Here at TVWriter™ we’re all gung-ho about indie video and film making, especially of the ultra short and cheap variety. If you’ve given that a try, you’re probably familiar with the costs, work, aggravation, and rewards for web series and such.
Some indies, however, may be a bit more ambitious. This one’s for y’all:
How I Raised $150K for My 1st Movie and Never Saw a Dime Back
by Joe McClean
It’s high time indie filmmakers started sharing data. Yes, that includes your budget and your earnings. I’ll go first.
We’re taught from childhood that “two heads are better than one.” We unionize to have a collective bargaining voice. We’re encouraged to collect as much information, from as many social media accounts as we can manage. Yet independent filmmakers are still told by distributors, and one another, that they should never reveal their movie’s budget. If a buyer knows how much you spent, they’ll change the number they’re willing to offer. People also have hang-ups about budget specifics. If someone finds out I made $xxxx on a production, then future employers won’t pay me more.
These are understandable concerns, but I believe the secrecy is hurting the independent film scene. Too many times I’ve said to my attorney or agent, “Is this a good deal? Are these numbers on par with other people at my level?” I’ve had to ask these questions because the information is nearly impossible to find.
So I’d like to spill the beans, even when it hurts my ego, about the first indie feature I made: “Life Tracker,” a $150,000 science fiction movie with a few recognizable faces in the cast. (My second feature, “The Drama Club,” is available on iTunes and Amazon on June 9.) I sincerely hope it helps some indie filmmaker out there to have this information as they move forward with their own production.
I wrote “Life Tracker” in 2010. I chose science fiction because it’s a genre that has a reliable audience. I wrote a found-footage, dialogue-heavy script because it was cheaper to make. I didn’t include large crowd scenes or explosions because I knew if I was trying to make “Cloverfield,” I’d be one of those filmmakers who always talks about making a movie but never actually does. The goal here was to make a movie, not to write a script.
My attorney, Bianca Goodloe, helped me get the script into a few hands. She also introduced me to a person who found money for productions through personal connections and took a 10 percent finder’s fee. This person ultimately brought $90,000 to the production — $40,000 from two investors, $25,000 from NBA All-Star Baron Davis, and then, at the very end, when it looked like we weren’t going to get the budget we needed to make the movie, $25,000 of their own money….