General Update

I know I began a short story last week, and I intend to continue that as soon as possible. But today I just wanted to provide a brief update.

I’ve spoken here often about improving my own time management. I am constantly working on something, but different projects require different amounts of time. For instance, editing a film, mastering a song, or molding a story are tasks that can be done in a day or a year. A great example that demonstrates this trend is the song that I’ve been working on for the past month. No matter how much I try to recreate the emotion through synthetic instruments on Ableton it has not matched the emotional impact it provided when I first played it on acoustic. I have to practice the song on a real guitar, stay true to the tempo, and learn the same chord progression in the key of Bb major. All the work I’ve put in through Ableton has been wasted, though I have created some unique synthesizers in the process.

Regardless of your aim in the world of creativity, a simple step back allows you to view the reality of accomplishing your goals. I fundamentally disagree with the longing to “get discovered”. Carving out a sustainable career is a result of a relentless effort to master the skills required for a specific profession. Eminem constantly references Dr. Dre for discovering him and exploding his career. Though he no doubt became a breakthrough artist thanks to Dr. Dre, Eminem was the one honed the skills that unlocked his meteoric rise. He needed a platform for what he was selling – but the product was already top quality.

I am trying to quantify the steps that I must take to produce a feature length film that will prove a profitable undertaking. Whether that means making more short films, knocking on doors, or building a large online following, I am game. I am certain I must have a completed script before I can be taken seriously in any avenue. Before that is completed, however, I am attempting to identify daily habits that will continuously bring me closer to my goal.

The two most obvious are daily writing/research specific to the story I am developing. The second obvious step is to educate myself on film financing.

I love wordpress and the audience that I can reach. It is the one task I can complete while I am at work. I also intend to return to creating youtube videos, but I need a more regimented system. Oftentimes I will write a script in a day, film it the following day, then require 2 weeks to edit all of the footage and music together. I’m considering creating videos where the focus is scene analysis on films that I’ve enjoyed. I feel I can come out with one of these each week. The most important aspect of creating youtube videos would be to dedicate no more than 30 minutes each day over the course of a week to create the video.

I am still waiting to find my film “Doctor with the Red Houseware” on Xumo. Once it is featured I will be happy to advertise it. As it stands, I have not released the film for free viewing on youtube. This week I am going to take steps to market the film again and set up for a free release online. I can do this by posting regularly to instagram and creating videos detailing the struggles encountered throughout the production process.

Anyways, hope all is well and to write again tomorrow. I do intend on further exploring the short story I began. It is a story I loved and one that I would consider producing. Because I have many ideas that I love I realize in my lifetime I will be unable to tell them all unless I sacrifice a little of the production quality in order to simply tell them. Have a good day.

Film Finance, Tax Credits, and Securities Laws

Today I want to get a bit boring. I’ve discussed vapid dreams and ambitions here for quite a while now. But as I set out to begin a new project, I must prepare to deal with an element that I haven’t encountered before – raising money.

In the world of art the dollar symbol is nearly a curse word. There is so much joy throughout the creative process that the financial burden is completely ignored in favor of fantasized recognition. The irony is that a person who loses a quarter of their income on a poor financial investment will be more angry than an artist who pisses away half their lifetime on a masterpiece that’s never fully realized.

I’m making a commitment to myself to learn more about film financing. I cannot make legitimate films without an external source of income. Today I’m going to summarize a few of the key points from the video series I’ve been viewing, with links to each. I want to add that I have no connection to Sky Moore and am citing his videos specifically due to the wealth of information he provides in each. If you enjoy his videos, I encourage you to “like” them and subscribe to his channel. My summaries simply recite the main points that he provides.

  1. Basics of Film Financing –

Sky Moore urges us prioritize learning inner workings of the film industry over all other aspects of filmmaking. He states that 80% of films that are made lose money. Moore informs us that studios make money primarily through distribution. They often acquire films that were financed by a third party, get the film to a distributor, and take a cut from that. The principal distinction between film studios & independent studios is that Independent Studios will often collapse after one film failure. They do not have deep enough pockets to cover a major loss. Studios control distribution – Independent Studios do not. Never invest in your own film.

