Film Finance Revelations

Tl;dr - Nix the silent treatment and start being strategic about your approach with outreach and networking in order to get your scripts read and move your projects forward.
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Table of Contents

Getting In the Door

Ever Wonder How to Get In the Doors of Major Companies Like Netflix and Disney?​ It’s easier than you think, and other people are already doing it…

Today I’m going to show you how I’ve gotten 45% response rates from top industry executives and financiers.

Effective Outreach is a Science

There’s a simple template to follow that generates more, laser targeted, highly valuable results that your typical “shotgun” method just cannot compete with.

The stats above are from one outreach campaign that I sent to distributors, production companies, and financiers. As you can see, I got a 45% response rate which led to meetings and relationships with some of the biggest companies in Hollywood that finance blockbusters like Joker, Men In Black International, Independence Day: Resurgence, Gretel & Hansel, and the Star Trek franchise. Plus, companies that finance and produce successful award-winning indies like Dallas Buyer’s Club and The Hurt Locker.

Plus, you can use this system throughout your career to do things like:

Get Representation

Are you a screenwriter? Use the same techniques to find a literary manager. Are you an actor? You could use these techniques to get an agent. Are you a director or cinematographer looking to book more jobs? Get yourself a manager with these techniques.

Secure Distribution

Every movie needs a home after it is finished. But why play the same game that everyone else is playing? Get your screeners in the hands of the big, reputable companies that you want it to be seen by instead of waiting for the 4th stringers to email you.

Attach Talent

Packaging is a huge part of producing films, and it is often thought of as one of the most difficult parts. But why? Actors need solid scripts and projects to work on. You need actors for your projects. It seems like a pretty synergistic relationship. But the agents and managers are there to weed out anything that isn't a home run. So how do you get past that obstacle?

These days, I help executive produce dozens of projects by putting together the film’s package, pairing the projects with interested investors and production companies, and placing films with international sales agents for distribution.

I’ve worked on films ranging from $250,000 indies destined for festivals up to $32,000,000 blockbusters with A-list talent and studios involved.

I’ve amassed a network of over 30 private investors who have expressed interest in investing in films.

I’ve built relationships with some of the biggest companies in the industry that produce major Oscar-winning and global box office smash hit films.

Many of the companies that I’ve built relationships with have 9-figure film funds. I’m talking like $400MM in money to put toward films over the next few years!

But if you rewind to 2016, I didn’t have any of that.

That's me on the right, behind the camera.

Back then, I was working two jobs in “new media” making shows for YouTube and Hulu and still having to freelance outside of those jobs in order to make ends meet.

I wasn’t working on films and I didn’t have any of the connections that I have today.

Stuck in Limbo

Yes, I was working “in the industry”, even though it was, at the time, sort of an undesirable offshoot of the industry.

But I always wanted more. I wanted to be making real films and I knew it was possible because I would see posts on social media from people that I knew from school who had “broken in”.

You always hear stories about those people who get their “lucky break” and get “discovered” by a Hollywood big shot after their indie film plays at a festival.

But how long do you wait before you realize that being lucky and waiting for someone to discover you isn’t a legitimate basket to put all of your eggs in?

There has to be a more structured way to make moves in the industry, right?

After all, this IS a business, and businesses don’t cashflow luck.

The bad news is, the luck factor will always exist. Some people will fall into your dream role or make it big faster than you.

But, the good news is, you don’t have to rely on luck to get your movies made and move to the next level of your career as a filmmaker.

Awesome! So, Then What?

Here’s an example of how this works…

You create a hyper-targeted list of companies that align with your film’s vision and the people at those companies who are responsible for making the decisions.

Then, you utilize some super-sleuthing methods to find those people’s direct contact info and send them a series of personalized cold emails that are optimized to get responses.

And after a few follow-ups, you get emails like this one from a well-known producer who has made several films that you have likely seen:

Those emails create new connections that, if nurtured properly, can last a lifetime. And eventually, you will have a whole database of powerful producers, companies, and financiers that you have spoken to that you can bring projects to at any time.

I want to show you how we went from a couple of freelancers working on videos for YouTubers to Executive Producing over a dozen independent films with huge names and companies attached.

Not just the basic stuff you can find on YouTube and on blogs for free. I’m talking about lessons that outsiders don’t know and that the industry doesn’t want you to know.

To venture past mere tactics and to build a sustainable, high growth business in the film industry, you must start with your own mindset.

The Invisible Scripts

Which of these invisible scripts is holding you back from reaching your goals as a filmmaker?

I uncovered three debilitating invisible scripts around the film industry — deep-seated beliefs that work their way into our psyche and effectively kill our growth in the business. How many of these scripts apply to you?

