Blog Archives

Crowdfunding Networking Party

Save the dates! Join Gini Graham Scott, author of Finding Funds For Your Film or TV Project, on Thursday, December 5th for a free party from 7-9pm to introduce the Crowdfunding Film Society, http://crowdfundfilmsociety.com, and its San Francisco Chapter, found at http://www.meetup.com/CrowdfundingFilm. On the 6th, from 10-4pm, there will be a program with speakers on crowdfunding, followed by a pitch to select films to be featured in the Film Society’s showcase to be promoted nationally: http://crowdfundfilmsociety.com/category/film. Below is a brief excerpt from Finding Funds For Your Film or TV Project

Creating a Crowdfunding Campaign

Crowdfunding, also known as crowd financing, involves individuals collectively networking and pooling their resources, usually through the Internet, to help the efforts of other individuals or organizations. While it has been used to fund all sorts of activities, from the creative work of artists and musicians to community programs and software development, it has become an especially popular means of funding films. For example, out of the nearly 6,500 individuals and organizations who met their funding goals as of November 5, 2012, about 10% of these were for films, or about 650 films.

Until recently, crowdfunding strictly required those seeking funds this way to clearly indicate that any funds received were to be considered contributions in return for rewards or voluntary donations to support the cause and perhaps receive recognition as a result. But on April 5, 2012, President Obama signed into legislation the JOBS Act, which permits equity crowdfunding, in which a company can sell small amounts of equity to a large number of investors. The SEC has been charged with setting forth specific rules and guidelines specifying what kind of investments are possible.

One rule that has already been advanced is that crowdfunding offerings will count toward the higher limit of investors permitted without having to register the offering with the SEC, permitting companies to raise money from publicity and other media such as the Internet. Moreover, crowdfunding offerings will count toward the higher registration threshold that permits up to 2,000 or more accredited investors, or up to 500 unaccredited investors, without registering.

This new equity crowdfunding approach is quite different from the contribution model of crowdfunding used so far, in that a company seeking money through equity financing can sell up to $1 million in securities in any 12-month period to an unlimited number of investors, rather than seeking contributions that involve no company ownership. Moreover, companies using the crowdfunding exemption must make this offering through an intermediary that is registered as a broker (who can promote securities and solicit investors) or a “funding portal” (who cannot) with the SEC. And in contrast to making donations in traditional crowdfunding, these contributors will be investors getting shares in return for their funding.

Generally, the advantage of the crowdfunding approach is that it reduces the risk of starting a company or seeking money for a film. It also helps to filter out the bad ideas, because they won’t find investors – although another big reason for not reaching your goal could be that people don’t know about your offering because you didn’t sufficiently promote it.

Finding Funds for Your Film or TV Project includes a complete overview of the many different ways to get funds for your film – from preparing the materials you need, such as business plans, private placement memorandums, trailers, sizzle reels, and crowd-funding pitches – to how to make effective presentations to prospective funders, from as family members, friends, and business associates, to angels, private investors, established producers, and film financiers. Scott provides a comprehensive introduction to the many options for fund-raising, and includes information on how to prepare the materials necessary, from business plans and Private Place Memorandums to video and PowerPoint presentations to using crowd-funding techniques.

Covered are these key topics:

• The overall film industry and trends in film production

• Deciding what to produce, preparing a script or treatment, determining your needed cast and crew, and coming up with a rough estimate of your budget

• Putting together the needed documents, including creating a schedule and budget, preparing a producer package, business plan, and private placement memorandum

• Creating a crowd-funding campaign

• Developing a trailer and sizzle reel

• Creating your marketing and promotional materials and getting a publicity buzz going

• Developing and presenting your pitch to prospective investors

• Closing the deal and getting your money

Getting Your First Feature Sold

The following is an excerpt from the whitepaper GETTING YOUR FIRST FEATURE SOLD by Gini Graham Scott (author of Finding Funds for Your Film or TV Project), which you can download for free here.

