The ONLY Assets You Need When Financing A Film

Sep 24, 2022

Read Time: 3.5 mins | YT video

In today's issue, I'm going to show you the six assets you need to finance your film and explain when to use them.

It's important to prepare these assets before you raise so that you are ready to close leads. By providing these assets, you will instil confidence in potential financiers. You will prove that you know what you're doing. You will also know exactly what to prepare, and what not to prepare, each time you raise finance for your films.

Now, let's dive in.

The 6 Assets

If you are missing any one of these assets, you will be unable to raise finance. Here they are:

  1. Screenplay

  2. Finance plan

  3. Budget

  4. Lookbook / Creative Treatment

  5. Investment deck

  6. Legals

A screenplay and lookbook convey the creative vision.

The finance plan, budget and investment deck back up the business case.

And the legals make it all, well, legal.

You can distill film finance into the three elements: creative, business, legal. Master these three elements and you are on your way to mastering the dark art.


Raising private equity

It's never too early to start raising private equity.

In my experience, I have never had a private investor ask to read the screenplay. This might shock some people, it still surprises me.

But if you think about it, a private investor likely wouldn't even know how to read one. I mean, what is 'EXT' and 'INT'?

You can start raising private equity while you continue to develop the screenplay. But I would suggest only doing this initial raise from friends and family. When you start reaching out to strangers, it's best to have all the assets ready to fire.

Private equity: all assets expect the screenplay.


Pitching to sales agents/distributors

This is where the creative does the heavy lifting.

When we pitch sales agents we do it in this order: Lookbook > Screenplay > Finance plan > Budget.

Each document persuades the reader to ask for the next document. All the way until they commit to the project. You can expect your conversion rates to increase the more you optimise each document.

When we started professionally designing our lookbooks, our response rates went up. The same is true for the filmmakers we work with. Now they have little problem getting distributors to read their screenplay. This is because the lookbook sells them.

But before you get carried away, the lookbook isn't the magic secret. The screenplay is the asset that moves the needle. So take your time and get this right. You may only get one shot.

Sales agents/distributors: screenplay, finance plan, budget, lookbook.


Securing a tax incentive

OK the hard stuff is out of the way, time for the boring stuff...applications.

Each country and even state has different eligibility criteria. But it's safe to say that most will need all the assets except the investment deck. Some might not need the legals on application but will need those when you apply for your final refund.

Tax incentives: screenplay, finance plan, budget, legals. Lookbook is case by case.

Applying for grants

Did someone say free money?

Grants are easy to overlook because the applications are tedious. But once you've done one, you've done them all. Save the answers to your first grant application to rehash them for following ones. Grants are a great way to maximise your assets.

Grants: Screenplay, lookbook. Budget, finance plan, legals case by case.

Proof of concepts not required

Here's where it gets interesting...

It's common for filmmakers to go out and shoot proof of concepts, sizzles, teasers. It's even more common for them to talk about doing this at some future date.

But here's the truth: POCs are only useful for sales agents/distributors. And they only make up 10-20% of your finance, MAX.

So, before you go and shoot one, consider:

  1. Is it worth spending upwards of $5k to secure 10-20% of your finance? Particularly if the other assets aren't already in place.

  2. Are there short films or other work you can use in place of a POC to showcase your work?

  3. Are you using a POC as a way to distract yourself from the real work? The real work is raising 20-80% of your finance through private equity.

Here a little graph I put together to help you run through this decision:

You know what you need, go create them

OK, that's it for today. 

I hope you enjoyed it.

See you again next week.

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