Indie film financing and movie distribution reminds of what it would feel like dancing nude on stage (much respect for exotic dancers at Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club!). You show around pitch your movie project and need certainly to have the ability to dance to a video investor’s music. It’s their stage and not yours being an indie filmmaker seeking film funding. They desire you to make a sellable movie which appeals to movie distributors therefore the production may make money.

Most investors I’ve met with aren’t interested in putting hard money into indie art house films because those are tough sells to movie distributors and overseas film buyers aren’t usually interested in seeing them. The dialogue and scenes of certain art house type films don’t translate well to foreign buyers and movie viewers. 123 movies  Action, horror and skin does not require subtitles for people to follow the story is what I’ve been told by distributors. Talking head movies may make no sense to viewers that don’t understand subtle lines spoken in a foreign language.

Independent film financing continues to alter as indie movie distribution gets more financially shaky. The spot it’s hitting indie movie producers hardest is right at the foundation – film financing. Film investors right now aren’t feeling excited about putting money into movies that do not have bankable name actors. This is simply not like so-called indie movies which have A-list actors or are produced for countless dollars. Those type of indie film passion projects you can make once you’ve made it in the entertainment business at the studio level.

Indie film investors and movie distributors won’t expect you to have an A-list actor, nevertheless they do want producers to own actors (B-list or C-list or D-list) with some name recognition or celebrity. The initial question film investors and movie distributors ask is who the cast is. This really is where most indie movie producers are blown out from the water because they have an unknown cast of actors. Plus there is a glut of indie movies being made because technology has made it cheaper to produce movies.

The bright side is that entertaining indie movies are now being made that will not otherwise ever have experienced light of day before. The downside is meaningful movie distribution (getting paid) for indie produced films continues to shrink as indie films being made rises (supply and demand 101). I talked to 1 movie distributor that provides releasing independent films and they told me they receive new film submissions daily.

These were honest saying they get very sellable movies and ones which can be less than appealing, but with so many movies available they no more offer a lot of producers advance money against film royalties or pay a lump cash “buy-out” to secure distribution rights. Their business viewpoint is most indie filmmakers are only happy seeing their movie released. The definition of they used was “glorified showreel” for an indie filmmaker to show they can make a feature film. So, they acquire many of their movie releases without paying an advance or offering a “buy-out” agreement.

Not building a benefit from a movie does not make financial sense for film investors that expect you’ll see money made. When people put up money to generate a movie they need a reunite on the investment. Otherwise it’s no more a movie investment. It becomes a video donation of money they’re giving out without any expectations. I’ve been on the “dog and pony show” circuit meeting with potential film investors and learning invaluable lessons.

I’m in the habit now of speaking with indie movie distributors before writing a screenplay to see what types of films are selling and what actors or celebrity names attached to a possible project attract them. This is simply not like chasing trends, but it gives producers a sharper picture of the sales climate for indie films. Sometimes distributors gives me a brief set of actors or celebrities to think about that fit an unbiased movie budget. Movie sales not in the U.S. are where a majority of the money is made for indie filmmakers.

Movie distributors and film sales agents can inform you what actors and celebrity talent is translating to movie sales overseas at the indie level. These won’t be A-list names, but having someone with some type of name is a superb selling point to greatly help your movie standout from others. Brief cameos of known actors or celebrities was previously an effective way to help keep talent cost down and add a bankable name to your cast.

That’s changed lately from my conversations with distribution companies. Movie distributors now expect any name talent attached to truly have a meaningful part in the movie rather than a few momemts in a cameo role. Cameo scenes can still work if you have a visible hook that grabs the interest of viewers in a few way. But having name talent say several lines without any special hook won’t fly anymore.

Another way to produce an indie film in need of funding more appealing to investors is to add talent that has been around a movie or TV show of note. Their name being an actor might not be that well-known yet, but rising stars which have appeared in a favorite movie or TV show may give your movie broader appeal. In the event that you cast them in a supporting role keep working days on the set down seriously to the absolute minimum to save your budget. Try to write their scenes so they can be shot in 1 or 2 days.

When you’re pitching to serious film investors they would want to get a detailed movie budget and distribution plan on how you want on making money from the film’s release. The Catch-22 that happens a lot is that a lot of movie distributors that focus on releasing indie films won’t commit to any deal until they’ve screened the movie.

There is not built-in distribution like with studio budget films. Film investors that aren’t traditionally area of the entertainment business will get turned off whenever a producer does not have a distribution deal already in place. They don’t understand the Catch-22 of indie filmmaking and distribution. This really is where a movie producer really needs to have a solid pitch that explains the financial dynamics of indie film distribution.

Most film investors will give an indie movie producer’s financing pitch that mentions self-distribution in it. From a movie investor’s business perspective it requires entirely too long for an indie movie to generate money going the self-distribution route. It’s just like the old school method of selling your movie out from the trunk of your vehicle at places, but now it’s done online using digital distribution and direct sales via a blog. That’s an extended grind that a lot of investors won’t be interested in holding out for. Moving one unit of a movie at the same time is too slow of trickle for investors.

A possible way round the Catch-22 would be to reach out to movie distributors when you are pitching to film investors. With a company budget number and possible cast attached you can gauge to see if you have any meaningful distribution interest in the movie. It’s always possible a supplier will show you that they would offer an advance or “buy-out” deal. They generally won’t offer you a hard number, but a ballpark figure of what they could offer can let you know if your budget makes financial sense to approach movie investors with.

I understand one savvy indie movie producer which makes 4-6 movies per year on very affordable budgets and knows they’re already building a benefit from the advance money alone. The film royalty payments are a bonus. The producer keeps budgets extremely affordable and streamlined at every phase of production. When you have a track record with a distribution company do you know what you can expect you’ll be paid. Then you can offer film investors a percent on the money invested in to the production which makes sense.

Social networking with other indie filmmakers enables you to hear what’s happening with movie distribution from other people’s true to life experiences. A very good thing I’ve been hearing about is there are film investors that won’t put up money to produce movie that is going to be self-distributed, but they’ll roll the dice on an element that is going to specific film festivals. Not the art house film festivals. Those that are very genre specific like for horror or action films. Like Screamfest Horror Film Festival or Action on Film (AOF). Film buyers attend these events and meaningful distribution deals are made.

Independent film financing and movie distribution are regions of the entertainment business all filmmakers will have to cope with and study from each experience. I was in the hot seat today pitching to a video investor. I’ve streamlined the budget as much as I will without making the plot lose steam.

The jam I’m in as a company is you can find hard costs that can’t be avoided that include a lot of gun play including two rigging shots where baddies get shot and are blown backwards off their feet. Badass action films need experienced and seasoned film crews to pull-off hardcore action shots off clean and safe. The cast I do want to hire has the right appeal and name recognition with this indie action movie to rock viewers. There is nothing that can get lost in the translation in this film for foreign film buyers and movie viewers.

What I think got lost in the translation with the potential film investor today is if I keep taking out below-the-line crew to save money I’m going to need to do rewrites to the screenplay to obtain action scenes. They’re selling points that may hurt sales if they’re written out. But it’s my job being an indie filmmaker to balance a budget that appeals to film investors. We’ll observe how this goes. This really is indie filmmaker Sid Kali typing fade out.

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