Doing Scene Breakdowns

Create your shooting script

Order and number scenes and shots

  • Break your scenes into shots
  • Estimate the time for each scene

Use screen breakdown software

Use columns in word processing or Excel

Use a linear approach

Finding Locations

Determining the number of locations

Deciding what locations to use

  • Permissions and precautions
  • Scouting for locations
  • Taking photos of proposed locations
  • Getting pick up shots
  • Considering what to change
  • Considering liability and damage issues

Casting Your Film

Where to find actors

  • Using a casting service (ie: SF Casting)
  • Advertising for actors (ie: Craigslist)
  • Contacting film organizations

Payment arrangements

  • Full pay
  • Deferred pay
  • Providing backend points to lead actors

All this and more covered in GETTING YOUR FIRST FEATURE SOLD by Gini Graham Scott free whitepaper available at halleonardbooks.com.

Finding Funds for Your Film or TV Project includes a complete overview of the many different ways to get funds for your film – from preparing the materials you need, such as business plans, private placement memorandums, trailers, sizzle reels, and crowd-funding pitches – to how to make effective presentations to prospective funders, from as family members, friends, and business associates, to angels, private investors, established producers, and film financiers. Scott provides a comprehensive introduction to the many options for fund-raising, and includes information on how to prepare the materials necessary, from business plans and Private Place Memorandums to video and PowerPoint presentations to using crowd-funding techniques.

The Appeal of Investing in Films

Gini ScottGuest Blogger: Gini Graham Scott, author of The Complete Guide to Writing, Producing, and Directing a Low-Budget Short Film as well as the upcoming Finding Funds for Your Films or TV Project, talks about investing in films for Ray O Light Media.

 

Are films a good investment opportunity. I think they are for the right kind of investor. Here’s why. I have written this in a Q&A style to answer the major questions that prospective investors ask about whether to invest or not.

1. Why is film investment an attractive investment opportunity? Is it because of the high return or because of the nature of business?

For many investors, the high return is a big draw, because films do have the potential for a very large return, though there is a very high risk with a lot of big “Ifs”. A film can do extremely well if it has a good script, good acting, good production value, has a budget that fits the type of film this is, and strikes a chord with distributors or buyers for the TV, DVD, foreign rights, or other markets. Then, if the film goes into theatrical release, it has the potential to have an even larger audience, though theatrical is not the primary source of income for most films, just the big blockbusters, since the theater owners take about 75% of the box office unless a film goes into a long-term release and there is a high costs for prints (though an increasing number of theaters are going digital). The value of a theatrical release is more for its promotional value for gaining other kinds of sales, except for the huge blockbusters.

Despite the potential for high returns for some films, investors in it for the money have to realize that any film investment is a big risk, because many problems can develop from when a film goes into production to when it is finally released and distributed. Theses risks include the film not being completed because it goes over budget and is unable to get additional financing or there are problems on the set. Another risk is that the film is not well-received by distributors and TV buyers, so it doesn’t get picked up. Or even if a film gets a distribution deal, the risk is that there is little or no money up front, so the film does not see any further returns. So yes – a film can have a high return, but an investor can lose it all.

As a result, for many investors, other key reasons for investing are more important. They believe in the message of the film. They like and support the film producers, cast, and crew. They like the glamour of being involved with a film, including meeting the stars and going to film festivals. They see their investment as an opportunity to travel to distant locations for filming and for promoting the film. And they see investing in the film as a tax write-off, much like giving to a charity.

2. What kind of investment returns can investors can expect, since many independent productions are not designed for big screens, where are the sales coming from?

If all the stars align, and there is a good film done with a reasonable budget and distributors, buyers, and an audience responds, the film could readily earn 4 to 10 times its cost, making everyone very happy. A low-budget indie scenario for this level of return might be a film shot for $50,000-200,000. It might get $500,000-750,000 for a TV sale and earn $1-2 million more through DVD, streaming, and foreign rights sales, even without a theatrical release.

