Fund Your Next Movie? A Guide To The Basics of Film Finance
Fund Your Next Movie? A Guide To The Basics of Film Finance – A Special Interview With Tom Malloy
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Other Great Film And Movie Interviews…
By Tim Bennett
With The Participation Of Tom Malloy
Forward – Or How The Interviews Started
All my life I have wanted to make a movie (well since I was 15 anyway) and after thinking I would never reach my goal due to the shear cost of film production, I finally made two films last year!
I dipped my toe into the film industry waters at the beginning of the year in a movie called “The Boat Between Two Rivers” (In bangka ha ut sin duwa sapah – Won best actress in Davao Film festival) which was filmed entirely in The Philippines on a fairly low budget, but which was a beautiful movie about love and promoting education as an answer to war.
I only contributed $2000 dollars to the movie, but it sure was nice to see my name on the screen!
A few months later I was asked by one of my friends to be the co-producer of a movie called “Bad Romance” and he and I set about creating the film which is just being released now in The Philippines (As of Feb 2013).
As we made the movie, one of the things I noticed was that many of the local Filipino directors and producers were struggling with film finance.
I was struck by how many directors would make a movie, struggle with cash and then just move onto another movie without too much return of investment.
I decided to create a survey in Facebook groups and I asked directors around the world what their 3 biggest problems were.
Not surprisingly, the number 1 problem of all directors, by a huge majority was money for movies!
I thought to myself, this can’t be right!
Something has to be done!
So in an attempt to find solutions for myself, after selling one of my properties to help finance the movie Bad Romance (I don’t want to spend all my own money making my next movie)
I decided to ask experts in our industry for help.
I further decided to share these interviews with you!
And hence a series of interviews came about that focus on specific topics within film finance, all from from different prospective and different experts and you are now reading the transcript of one of them.
I hope you enjoy this booklet, which is a complete unedited transcript of an interview between Tim Bennett from ArgonAnimation.com and Tom Malloy, LA Director, Writer and Actor and the recording was made on Monday 28th January 2013.
If you have any comments or questions about this interview, feel free to email me here.
Thanks for being part of the solution!
Forward From Tom Malloy
“In the short amount of time, we discussed the elements necessary to prep your project and finance your film.
It’s not an easy process, but it’s a process that can be done… though no one seems to know how to do it!
I give tips and suggestions to get momentum behind your film so that you can make it happen!”
Film Finance – Where Can I Go
To Find Film Financing For My Feature Film?
Tim: Film Finance, according to a recent survey I held on Facebook last year, with a number of directors groups, is the number one problem that directors, on a worldwide basis are suffering from.
I know last year that when I made my movie Bad Romance, it would have been a lot easier if we have more money coming in from Film Financiers and if you’re here today on this very exciting interview, I’m sure, you’ll also like to know How To Finance A Film and today we are all blessed with a very special guest who’s going to share some of his secrets and knowledge with us.
Tom Malloy is our guest tonight in our very first special series designed to help new and independent film makers alike.
Tim: I’m very excited to be doing tonight’s call. Hello and welcome, I am Tim Bennett from ArgonTV, it’s a place where we talk and discuss film topics with some of the most awesome people in the world.
But just before we get going I just want to make sure that everyone can hear me, you can hear me Tom?
Tim: Sam you can hear me and Jane you can hear me okay?
So ladies and gentlemen, it’s 9:30 or just after 9:30 East Coast of America. It’s about 2:30 Downtown New Delhi, and it’s almost 10:30 here in Manila where I’m living and it’s great to have you all here.
If you have any questions for Tom, as we go along please type them in to the chat box and we’ll open several lines and talk to some of you later on. Let’s get going.
Please welcome, ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Tom Malloy!
Yehey! (Clapping). Good to have you here Tom.
Tom: Fantastic, with huge round of applause.
Tim: Absolutely, absolutely. Well it’s really fantastic having you here and despite all the technical obstacles we had, where are you based right now?
Tom: Right now, I’m in the East Coast in New York, normally I’m in Los Angeles, and for the next 3 to 6 months I’ll be in the East Coast.
Tim: Great! It’s a long time since I’ve been to New York, maybe wow, 15 years!
Tom: Hahaha, it’s changed since then.
Tim: I bet it out. Yeah! I came to America when it was very easy to get into the States.
Tom: Yeah! It’s unfortunate the way it’s been lately, it’s tougher and tougher.
Tim: Yeah, ok so, Sam says he’s from Syria, wow, awesome Syria.
We got a worldwide international conference night, America, Syria and Philippines.
So before we get going Tom, let’s have a quick overview of who you actually are and what you’ve been doing in the movie world.
This is actually the first time that you and I have ever spoken and so I’m very
interested in knowing what you’ve been doing, so maybe if you can just give us a little background about yourself.
Tom: Sure, you know, I started as an actor and still am in many ways.
That was back in 98 I believe in a movie called “Gravesend” and I was one of the four lead actors and it was shot under the streets of Brooklyn New York and I mean it was, we would literally, you know we “improv” the whole movie, we would literally go up a street corner and there’d be a gang of thugs there and would say “you guys want to shoot a fight screen?”
