Filmmaking / Directing : Our experience trying to produce a Major Studio feature film.. by Teri Peri Flores

Teri Peri Flores

Our experience trying to produce a Major Studio feature film..

Hi Everyone, Just wanted to share a little bit of our experience in film production and trying to get a commercial feature film produced. First of all, we are in no ways experienced as Producers in a completed, full feature film with a major studio...yet. What we do have experience in, is the long road that it has taken us to get to the point we are at now, having 2 full feature film scripts in the hands of a major film studio executive tasked to move it forward. We started out like some of you, took loans out from family or mortgaged our house to get about 200,000 to produce our own full feature film. Having a team of talented and creative film makers involved allowed us to make a small budget movie look like a big budget movie, which was the first step. Taking this film through the film festival circuit allowed us to learn more, gain some awards and credibility and show that we could follow through. Next we needed a commercially viable script for our "big" project and we had to be smart when optioning it. Looking online and networking with friends in the industry allowed us to find a winner that was VERY inexpensive to option. We did our homework, making sure the genre would travel well and the script was smartly written. All this took about 3 years. Now, comes the tough part. We needed to partner with an experienced Producer that would champion our project. We started networking by attending every convention and discussion panels out there in the industry. We would ask questions of the featured speakers and we would always ask them "Would they ever consider looking at projects to possibly partner with or give feedback on" We would typically get the same answer, "If the project was a good fit". Well, we finally found that good fit. This Producer was very well known in the industry and had great connections, he liked the script and how we packaged it so we entered into an agreement with him but there was still a long process ahead of us. We began having meetings for rewrites with our writer, lots of them. The rewrites actually took a year. It was grueling and exciting at the same time. During that time our option came due many times. Remember, I said we got the option cheap. That's because they were short term contracts. Now that the script was ready, time to send it to the studios. If none of the studios were interested, our partner had other contacts. The first studio we went to was Warner Bros. They were interested but before they would sign anything with us, they want to see if they can attach an actor first. The first actor they suggested, we passed on. The next actor we agreed on, passed on it. Now it is in the hands of another actor and we are currently waiting for the reply. Because these are A- listers, we are at the mercy of their schedules and when they will get back to us. Again, it is a very long process. In the last year we have optioned another script and our partnering producer has joined us in that one as well. We went through the same steps with that one but went to MGM first, they passed, then we took it to Warners and they are now on board. Only difference is they want to attach a director first. We are getting updates monthly but there isn't a whole lot else we can do at this point. We have to be patient. So there you go, our experience in trying to get a major film produced with a major studio. My biggest suggestion and lesson learned from this is... Keep your day job and don't expect it to happen quickly. You really need to be patient, dedicated and faithful. Great luck to everyone. Teri

Robin Chappell

Yes. Great that you got your first feature shot and in the fest circuit. Obviously it garnered enough attention to have Studios take you seriously. Good luck on taking it to the next level.

Demiurgic Endeavors

I read your article and see you spared no expense on the other aspects of your film. Yet, its a source of pride that optioning your script was VERY inexpensive. Then you felt the need to remind people how CHEAP it was to option. If this does make it to the theaters I'll make sure NOT to support it. I don't want my meager screenwriting funds to help you turn a profit.

Teri Peri Flores

Demiurgic, I appreciate your concern in how I worded cheap. When you are working with a first time producer and you are a first time writer and non WGA, the option can be considered cheap compared to the alternative. And, if this film gets the green light, the Studio will buy out the writer in full. Trust me, the writer is not complaining.

Bridget Ellis-Pegler

Well done Teri, I am going through a similar process with my TV project and you are so right - it is a long, slow and winding road! And when you're the one driving the project forward, it's challenging to keep the faith sometimes, but I am very impressed by your story and feel doubly inspired to keep going with mine!

Shea Christian Reinke

i am struck with the thought that the first success is the most difficult. every one wants to work with established workers, but no one wants to work with unproven workers. i am curious as to how much experience or familiarity with the industry you had before the start of the project and what it was that gave you the strong urge to risk as much as you have. faith in the project or faith in the people involved, a little bit of both?

Barry Kneller

It sounds like you have learned a lot of great and valuable lessons from your experience. The business of film is difficult and in so many ways and all of the stars need to be aligned in order for projects to come to fruition and eve then things happen lol. Good to see youre still youre still plugging away at what you love, but also good to see you having achieved a better understanding of the process. I hope you end up getting your film done. Looks like you have worked really hard. Good luck!

Teri Peri Flores

Shea, it can be very difficult to start your first project with an experienced team if you haven't had any experience yourself. You do need to have some experience behind you if you expect others to work with you. In our case, the film creators that we partnered with had stage and commercial experience as actors yet they wrote, acted in and directed the film. He was able to put together a team of local individuals to make up the film crew with some experience themselves. It may have been a guy who did some work in lighting or sound but was able to bring something to the team. None of us was experienced so much that this was our fulltime job. In the end, everyone collaborated and shared their ideas, they did it for a very small daily rate or points. Most just want to see the film complete for the credit. The chunk of his invested money went into post production.

Mitch Moldofsky

I had a similar experience, had one company interested only in foreign rights and only if we had someone stateside, two studios wanted director attached. Went through five of them before it got too stale to get anyone else to read it. Humbug.

Amanda Toney

Loved this! Thanks for sharing :)

Linda Scarlett

Thank you for sharing your information with all of us. It is a wonderful article and very much appreciated!

Michael Willer

Very informative stuff here! Thanks for posting this.

David Andrade

I feel like we just jumped ahead in time by 5 years reading this. Very sobering, thanks for sharing :)

Erik A. Jacobson

A first step in seeking a producer would be to go to IMDBpro and make a list of the producers of films similar to yours and then make contact with them. If they turn you down, ask them to refer you a producer they know who might be interested. The studio route is usually always the slowest. And you don't need a big producer to attach name talent; you can do that yourself... and those attached names will get you LOTS of attention from qualified producers.

Armando Minutoli

Thanks so much for sharing this... It's overwhelming for a rank beginner like me... but I will go ahead....

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