(In my experience, every freelance filmmaker believes at least one of these…)

"I've put in my time. So, why isn't it happening for me?"

WHAT AM I DOING WRONG? I feel like I’ve already put in the work. I started as a PA and I’ve worked my way up, but I’m not reaching the level I want to be. What am I doing wrong? I just need a different strategy.”

THERE’S NO PATH. I’m trying to piece together a living just to stay afloat, but it seems like there’s not clear path to break in. I feel overwhelmed… I guess I’ll just keep trying to make it work. I just need to figure it out.”

"I need to go faster and do more."

IF I JUST MAKE THAT ONE THING… I just need to put in more effort. This industry is about endurance. If I just stay in it, eventually I will make something that gets noticed. I just need to keep doing what I’m doing.”

WHY ISN’T ANYONE RESPONDING? I send out my script to hundreds of people on LinkedIn and Facebook but I never hear anything back. How do people get around this “No Unsolicited Materials” roadblock?

UGH… IT JUST NEEDS TO WORK. I am tired of strattling a day job and the film industry. I just need one thing to hit so I can start focusing all of my time and energy on filmmaking! Then I’ll be set.”

"The industry is against me."

I’M DOING EVERYTHING I’M SUPPOSED TO. So why isn’t it happening? The industry is built to weed everyone out. I still can’t seem to get past the gatekeepers and get the attention of the right people.”

SHOULD I HAVE GONE TO FILM SCHOOL? It seems like everyone is in the private club already except me. I can’t seem to meet the right people and network the way other people do.”

I’M NOT AGGRESSIVE ENOUGH. This industry rewards the squeaky wheels. I need to be bigger and louder in order to get any attention, but that’s just not me. Is there any other way?”

Do Any Of These Sound Familiar?

I used to be in denial about my own beliefs regarding these invisible scripts. I would’ve told you, “no, there’s always a way”. But deep down, I had doubts.

One of the biggest obstacles in your path to success is yourself and your own limiting beliefs or pre-determined outcomes.

Think about it. There’s so much advice out there… that just doesn’t work. It’s no wonder we get in our heads and freeze.

We all have so much we want to do in the film business, but there’s never enough time, there’s never a clear path, and there’s never enough opportunities.

But, if we could crack the code on building the right relationships and know who to reach out to in order to leap to the next step, then we could build a highly-powerful, profitable network that thrives in the entertainment industry.

If you are ready to unlock the growth in your film business, read on. I want to share three of the most surprising truths I discovered that radically changed how I approach the industry.

The Typical Movie Plan

When we first started out, we did what everyone told us to do.

  • Write a script
  • Make a business plan
  • Send it out to friends, family, doctors, and dentists
  • Get people to invest
  • Make the movie
  • Make profit

Even though we did manage to scrape together a small sum to make a couple of micro-budget films, we always had to sacrifice on the overall vision because of a lack of funds.

And, though we were able to get distribution for the films, they never made money (for us) since the sales agent fees and marketing caps were higher than the entire budget of our films.

That was okay with us since we always looked at them as stepping stones for future projects.

After all, the indie model that worked for Speilberg and Lucas was, make a film, get noticed, and get more work. Easy, right?

Nope. Didn’t happen. 

I mean sure, we eventually got work, but not the feature film deals that we were dreaming about.

But, we learned a thing or two along the way. So here are three filmmaking truths:

Beware of tactics from the past disguised as "the right way in".

THEY SAY: "This worked for George Lucas, so that's how you do it."

THE TRUTH: "The industry changes rapidly. What used to work in the past is not a sure thing right now."

The longer you are in this business, the more you know that there's no clear path to your goals as a filmmaker.

The road is windy and covered by trees. You have to hack your way through with a machete in order to make any progress. Sometimes you think you are on the right path, only to find you've been walking in circles for years.

But, despite there not being a linear path to your dream job - there are certain things that can always be done and only have positive benefits - creating a network of professionals is one big one...

Shortcuts aren't as short as you may think.

THEY SAY: "Do this one gig or just make one movie and it'll push you above the rest of the bunch."

THE TRUTH: "There are thousands of people out there making movies and doing gigs, with little to show for it. Try to focus on small wins and eventually you will make it to the top."

It is so easy to be distracted by shiny "opportunities". Whether it's a gig with a celebrity or a powerful producer, chances are it's not going to be the overnight success you are telling yourself in your head.

Yes, opportunities do arise, and yes they do in fact lead to success, but oftentimes it is actually the long-game - following up, staying on people's radar, and being bold with your interactions that lead to the next step.

Doctors and dentists are the way to finance your film.

THEY SAY: "You want to finance your indie film? Just reach out to a bunch of doctors and dentists and get them to invest."

