Ive been having alot of meetings lately on business models and finance structures for films. I have just finished reading “Friends, fans and followers” and watched multiple videos from The Workbook project. There is so much out there at the moment regarding this theme I thought I would join my friend Richard in talking more about it and seeing what you guys are thinking!

SOme things that have stood out to me is the need to innovate and come up with models that suit our industry. We know by now that there is no magic hand-out we need to FIND the money. Whether it be from audiences online or multiple small investors or a brand, we have to take each product and dissect its possibilities, look at the distribution options and then calculate a plan on where this money could possible come form.

By the time you speak to an investor your brain should be clear on where this film could work, how you could sell it and who the audience is. I mean very clear. There is so much media going on that painting in broad strokes (white males between 16 and 23) will do you NO good. Richard did a great piece recently titled the “Internal Green-light”on what you should be thinking about before making a movie.

An internal greenlight refers to a process of greenlighting a film, a concept, a screenplay, even an idea or premise that meets a certain minimum criteria (incorporating story, likely production and marketing budget, audience, and likely financial return), before substantial effort and resources are spent on it’s development, and certainly before pitching it to financiers and distributors.

This process will help create a space where you can identify potential investors. Again, there is no ONE investors, THE ONE does not exist outside The Matrix. For me the answer is Hybrid economies ( I am a Lawrence Lessig fan) . I believe that in our mash-up, post modern society we have the freedom to mix and match to suit our will. This is not great if you like structure and a clean, neat order of things. It is a bit chaotic and definitely still unclear as to what the exact rules are.

Hybrid between what?

This mash-up is lies between the lines of conventional investment and alternative sources.
One example is that of Indiegogo which “provides tools for fundraising, promotion and discovery to the film and media industry.” You can post your film with byline, pics, CV’s et al and people contribute to your idea….with cash. Only once you have made set targets does Indiegogo release the finds into your account. The concept is inspired and can be translated in many ways.

Find an audience for your film, offer a unique selling point and have them pay to make your movie. Whether they become “investors” or co-conspirators, whatever the title, the point is to get people to participate in the making of your project. I think this method can go a far way in having audiences in SA to start trusting product again. This concept has the potential to become a cool hobby. “So what film are you investing in?”. The audience can help you decide on casting decisions through pole participation, get free tickets to the first screening so they get a return on their investment. The online participation method has potential. the downside is that it takes alot of time to aggregate an audience big enough to make a substantial contribution and also then to continue your communication so that they don’t feel “left out”.

Branding is becoming more popular as budgets for commercials become bloated but the exhibition becomes limited… If a brand spends the same amount of cash in investing into your film and the genre allows for a broad audience watch there are obvious tie-ins that exist. Although we know that these corporations will wait as long as they can before instituting ANY change, we can, as film-makers, be banging on the doors and offering new solutions.

There are people doing interesting things. Simon Hansen from SAFE (South African Film Exchange) is going with a 10 slate program. Utilizing the same crew and production group to produce 10 films with lower budgets. By putting a crew on a retainer as opposed to paying freelance fees and using them to produce all the movies may result in ten great pictures. Spreading the risk for investors and also delivering a constant out-put of films.

At the The Forum - The changing Landscape Simon made a great point about Paradigms. A writer asked how can she make money writing only what she wants to. That there is no system to support her. The answer: Change your paradigm. Create your own reality of how things are supposed to work and then create value for yourself. The same goes for financing films. we need shift and re-create our paradigm. Anything can work, just because no-one is saying it does not mean you aren’t right in your thinking. Being a creative is your advantage, think out the box and hybrid some economies!

There is a new resource for those looking for information on ways to fund work. “The Film Finance Handbook - How to Fund Your Film,” provides a comprehensive look at traditional and new models of funding.

“With information on funding and tax incentives in over 50 countries, details of more than 1000 funds, a new chapter on the Internet, 400 entry glossary and significantly expanded information about low and microbudget production, Production Finance, the new UK, German and US tax incentives, and approaching the industry. At 480 pages, it’s the first book to pull together international legal information, global film funds and the theory and practice of funding and packaging films in one place. From first short film through to international multi-million co-production the book is aimed at novice and expert alike.”

To read a FREE chapter on using the interent for film funding, marketing and distribution click here.