FilmFinancer: An Experiment

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Tl;dr - Have I cracked the code to finding money for your next feature film? Read about my experiment with FilmFinancer!
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Table of Contents

What's The Big Idea Behind FilmFinancer?

FilmFinancer is a website that I created after seeing companies like LegionM advertising to me on Facebook about investing in movies. 

I felt that, if a company like LegionM can post up Facebook ads and generate millions of dollars in financing from regular people, why can’t I do the same? So I came up with a plan to collect the information of people who are interested in investing in movies, and FilmFinancer was the solution I came up with.

How It Works

The thesis to this idea is that there are thousands of people out there interested in investing in movies, but simply don’t know how or don’t have access to the people making the projects.

So, the website acts as a way for those people to digitally raise their hands and say, “I want to invest!” 

It’s relatively simple, I created what is called a landing page that leads to an opt-in process.

The opt-in process I selected is a brief survey that allows the prospective investors to input information about themselves and announce the type of projects that they are interested in investing in and how much they have to invest.

From there, the website works quite like a newsletter wherein I send them information about different investment opportunities and they respond if they are interested in learning more or receiving pitch materials.

I kept it pretty simple, as I wanted to implement the idea quickly to see if it would work.

The Results: Did It Work?

So, did I crack the secret code to unlimited film funding with FilmFinancer?

I would say no. Though it did work.

Within a relatively short amount of time, I was able to collect the information of about 40 individuals who claimed to be interested in investing in films and whose declared investment values totaled over $4M!

Great, right!?

Yes, it’s not a bad start at all, and I think the concept is pretty interesting.

The Bumps in the Road

$4M in potential investors is nothing to sneeze at, but the reality is you would need a HUGE pool of people in order for this idea to work and be repeatable.

Yes, I think there’s potential with the project, but generally speaking it didn’t make like THAT much easier. The investors that I was able to capture were savvy to the industry, which was great, but also very particular about the types of projects that they want to invest in.

I brought the investors several movies with A-list talent, huge EP names, and proven directors, but still none of them equated to any actual investment.

In fact, my more traditional outreach methods of cold emailing companies and high net worth individuals proved to be quite a bit more effective than this method.

As such, I essentially abandoned the project.

I may revisit it one day down the road.

The Biggest Problem

For me, the biggest problem that I came across with this idea is one that comes up over and over again for me when raising financing for independent films.

I can’t, in good conscience, recommend any film (even my own) to an investor as a “good investment opportunity.”

I just can’t, because it’s not.

Honestly, if you think your small indie film is a good investment opportunity, I think it’s highly likely that you don’t understand enough about the business to be making those claims in the first place.

As you know from being a consumer of movies, you can have huge actors, great directors, big studios involved in a film and still have it lose money or under-perform. Audiences tastes fluctuate. 

If you get a certain a-list actor in your film, there’s no telling whether or not he’ll be a sure bet then or any time in the future. If you write a script based on some top-of-mind topic, you could have a hit, but you could also have a huge flop. 

If there was a secret pattern to follow for success when talking about creating any consumable media, there would be viral videos, breakout novels, and blockbuster films left and right.

But there aren’t. They are rare. The studios have been able to maintain a certain level of consistency, but only by spending a huge amount of money and producing or distributing dozens of projects each year to calm the trending statistics.

I say all of this only to point out that, for me, the answer to the Big Question that I’m always trying to answer – you know, “How can I repeatedly make the film projects that I want to make and earn a living doing so?” – is not by finding investors on a project by project basis. 

It’s a long and grueling task that requires a level of salesmanship and hyperbole that I don’t feel comfortable with. So, I’m onto the next experiment! Stay tuned.

Another Thing to Note

I went out on a limb with this experiment.

Before you go out there and try to recreate it, it’s important to know that there are a ton of strict regulations put forth by the SEC in regards to how you can advertise certain investment opportunities.

I did my best to not break any of those rules, though I may have at one point or another.

Just know that if you decide to do anything regarding raising financing from investors, you should have the assistance of a lawyer and be sure to follow the appropriate rules and regulations.

My sharing of my experiments are for educational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice or advice of any nature. All of your fundraising efforts are done at your own risk.

Okay, disclaimer over. Leave me a comment with your thoughts.

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