Forgive the self-promotion, but since many of you are, like me, about to be proud owners of Red Ones, you might be interested in an online course that my producing partner and I are teaching at UCLA Extension. It's called (brace yourself) “Micro-budget Feature Films: Total Control and Maximum Profit.”
You can look at the UCLA Catalog Blurb here:
Or download our flyer here:
So you've got your Red and now you want to make a movie, but the investors you approach aren't automatically reaching for their checkbooks, because someone's told them the truth, namely, that investing in an indie film is worse than wildcatting oil wells. (Seriously.) But this paradigm is changing if you make a film between $150k-$300k. The reason is that the DVD distribution network is now so mature that the sales companies can reliably put together that amount with small sales in every territory. So, a project that can be slotted into some genre, plus a fundamentally no-name cast (William Katt would be a real “name” in these scenarios) is all it takes to get the sales companies interested. Now, here's the good part: you can get estimates from the various sales companies before you spend any of your investor's money, which means is that you'll know if you're going to get a return on that money before you take it out of the escrow fund. The obvious question is, “what if the estimates are wrong?” The answer is that between all the sales companies (there are 15-20 of them) their estimates will vary maybe 10-15k. Which means they're more projections than estimates (think Kelly Blue book) and if you don't like one company, you can go to another.
There are a lot of things not to like about making a feature for this kind of money. But there are also two huge positives. In this world, you are the studio. No one's going to tell you what to do. Second, if you do have a good script and attract good talent, the value of your project can go up very, very quickly. That William Katt film? The sales estimates on that one are over $800k. That's a whole lotta cash when you didn't spend a million in the first place.