Previsualisation & Animation By Our EP Slavik I.A.
Q&A interview with
North America and International Investors and Buyers
My name is Sophie Marcelle, Development Executive and along with Elyse Ferrari, Producer with (BSI Films) we had a candid conversation with investors Syd Shaffer and Samantha Swenson regarding funding and production deals for independents
Mr. Shaffer and Ms. Swenson are senior Executives of an international hedge fund group that has raised funding for some of the biggest Hollywood film box office hits and negotiated production deals for independent films and series in recent years
Although some of you may have already read this post, I posted it again because for those who have not read it, may find it helpful, if seeking funding or a production deal with studios, streaming, cable, and broadcast corporations.
*Warning: Syd has a colorful way of talking and uses strong language.
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. Learn how both the business and entertainment side of this industry works. Or work with a producer that has the resources, accesses, and knowledge of how this process works. 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. If you don't have any of the above, can you prove there's public interest in your project, i.e., social media, book sales etc., and say all that has to be said 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, hell the people that financed those films are probably in this room.
However, we are open to hearing about what the public thinks about your project. Have you promoted your script on social media, do you have a following, has your script been adapted to a book and are there book sales, do you have a channel on YouTube with a following? Basically, any numbers that proves there are people interested in your project, we will listen to. If you have a script and want someone to fund or negotiate a production deal that will pay you millions to produce it, be prepared to know both the entertainment and business sides of this industry or get someone that does.
Syd: 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 your EP, Susan or someone like her to tell me what the hell is going on, so don't ask me to read your script.
Let me ask you a question. I personally know 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 us read them. We're the first step. We determine if it meets basic writing standards set by industry executives, where the concept ranks in current marketing trends, does it go beyond 2 quadrants, and if it's on the "The List" (this is an exclusive list of unproduced scripts anonymously chosen by various Studio Development Executives and pulled if the need arises.)
As you know, a script does not have to be on "The List" to be considered by you, or the studios. The majority of projects you and the studios send to Susan are not on that list, but you know that. So yes, we read them first.
Question, if independents don’t know the right people or have a producer, what can they do to compete for funding or a production deal with studios, streaming, cable, or broadcast corporations?
Syd: If they don’t have a team or a producer with the knowledge and resources to develop their project or know how this game is played, find someone that does.
This is big business! You can’t even rob a bank and get the money people are asking for to make a movie these days. There’s a shit load of money being paid out even for low budget movies, not to mention big-budgeted films, even scripted series have budgets in the millions … per episode! Look, most writers/independents don't treat this industry seriously. But writers can play in this game, if they're serious. I know for a fact it can be done, because our firm and others, fund those projects and negotiate production deals with studios, streaming, cable, and broadcast companies on behalf of independents.
There are credited writers, producers that are able to assist them. News flash, they’re not going to do this sh*t for free. They have their own projects to develop. But whatever you do, don’t retain just anybody to help you. There are a lot of good people in this industry that can do what they say, unfortunately there are also a lot that can’t do a damn thing. When you find one, look at their credits (IMDB) this is a good place to start.
Elyse/Sophie: What if an independent does not have a team, does not want to retain someone to help them, or follow your rules? What other options can they pursue for finding an investor?
Syd: Really? Is this a serious question? So, you’re going to ask me for millions but don’t want to follow my rules. So why the f**k should I give you my client’s money? Listen, if they want to go solo and fund their own project then go for it. But if you want some investor to give you millions of their client's money for a high risk investment, but not give them the information being asked for, they won't even look at you.
Raising money to produce content is a high risk and high rewards investment. That's why there are rules. The rules are proven to protect that investment and hopefully make a profit.
So, following the rules and process is mandatory. Keep in mind, no longer is a script the only or most important step in the process. Studios literally have millions of them. So stand out, at least on paper show you know what the hell you’re doing.
Elyse/Sophie: Please give me examples of projects you've gotten deals for by independents. How can independents contact people like you, and do most investors think like you?
Syd: You’re funny. What did I just tell you, if you play by the rules, you can find anyone in this room? If you don’t, you won’t.
For examples of independent films we've helped fund our clients don't want their names out there. If I told you there would be a parade of people and emails at their door in 5 minutes. I say go to the movies and 3 out of the top10 box office hits were directly or indirectly funded by our team. Also, over 90% of films produced in the past decade were filmed by independents. So we've been busy. Writers are smart, when they figure out what made others successful they follow the leader.
As for do most investors think like me. Hell no! But those that don’t, tend to lose a lot of money. Nearly everyone in here makes decisions based on a variety of factors that are specific to what they’re looking for. So, I have no f**king clue what everyone else thinks, but I do know, if you show up here holding only a script … drink quickly, because security will be escorting you out.
To be continued ...
* 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.
Sophie Marcelle, Development Executive
Elyse Ferrari, Producer
Previsualisation & Animation By Our EP Slavik I.A.
In addition to a polished script, Development Executives will want to know the following
Executive One-Sheet - is an overview (bullet points) of critical creative and production information highlighting specifics about your project that appeal to the needs of the investor or executive you're submitting your project to.
• Edit Log line and synopsis. Log line should not be longer than 2 lines and the synopsis, should not be more than 10 sentences.
• Top sheet budget / created by line producer familiar with cost associated with how your script is packaged and funds available for producing it.
Pitching/Submitting Your Script - For Independents wanting to submit their scripts to investors, streaming, studios, cable and broadcast companies, our executive team has the ability to present projects that meet standards and guidelines set by each individual investment group or company for submitting projects. To ensure projects meet those standards, we only submit scripts developed by our team.
• Support materials that help identify interest in your project, i.e., book sales, YouTube and social media followers.
Items not included in this Development Package but can be added:
* Script Polish All scripts must have a script polish before they are submitted or pitched to investors, streaming, studios, cable, and broadcast companies.
* A lower rate for the Development Package may apply if Script Coverage Report is replaced with a Script Polish. Speak to our EP.
Concept Video is not included in this package, but highly recommended. Click here
Explanation of A Script Polish: Click here
Sample of a Completed Development Package / Click here
Prior to submitting a script to executive committee for funding, licensing or being sent to production, Susan is retained by major studios, broadcast execs, and production companies, to edit and polish scripts.
Rates For Independents Only
Cost of a Script Polish Starts at $795 and up U.S. dollars