THE TRUTH: "While this approach has worked for some people, it's a tough road and isn't easily repeatable. Therefore, it's not the most effective way to create a sustainable business making movies."

Searching for private investors is good. Having a network of people to reach out to for private equity for your projects is a huge step in the right direction.

But, it's extremely important to remember that films are a horrible investment for the average person. So don't go out there and pitch your project as the next big thing that's going to make these people millionaires and get them under the flashing lights on the red carpet. Don't sell snake oil! For the love of Pete... It gives indie filmmakers a bad rap.

Instead, understand the reasons people might be interested in investing despite a huge possibility that they'll never see a nickel from you, and sell them on those reasons.

Or even better, find a different approach that hinges on getting financing from companies with huge film funds devoted to developing new projects.

After all, wouldn't you rather ask for money from someone who already has a pile of it earmarked for filmmakers?

The Secret I Uncovered

Over the years I’ve developed a special skill in cold outreach.

It started with my time as an executive for a theatrical distribution service deal company.

A service deal company is one that a filmmaker goes to in order to get their movie in theaters by paying their way in.

You pay for P&A (prints and advertising) and the company will book the theaters, deliver the film, and collect the cash on your behalf.

Sound interesting, right?

Well, my job was to reach out to filmmakers who had a recently completed film in order to sell them on this idea.

It’s not such an easy pitch telling them that they need to invest MORE money into the project, right after they’ve just spent their whole budget on producing the film.

So, I had to be bold. I learned how to expertly craft compelling emails to get in the door. Then even more compelling emails to sell them on the idea.

I was able to bring in $40MM films and tell them to put in another $20MM of P&A.

But remember what I said earlier about not selling snake oil?

My conscience got in the way of my ability to work at that company. I would bring people in, they would be excited to hand over millions of dollars, but I couldn’t close the deal.

I felt like I was preying on people’s dreams and leading them down a dark path.

So I turned the filmmakers away. And I left that job.

But not before learning extremely valuable lessons about cold outreach.

I mean, there I was, a 21-year-old kid just out of college, making deals with seasoned producers and calling up studio executives to make deals.

It was amazing! And it made me realize that no one is untouchable…

Get Past the Gatekeepers

I am creating this course to give other filmmakers the same epiphany I had.

The gates aren’t as closed as they may seem.

You (yes, YOU) can call up the VP of Development at Paramount right now.

The reason the gates seem so closed is that the people who try to push past the gatekeepers often fail because they don’t know what to do after someone answers on the other end of the line.

They think that they can just forward their script to people who haven’t asked for it and get positive responses.

That’s just not how it works!

But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t  a way for you to get your script to those people. (There is!)

In fact, better yet, there’s a way to get those people to ASK for you to send your scripts to them…

Many of my conversations with these executives for companies with hundreds of millions of dollars in film funds end like this…

“Great meeting you, Alex! Send me everything that you have, I’d love to take a look!”

Jackpot, right!?

And I’m not special.

These aren’t people I have a pre-existing relationship with or had a friend refer me to. I reached out to these people completely cold, with NO PITCH.

That’s right, they weren’t even interested in a specific project that I had.

I was able to get in touch with them, convince them to meet in person or have a phone call, and then have them ASK to read my projects.

It may sound like a fluke. I mean, after all, there has to be one nice guy in the industry that’s just willing to take meetings.

But, I was able to repeat this result. Not once… not twice… but dozens of times!

And like I said, I’m not special. I didn’t have a killer pitch deck or a mind-blowing logline that caught their attention.

I didn’t have ANYTHING. I went in cold and built the relationship. 

And you can follow the same steps that I took.

Launching in March (Available for Pre-Sale)

For a limited time only, I’m opening this course up for pre-sales to the Fearless Filmmaker community at a steep discount.

You will be a “founding member” of the course, which means you’ll get early access to all of the modules before the course launches, and you will help shape the trajectory of the course by giving your input and telling me exactly what you want to see.

Don’t miss out on this deal. Enroll now!

This IS For People Who...

  • Are ready to build relationships with real executives
  • Have projects ready to go or past proven experiences and are ready to move to the next level in the industry
  • Want to get representation, option their script, or partner with a larger company

This IS NOT For People Who...

  • Are afraid to talk to strangers
  • Aren't ready yet to move to the next level
  • Are looking for a quick road to fame and fortune
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Alex Darke
Alex Darke
Alex is an Emmy-nominated filmmaker located in Los Angeles, who has spent the past 7 years working with the legendary broadcaster Larry King and shooting thousands of episodes of television as a camera operator and director of photography. He owns the motion picture production company Gilded Cinema and co-hosts the No-Budget Filmmaking Podcast.
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