For most films, the main value of a theatrical release is the PR value of getting the film known, so buyers will want to purchase or rent the DVD and TV buyers will want to show it on one of the premium cable movie channels. Also, most films don’t get a theatrical release, and the funds are earned through other channels.

3. What kind of movies can usually generate good profits, since the recent Oscar Awards show that a big investment does not necessary mean big returns?

Some of the big blockbusters that pass the $100 million threshold can certainly make a profit from a successful theatrical release, both in the U.S. and abroad. But whether they make a profit depends on their budget. Because of the high salaries of stars that are typical in these films and other high cost items, such as special effects, many blockbusters still may not make a profit. Thus, dollar for dollar, many low-budget indie films may be a better investment, since the multiples are higher with a success; there is more likelihood that a low-budget indie, which is done well at a reasonable budget, will be sold and make back it’s money, and the potential for loss is much less.

Keep reading this article on the Ray O Light Media website.

 

Finding Funds for Your Film or TV Project includes a complete overview of the many different ways to get funds for your film – from preparing the materials you need, such as business plans, private placement memorandums, trailers, sizzle reels, and crowd-funding pitches – to how to make effective presentations to prospective funders, from as family members, friends, and business associates, to angels, private investors, established producers, and film financiers. Scott provides a comprehensive introduction to the many options for fund-raising, and includes information on how to prepare the materials necessary, from business plans and Private Place Memorandums to video and PowerPoint presentations to using crowd-funding techniques.

 

A Quick Guide to Screenwriting

A Quick Guide to Screenwriting

by Ray Morton
Quick Guide series from Limelight Editions

 Website | Author Website | Author Facebook | Read: George Harrison and the Movies

MONTCLAIR, NJ—Screenwriting is an unusual craft—one that combines the ancient traditions of dramatic storytelling with modern cinematic techniques into its own singular set of principles and protocols. A Quick Guide to Screenwriting (Limelight Editions, May 2013, $12.99) by Ray Morton lays out these conventions in a simple, easy-to-read fashion. It is the ultimate reference manual to the art, craft, and business of writing for the movies. Unlike many other screenwriting tomes, this is not a dense compendium of inflexible rules or rigid formulas. Rather, it is an explanation of a few essential concepts and formatting, a little history and business, and some helpful advice and food for thought that, when mixed with imagination and creativity, will help get readers started telling wonderful stories for the screen. Covered topics include:

  • The history of screenwriting
  • Commercial vs. “personal” writing
  • The three basic types of screenplays
  • The seven basic steps to writing a screenplay
  • How to brainstorm ideas
  • Developing and structuring a story
  • The techniques of cinematic storytelling
  • Screenplay style and formatting
  • Important screenwriting dos and don’ts
  • How to get quality feedback and then use it to improve your work

Also covered is the business side of screenwriting, including copyright and registration of finished material, the function of agents and managers, the Writers Guild, contracts, the development process, and how to bring your work to the attention of the industry.

Written in smart, reader-friendly prose, A Quick Guide to Screenwriting is chock-full of the vital information, helpful tips, and keen advice that will help you make your script the best it can be.

Limelight Editions’ Quick Guide series are handy pocket-sized handbooks for all career paths in the performing arts. Each book tackles one specific field from the perspective of the most authoritative authors. Limelight released The Independent Filmmaker’s Guide by Glenn Berggoetz in 2012 and Getting Past Me: A Writer’s Guide to Production Company Readers by Mindi White in 2011.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARay Morton (Los Angeles) is a writer, script consultant, and screenplay analyst. A graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, Morton has written for television and the screen, pens the monthly “Meet the Reader” column for Scriptmag.com, and is the author of the books King Kong, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and A Hard Day’s Night and Amadeus in Limelight Editions’ Music on Film series. Ray Morton is available for interview.