And they’d be like “Yeah, Okay, a big fight would break out” and we’ll capture it all on camera and when we’re done with that movie, we got Oliver Stone to put his names on it, it was in theaters.
Tim: Oh cool.
Tom: Yeah, it was called Gravesend and what happened was you know, it wasn’t a hit we thought it was going to be.
I, you know did a couple things here and there and was young and didn’t know how to manage my career at that point.
Eventually to make a long story short, I just started trying to learn everything I could about the film business, every aspect down to editing, as much information as I could. I started producing almost as a means to an end.
I started kind of raising money, kind of creating our own method out of desperation, out of saying “You know, I know,”
I became a really powerful writer, I now sold 16 scripts and I’m in the Writer’s Guild and in that, I got to get behind one my scripts, and well I want to make this and I want to be in this role.
I got a director, the first movie I did is called The Attic, and I got the director of Pet Cemetery and by the strength of the script and we made it. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted it to be and it kind of disappointing but that was a great lesson.
I raised all my money myself on that and that started it. I remember back then, that was 2005, I kind of told an agent “Hey, I’m an actor, writer, producer” and she was like “You know, you got to pick one of those, you can’t be all three.”
The joke was now, if you would go to that some agent or another agent, they will recommend that.
They would say “Hey listen, you got to act, write and produce.”
It’s a trend setter in a way in that regard but I mean the rest of the story goes that I dealt with 8 films, I’ve raised almost over 20 million dollars private equity for films and for my projects and other projects.
I recently completed a stint as the head of film production for a company called New Films International.
I was kind of a high demand as far as my money raising and putting films together and I speak across the country and the last thing I could say is I wrote this book BankRoll that has become the kind of a Gold standard as far as film financing in bookstores everywhere and you could get on Amazon and all that.
That was really just all my techniques on raising money and put it in a book.
Tim: That sounds awesome. I remember watching Pet Cemetery many many years ago. I also believe you’re in a part of Anger Management, is that right?
Tom: Oh yeah, that was one after Gravesend just trying to, to do only the acting thing, and the joke about that was the roles after Gravesend, I start my first role ever is a lead role on a film that Oliver Stone’s got his name on and then it goes from that to like, a featured character on Law & Order-SVU and then a couple of lines on Third Watch, in the background of, in a couple of movies.
That was, I feel like I went the exact opposite path, by the time Anger Management, I think I played the right field for the New York Yankees, it’s just less and less and less. This is the exact opposite of where I should be going. I had to put a change.
Tim: It’s pretty cool to have Oliver Stone as part of your intro.
Tom: Oh yeah, that really helped Gravesend, but then down the road, as I did this other films, working with bigger people, The Alphabet Killer, we have Rob Schmidt who directed Wrong Turn.
We had Timothy Hutton, Cary Elwes, Eliza Dushku, and Michael Ironside.
They were all the cast. I was the third biggest role in there.
In both the Attic, it got bad reviews but the only good review was my performance.
It was me and John Savage and Elisabeth Moss who’s the star of Mad Men.
I was the only one that got the good acting reviews but the film itself got panned.
But Alphabet Killer did much better and specially on video made the killing and then we went on and did a movie called Love N’ Dancing right, co-starred with Amy Smart and Betty White was in the movie and Billy Zane with the director of She’s All That, Robert Iscove.
Things were going great.
Unfortunately with this last job got away from performing, and that something that everybody kind of has to have their own path and I want to go back to acting and performing in comedy and things like that but you know in the meantime, I know all these techniques, so now as far as raising money and helping people put their films together, I do conferences, I do consulting on films, people hire to just come in and help them shape their projects, so they can have a better chance of getting it going or better direction.
That’s really what I do kind of the side, I’m still alive in the film business.
Tim: Was this something you wanted to do since you were a kid or was it something that developed as you got older?
Tom: I wanted to be an actor since, I think since I was a sperm cell.
That was always part of the film business for me, now producing and writing happened as osmosis, you know what I mean like you’re just there and let me try to write a script, then by the 4th script, I was really, I started to pick up techniques and a skill level and now it’s like I’m really great in writing scripts.
As I said, I made a ton of money writing script.
Producing was just, you know, if you went back to Tom Malloy the producer, one of the producers of the Attic, I had a couple of veteran producers with me.
I was the kid who didn’t know anything, who was afraid to even raise his hands, you know, now I’m the guy writing the show and there are people back then, they would all be asking me questions. I kind of, you get your learning curve; my learning curve was quick I guess or steep I guess.
Tim: It’s funny the tables turn, how those people who say you can’t do this, are the ones that come back and say, can I be part of it.
Tom: Exactly. Let’s say there’s a project that is funded, it’s like a train is moving and everybody wants to try to jump on or get a piece of it.
“Hey can I cater it, can I do that” It would come out of the woodwork. “My niece does make up and she get on.”
