Three Ways To De-Risk Your Film Finance

15/09/2016 14:14

With the Raindance Film Festival fast approaching and with filmmakers rushing to London to try and get their projects financed at the Co-Production and Industry Forum, I thought it appropriate to mention that financiers like to see a project as derisked as possible.

Here are the ways most successful film producers use to try and de-risk their film projects and secure finance. And who knows, some of these tips will be useful in other business as well.

With daily news of impending economic doom, it's easy for independent filmmakers to consider throwing in the towel. Even the alternative of seeking alternative paid work can look ominous these days.

A meeting with a potential equity investor these days is rarer than the proverbial needle in the haystack. And the first concern of any investor is surely going to be: "What's my downside?" They are also going to wonder why they should give you, say 50K when they can shove that into a new-build apartment here in London, hold for six months and sell for a 30-40% profit.

Those sorts of returns are hard to beat.

Despair not. Forward looking filmmakers can easily answer that question. There's two secret weapons filmmakers have:

Firstly, nothing is more fun and entertaining than a movies. And secondly there's three Ways To de-Risk Film Finance.

1. The Power of Genre

Picking a script that contains a strong identifiable genre makes a film more interesting to distributors immediately. Learn how genre works. Learn how film distributors around the world use genre as a hook to market movies. Learn how audiences choose their movies by genre. Get a sales agent to estimate the income stream that your movie can generate.

Then present your de-risked project to investors.

2. The Power of Talent

People don't pay to see films. They pay to see movies. The quickest way to turn a film into a movie is by using an actor with star power. The more visible the actor, the quicker they turn your film into a movie. Of course, that can raise the budget too. It also raises the potential income of the movie.

Do your research and hone your business plan. Present your project to talent and get them excited about participating in your film.

Then present your de-risked project to investors.

3. The Power of UK Tax Programmes

The UK has an excellent tax-efficient programme called the Enterprise Investment Scheme. Depending on the profile of your investor, the maximum exposure can be reduced to as little as 25% and in some situations as little as 2%.

Do your research on the Enterprise Investment Scheme.

Then present your de-risked project to investors.

But hurry. Word of this novel approach is filtering to America and a whole string of American producer's are booking airfares to London Town so they can cash in too.

What is the learning here? Basically, sitting where I sit on Planet Raindance, filmmakers today need to work on two distinctive strands:

Firstly - develop commercially viable stories with marketable talent. Remember that horror and genre stories do NOT rely on named actors.

And secondly, to properly structure the financing and equity of your project utilising UK tax incentives coupled with the new AB share structures championed by Raindance in our Producer's Foundation Ceritifcate.

Coupled, these two strands should make your project doable. I'm not saying it isn't hard. It is hard work. But it's not difficult.

Happy Filmmaking.


UK Film