What is my film worth? This is the most common question I hear year after year at the Raindance Film Festival. I meet many filmmakers at various stages of the fimmaking process, all of whom have varying approaches to the tricky question of valuing their films.
It’s also taken on a strangely surreal meaning too as I wrap up sales for the movie we produced last year, Deadly Virtues: Love.Honour.Obey.
Here are some typical scenarios:
“I’m making the movie of my dreams, using some innovative camera work and editing styles, and I don’t care if the film sells at all. I know my film is beautiful, because I am beautiful.”
“I’m really good at making money in other businesses, so I am going to analyse the marketplace, find out what people are looking for, make it, and clean up at the box office.”
The Crass Marketeer
“I’ve just seen a report that 100,000,000 milllion people around the world play soccer. Thus, if I make a film about a kid trying to make it in as a soccer player, it has an in-built audience. And even if only .001% of the soccer playing community sees my film, I will make a handsome profit.”
The Festival Groupie
“To get my film sold, it has to get noticed. The easiest way to get a film noticed is to take it on the festival circuit. The films on the festival circuit that get noticed right now are films dealing with __________ (name the topic – but usually sexual violence). Thus my film about _________ will get noticed, I will sell it for loadsa moolah.”
The Passionate Artiste
“I feel so strongly about this particular topic, I am going to pour all my energy, and my life’s savings into this one project. And it better sell, otherwise I’m bankrupt.”
The Genre Junkie
“I make horror (or sci-fi, or thriller) because I know it will sell.”
When valuing your film, it is important to decide how you intend to recoup your film BEFORE you start shooting. Or indeed, before you start writing. The type of film that you make will pre-determine the level of financial success your film will achieve.
Please note: prices are in 000’s and in USD.
Here is a guideline of how your film, with no recognizable stars, will fare on the international market stage. I have based these figures on films we have had at Raindance which have sold to at least 2 territories.
Genre: Sci-Fi Horror Thriller Action Topical Rom-Com
DVD Only $1-100 $1-200 $1-200 $1-300 $.5-100 $.5-100
If your film does well in the festival circuit, and manages theatrical distribution in 3-5 key European territories, revenue basically rises 5 – 10 fold.
A documentary that is not commissioned by a broadcaster, and which does not win distinction at a major film festival will be lucky to secure $20,000 in revenues.
If the doc is topical, and if it does exceptionally well at festivals, you may see the revenue climb to $2-400K.
Expect a revenue of $50 – $100 per minute, although I have known good shorts to go over a $1,000 a minute.
With the explosion of IPTV and Web 2.0 sites, like www.raindancereleasing.com, filmmakers can now expect to earn between $1,000 – $10,0o0 per annum. Make sure you only sign non-exclusive rights away. Certain companies offer the earth, but insist on asking for a 5 year exclusive contract, which in some cases means filmmakers cannot submit to film festivals, or join compilation DVDs etc. Beware the 5 year exclusive contract.
Certain companies are offering up to 1,000 euro per hour, as a Minimum Guarantee against ad-based revenue. While it’s great to get a bit of cash up front, the terms offered beyond recoupment are quite onerous. So think before you leap. Another thing to beware of is the exclusive license deal. Companies insisting on this are generally trying to boost their libraries and are hoping to be bought out by Netflicks.
The Way Forward
I have learned from my many years at Raindance that every film has a revenue possibility. The trick is to try and guesstimate what that is, and then make it for less, thereby ensuring a profit.
Also, there is a definite no-man’s-land between films produced for less than $1 million, and $10 million. Make a film with $10mil+ and you have money to hire bankable actors. Between $1-10mil your actors are probably not going to make your budget back.
Hey, and I’m still learning.