Tim: I wanted to make a movie when I was 15 years old, that was I think the first time it sort of came into my head that I’d like to that but the cost of making movies, I grew up in England, mainly around London and North East area and the cost of making movies in London was horrendous.
It scared me away.
Then about 14 years ago I moved out to Manila where I still am now in the Philippines and the costs of everything out here is much lower and I got involved doing special effects lasers out here. I’ve been doing lasers for about 21-22 years now.
We did a project which brought me out to Manila and slowly I got the money together and I realised that the opportunities out here were very different and last year, we made 2 movies and we’re just about to release, next the 12th of February, we’re actually having our advance screening of the first movie I co-produced.
So I’m a virgin in this business, this is why I wanted to help other people was because, I struggled so much with film finance and I used my own money to finance the movie and it’s something I don’t want to do again particularly.
Tom: Yeah, Use other people’s money.
Tim: I thought the obstacle I had putting the money together and the other directors I see around me, I thought it will be a good idea to approach people like you who are experts to find out different ways of doing it and put all this together in one website so that we can help the industry generally and that is where this series of interviews came for.
Film Finance had been a problem for a lot of my friends out here in the Philippines.
I did a survey on Facebook to about a 20 or 30 different directors groups last year asking what their biggest problems were.
The 3 biggest problems were sent back to me.
Number 1 by far was film finance so I know this is going to help a lot of people.
Was finance something that hindered you when you first started?
Tom: Well yeah, it continuous to hinder everybody.
You have to kind of get in that mentally that we are all in the same boat.
Clint Eastwood, is begging me to get his films made and barking for his lunch.
That is just one Example.
Martin Scorsese, everybody, it is a business and everybody has to understand that.
We are all artists in a way and “hey I just want to make art.”
But at the end of the day it’s not the same as buying a canvass and painting something because if no one buys it, then you’re ok.
You haven’t wasted that much money.
But in this case, the movies, you’re wasting a lot of money.
A lot of people’s money if you make something that’s not a marketable product that could turn a profit. That’s really one of the main parts of the problem.
There’s an old joke “How do you make a small fortune in independent film, the answer is you invest a large fortune.”
That’s a horrible way to think about it, but at the end of the day, that was what’s been proven is that unless you kind of go in with that marketing from the beginning, you can be in big trouble.
The key is, let me say this, to the people in the line that did not know a producer, directors, actors. I say in my book it’s the golden rule.
He or she who has control makes the rules.
There’s no real ladder or sometimes in the film business. You don’t go to this one, then the next one. It may not work that way.
You sometimes have to say “I’m here, I’m on this set” and if you have the money and you want to say “well I’m playing this role” or “I’m directing” or “I’m going to be, well the writer”, you’re going to make that script, if I have the money. Any of those things, if you get that money, the financing then you’re in control; you can be steering the ship.
Tim: I noticed that when I was involved in a movie, we just made a movie called Bad Romance, which is the one coming out this February.
This really is like my first major step into movies but because I have the check book in my hand, the doors open, the trumpets started playing and really felt like I was in charge quite a lot.
Veteran directors would say “what do we do now?” I say, “I don’t know you tell me, I was just writing checks.”
Tom: Yeah, I was going to say it’s tough in that regard. Especially when you’re using your own money, you have to be really frugal. I did it once, when I was kind of experimenting back when I was still right after Gravesend, I was kind of messing around.
I wouldn’t even recommend it. It’s scary.
It’s a lot scarier in that regard. You could really lose your shirts.
Tim: Yeah, absolutely, let’s imagine I have a killer script. It just fell into my hands and I want to make a movie from it. What should I do next? What’s the first place to start?
Tom: Well the first place to start is to kind of understand this theoretically could have happen before you made your script.
But if you have your script already, you going to have to deal with it.
Understand what kind of budget you are talking about. Meaning, if you wrote a script, and man its a killer but, you know, the opening scene is 20,000 soldiers storm the field, they can’t be CGI soldiers.
You’re in trouble already when you’re trying to do an independently financed featured film.
That’s a studio film and you should be trying to sell the script like you could sell a studio script.
But if you want to make the film, what I’m trying to say in there is you want to think from a producer’s mindset before you even write the script.
I used to help people in this, but that was one of the things I would kind of do, consulting, give them notes on their scripts and take little scenes and say, for example there was this one script that I did where, it was supposed to show a
little girl’s kind of isolation, she was sitting on a school bus and, no kids were talking to her.
Ok give me that scene, so now you have the school bus, the driver, you have 30 extras and the kids, man this would be a serious scene to shoot.
I just re-wrote for this person then just put this girl on a park bench.
Park bench, you can do outside, you can do it for free and you know you still have the kids walking by and ignoring her.
Maybe some kids, other kids, sit on the edge of the bench, get up, don’t even look her way, and that is basically free.
You know what I mean.
What I’m saying is before you did this killer script, you should have thought about the financing but you got it and afterwards you got to look at it and first time is say what realistically can I do this for, as cheap as possible without losing any productions.
Tim: That’s interesting, so keeping the integrity of the script but looking at it from a financial point of view, to see how you can do it as cheaply as possible.