May 9, 2013
9780879108045
120 pages
$12.99
5.1″ x 7.5″
Paperback
Limelight Editions is an imprint of Hal Leonard Performing Arts Publishing Group

Screenwriting 00109295

Cost-efficient Filmmaking

glennGuest Blogger: Glenn Berggoetz, author of The Independent Filmmaker’s Guide, helps out filmmakers with tips for smart budgeting and more on his blog.

 

Spend Your Filmmaking Money Wisely

I spoke with another filmmaker recently and found out that she spent well over $10,000 to make a six-minute short film. I haven’t seen this film, and it might be quite good, maybe fantastic, but had I met this filmmaker last year, I would have talked with her about a different way to make films. A more efficient, cost-effective way.

There are so many ways to trim your expenses when making a film. Don’t bring in a lighting expert. Don’t worry about gaffers, key grips, make-up artists, and a whole host of other crew members – I typically have a crew of three that consists of the director of photography doing the filming, a guy to hold the boom, and me. Sometimes it’s just two of us – the guy with the camera and me with the boom. It’s not glamorous, but it gets the job done.

With the more than $10,000 this filmmaker spent to make her short film, I could have made five to seven feature films (my feature film The Worst Movie EVER! was made for $1,100 and received a theatrical release).

If you want to learn about the dozens of ways you can go about saving money on a shoot so you too can make a feature film for a small amount of money, buy my book The Independent Filmmaker’s Guide: Make Your Feature Film for $2,000, and you’ll be well on your way to making your next (or maybe first) film in an efficient, economical manner.

Check out Glenn Berggoetz’s blog!

The Independent Filmmaker’s Guide: Make Your Future Film for $2,000

Award-winning independent filmmaker Glenn Berggoetz shares all he knows about making a marketable feature film for $2,000. While most books on independent filmmaking talk about how to make a film with a budget of anywhere from $50,000 to half a million dollars or more, the reality of the indie film world is that most filmmakers rarely have more than a few thousand dollars at their disposal for making their film. This book is written specifically for those filmmakers, and for filmmakers who would typically waste years trying to raise tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars to make their film simply because they’re not aware that there’s another, more efficient way to go about it.

Filmmakers: The Editing Process

glennGuest Blogger: Glenn Berggoetz is the author of The Independent Filmmaker’s Guide: Make Your Feature Film for $2000 (Limelight Editions). Visit his blog for more great tips!

 

One of the toughest parts of being a filmmaker, if you don’t do the editing of your films yourself, is waiting to see how the final edit of one of your films will turn out.  Tomorrow I’m meeting with editor Erik Lassi to watch the first full-length rough edit of our film Midget Zombie Takeover.  I’m quite excited!

There are pros and cons to having someone else edit your film.  The major con is that you relinquish some control over your film, which can be a bit worrisome.  With my film Evil Intent the initial editor of the film didn’t have his heart in the project, and when I viewed the final edit, the film was bad.  I thought I had simply written and directed a bad film, but I was convinced by a friend to have someone else edit it, so I did, and the second  edit of the film was completely different, and quite good!  We now have a distributor for the film and a tentative cable TV deal for it.

The major pro to having someone else edit your film is that they can add extra insights and humor (assuming you’re doing a comedy) to the film.  When Alan Dague-Greene edited our films The Worst Movie EVER! and To Die is Hard he added in dozens of little humorous touches to the films that I’d never considered.  His fresh pair of eyes made both films much better than if I had decided to edit them myself.

So consider having someone else edit your films.  It can bring fresh material to the project, plus it allows you more time to move on to writing and shooting your next film.

