Funding Feature Films and Submitting your TV Series to Networks:

Funding Feature Films and Submitting your TV Series to Networks:

Investors, network and industry executives answering questions and telling the truth about what it takes for independents to get funding for their film or their TV project submitted to the networks.

Some of you may have already read this information. I posted it again because for those who have not read it, they may find it helpful.

My name is Elyse, and I am a producer and new member to the production team at BSI.

I was invited by our executives to attend an event attended by Hollywood executives, insiders and investors from different parts of the world, and had a candid conversation with investor Syd Shaffer from Europe and two of his partners.

Mr. Shaffer and his team have helped raise funds for some of the world’s top grossing films, including several major projects that our executive producers – Slavik I.A. and Susan B. Flanagan have helped develop and produce. He agreed to answer a few questions I had about funding independent projects.

*Warning … Syd has a colorful way of talking.

Elyse: What chance does an independent really have of getting a film funded?

Syd: They have the same chance as anyone else in this room, if their plan has the right people presenting it and they play by the rules.

Elyse: So, who are the “right people” and what are the rules?

Syd: The right people are those who have a fking 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 team that has experience, credits from major studios / networks and has contacts or has access to people on the inside … you can play. 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 team 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, who’s in it, how much is needed, what financial instruments do you have in place to protect their investment, distribution and how much profit will I make.

Keep in mind, they don’t care what your script is about because they don’t know a damn thing about producing a film. I along with everyone in this room haven’t read a script in years. 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.

Let me ask you a question. I know most of your execs; do you think they have time to read scripts, or do they have you do it?

Elyse: If independents don’t know the right people or have a team what can they do? ​

Syd: If you don’t have a team or the right people or know how to put a team together, consider signing on with someone that has a team in place. There are professional writers, producers and even production companies you may be able to retain to assist you. News flash … they’re not going to do this sh*t for free. 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. Look at their credits (IMDB) this is a good place to start.

If independents want to compete, then they need to find a way to get someone on their team that at least has credits, has contacts or at least runs in the same circles as other players. I recognize putting a team together has it challenges, the biggest one is getting the right people to help you. But I know for a fact it can be done, because we fund some of those projects!

Also, putting a team together is easier than trying to secure help from studios, networks, accredited production companies or getting an agent … in my opinion. These people are about making money and will not talk to you without the right people supporting you. All they want to know is, how you can make them money or get them ratings.

Elyse: What if an independent does not have a team and does not want to retain someone to help them, 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, years ago you could have gone direct to the studios or networks and someone would have looked at your project. Fast forward to today, you can’t even get past the operator.

The reason being, there’s a shit load of money being paid out even for low budget movies, not to mention big budgeted films, even some TV shows have budgets in the millions … per episode! The rules have changed and the process has changed. No longer is a script the only most important step in the process. All the steps are important. So, if they don’t want to follow the rules, what is it that they want me to do?

This is big business! You can’t even rob a bank and get the money people are asking for these days. High risk and high rewards are out there for those who want to play. If an independent wants to go up against insiders for funding their films or getting a TV project on the air, it ain’t gonna be easy and that’s even if they have some serious people helping them! But if you don’t follow the process chances are the challenges will be even greater.

But I say go for it. Everyone I know on the creative side has had a project passed on at some point, some more than others. I’m talking big names in this industry. But they still find a way to make it happen. With all the new options for distributing content that’s available, independents can make it happen.

Elyse: 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.

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 does, but I do know, if you show up here holding only a script … drink quickly, because security will be escorting you out.

Vitaly Kozlov

Brutal truth. I usually say the same things but without F.... and sh... words. What do you think, guys?

Erik A. Jacobson

Thanks for posting, Vitaly. It's an eye-opener for those of us who still mistakenly think a great script is our express ticket to Oz. It's not.

Dan MaxXx

He left out the Russian hookers at The Peninsula Hotel to close deals with foreign Financiers and Cocaine bricks as development money. Talent is treated as commodities like baseball trading cards. Expendable. That's been my experience as a Help working for Millionaires hustling Multimillionaires in Show Biz. Sure aint Kansas.

Vitaly Kozlov

'Cocaine and hookers is the key to success'.

Vitaly Kozlov

And seriously nowadays without building a value in the project and bringing it to a right producer the chance of getting produced or even optioned (except for pathetic $1) is next to nothing. Regardless how many production companies you submit, what competitions you win or how much time you spend pitching in the elevator or at the networking places. Learn the rules and apply them accordingly at least in the very beginning of your career. Learn how to milk that cow!

C Harris Lynn

^^^ That's Closer Talk.

Fiona Faith Ross

So why do potential buyers bother to come to sites like S32 to hear pitches for new material, if they are forced to listen to writers with little or no track record? I have no doubt you know what you're talking about, Vitaly, but you seem to be coming at it from the opposite side of the coin from what is advertised by the "come and pitch to us" side of the business. I'm confused.