Tom: Yeah, that little teeny example I just gave you with the school bus versus the park bench, I mean, does that lose any integrity of the movie?
You’re not, if you went from a baseball stadium to a park bench.
Yeah, you’re probably changing the integrity of the movie but the schools bus, park bench, without changing anything.
You don’t want to lose production value, you don’t want to lose integrity so you got to look and say, “okay what scenes can I never lose and this has to be done in a log cabin.”
You know what I mean, something like that, you know, I can’t lose the log cabin, it’s so important on the script.
Tim: Yeah, Sam is saying “get well prepared and use imagination I guess”.
Tom: Yeah, use imagination, creativity in a lot of times in studio films, studio directors, that’s why they have a tough time coming down and doing independent film is because, in studio, the mentality is, let’s just pay for it or build it.
In the independent films, let’s find a solution.
That’s why in many times I worked with former studio directors, it’s very difficult to tell them, we don’t have the money to do this, they won’t think of solutions, they will just jump up and down and scream and pout and all that stuff versus maybe a young first time director goes “Hmm, what can we use for log cabin instead?
Let’s just use a shed” I don’t know, they think of a solution which is much much better for an independent film.
Tim: So I guess, you got the movie you want and the movie you going to get.
Tom: Yes, if you want to find a happy medium in between, so you are not sacrificing anything.
Again all of this is the preparations you’re doing is looking at a script from a producer’s mindset, looking at it and saying “how can this best be served economically” and It’s not just setting the location, its number of characters, its sizes of the parts, if every part is a small part, how you got to get a big star or well named actress to play this thing.
It’s all of that stuff that you need to do that prior, kind of even before you have your script or if you have it, do it afterwards and reshape and rewrite your script.
Tim: One of the other problems that we got when we did the survey was: a clash between writer’s directors and actors and is this part of that where the producers and the directors are saying we need to cut back in certain areas and the scriptwriter are saying “this is not the movie I wanted.”
Tom: Yes, you know, the key is, that’s putting the writer separate.
There are always battles and there are always egos and artists, big egos, that’s all true and we all do but the key is if the writers thinking from the producer’s mind set or the writers on board is a kind of producer, it’s a little easier to do that.
If you’re just a writer selling the script then you’re independent from the producer, director or say you are the producer on the line or director on the line, you acquire the script, Ok, you may have some hurdles to go through but you really just need somebody that’s on board from the start.
I went through a nightmare on my last film, it’s on going, so one of my friends, a guy named Dan Sollinger, line producer may be made 45 films or so, said that he knows as much as he pretty much can about lights and crew and procedures but every new movie he does, he learns how to completely new lesson on how to manage personalities.
I’m like, God that’s so true.
You have a new set of challenges.
There’s always going to be challenges, but you know at the end of the day, remember that everybody wants to make the best film, the most successful.
The key all I can say is, if you had nightmare which I’ve had several times, a nightmare director once, the writer the last time, get rid of them, you’ll be a fool to work with that person again.
Tim: During the making of our movie, Bad Romance, we actually experienced quite a lot of things of what not to do which I actually found very helpful, in fact I think I learned more from the mistakes that we made than we actually did to the things that were working well.
Tom: Yeah, you want to get better and better, keep changing and changing your approach, trying to be more and more successful.
Tim: That’s awesome!
Financiers, Film Financiers, are they generally more corporations or is it individuals in your experience?
Tom: Individuals are much better and easier to get, easier to manage.
The key is, the phrase I used in my book was if you’re looking for investors, get out Dodge and what I mean by that is stay out of anybody that’s associated with the film business, cynical or they have their own priorities which is okay.
It’s not a bad thing, they have their own projects they are dealing with, they have their own intentions.
I look at it as the film business is kind of secret and special and exciting and you’re inviting this person into this world.
So, you don’t want a person that’s a producer, maybe produced a movie in 10 years on whatever studio God.
You want a person that made a million dollars, 20 million dollars or making refrigerators.
You want that person because that person, his world is refrigerators and that’s all he does and that’s maybe he made a fortune creating refrigerators but never did anything outside and secretly wants to make a movie about XYZ.
That’s the person you want to get because you’re letting in, you’re the conduit to let them into that film work.
Tim: I can relate to that very much because as I said it was my dream to be in the movies since I was 15, I’m 49 now and I’ve been doing laser shows and entertainment from the back end of it, behind the scenes.
One of my friends came to me and said can you help us out with 10,000 dollars and I said sure.
I gave the 10,000 dollars and the movie was produced.
I tell you, it was the first time in my life that I got the buzz like I got when I saw my name up in the screen. It was a meaningful moment in my life.
Tom: It’s a sexy investment, it’s very cool for that person that made their money, selling wood, go on the golf course and say “Hey by the way I’ve got a movie I’m doing.”
And then suddenly, there’s these actors that is friends with you now and now you text and talk in the phone with the big stars.
There’s something so exciting about, different than investing in pig futures.
You know what I mean.
