Pre-Sales for Filmmaking

Good morning. I’ve enjoyed my return to wordpress and communicating here again.

In case you missed it, I created a post with specific information for film financing. I included 3 videos, all by Sky Moore, and summarized his main points. I learned a ton from summarizing the videos so I have decided to do it again today. Furthermore, the information he provides is practical. I’ve seen far too many videos that fail to provide any tangible directions.

Pre-sale Financing:

Pre-sale financing is how a filmmaker will raise the majority of the money for their project. With a script and an actor attached, you can attend a film market and “Pre-sell” the film. This is often done with the assistance of a sales agent. You may then sell distribution rights to a foreign distributor so that they may acquire the rights to your film once it is done. These distributors may agree to pay you a large amount money, but they will require delivery of the film prior to forking over the dough.

Take the contracts acquired over to the bank. Here you will change out those contracts for a “Notice of Assignment.” Here the distributors agree to pay the bank once the bank delivers the film to them. This new contract will typically override whatever was in the initial distribution agreement. You are now eligible for a sizable loan to budget your film.

But what if the film never reaches completion? For the bank to ensure that it will receive its money, you will need to involve a “Completion Guarantee” company. This company guarantees that the film will either A) get made, all contracts work as planned B) not get made, and the company guarantees the bank that it will receive its money from the loan provided to you.

For a typical film budget – $10 million – you may be able to do pre-sales of 7 million. After taking the contracts to the bank and following the steps above, the bank may provide a 6 million loan. Congratulations, 60% percent of your $10 million dollar budget is now covered.

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.

Doing Things And Thinking of Doing More Things

Finally, this Tuesday, September 21st, I finished filming Mountain Cult Ep 5. Of course there are 1 or 2 inserts I’d like to break the camera out for, but neither of those require any other actors. The next 3 major steps for the film are:

  1. Complete the edits
  2. Solicit Financing
  3. Market the film

The most likely scenario is that the short winds up on youtube and is free to view. However, I am determined to pursue other avenues first in order to preserve the value of what I have made. This particular film has taken more time, effort, and money then any of the short films that I made before. Though it is still a micro budget piece, the work that I put into set design, writing, costumes, scheduling, and securing locations is well beyond that of anything I’ve made before it. I don’t believe I can continue making films this way for much longer as the amount of work I have to put in behind the scenes never truly ends. I don’t mind the work, in fact I love it, but it eats away at time. I would like to put out a new film each month. There is no way I can do that without hiring assistants and squaring away locations the right way.

I’ve put youtube on hold for the time being. It takes me 2 days to make a film journal and 30 minutes to create a “youtube short”. I sincerely believe I can rapidly grow my audience by consistently producing youtube shorts. However, I am a simple minded man and must move in a linear direction while focusing on one task at a time.

I’ve been speaking about Kickstarter for months. As of now I may launch mine in October. Much to my disappointment, I will likely push back the campaign for one more month. I am determined to offer lucrative incentives – a coffee mug, a t-shirt, and a DVD. I have just purchased a DVD writer drive and once I know I can export video & audio to it I will feel comfortable offering that as an incentive. I feel comfortable putting the mugs together myself, but will likely look to a 3rd party to make the T-shirts. I can create them with transfer paper, but unless I purchase a heat press I will be unable to make store quality shirts.

Soliciting funding is significant because it would demonstrate that my passion can turn a dime in the free market. For me that is the true mark of a professional – your ability is good enough that your customers find you because you’ve offered a product of value to them. That is much different than tricking one rich old dude who has a heart of gold into investing his life savings in your hobby.

I also want to post here more! And I will, especially when the editing is complete. I formerly posted here while at the end of my night shift, but they took our internet privileges away. That means that I have to use my free time to post, which takes away from my editing time.

Anyways, I know these are fragmented thoughts that kind of just splatted onto the page. But I wanted to write something. At least I can finally share a few stills from the film as I am writing from my main computer:

Film Journal 5 – Casting

My journey toward production continues as I’ve recently begun casting the film. I’ve found an outstanding actress to play my character’s wife and am truly excited to have her on board. We begin filming next week.

