters and filmmakers like to overlook. Overlook this area at your own personal pain.

Not only will investors want to see all of the employment and engagement contracts of your cast and crew, so too will potential distributors. Without the proper paperwork signed, sealed and delivered you could end up making a film that no one will touch because you lack the clearances and contracts.

If I had more time, I could bore you all night with disaster after disaster, heartache after heartache of films that I personally have been involved in, and even responsible for. I’m trying to say that I have learned by making mistake after mistake. and all of them totally avoidable.

That’s why I have invited Media Lawyer, Tony Morris, to present the Basic Legal Contracts course at Raindance.

Step 4: Get your schedule and budget organised

At some point in time your investor, be it private or film industry, are going to want to know where and when you need the money. And how much money are you going to need down to the very last penny.

Enter the next piece of the puzzle to your business plan: The schedule and the budget. This is the most technical part of your film finance strategy.

Simply put, the schedule is a list of all the stuff and all the people you need for your film, and when and where you need them. A budget is the amount of money you need to get the stuff and people.

A word about film budgets

There are zillions of film budget templates out there. BEWARE! Each film company seems to have it’s own bespoke budget template, and every government funding application I have seen has yet another template. But there is a great template is online at StudioBinder. It should be sufficient to get you going. And their templates look super professional.

At some point you will want to get a line producer to hammer out the details, to get the correct union and guild rates and so on. When you get to that level, call me for some more advice!

Meanwhile, producer, executive producer and line producer Alec Christie delivers a superb budgeting and scheduling course at Raindance.

Step 5: Movie Money: Where it is and how to get it.

Finally, everyone asks me where the money is. As if there is some magic office tower filled with film investors.

I always start by asking how much money they need. Usually there is a long pause and I send everyone back to Step 4. Get the budget together.

Then I ask if it’s for TV or film? And usually another pause. I send them back to Step 2.

I then ask them what finance deal structure they have. what sort of tax incentives they have researched. And whether or not it would suit a VCT. If I am greeted with silence at this juncture, I know that the person I am speaking to is not ready for Step 5 and for the dynamic and information-packed Movie Money class at Raindance.

Fade Out

It’s not that I am trying to sell you a filmmaking class at Raindance.  It’s because I have learned the painfully hard way how to get a film financed. Setting up the classes I have at raindance seems like the quickest way for me to share the information that I have been gathering since I started Raindance in 1992.

Best for your project. Please let me know in the comments below of any other ideas you have for financing a a film.

Ask for a Free 1-1 with Raindance Film School – see how we can help your career




Photo Credit David Martinez / BIFA 2018

Few people know more filmmakers and screenwriters than Elliot Grove. Elliot is the founder of Raindance Film Festival (1993) and the British Independent Film Awards (1998). He has produced over 700 hundred short films and five feature films: the multi-award-winning The Living and the Dead (2006), Deadly Virtues (2013), AMBER (2017), Love is Thicker Than Water (2018) and the SWSX Grand Jury Prize winner Alice (2019). He teaches screenwriting and producing in the UK, Europe, Asia and America.

Raindance BREXiT trailer 2019

Elliot has written three books which have become industry standards: Raindance Writers’ Lab: Write + Sell the Hot Screenplay, now in its second edition, Raindance Producers’ Lab: Lo-To-No Budget Filmmaking and Beginning Filmmaking: 100 Easy Steps from Script to Screen (Professional Media Practice).

In 2009 he was awarded a PhD for services to film education.

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