You will have to be prepared to put in some hard work and operate in a professional and efficient manner in order to have stakeholders trust you enough to part with their hard-earned cash. Of course, if you’re saving funds to finance the film yourself, that professional and efficient manner still applies.
The first thing you will need to do it to put a business plan together. This is, to some degree, as significant as sourcing a great script. You’ll need a plan in place in order to secure the funds you need for your film project. As a filmmaker or producer, you should make a viable business plan the no.1 priority. Many create a business plan before even finding a script, then looking for one that fits what they believe their project can raise.
The studio model
The plan with the studio model is to fund between three and five films of the same, or a similar, genre before approaching investors with a number of similar films. If just one turns out to be a success, it will not only pay for that film but also the other projects on the slate.
While this ‘hedging your bets’ strategy sounds great, you have to consider whether you can realistically put multiple projects together. You might think about working with other filmmakers who have similar projects.
A large number of countries offer attractive investment and tax incentives for producers and filmmakers. State and country and legislation enables producers to subsidise spent costs for production. Europe’s MEDIA initiative, for example, has over 20 programmes for filmmakers and media. You have to put in an application for the finance and lobby those who make the decisions before you get your soft money.
Many filmmakers in Europe keep the MEDIA money’s rules and regulations in mind when writing their business plan. This also applies to soft money available from other nations. The government in the UK is another example. Each year, they invest tens of millions of pounds into the British film industry (using funds from the National Lottery). After the UK Film Council ended, the British Film Institute (BFI) distributes UK public money.
There’s also a two-day film financing event called Production Finance Market (PFM) that was established by Film London. The event is run in association with BFI’s London Film Festival. PPM encourages the formation of new professional relationships between producers, filmmakers, and investors.
As there are numerous competing producers and filmmakers all lobbying for funds, you shouldn’t rely too much on securing government finance. Further, there are restrictions on those funds that could be asking you to compromise your artistic integrity.
The plan here is to work with companies and be paid for including their products in your film. One great example of this is the brand Heineken, which reportedly funded one third of the $150 million budget for Skyfall.
Not only does product placement provide you with film funding, the product exposure for the brand may give them greater value and is regarded as being cheaper than comparative print or TV advertising.