Looking for Investment?
Are you dealing with Film investors for a low budget (under $500k feature) and finding out it’s all bullshit? Well, for every real Film investor, there are literally thousands of BULLSHITTERS, TIRE KICKERS, SCAMMERS, and MICE. I basically put investors into 6 categories:
1. TIRE KICKERS
5. FIRST TIMERS
Here’s how I weed out the problem children.
1. TIRE KICKERS: Tire Kickers enjoy the game of investing in film but will never actually take the risk. They’ll tell you how they’ve invested before, how they enjoy the business, how they have friends that might invest, and they’ll LOVE taking meetings with you. Meetings, phone calls, more meetings… They talk a good game, but it’s all talk. If you run into one of these you’ll know it when you hit meeting number four or five or twenty and nothing has happened. One of the tricks that tire kickers love is to always ask for one-more-thing. Doesn’t matter what the “thing” is.. it’ll always be something, anything to draw out the game. In the end you will have wasted your time and energy because they will never invest. Hell, they never planned to. When you have hit meeting four or five, or you’ve been asked for yet another document… you’ve landed a TIRE KICKER.
2. BULLSHITTERS: Bullshitter, unlike Tire Kickers flat out Lie. It’s fun for them to pretend to be an executive Producer. These people will want all the business materials you can dream up. Business Plan. Marketing Plan, Financials, Distributor information, etc. Bullshitters want to hobnob with film people. They want to impress their friends and give the appearance that they invest in films. They want to go to all the right parties and talk about their next project. Bullshitters, when pressed will talk up their money, they’ll even pretend to have the cash ready. Hell, I ran into one of these on a project that promised $5M and even gave us fake banking data. Bullshitters will ALWAYS have an excuse for why something can’t or didn’t happen. . Bullshitters lie. Bullshitters play the game in public. Bullshitters will never cough up a dime. If you start hearing excuse after excuse, you’ve landed a bullshitter
3. MICE: Mice are a special breed of wannabe investors. These potential investors are terrified of their own shadow. Yes, Mice can be brought to the table, but only after a long and arduous feeding effort. They will never be first in. They will need a huge amount of documents to hide under. They will require constant care and feeding. They will require risk to be reduced to a number that is almost impossible to deliver to. Mice can sometimes be used for final bits of financing because in additional to the terror, they will require massive lawyering up to get any money out of them. Mice are good investors for larger projects as they always do their due-diligence and research. But for low budget indies… they’ll never come to the table. They’ll only nibble at the idea.
4. INVESTORS: Real Investors of low budget films are rare. Once located they should never be screwed with. Real Investors will invest in YOU… the film project is secondary. They are looking to see if YOU and your team can deliver a project. They will beat you to death with the right questions… Now here’s the kicker. They will say YES or NO very quickly. Within 2 or 3 meetings tops. How can you tell if someone is a real low budget film investor? here’s some tips:
1. They are no nonsense real people.
2. They generally have invested in film projects prior to yours.
3. They want to know and verify your background and be assured you can deliver a project.
4. They want you to explain how you’ll deliver, what their ROI will be, and what the risks are.
5. They will only take calculated risks.
6. They don’t care about the glitz and bullshit… They care about the money.
7. They won’t invest in a project without proof of previous successful delivery.
8. They don’t give a shit about a business plan, a marketing plan, a distribution plan… because they already know its all just crap from Film school. see 4,5, and 6.
Real Investors will not waste time, they won’t take meeting after meeting, after meeting. They will make decisions quickly. They will do basic deal memos and not require 500 page documents. They have done this before.
5. FIRST TIMERS: First timers normally show up as friends, family, or other contacts that truly want to try out film investing and are willing to take a shot. These types sometimes include Doctors, Dentists, and people who want to invest to have a business card that says Executive Producer. They’ll want to be on set and enjoy the ride. Sometimes these appear to look like Tire Kickers, but normally they don’t know enough to waste your time on all the paperwork. They are looking for a moderate risk, reasonable return, low cost investment so they can dip their toe in the film business.
6. RATS or SCAMMERS : There’s a special place in Hell for scammers. These people will come off as Tire Kickers or even REAL investors in the beginning.. A few meetings to feel you out and when they find out your a newbie or not a seasoned producer they’ve got you. They’ll promise large amounts of money, send documents promising investors and investment, but they will.. and here’s the important part. ALWAYS want you to put money up up front. It will be a fee, it will be some accounting requirement, it will be a percentage, it may even by a check from then that you have to immediately, for some random emergency, have to send them money. In the end they will not only waste your time, but will take your cash and leave you with a debt. THe way to smell these rats out is that they will NEVER cough of cash and will always require you to do so first. They’ll take your money and disappear. If you have to put money up to get money.. You’ve hooked a SCAMMER.
So there you have it. My version of how to determine a low budget film investor for a project ranging from $50K to $500K.