More Tips from Glenn
The pay off for your efforts
There are very few days off for a filmmaker
The editing process
Be creative to land your screenings
Do something every day

Award-winning independent filmmaker Glenn Berggoetz shares all he knows about making a marketable feature film for $2,000. While most books on independent filmmaking talk about how to make a film with a budget of anywhere from $50,000 to half a million dollars or more, the reality of the indie film world is that most filmmakers rarely have more than a few thousand dollars at their disposal for making their film. This book is written specifically for those filmmakers, and for filmmakers who would typically waste years trying to raise tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars to make their film simply because they’re not aware that there’s another, more efficient way to go about it.

Filmmakers: The Pay Off for Your Efforts

glennGuest Blogger: Glenn Berggoetz is the author of The Independent Filmmaker’s Guide: Make Your Feature Film for $2000 (Limelight Editions). Visit his blog for more great tips!

 

While small-budget filmmaking like I do might seem as if it’s dooming the filmmaker to anonymity, it certainly doesn’t have to.

This past summer we shot two films, and for $2000 we made the film “Midget Zombie Takeover.”  We’re planning to have the finished edit of “Midget Zombie Takeover” ready in January.  But even though the finished edit is months away, we’ve already booked the film into two theaters and heard from an international distribution company that’s interested in acquiring distribution rights to the film.

Small-budget filmmaking does not have to be bad filmmaking.  The keys to making a good film are to have a great script and a handful or so of talented cast and crew members who can make you look like you know what you’re doing.  You can have all of these things on a small budget.  If you want to learn how you can improve your odds of making a great film on a small budget, purchase my new book that’s just out from Limelight Editions, The Independent Filmmaker’s Guide: Make Your Feature Film for $2000. 

More Tips from Glenn
The pay off for your efforts
There are very few days off for a filmmaker
The editing process
Be creative to land your screenings
Do something every day

Award-winning independent filmmaker Glenn Berggoetz shares all he knows about making a marketable feature film for $2,000. While most books on independent filmmaking talk about how to make a film with a budget of anywhere from $50,000 to half a million dollars or more, the reality of the indie film world is that most filmmakers rarely have more than a few thousand dollars at their disposal for making their film. This book is written specifically for those filmmakers, and for filmmakers who would typically waste years trying to raise tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars to make their film simply because they’re not aware that there’s another, more efficient way to go about it.

Filmmakers: Do something every day!

Guest Blogger: Glenn Berggoetz is the author of The Independent Filmmaker’s Guide: Make Your Feature Film for $2000 (Limelight Editions). Visit his blog for more great tips!

One of the keys to being successful as an independent filmmaker is to make sure you do at least one thing every single day to advance your career.  That one thing can take many forms.  It might mean jotting down ideas for a script or working on a script.  It might mean lining up cast and crew members for your next film.  It might mean sending out emails to promote you previous films.  Whatever it might be, do it!

In my own case, at this point, since we completed shooting two feature films in the last few months, I’ve been focusing on promoting our previous films, and today we received a big payoff when I found out that our film “The Worst Movie EVER!” will be shown in November at yet another independent theater.  That makes six theaters the film will have played in, and by the time the film screens in November, “The Worst Movie EVER!” will have been making the theatrical rounds for fifteen months.  That’s quite a run.  And with every new theater the film plays in, and with every extra dollar the film brings in at the box office, the chances increase of landing foreign deals, DVD releases, cable deals, etc.

So make sure that every day you do at least one thing to continue your career.  And on those days when you have some extra time on your hands, do five or ten things to advance your career.  You might not be a star overnight, but you will have taken a few more steps along the path toward reaching your goals.

More Tips from Glenn
The pay off for your efforts
There are very few days off for a filmmaker
The editing process
Be creative to land your screenings
Do something every day

Award-winning independent filmmaker Glenn Berggoetz shares all he knows about making a marketable feature film for $2,000. While most books on independent filmmaking talk about how to make a film with a budget of anywhere from $50,000 to half a million dollars or more, the reality of the indie film world is that most filmmakers rarely have more than a few thousand dollars at their disposal for making their film. This book is written specifically for those filmmakers, and for filmmakers who would typically waste years trying to raise tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars to make their film simply because they’re not aware that there’s another, more efficient way to go about it.

