Friday, November 13, 2009

Back to the money.

Well, after some distractions, I'm back to the money search.  After AFM, I sat down with a stack of magazines and directories I got from AFM and began my search for two things;

A foreign sales agent.

And a domestic distributor.

Up to now, I hadn't contacted either, as the general philosophy is that both of the above want finished films and, mostly, that's true. But our deal on Travel Day is pretty good, in that Canada will bring in at least 40% of the $900k budget and possibly more. That means that whomever comes in for the balance will essentially get a $1.1 million dollar movie for their $450k.

In other words the US investor, be they private funders or a distributor gets a movie to sell for half price.  Kind of like buying a car for $20,000 and the government pays for half.You see the tax credits aren't really repayable, it is sort of a grant given to movie producers for bringing business to the particular province. There's even a federal tax credit that returns up to 15% of certain elements of the budget.

And I always have to remind Americans that these tax credits are readily available to any producer.

What's the catch?

Well, there really isn't one. The Canadian company has to own the copyright and the production company but that's not an issue. Profits are distributed fairly in whatever format is agreed on.

The one little catch is this;

The American producer cannot take sole producer credit. In some circumstances they have to take an Executive Producer credit, but again that's not a deterrent. And it doesn't limit the power of the American producer. I did 3 movies in Winnipeg in 1998 with Steve White, an American producer. Not only did he share the producing chores, he was basically in charge even though he wasn't on paper.  All for an executive producer credit.

Now back to the AFM. I compiled a list of distributors and sales agents, about 50 of them. Oddly enough many of the American distributors seem to have offices within a few blocks of my home to maybe 2 or 3 miles away. I always thought they were in Hollywood, but I can walk to at least four of the companies.Now and for the next 4 days (including working over the week-end) I am emailing proposals and current updates to the project.Thanks to the power of email, I don't have to spend money on mail and it should be relatively easy.

Then I sit and wait.

For one week.

Well, not really. I will keep after my current potential investors as well as look for new ones. There are internet sites with investors but I have found that there's usually a catch or their budgets are minimums of $5 million, or they are ex-hedge-fund stragglers looking to make a score on filmmakers.  Also, any site on the internet is most likely crawling with other filmmakers, mostly with less than I have already. 

And what these other filmmakers often don't understand because they're mostly novices is this:

What are investors looking for?

We have a fair amount of work already done on Travel Day, notably the Manitoba connection and the intent of two current investors. Other things they would like to see, but might work around are the following:
  • Do we have name actors? (2 interested, 3 we haven't contacted yet)
  • Do we have all the money? (No, that's why we're asking them)
  • Who would go see it (our audience will be people who like road movies, women-driven stories, comedy and drama mixed and interesting characters) 

And finally, the hardest question?

Why would anyone care if this movie is made or not?

This is the hardest to answer, as our film will not appeal to the Transformers crowd, nor the Saw horror audiences. But we feel our story offers the potential for compelling characters and original situations that we feel will spark an audience weary of effects-laden movies and sadistic horror films. We feel there's room for all of us on the movie screens.

And it's funny.

Not in a slapstick way, nor is it Borat, but rather a collection of characters who would normally never be stuck together in a 15-passenger van set in some of the most spectacular landscape audiences have seen. And that doesn't cost us a dime.

And we have a great team, a writer/producer (me) with over 30 years of experience and a talented director with focus and determination, as well as a creative crew of Director of Photography, editor and production designer as well as sound, all of whom will have considerable years and experience in feature films.

We're not kidding around, we know what we're doing.

So for the next four weeks I will be pushing like hell to get the final funding as we look forward to beginning production in February of 2010.

And the one thing you can be sure of in this business.

There's no guarantee.

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