2. Equity & Security –

Moore tells us that if we violate the securities laws, we go to jail. We are also at risk for being held liable for any losses incurred. Security laws apply anytime a person is paying money with an expectation of receiving money back. You can comply with the security laws by filing with the SEC (a headache) or by filing for an exemption. Rely on Rule 506 – All investors must be credited investors: (investors with net worth over a million (excluding their homes), annual income above 300k, or an entity with over 5 million dollars of gross assets. They must meet one of those requirements and also sign a document stating such. Congrats, you got yourself a credited investor! Now file form D with the SEC and don’t do advertising (not sure why).

You have an obligation to disclose all material facts to your investors through a Private Placement Memorandum. (A summary of script, projected budget, distribution plan, your background, etc. Can be short but must meet the burden of meeting all material facts.)

3. Tax Financing –

There are 3 different ways to use tax subsidies for film financing:

1. Foreign (tax shelters) – Sale/lease back model. Sell your rights to a foreign entity. They license the rights back to you. You recover 10% of your budget.

2. US – Section 181. Deduct the first 15 million dollars of the cost of a film produced in the United States. Realize it’s not a credit. It accelerates the deduction by a year. It doesn’t work and ya goofed.

3. State tax credits – This one does work. There are two different models.

  1. Assignable – Receive tax credit based on producing in a local jurisdiction. Sell the credit to a buyer (taxpayer) within that jurisdiction. Some states will give a credit of 20-30%. Spend a million on your film, receive a credit as high as 300k.
  2. Refundable – The state will refund the amount of your credit. You may not be able to sell it but you can borrow against it. You can pledge it to a bank and monetize it (use it to raise money for your film).

I hope these videos and summaries were helpful to you. I know very little about film financing but am motivated to educate myself. I stumbled upon these videos online and found them immensely helpful. I share them with the hope that someone else can find them as invaluable as I have. Once again, I have no connection to Sky Moore.

Have a good one.

Moore, Sky. “1_ Basics of Film Financing – YouTube.” Www.youtube.com, Sky Moore Attorney, 3 Aug. 2017, youtu.be/Qyf97tFxUEE.

Moore, Sky. “3_ Equity & Security – YouTube.” Www.youtube.com, Sky Moore Attorney, 3 Aug. 2017, youtu.be/zkt2EvkSvDg. Accessed 15 May 2022.

Moore, Sky. “4_ Tax Financing – YouTube.” Www.youtube.com, 3 Aug. 2017, youtu.be/2vFJLztFQwc. Accessed 15 May 2022.

Where to go From Here…

I’ve finished episode 5 of Mountain Cult, “Doctor with the Red Houseware.” I’ve showed it to the cast and crew and have received overwhelmingly positive feedback. It has a runtime of 30 minutes.

I now find myself at an unusual spot. This episode was the absolute most I could do without any outside assistance. I worked overtime shifts to budget much of the production. I designed all the props, secured all the locations, and scheduled all the actors. I did all the editing and even composed the songs and mixed the sounds.

I cannot film another project under these conditions. It would be foolish. I must find a way to leverage my current project in order to secure financing for a future one. I am confident I could successfully coordinate all the moving parts to produce a feature film if only securing the money and distribution through third parties.

A producer has joined the meetup group that I started a year ago. He has answered many of the questions a novice like myself has to ask. There is something called a “film triangle” that incorporates talent, financing, and distribution as the key ingredients towards a successful movie. He advised me that distribution is secured before a project is even filmed.

I still haven’t launched my kickstarter for this episode of Mountain Cult. I plan to do so in January but realize I must be incredibly prepared prior to its launch. The goal is to secure more financing from complete and total strangers then friends since I do not know too many people with money.

I am routinely contemplating methods I could use to make the latest installment of Mountain Cult a paid for viewing. Despite realizing a project of this sort ordinarily is free to view on youtube, I feel that it is not fair to the artist to receive such minuscule financial return from posting there. I know that 99.99% of viewers will likely pass if they must pay prior to viewing it. But I also feel that being able to raise even $100 from including such a paywall would still be an enormous accomplishment and step forward for myself.

Today I will submit to several film festivals in hopes of any sort of recognition. If I can win film awards, launch a successful crowdfunding campaign, and interest potential investors, I can move in a positive direction. I basically have a shoe lace that I must trade for a pack of paper clips, turn that into ream of paper, barter that for an old printer, and somewhere along the journey wind up with a new car. Not easy, and not likely. I get it. But none of this “art for a living” stuff is.