I’m casting 5 other actors for another scene that will be filmed in July. That process is well underway and I’ll be viewing their auditions tonight. I have also ordered more film equipment and believe I have everything ready for the big shoot in the future. There are some more props that require purchasing and I don’t yet have the crew members set in stone. Regardless I am very tired and working hard at being prepared well in advance.

I have set up a Kickstarter pre-launch page here. From what I understand I am unable to accept any donations or contributions yet, but I’m excited to further develop incentives for individuals looking to support my bad habit.

Check out Film Journal – Episode 5 below if you’d like. Any time you comment or like a video it helps me immensely.

Brief Update – Film Casting

Mountain Cult Episode 5 is well on its way to development. Last week I reserved a date with the local antique shop that we will film the majority of the episode at. I have selected the date and location for a few scenes in the beginning of the film. I have an idea of where I want the one other location to be.

Casting began last week. Today I have to go through about 1000 different demo reels and select the actors and actresses who will move forward to the auditioning process. After that I must return to the script, find a single page, and send it out for them to perform a monologue. I must hammer down the script one final time and begin to analyze my needs and angles. I will be making a shot list. I must order any additional equipment and props I need well ahead of time.

This part of the process requires me to comb through the script and address all obstacles. For example, there is a creature from another dimension in the final scene. I have to figure out how I will distinguish this character from being human. Rather than focusing on how I want the character to appear, I must pursue the most effective portrayal that I will be capable of. One option is to use makeup and costume, another is to use compositing in after effects to alter the characters appearance digitally. Most likely I’ll be combining both methods. With digital effects I will need to know the lighting and shot type required. If attach 3d elements to the character I should film his scene on a tripod in order for the software to have an easier time tracking his movements (imagine attaching an object to an object moving within the frame. If the frame is moving simultaneously it adds another layer of movement that must be interpreted).

I spent far too long this week working on the graphic for T-shirts. I’d like to launch a kickstarter page and offer T-shirts for any person who helps to fund the film. I’ve come across a website called “Dafont” where individuals post creative fonts for other users to download. Most fonts are available for personal use. I need one that can be used for commercial use so that I can stick with it for the long term. For this reason I am currently using a stock font, but am highly interested in learning how to create my own. A great way to sidestep copyright issues (for music, graphic design, and general production) is to learn a new skill and do it yourself. My youtube videos lately have been featuring background music that I created in Ableton.

I would love to post here more, but I feel like I’m working 2 full time jobs. Gone are the good old days of getting blasted and playing RDR2 for 3 hours. This entire month is going to be a never ending shift. I’m really hoping to launch a kickstarter pre-launch today, but don’t know the first thing about it yet. Will write here again when I can. I should attach a picture of the current MC graphic and T-shirt but I don’t have the files on this computer.

Hope you have a great day.

Day 1 – Production

Today marks the first day of production for me. I mean yeah, it’s technically pre-production, but this is the day I get the ball rolling.

I will be posting a youtube video diary later in the day discussing my plans and ambitions for the project. My goal is to begin posting videos 3-4 times per week updating my progress. I will discuss every meaningful event, from casting, to prop orders, equipment changes, crew acquisition, and location scouting.

My overarching goal is to build momentum toward a kickstarter campaign. If I can build enough online support to start gaining sponsorship I can offset costs and purchase better equipment. Maybe I can even provide a bonus to the actors.

I will have some obstacles to overcome as it is completely unfamiliar territory for me. I have 0 comfort and 0 interest in performing monologues in front of the camera to “sell my self.” I honestly think the word Vlog is disgusting, embarrassing, and disgraceful. But the reality is that entertaining videos take a lot more work then I am able to put in while simultaneously developing episode 5. The alternative is to produce 5-10 second humor clips, but I am not trying to be a tik tok star I’m trying to be a filmmaker.

I will publish the video later today and intend to post the link here as well. I’m guessing I’ll get around 20 views but that’s ok. This is where building a community starts so I’m going to do it.