That very exciting about the movie business, you have to be the person that lets them in that opens that door.
Tim: So I guess this is a bit like balancing a business and an art together.
Tom: Very much so.
Again it is show business, you need to look in it that way and find a happy medium in the middle.
Let me say if there’s one side that you should weigh more towards, would be the business side.
You know, people ask me all the time, what should I read to be better besides your book? I’ll tell them read book on sales.
They say who would be more likely to get money for their movie, the guy that read 10 books on sales or the guy that read 10 books in producing? I’d say the guy that read 10 books on sales.
That you’re always selling and it’s yourself that you’re selling.
You kind of have that business mentality of what if I was financing the film.
That may not work as much because obviously you give yourself the money.
When I teach in seminars, I tell them think of your parents, maybe your parents, they worked 40 years, 50 years and they accumulated a million dollars.
You take their million dollars and if you don’t turn it to profit, they’re going to be on the welfare.
They’re going to have no money and you’ll be literally bankrupt, but if you take their million dollars and turn them to 2 million dollars and double their net worth.
So you need to get it to where the project is that, it’s not just a belief. It’s on paper and it makes sense.
Even the movies that I’ve done that haven’t made money, each time I believe that they would and I’ve tried every thing, single thing possible, to get them profitable and then when they finally ultimately didn’t, I’d look back and see what went wrong, what can I do the next time.
Tim: So you’re recommending, as in a business, having a business plan for each movie.
Tom: Without question, you need to have a business plan, it needs to be organic, it needs to be able to change, and adding elements to it so, I say it needs to be organic, it’s never fixed, I never told people, get a business plan and make 50 copies of it.
You’re going to be adding components and things to it so it has to be organic and growing all the time.
Without question, a business plan these are all things that you need to do and I know the artists, in many people, you’re director or whatever.
I was ugh, I don’t want to do all this or you cannot do it and make no movie or make a movie with DLSR that you bought.
You can say a popular brand, but you don’t have a professional cast, or you can raise the money, whether it’s 30,000, whether it’s 50,000 , whether it’s 500,000, whether it’s 5 million, at least then you’re making a professional film with money that you’ve raised.
Tim: Great! At this point, Sam just sent a message, he wants to ask you a question, so let me open the lines if that’s okay?
Tim: And we’ll speak to him directly.
Sam I’ve un-muted your line, you should be able to talk to us now.
Are you there Sam? You have a microphone?
Tim: Sam is a tough major sprinter fan.
Sam are you there?
Tom: Oh no, you could barely hear him.
Tim: Yeah, almost, I cannot hear you Sam, so keep on trying I’ll come back to you shortly, in a minute. If you have any more questions just keep typing them in. I’ll relay.
Tom: Can he type the questions to me?
Tim: Yap, I’ll relay them to Tom.
We absolutely can’t hear you right now. So, we’ll just carry on the moment and wait your questions to come in. We’ll try again a bit later.
Tom: You can hear the buzzing, and trying to talk, it might have been a microphone issue. Yeah, you can hear a little buzzing.
Tim: We’ll hear from him shortly.
Going back to financing then, the world is changing and there’s lot of different things going on in financing now, I watched “The Greatest Movie Ever Sold”, recently which was one of my inspirations to do this.
What do you think about product placement to help financing a film?
Tom: The problem I think with product placement is I think there’s… I have a guy that I worked with now that 2 films, and I think that there’s definitely a place for it, the problem is a lot of young filmmakers think, well, I’m going to get Apple or Red Bull to finance my film but it’s probably not going to happen.
Because, now again, think of it from the business and marketing side, say I own the biggest water bottle company in America, and you approach me Tim and say “I want to put your water bottle in my film, you know can you give me $50,000?”
Whatever, it’s like, Number 1, how do I know anyone will ever see the film, and Number 2, how do I know your film is not going to be a piece of crap?
So, those are things that independent filmmakers don’t realise that even if your film is great, and it not be seen by anybody and for me as a seller of water bottles, how does that help my product?
It doesn’t help my product at all.
And so, that’s that, there’s no reason for me at that point to give you money.
What I’ll do is I’ll give you product.
I’ll give you free water bottles.
I’ll give you cases and cases of free water bottles but I’m not got to give you a $50,000.
So the product placement, money-wise only usually happens to films that are guaranteed 3000, 4000 theaters.
Tim: That’s very interesting because, we have been talking to some people out here about product placement.
There’s a fairly positive feel about it, because, normal standards of advertising are changing. The retention value of adverts on TV and are dying.
People go and making the coffee when the adverts come on and things like that.
There is some interest but it’s an interesting point you made how do we guarantee that the movie is ever going to be shown or seen?
Tom: Why does the product want to give you money?
Or the owner of the product wants to give you money?
If we were going to use product placement to help finance our films, we would need to have some kind of figures and distribution channels to show that that’s going to be possible.
Tom: Exactly, exactly.
Tim: Interesting, very good idea. I’ve never really thought about that. That’s cool.
Tom: Yeah, again, you think of it from the business aspect of it.
