Colleen's thoughts on writing, directing and coaching, and her unique take on life itself!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

*Never* invest in a film to make money

To every single person I have ever spoken about film funding ... I have said:

Do not ever (pay to) make a film to make money.


Make it for the joy of making a film.
Make it to be part of a really great film.
Make it to meet people you've always wanted to meet.
Make it to give yourself a title.
Make it to show the kids in high school who pants'ed you that you are really cool now and hang out with the coolest people.
Make a film to learn about film making.
Make a film to support someone you believe in.
Make a film to support a point of view in which you believe.
Make a film to contribute to humankind.
Make a film to entertain people.

But do not *ever* pay for a film to make money.

You will only lose your money.
You will only get involved in legal crap that sours you on film making.
You will only lose friendships because you're worried and squabbling about who's spending how much on whatever and who gets how much after whatever.
You will only get lost in the mire of production because you won't understand it.
You will only wonder if the candy bar consumed by the first assistant director is necessary.
You will only make the blessing of genuine creativity a curse.
You will only see egos emerge and expand because they're thinking about the money or their credit or their place in the pecking order rather that the film itself.
You will only end up on the losing end of a monolithic system whose personal priorities left with the idea that movies are made to "strike it rich" - which is why there are so many attempts at over bloated budgeted blockbusters, many of which - if not most - are just this side of crap.
You will only end up throwing good money after bad to fix a problem that could have been fixed with professional due diligence from the getgo.

Never make a film for money.

Over the years, I'm proud to say that I've received money from people who took my advice - no one was "ripped off" who had partaken - even modestly - in our little adventures here. Some of them worked brilliantly - others? Not so much.

My current business partner, executive producer and co-owner of Heart Break Productionz is a respected, responsible, experienced, self-made business person who has worked in a physical labor field since he was 12 years young.

Actually, I think he'd refer to himself as a family man first, a business person second. He knows money. He's not afraid of it, impressed by it, intimidated by it or casual with it.

He understands the value of what's really important in life. Perhaps that should be "who" is really important in life.

He spends money but he does not waste it.

He believes that people deserve a living wage and health care. He believes in union protection for workers and negotiates with 31 of them.

He handles the finances, I handle the creative side. And yet - we're on the same page of every decision made on both sides. That's interesting.

For sure - and for a number of reasons too complicated to explain here dealing with federal laws - he won't lose any money on our feature film THE WHOLE TRUTH.

However - because we are only concerned about the quality of our film, the people with whom we work, the script and creative aspects of the production and final outcome; because we understand that money is not our boss - the audience is, we believe our film will find an audience. An audience which will allow us to continue to make good to great films for them. Hopefully, an audience that will watch those films over and over.

We intend to do this for the rest of our lives - and who knows if we'll pass it on.

Interestingly, over the years, I've paid outrageous fees for seminars that supposedly tell people how to "finance films" -- all of which are based on the model that strives to make money for investors. Not a thing is mentioned about the quality of a film.

Films are not a good investment.

Nine out of ten films flop financially.

But people ... good people who are creative and professional .. are the best investment anyone can make.

People - sober, fun, hard-working, dedicated, compassionate and courageous people unafraid of failure - people who have their personal priorities in order, people who seek to continually educate themselves to do better work for personal, spiritual, practical, fulfilling, satisfying reasons far beyond money - are the best renewable resource in the universe.

And, not coincidentally, they are generally the most successful.

Just like my biz partner - of whom I am immensely proud.

OK ... that's my story and I'm sticking with it. Gotta get back to work!

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  • At 12:12 PM, Blogger Jarrod said…

    ...And never go into acting for the money or fame either. Do it for the positive reasons listed in this blog.

    (I figured I would add an actors 2 cents as well. ;))

    Thanks CP!

    ~ J

  • At 12:33 PM, Blogger LallaLydia said…

    Lol. It always helps if your actors are willing to work with you and your shoestring budget. :) Thanks, you made me laugh.

  • At 8:08 PM, Blogger cp said…

    Um, you must not have read the blog. The idea has nothing to do with the size of the budget - just the mentality/attitude for making a film. This film is a SAG film, everyone's paid union wages. We believe in everyone receiving a living wage, health and dental care. But we're not making this film to make money. We're making it to find an audience - again, the size of the budget has nothing to do with the producers' motivation to make a film to find an audience rather than just make money.


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