About the Author
Adam Davies has advised exclusively in the entertainment sector since qualifying as a solicitor 10 years ago. Since 1999, he has also run a film financing consultancy, Investrum, whilst continuing to provide legal services to various film companies. He has represented businesses in all areas of the film industry, including private equity, sales agents, distributors, sale & leaseback providers, production fund partnerships, co-producers, production companies and talent agencies. He has run the legal & business affairs departments of publicly listed film companies, and has advised on more than 150 features including House of Sand and Fog, Open Range, Timeline, Stoned (The Brian Jones Project), Return to Sender, Irresistible, The Cooler, Heartbreakers, Lantana, Baise-Moi, The Man Who Sued God, Slap Her Shes French, Sexy Beast, Gods & Monsters, Secret Society, Fanny & Elvis, The War Zone, Nil By Mouth, and Human Traffic.
Nic Wistreich is co-author of the first edition of this book, Get Your Film Funded, for Shooting People Press, author of Digital Asset Management for Informa and International Film & TV Rights for MTI. He co-founded UK film industry website Netribution and was former UK head of filmfestivals.com and Development Director of filmmaker community, Shooting People. He has taught film finance at the New York Film Academy in London, and made a number of documentaries, no-budget shorts and vingles (visual singles).
James MacGregor was Northern Editor for Netribution and has written extensively on the UK independent film scene for publications including New Producer magazine and Scottish Screen and more recently has developed the Wideshot magazine for Shooting People.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Commerce and creativity. Film and finance. The pairs have often made ugly bedfellows.
On one side lies a creative person or team with a story, a vision, an image, that they wish to bring to life for audiences to enjoy. On the other side is a multi billion dollar business, filled to the brim with financiers, executives and experts seeking their cut as expert gamblers on the illusive nature of art and success.
At every step of the way, the producer or filmmaker dances a duet between the integrity of the project, and the profit motive of those financing, selling, distributing and promoting it and of course his or her own needs to see a return and make some form of a sustainable living.
There are no wrong or right paths. As William Goldman famously said decades ago about Hollywood, nobody knows anything. Jonathan Caouette used iMovie to cut his first feature Tarnation for $216, propelling him to Cannes in 2004 with a wide international release in 2005. New York couple Chris Kentis and Laura Lau (interviewed in Chapter 2) used $120,000 of savings to shoot Open Water in their weekends, which went on to open on 2,700 screens in the US grossing $31m there alone. Chris Nolan shot Following for a reported £5,000 and after the UK industry passed on his follow-up Memento, he went to Hollywood, returning two features later to shoot Batman Begins at Pinewood for Warner Bros. First time writer John Hodge met first time producer Andrew Macdonald and joined with first time feature director (but seasoned TV director) Danny Boyle to get FilmFour to back Shallow Grave to the tune of £1m, launching the careers of all involved. Interviewed in this chapter are first time writer-directors Nicole Kassell (The Woodsman) and Patty Jenkins (Monster), who both got films with difficult subject matters fully financed independently and a big name cast attached, and subsequent critical and commercial success.
But then, of course, for every Following or Open Water, festivals such as Sundance receive thousands of micro-budget features that they reject. And the knowledge, expertise (and bank accounts) of distributors, financiers, public film funds and sales agents can be incredibly valuable in producing a film that will have an audience when complete.
Before deciding the right financing approach for your project, one exercise that can be useful is asking yourself what exactly you want to achieve from the whole process. Getting your film financed and released, no doubt. But at what cost? Are you looking to build a business that can support you and those you work with over a number of years? Are you wanting to enjoy the filmmaking process as much as possible without being tied down with bureaucracy, market demands or delivery requirements? Are you looking for complete control over your work, or the security of having fully financed employment?
Ultimately, it is about finding the finance and business model that most suits your project, your intended audience, and the way you want to live and work. This chapter, and indeed this book, does not try to present one foolproof route to do this, for there are perhaps as many ways to get a film made as there are filmmakers to make them. But by combining the advice of those who have already navigated the industry with the practical facts regarding the nature of the business and law as it currently stands, as well as detailing the opportunities available to you, we hope to provide an armoury of tools to protect your vision and help bring your project to light.
This chapter begins by giving a background to the UK and international film industry and the basic elements of funding and budgets. We then look at certain business issues underlying raising finance - writing a business plan, talking with investors, negotiating. Finally we present a collection of advice, tips and interviews with those whove been there already.