Tim: Yeah, I guess when you’re putting a team together; you really need, like the businessman and the artist in a movie.
Tom: Well, or you need to be both. You need to have both aspects and kind of embrace that. Be both sides of the hat.
Again, like I said, the director, producer, actor doesn’t want to think that way but they have to.
Tim: Yeah. Alright, moving on, crowd funding, have you used crowd funding much?
Tom: You know what, the only thing I did for crowd funding, I mentored a lot of young filmmakers and I’ve done, I think 9 short films now and I had them all raise their money on Kickstarter.
They plaster my name and it’s so funny, I got a bunch of IMDb credits as executive producer of a short film because I’m just kind of helping them do it.
And I started saying, you know this is looking bad, it looks like I went to features to short story.
I made them stop, giving me credit on the film.
In the meantime, I guess, look crowd funding again is kind of a new thing and in many ways it’s exciting because you go, “I’m gonna put my project top on Kickstarter or Indigogo or something, everybody is going to give 50 bucks and that’s how I’m going to raise the money.”
The problem is you got to raise about 20 grand at the most.
My friends went on and I think they’ve reached $20,000 for a great movie they called Absentia.
The movie itself was already a $30,000 film and they did it well but to get that $20,000, I mean they went through hoops; they were on Kickstarter every day and I was like, “why don’t you put this energy into going to finding investors that would help.”
That might be one person that needs that $20,000 dollar tax rate off, versus you are on Kickstarter doing as much work as you would have done for, because what I’m saying is on those crowd funding sites, you need to put a ton of work for them to get it.
It’s rare, many filmmakers think, “we’ll just post by project and I’ll make a video or make some nice graphics and give away some stuff and bang.
Let me just sit back and a month later, I’m going to collect the money.”
It’s not that.
So crowd funding works maybe Kickstarter works in the approach that it can kick start your project.
You could raise a couple of grand, maybe 10, 15 grand to start your movie, but, I don’t see it as far as source of funding films completely unless you’re making ultra, ultra, ultra-low budget films.
Tim: Yeah, that’s interesting, and the whole, first of all, I love the excitement I can hear in your voice.
You seem really excited about the different topics.
I think what I’m really picking up between the lines of what you’re saying is that product placement and crowd funding, they have their place but the end of the day it’s really down to raising cash from individuals who are interested in having their stuff in the movies in a business manner style.
Tom: Yeah, the fact is, like I was in a meeting for filmmakers, I’ve been invited to host, Happy Independents Day, Independents Day or something like that. But independents, is like as far as independents film, which I thought is a real cool name to prepare for a film festival.
Anyway, I was the kind of expert that was brought in.
People ask me all about these things about business plans and things like that and I’m talking then somebody just said that the budget of my film is $30,000.
It was almost like that’s a little low for going through all these steps of business plans and things like that.
I know, I kind of say, what I’m talking about when I talked on preparation, is doing more of a, say anywhere in a range $200,000 and 5 million dollars.
That’s what I’m talking about as far as the business plans.
You look, you need all the preparations no matter which budget movie you’re doing.
I just did the lowest one I have ever done, it was a little under a $100,000 and sold it right away for profit and you do need preparation and all that stuff but it’s you know, crowd funding, you might be talking to a different world.
Does that make sense?
There may be a few, saying I want to make movie its $3,000 horror film, that’s a different world in saying it’s $450,000.
Tim: Yap, I really hear that and get that entirely.
You know, in the laser world, doing a 1000 dollar show for a night is pretty much the same amount of work as a $10,000 show.
There’s not much difference between the 2.
You’ll still go to do the quotations; you’ll still going to turn up with the staff.
You’ll still going to drive there to the venues and ingress all the equipment and the actual work load between the 2 different show is very dissimilar, it’s almost the same.
Tom: Yeah! You see that all the time.
Tim: I was going to say, is that the same in the movie world?
A small script or a small movie pretty much the same preparation levels as a full blown movie?
Tom: Oh God Yeah!
Unless you’re talking something really small but once you’re going to do a certain size of the film, yeah, it is the same, it’s just like, there’s a great scene on a great movie called Hoosiers, about will they make it to the basketball finals and Gene Hackman who plays the coach, the players are really intimidated cause their used to play in this small stadiums and Gene Hackman who plays the coach, proceeds, as he goes and takes some team and he takes a tape measure and he puts a tape measure up to the basket and in the rim and draws it down and measures everything, kind of proves to the team it’s the same size court.
It’s just there are 50,000 people on the stands versus 2,000.
Same exact basketball size, everything was the same, he does it with the tape measure, it’s a great scene.
It’s the same thing in the restaurants, that the restaurants where the guys slinging hash, running back and forth, is putting the same amount of effort in that restaurant where the check may be $20 versus the high-end restaurants where the check may be $200 and their going to give much bigger tip.
In the high end restaurant but you’re doing the exact same amount of work.
That’s much the same in the film, again when you’re talking $3000 horror movie no, that’s not but, when you’re talking $300,000 movies, $3 million dollar movies, $30 million dollar movies, they are all pretty much the same except for the size of the crew and the speed of which they move.
