Filmmaking / Directing : Pit Stop by Anthony Brownrigg

Anthony Brownrigg

Pit Stop

Of course, I have about four individuals now that have offered me some kind of deal for funding this film now that I have the rights to the novel. But of course, it all comes with "get us a package", and "make sure you have attachments to it". Does everyone have this issue of the triad of doom? i.e. Stars, require money, investors require distribution, and distribution requires stars. I'm assuming a 'funding contingent' is okay to say when I'm talking to agents and managers, but I keep thinking that just is going to make the project seem undesirable. Anyone have any magic beans on getting around this?

Charles G. Masi

It's the same for every creative project. When I started a trade magazine in the early 1990s, it only worked because I'd already spent ten years building a network in the industry, and knew everyone from the writers to the printers to the advertisers. I started by preparing the equivalent of a logline and a verbal pitch. I then went around talking it up until I had enough of my friends on board to make it all work from beginning to end. Don't mean to be negative, but, to quote John Lennon: "Christ you know it ain't easy." But, if it were easy, it wouldn't be worth doing, would it?

Douglas Eugene Mayfield

It really depends on the particular genre of your story. Some genres lend themselves to making an ultra low budget film, whether a short teaser/trailer/proof of concept type project or a full length micro budget feature. But of course, that also takes money and the marketplace for such projects is seriously crowded. And frankly, if you're hearing "get us a package", and "make sure you have attachments to it", I don't know the details, but it sounds to me as if such people are saying, in effect, 'you do all the hard work and then we'll be happy to participate'. One specific point. If you have the rights to the novel but you do not have an adaptation or completed script, unless the novel is a best seller or is written by a writer whose novels have become movies in the past, it will make your task much more difficult.

Erik A. Jacobson

At its most basic, "packaging" simply means attaching interested actors or directors or an exec producer to your project who will give it added clout with investors and distributors. Your project's anticipated budget will determine whether your attachments are A-list or B-list. Another option would be to get name endorsements of the novel itself and/or the script adaptation of the novel.

Tim Prescott

I think you're right. Thee days writers are forced to play at least part of a producer's role in putting a package together. Perhaps writers should start thinking of themeselves as writer/producer and get credit for that

Charles G. Masi

As a journalist and novelist as well as a screenwriter, I can report that writers in general are expected to saddle an unconscionable amount of the effort to sell their work these days. It seems salespeople no longer want to make the effort to sell stuff. They just want to collect commissions for doing nothing! So, yeah, that's why I learned to do all the jobs, from concept to distribution. Now, I call myself a "Producer," and spent last night playing Foley artist instead of sleeping, while today I have to create a Facebook page for the project after I meet with the Director to go over the scene breakdown for the script I rewrote last week, so I can plan product placements....

Erik A. Jacobson

You're right, Charles. When you wear that many hats you're definitely a producer.

Crystal Diane Stevens

Yes, this is the way it goes, nobody wants to do any heavy lifting, they expect YOU to do all the work and come back to them when it's a cake walk. ANYONE can fund a film with attachments, period. But those attachments, unless you're truly connected, will cost you money - you or whoever is willing to put up the deposits to get the talent to sign on. It is truly challenging and this is what MANY people are facing just like you. I am going through it and it is what it is, but you keep going :)

Crystal Diane Stevens

And basically, if some equity is in place upfront and you get talent, then distribution and pre-sales are not so hard to find lol

Jennifer Rutherford

The market has changed considerably and with those changes - treatments, screenplays and scripts are being looked at as "hypothetical ideas" instead of "viable properties". This is until the concept, even in written form, transforms to communicate the larger business picture (budgets, ROI, talent) investors and studios are looking for. Ever get a response from a studio or a media management company that makes you think they are interested, only to find an about-face a little later? Or getting your hard work handed back with an "include this or that," but of course, there is no guarantee that the hoops once jumped will yield a deal. They are really, really adept at being polite and not hurting too many feelings (even if they don't like your content, they do after all... want you to like and watch their movies). The truth is - today your content must be structured as a business to be viewed as viable. You don't have to do all the heavy lifting, but you do have to be willing to financially invest in yourself, just like you would if you wanted to go to college to become a neurosurgeon, to get your project through the right doors and in-front of the right people, it takes so much more than a unique property. Velocity Media specializes in build-outs/producers packages and we are willing to come along side and get your project to a place where it can become viable and visible. We consult, so it is not a free service, but our services can be curtailed to your project needs. Feel free to shoot me a message and I will send you informational materials on what we do. Best wishes to all! I love to see so much synergy and sharing, even surrounding the frustrations. Keep plugging! J

Crystal Diane Stevens

Jennifer's comments make a lot of sense but I often think the bottom line is, MANY of these people put themselves out there as capable of fulfilling certain requirements and in reality are not. It's like a handyman who can't swing the hammer - you hire him for his skills but you're doing HIS job. I think that many when it comes to the money will put more on your plate, demand more of you, only because THEY are not capable themselves. AVOID these people. Most sincere people WILL take time to help you build your project - and if they have REAL connections, then it's easy to package because those doors are open for them. Weed out the ones who talk but put nothing on the table. This is true at every level in this industry, even some festivals aren't worth entry fee. Some managers can't manage. Some producers can't produce. Some editors can't edit - the list goes on lol I have had negotiations with OSCAR winning producers who expected ME to take them to my sources for funding or talent, REALLY? You would think with an Oscar and all of their relationships they might actually be effective. Nope. I'm nowhere near their level and somehow this is what was expected. It's crazy, lol.

Erik A. Jacobson

Very true, Crystal. Unfortunately, we've all been down that road. But for someone like Anthony, who's new and inexperienced, I'd suggest taking one of S-32's producer seminars @ $39 or subscribe to FilmSpecific.com @ $19.99 per month or, if he wants a more personal touch, using a service such as Jennifer's. Bottom line is he needs to put a credible package together, whether for the four individuals he's currently dealing with or to post it on an investor site such as Slated.

Crystal Diane Stevens

Not bad Erik. He might also consider, if he does any funding or ability to get to talent, to work closely with a sales agent (should be no cost) to come up with a cast that raises the funds he needs - meaning do his own packaging with the advice of an involved sales agent to guide him. But either way, it's all difficult, often challenging, but if he sticks to it, he just might pull it off and have the last laugh :) And Slated is not a bad idea either!

Erik A. Jacobson

@ Crystal. Yes, an accredited sales agent can give invaluable feedback on projected name talent and keep him from wasting time on names which won't maximize ROI, particularly overseas. And there a number of excellent indie-friendly agents available. Most, however, will need to know his projected budget level.

Regina Lee

Like others have said, no "magic beans," Anthony. If you're producing an indie, you have to put together an undeniable package in order to trigger financing. It's part of the job. Agents and managers understand that indie films are put together in this way - piece by piece, so there's nothing particularly negative associated with the process. You shouldn't be afraid of being seen as "undesirable." You're participating in the standard process of packaging an indie film.

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