Selling Sizzle and Raising Funds for Your Film

The first note I’d like to make is to value and respect your investors and their hard earned money. Often times producers view investors as a one night stand position instead of a long term relationship. The producer gets the money and makes their movie with little to no concern about paying the investors back, much less showing them a return on their investment. This to me is not only a terrible business mistake but a moral one as well. Don’t be an asshole. Be a good person and your career will prosper. Be upfront and honest with your investors. They’re intelligent and successful people. They know business and deserve to know the good news and the bad news about what they’re getting themselves into. Don’t mislead your investors with inflated information about your project.

Moving on:

There’s a lot of information out there in books, forums, seminars, etc. on writing business plans for film projects with the investor’s POV in mind. A solid business plan is very important but what the crap do you do with it once it is complete?

It’s time to take action. There are planners and there are doers. You can have a planner’s mind, and a heart full of passion, but if you don’t have the hands to take the action then you’re at the end of the road before you’ve even turned over the ignition.

Here’s a method to TAKE ACTION:

1.) You’ve got to WOW your investors! How?

2.) Take them to the track. In high-end product sales, the salesman will often take the client to an exotic location and get them in a luxurious spirit before offering their presentation. An example would be the horse races.

3.) I don’t recommend taking a film investor to a horse race and then yelling praises about your key management team, executive summary, etc. SO:

4.) Locate a local theater that is fancy, upscale, and has a digital projector.

5.) Contact the theater manager, let him/her know that you are a movie producer and currently in the fund-raising stages. Offer to pay one of their employees $100 to come in early that day and project your sizzle! What’s your sizzle????

6.) If you don’t have a trailer for your movie yet because you don’t have any money yet then don’t let a catch 22 stop you. Find a cinematographer/director of photography with a killer demo reel. This will be one of the most important people you hire. Where do you find a cinematographer?

7.) Put an ad on Craigslist, Linked-in, Variety, Ross Reports, etc. requesting demo reel submissions.

8.) Once you have a DP locked down, you now have your sizzle reel to WOW investors.

9. Make sure your prospects have reviewed your business plan and done their legal due-diligence BEFORE the theater presentation so you can simply turn and ask them how many shares they are interested in buying.

10.) You need to close the deal during this meeting. They know how much the shares cost, they’ve had time to check you out, now it is time for them to open their checkbook and INVEST. You have to eliminate the objections ahead of time and then ASK FOR THE MONEY. If they balk for whatever reason, don’t be a little bitch–offer to put them down for a half a share.

This is one of many methods. Another note on ethics:

Make sure you let the investor know that you are screening your cinematographer/DP’s demo reel (not yours) and that they’ve agreed to work with you on your project. You don’t want to mislead someone who, if you’re lucky, will be doing business with on future projects as well. Put it all on the table and let the investor make their decision. Identifying your faults to an investor builds credibility. Again, they are intelligent business people who can smell “too good to be true” from a mile away.

Nathaniel Latimer
Direct: 323.898.9976
Social Norm Movie Blog:


1 Comment

  1. Great plan, Nate! Love the pic — makes a nice analogy.

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