Being Flexible and Staying Calm

Guest Blogger: Glenn Berggoetz is the author of The Independent Filmmaker’s Guide: Make Your Feature Film for $2000 (Limelight Editions), which will be available wherever books are sold beginning October 2012.

Being flexible and staying calm are just two of the many requirements of small-budget film making.  If we weren’t willing to make adjustments to work around this unavoidable change in plans, the shoot would be dead in the water.  And if we didn’t stay calm and instead allowed ourselves to get bent out of shape over this last-second change, the film wouldn’t get done either.  Or at best, we’d get the film done, but there would be a lot of contentiousness on set that would almost assuredly spill over into the film and sabotage any chaces the film had of being well made.  So no matter what curveballs might get thrown your way in making your indie film, stay calm and find a way to quickly make the necessary adjustments to make sure your film gets made.

More Posts from Glenn:
Writing Your Script
Working Quickly
Try to Avoid This When Filming
Right on Schedule
Finished!

The Independent Filmmaker’s Guide: Make Your Feature Film for $2000

Award-winning independent filmmaker Glenn Berggoetz shares all he knows about making a marketable feature film for $2,000. While most books on independent filmmaking talk about how to make a film with a budget of anywhere from $50,000 to half a million dollars or more, the reality of the indie film world is that most filmmakers rarely have more than a few thousand dollars at their disposal for making their film. This book is written specifically for those filmmakers, and for filmmakers who would typically waste years trying to raise tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars to make their film simply because they’re not aware that there’s another, more efficient way to go about it.

Writing Your Script – For Small-Budget Indie Filmmakers

Guest Blogger: Glenn Berggoetz is the author of The Independent Filmmaker’s Guide: Make Your Feature Film for $2000 (Limelight Editions), which will be available wherever books are sold beginning October 2012.

This weekend, Glenn shot the small-budget film The Ghosts of Johnson Woods and blogged his way through the process, giving tips to aspiring filmmakers along the way. Visit his blog for more entries.

A couple years ago I had an aspiring filmmaker approach me and tell me he had an idea for a great script that he wanted to turn into his first independent film.  He was very excited, as he should have been.  He then proceeded to ask me if he should set aside a year to write his script.  My answer?  An emphatic “No!”

Indie filmmakers typically think they need to spend a year or more writing their script, and it’s easy to understand why they believe this since the script is the most important aspect of making a good film, because, let’s face it, if your script is lousy, even having Will Ferrell star in the film (rememberLand of the Lost?) won’t be able to save the project.

The fact is, however, that as the maker of small-budget independent films, you have to make more than one film every two or three years to give yourself a legitimate chance to turn your hobby into your livelihood.  So set aside a couple weeks to write your script, then get right into putting together your cast and crew (you can do your re-write during this time).  Next, take a couple weekends to shoot your film, then get your next script written and make your next film.

As a small-budget indie filmmaker, you’re not going to make a masterpiece that film buffs put in the same sentence with Citizen Kane and A Christmas Story.  But if you keep writing one script after another (and make films based off those scripts), you’re going to drastically improve your chances of making that one film that launches your career.

More Posts from Glenn:
Being Flexible and Staying Calm
Working Quickly
Try to Avoid This When Filming
Right on Schedule
Finished!

The Independent Filmmaker’s Guide: Make Your Film for $2000

Award-winning independent filmmaker Glenn Berggoetz shares all he knows about making a marketable feature film for $2,000. While most books on independent filmmaking talk about how to make a film with a budget of anywhere from $50,000 to half a million dollars or more, the reality of the indie film world is that most filmmakers rarely have more than a few thousand dollars at their disposal for making their film. This book is written specifically for those filmmakers, and for filmmakers who would typically waste years trying to raise tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars to make their film simply because they’re not aware that there’s another, more efficient way to go about it.