Tag Archives: finance
A while back, I posted a diary about the feature narrative “Nominated” that I have signed on to produce for director Dan Pavlik. “Nominated” tells the story of former child-star Mickey Monroe, who wakes up hung-over, in denial, and nominated for an Academy Award. The question is, can Mickey hold it together until Oscar night, or will he self-destruct in one spectacular grand finale? Dan has written a killer screenplay, one in fact that was a finalist for last year’s Nicholl Fellowship. This screenplay has box office potential written all over it. There are just two eensy, weensy things that are keeping us from laughing all the way to the bank.
Like first off, the economy. Last year when we concocted our first plan for raising the money for “Nominated,” we were looking at a $2 million budget on the top end, a $500K budget on the low end. We sipped our Eric Ross Pinot Noir and fantasized about equity finance. I started working my network for leads for investors interested in feature-length narrative films with potential commercial viability. And then the financial world melted down in a giant paroxysm not seen since Sodom and Gomorra bit it. With it, our dreams of big investment pretty much fizzled. Now we slug back Mad Dog and wrack our brains for new ways to scratch for cash.
Fortunately, we entered into the whole process with our eyes wide open. After all, the guys with the big, fat checkbooks aren’t exactly standing on every corner, even in a jamming economy. Plan A was equity finance. There’s also Plan B, which would require raising $500,000 in donations to the film through a fiscal sponsor or by selling shares in the film through an LLC structure. But wait, there is also a Plan C, which is our worst-case scenario. In that case, we would raise around $100,000 from friends, family, and our network to make an ultra-low-budget flick. Fortunately, Dan Pavlik is one of the most resourceful people on God’s green Earth. He wrote his script in such a way to mitigate the need for fancy locations, props, and other expensive resources. We could do it on a shoestring if we needed to. But we would rather not.
And that brings us to the second thing that is keeping us from laughing all the way to the bank. And his name is Greg Kinnear. When we were hatching those plans, we made a wish-list of potential actors for the main roles in the film. At this juncture, we brought stellar Bay Area casting agent Nina Henninger on board to help us navigate these shark-infested waters. For the part of Mickey, one stand-out was Greg Kinnear. Dan knows someone who knows Mr. Kinnear, and this Mr. X sent the screenplay to Mr. Kinnear’s office for his perusal. Well….we’re waiting. If Mr. Kinnear says yes, then equity finance may still be an option for us. If he says no, we have another local actor ready to step in. But Kinnear is a name that attracts money the way a navy-blue peacoat attracts white cat hair. Of course, there’s always that Catch-22 of narrative features — the financiers want to know what A-list actor is attached before they commit. The actor wants to know if you have financing before he commits. How do we play this back-and-forth game? With a helluva lot of finesse. Let’s start somewhere. How about Greg Kinnear? We know he has the screenplay in his hands. But has he read it? Is he going to read it? Today? Next week? Hello?
Mr. Kinnear, if you’re reading this, can you please get back to us? Our funding depends on you.
I recently signed up as the producer for a new indie feature called Nominated. Written and directed by Dan Pavlik, Nominated tells the story of washed-up former child star Mickey Monroe who’s been “on the outs” for one long, hard skid. Now Mickey finds himself nominated for an Oscar. It could be his shot at redemption. Or — more likely — another round of stupendous self-destruction. His agent, Blake, tries to fend off disaster by tricking Mickey into staying at Blake’s remote mountain cabin for a week so Blake can manage the press and keep Mickey out of trouble. Unfortunately, trouble has a way of finding Mickey, no matter where he goes.
Dan Pavlik and David Baptist co-wrote an excellent screenplay. So excellent that I agreed to come on board to help raise the funds to make the film. This one will definitely be a learning experience for me. Our budget is $2 million on the high end, or about $500,000 on the low end. We will be attempting to secure equity financing for the film, although such funding is hard to come by, and there are few equity investors in the Bay Area, where we and the film are based.
The good news is that we have signed on casting director Nina Henninger, an experienced hand at casting major commercial features in the Bay Area. We’ve also signed on Carl Lumbly, a veteran actor of television and film, to play the plum role of Ray, the blind, African-American neighbor of Blake’s cabin getaway. And, best of all, an A-list Hollywood actor is now reading the script. We are keeping our fingers crossed that the screenplay “sings” to him, because if he signs on, then we really do have a shot at getting some real money.
Stay tuned as I give periodic updates to our process of running down the dough for this indie feature. If you want to see behind the scenes on an indie feature’s fundraising process, this is the place to do it.