Tim: That’s very interesting comments. I really hear what you’re saying there completely.
Again, in the good old days, I remember watching movies being shot in film, in fact in Manila, I still see guys riding round on a bicycle, with a roll of film, as they go from cinema to cinema.
The world is changes now.
They’re going to digital and internet.
Is that having a big change on the way we finance movies?
Tom: Yeah, without question.
The bottom line is we don’t buy DVD’s anymore.
That’s a big problem.
It happened right in the middle of making movies.
When I was doing the bigger films, it was like suddenly people don’t buy DVD’s anymore.
They go on their set top box and they wanted to just order on
That’s getting worst and worst.
Look at Blockbusters completely going out of business.
That’s direct result of nobody buying movies anymore.
Yes changing, because, that DVD’s sales supported the industry a lot.
Back in 2004, 2003, 2000, before then you could guarantee shipments of DVD’s in the millions no matter what, that was a big thing.
Now, the fact is, nobody buying DVD’s anymore, they want it downloaded.
They wanted it on, you know, on demand.
It’s a big problem.
I never have all the answers.
What can I say, I think that more and more, the most profitable movies are the ones over 80 million or under 1 million.
That’s the only way.
It’s really tough; again looking in the business aspect, there’s no product to support you.
You’re not shipping and packing DVD’s.
Tim: I guess the distribution companies really need to make changes now, the way they handle distributing movies.
Tom: Yeah, the distributors always seem to never lose money. They always seem to be right on that track.
Tim: One of the things I had you talking earlier was Short Film Financing.
Do you think that film makers should get experience in short film financing before taking on a full length movie or is it pretty much the same?
Tom: There are parts that they are the same.
No, I don’t think short film financing does you any good.
I think making a short film a director, producer if you’re new, would help because it’s like a day in the film. 2 days in a film.
You can see that aspect of a director, could be a calling card, but other than that, you have to have the mindset that you want to make features because short films don’t make money historically and really just don’t.
That’s the truth. It could be a lottery ticket if you did.
You don’t want to get in that world of short films unless you do it for a purpose.
As a director, you’re doing it because; I want to be a better director.
As producers, you do it because they’re saying, I want to see if I could do this for a day, sustain this for a month but no, as far as raising money for short films, I don’t think it’s going to help you.
Let me tell you, it’s harder because you’re growing in, knowing it’s not going to make any money.
Tim: You know this is really interesting.
I’m really grateful for the time you spent with us tonight because hearing it from the mouth of an experienced filmmaker, director is really awesome.
There is “what I think we know and what it really is.”
There’s a big gap between those two things I think, especially for me coming in the movie industry.
If you ask me about lasers I can tell you but as I’m making this transition, it is very helpful for me to talk to you and I’m sure that when we put this recording online, it’s going to really help a lot of people as well especially the new directors and producers that are coming in.
I’m very grateful and I’m sure they will be too.
Tom: Perfect, well thank you very much for having me around.
Tim: Well, moving a bit closer, I’m actually thinking about writing my own script for a movie that is part of my life story and I know a lot of people around me, where in the same position.
What 3 things could you recommend aspiring filmmakers today to get closer to marketing, making and selling a movie?
Tom: You got to start with a great script, thinking again from a producers mindset.
You have to add elements to it that makes sense, meaning, “A” list casts, cast that is sellable, and saying it again, you going to take your liabilities out of there.
It’s this great script and you have this very cool story and you have a great idea of marketing but you’re playing the only role in the movie, it’s your own version of Castaway with Tom Hanks, but it’s you and you’re a nobody, well that’s tough.
You got to kind of take that liabilities out of the film so I would say get the greatest script you can, try to get the best cast you can and try not to be insane about that thing.
I call them insanities versus liabilities in the book.
You got to take the insane things out of there and the liabilities; you got to try to have the fewest possible.
Try to put as many things in there that would try to make it successful.
Tim: Having a good cast makes the film more expensive, but does that attract more money?
Tom: Oh yeah, without question, I’ll tell you example of a perfect film these days.
Perfect film as far as an independent that’s going to make money.
This movie called The Sessions, with John Hawkes, he plays the quadriplegic, can only move from his neck up.
Movie is made for million dollars.
I was talking to the director and it was like basically what happened is he got a great script, he was a writer director, he writes the story, great script, and then got John Hawkes.
John Hawkes was nominated for Academy Award in “Winter’s Bone” a couple of years ago, right away that added clout.
That brought Helen Hunt on, that brought William H. Macy on, and that brought Adam Arkin.
That movie for million dollars can be a test pattern.
It’s going to make money on their names alone and those people did that because it was a good script and it is a serious movie.
If it was a crappy horror film, no chance, karate action.
You’re not going to get Helen Hunt or all those people.
So then, Helen Hunt gets the Oscar nomination, John almost did he got a SAG, and Golden Globe nominations I believe.
You’re guaranteed probably $20 million at the end of the day.
That’s an example of a model to emulate.
