Q&A With Syd Shaffer Investor of
Independent Feature Films and Media Content
Syd Shaffer, founder and sr. executive of a hedge fund group responsible for funding of major box office hits and independent films: answers questions why some independents that follow the rules will get production deals in 2022 and those that don't, won't!
My name is Sophie Marcelle, and I am a producer with BSI Films. This post is a follow up to the interview our producer Elyse had with investor Syd Shaffer. I met with him recently and asked, why it is still so difficult for the majority of Independents to be given the same chance as insiders to submit their scripts?
See interview below:
Although some of you may have already read this post since it was first released, I posted it again because for those who have not read it, may find it helpful. Also, the rules for getting a production deal or funding may be an even greater challenge, because economics and needs of the industry has changed. The good news is those changes have created other opportunities independents can make happen on their own.
*Warning: Syd has a colorful way of talking and uses strong language. Also, his firm is private and only takes referrals from clients.
In 2022, How can Independents compete for
Funding and/or Production Deals
Elyse/Sophie: What chance does an independent really have of getting a film funded or a production deal from streaming, cable, or broadcast company?
Syd: They have the same chance as anyone else in this room with the right people presenting it and they play by the rules.
Elyse/Sophie: So, who are the “right people” and what are the rules?
Syd: The right people are those who have a f**king clue about how this process works.
No one in this room has ever given millions to someone they never heard of, never met, who has no credits and only a script to show us. If you got a producer or exec. producer that has experience, credits from major companies, has contacts or permission to contact players, you got a chance. At the very least know how to develop a project so that when it's presented, we get info we're looking for. But if all you got is a script, your chances of getting funding from anyone in here is none and never.
As for the rules, they’re very simple. Have a person, producer or exec. producer that knows both the business side of this industry and the creative. If talking to someone in this room, they want to know the genre, what talent is attached, how much is needed, what financial instruments do you have in place to protect their investment, is there distribution in place and how much profit will I make .... and that has to be done in less time than it takes for them to sip out of the glass they're holding.
Keep in mind, they are not going to read your script, listen to how great you think your script is or want to hear how much money other movies made that are similar to yours. We already know how much money other movies have made, and we're not interested in how great you think your script is. However, we are open to hearing about what the public thinks. Have you promoted your script online, any book sales based on your script or the number of social media followers from webisodes? Basically, any numbers that proves there are people interested in your project, we will listen to. If you're new and don't have anything to show us, get someone to help you.
One more thing, I along with everyone in this room haven’t read a script in decades. If I want to know about your script or what it takes to produce it, I’ll hire Susan or someone like her to tell me what the hell is going on, so don't ask me to read your script. I want to see in one or two sentences what the script is about, does it go beyond 2 quadrants, a top sheet budget and who, if anyone is attached to the project.
(Syd said) Let me ask you a question. I know most of your executives, I also know they don't have time to read scripts, I bet they have you do it. Am I right?
Elyse/Sophie: OK. Yes, they have me read them. We're the first step. We determine if it meets basic writing standards set by industry executives. If it gets by us, Susan and her editor will perform an evaluation and edit if needed before showing it to anyone, but you know that. Question: If independents don’t know the right people or have a producer or exec. What can they do?
Part 2 to this interview coming in our next post
Sophie Marcelle, Producer, Project Director
Marina del Rey, CA 90292
Office: (424) 234-6506
* Definition - Quadrant Movie - A movie that appeals to all four major demographic “quadrants” of the movie going audience: both male and female, and both over and under the age of 25. Movies usually shoot for two quadrants in order to gain as much of an audience as possible. Investors and executives want to reach all four.