Doug Nelson

Fiona - because most of the buyers that come to many of these "pitch fests" are actually new kids trying to build a reputation by showing their bosses that they can do a respectable job - they're trainees.

Vitaly - don't rely on IMDB for much. The data is quite sketchy.

Vitaly Kozlov

Doug i deleted that part already I realized it will be hard to swallow.

C Harris Lynn

I've spoken to some heavy-hitters here on S32. But Doug is right, generally speaking.

Pidge Jobst

Vitaly, I grew up in the Midwest private sector, and, what you speak about was the talk we talked and how we conducted business -- Assets, ROI, distribution, monetization, first to market, seed capital, PPM's, First Round A, market penetration and how many markets, reassess business plan, tax abatements and rebates, projections, capital gains, expansive portfolio, points, residuals and royalties, task force, and then SALES, SALES, SALES, etc. Make 30 calls to get 3 callbacks to get one sale. If you don't make the 30 calls you don't get the sale. Once the creative is able to get beyond the creative veil (not everyone does) into the business side, I believe everything and everyone gets back down to business again. Ahhhh, it's like rain on my windowsill. Those are the rooms I want to be in and the discussions I enjoy being privy to and a part of.

Vitaly Kozlov

Pidge. If you are in Rome you do it like the Romans would do. I don't see another way around it.

Jesse D Greathouse

Everything you deep down know is true, but no one want's to admit. Thanks for posting.

Thomas Lee Howell

So it's pretty much F everyone who tries to become more than they are or currently have to remain IE: an unpaid screenwriter (under 40) because of the age discrimination clause at EVERY major production company. Why listen to people like this guy who says F you indies we aren't giving you S* unless you have a team? My advice? If you have to do everything for them including form a team, shoot your own movie with a little or no budget and handle distribution as well. Hollywood and it's advisors are far over rated. The drivel coming out of those 'studios' has been stagnant for decades. Remakes of rehashed remakes and Star Wars 15 are all boring and not worth paying to see..

Vitaly Kozlov

Thomas, there is philosophy and there is reality. I respect Don Quixote mentality at filmmaker's networking events only after two drinks.

Thomas Lee Howell


Yes reality is that there are indie film makers bypassing the BS these (industry pros) spout and spew to ignore the negative remarks then continue producing movies. Not impressed at all. After 50 years in the music business I have seen BS talk and more BS walk. Just make your movie.

Vitaly Kozlov

Thomas, from your own experience selling 2K piece, with your team, with your level of directing, resources at hand (your own limited money!) and your cast just tell me how far did you go in your achieving by just getting your stuff up there in the market place? How was your DIY experience? Did you at least return your 2K back and in what period of time?

Thomas Lee Howell

We produced a dramatic film about Bully Awareness called Bully Girls that SELLS like hotcakes all over this country. You must know the market and demand for certain projects or stories before WASTING a shitload of money on non essential BS.

Vitaly Kozlov

Hotcakes, huh? ConvertTV and The venture Channel do that miracle making gig? Are they the next big performing distribution stars? Never seen their names in the trades. No names, no budget, low production value, 2-3 guys standing on a set behind the camera and shooting a top notch story with a knowledge of the market... Do you think that BS would fly even here?

Adrian Eugene

We understand. Thank you. We don't have the money, but Susan believes in us and you do too...smile.
The chains Crack as he pulls to break free.
Theme from Superman plays

Close up of Face Strain
Chain Pop across his chest ....He scream
Slow motion
Chains explode.
chains pieces fall to the ground
He breathes and looks up at the horde of Zombies and Zip teleports Attacks....

learning to do this.Flash freezing and rewinding and writing different playthrough in my head get me lost in thought...Like bringing on my own stuff to make it into a bunch of movies and video games brand type stuff.
We needed a year to write this cause comic book scripting is way shorter...lol. Plus, first movie script jitters. Lol.
Just saying......I really hope to meet you and Susan and do business and make these stories come to life.... oh, oh Work on our vision together...
Adrian Eugene
Dreamer.

Oracle Laura

Syd Shaffer makes complete logical sense. If you're asking someone to risk millions of dollars on your "idea" you'd better be brilliant & have something no one else has (or be able to do it better). Also show you've prepared all you must do on your end (as I have done).

Joleene Moody

There's no question it's a long road. I think releasing expectations and enjoying the journey is the only way to survive this. That's a hard pill for many to swallow, but if you just keep creating content, keep stepping out in the most authentic way, and keep building relationships, something's going to happen.

Adrian Eugene

Humble brilliant & have something no one else has (or be able to do it better)brilliant & have something no one else has (or be able to do it better) Check...Enjoying the road trip while saving a cat or two while going to the Beacon to get a triple cheese plate of plenty. smiling and waving.
If you do something well, don't do it for free. ( or something like that). Losing millions is risky too. Life is a gamble. Taking Risks is how you make it in this world. We take it.. we love the Risk takers they make the most money. Plus, what if.....we are.
-Love

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