Tim: Very interesting, great comments.
You’ve spoken a lot about the films, a lot of your thoughts in financing and you mentioned your book a couple of times,“Bankroll: A New Approach to Financing Feature Films”, do you want to tell us a little more about the book?
Tom: That was really putting all the ideas, the techniques down. They used to in Los Angeles, people would email me, through my website and ask me “Hey, can you help me out on my film?”
I always was giving back, I go meeting for lunch and then I end up usually paying for the lunch.
So you’re a broke filmmaker or whatever.
And then afterwards I said “I have to stop doing this.
I got 2 kids and all” that and so that was kind of motivation for me.
Those lunch meetings, here’s the advice I was giving.
Tim: Is the book like an ABC, 123, follow this step, this step or is it, what is it exactly?
Tom: Oh yeah yeah, it is a combination, I think that’s why it is well reviewed because it’s a combination of practical steps and also stories of failures and successes of myself and other people.
You can take the road quickest from A to point B and not go zig zag zig zag all over like I did.
Tim: I don’t know if can see my screen, but at the moment I’m showing some of the comments people have made about the book in Amazon.
It seems to have a very positive response from people who bought it.
Do you have any stories of people who have bought it, used it, applied it and made great films?
Tom: Yeah, You know I get emails probably 1 a week now.
When it first came out, it was like 3 to 4 a week which is really cool.
I still get 1 a week just saying how much it helped changed their life and inspired them.
I love every one of those emails.
I try to get back to every single person.
Gosh, I’ve asked every one of those to write reviews 3 or 400, I should have an autoresponder that says “hey can you write a review.”
In the meantime, some credits are popping up on IMDb and I don’t even know the films or the filmmakers, I think there’s one that’s like, Executive Consultant and then there’s one producers who would like to thank and actually that guy is friends with me anyhow.
We met in Sundance and so but I got credits I didn’t think have anything to do with film.
The only reason they did is because they read the book. I guess is pretty cool.
Tim: Yeah, cool. I’ve got a link up for the audience which will take automatically to the Amazon page.
So you don’t have to go and search for it in Amazon.
That will take you directly to the link for the book.
It’s featured at a moment to $17.92.
I think $18 is an absolute steal for an amount of information that you’re going to give I guess.
And I got something that’s even better than that.
The books, obviously I highly recommend this, it’s the second edition but there is, I used to have a CD online audio course that sells online I think $129, and but that’s the same as all day seminar but I recently put that online so now you can just go and listen to it and then you’ll always have it there.
You have a login and a password.
You can always go and do that.
I think it’s like $29.99.
You’re $10 worth the book and you have the same acquired, there’s over 5 hours of information.
This is what you get exactly as a start.
Tim: I see.
How do we get a hold of that?
Tom: It’s in Bankrollthebook.com and it should be on the top right corner.
Tim: Bankrollthebook.com. I’ll check that out later and that sounds great.
If I get a copy of all this, this will work, the system you showed will work basically in a worldwide basis or is it specifically for America.
Tom: No, no, worldwide.
There may be some challenges, I would say, in countries like China and things like that may have more government’s censorship or organisations like that but other than that it’s getting somebody excited about the film no matter where you at.
I think I have to look at on both of those and see if I can start raising some more money on my next movie. $20 million dollars sounds awesome.
I wish someone would send me $20 million dollars.
Tom: Ha-ha that’s not just one deal at a time.
Tim: Well listen Tom; we’ve been nearly an hour.
It’s been absolutely awesome having you on the call today.
I’m so happy to have met you and I hope we can invite you back again sometime.
We got a bigger audience going and you can be part of the community a little bit longer.
I’m putting a lot of stuff together on the website over the coming weeks. I will certainly include this in it.
We really appreciate you for having taking the time, coming on the call and I don’t know about everyone else but I’ve learned and discovered so much from you.
I want to really thank you for being my first guest about movies, not the first guest for ArgonTV but definitely the first guest about movies.
I look forward to connecting to you so much more in the coming weeks and months. It’s been fantastic talking to you.
Tom: Great! Well thank you very much for having me on. Fantastic.
Tim: And Sam actually had to leave and he was in a war zone area, he still got bombs dropping around him and it was kind of bit scared for safety, I think he was hiding somewhere.
Tim: Maybe they can make a movie about that.
Thanks for being here, thanks to everyone on the call tonight.
If you have questions that have not been answered tonight by Tom or myself, you can send them to me in email@example.com and I’ll forward them to Tom to get them answered.
Once again Tom, thank you very much, thank you to all of you on the call today and don’t forget to get Tom’s help with this awesome book at Amazon.
This is Tim Bennett for ArgonTV, wishing you an incredible day wherever you are and we have been talking to the one and only Tom Malloy about Film Finance.
I hope you enjoyed this interview.
I discovered many new ideas during the discussion with Tom and have begun applying them in my movie life!
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This Interview “Fund Your Next Movie? A Guide To The Basics of Film Finance – A Special Interview With Tom Malloy” is copyright to Tim Bennett & Argon Animation Inc ©