Filmmaking success is not based on revenues and profits. It is, when a first-timer, based 100% on “Did you get financing”.

Think profits, revenues, names, international co-productions, pre-sales, tax credits, cable deals, etc. for your second film but for your your first just focus on (a) get real and (b) financing.

And, by real is meant, accepting that neither you, your mom or dad are marketable names, nor are they billionaires.

Once acknowledged you have an excellent chance of success by starting where the odds are good with either a Mini-Budget (10%), a Micro-Budget (20%) or a No-Budget (80%) feature film.


(“99% of Producers/Directors, even Spielberg, start at the bottom with a 1-location movie… View his first “Night Gallery” episode… two actors, 1-room.”)

Let’s talk a little more on the odds for the 7 basic budget catgories.

(1) THE MEGA BUDGET ($50-$100M, $100-$200M or $200-300M)

(2) THE MEDIUM BUDGET ($10-20M, $20-30M or $30-50M)

(3) THE LOW-BUDGET ($2-3M, $3-5M, $5-7M or $7-10M)

(4) THE ULTRA-LOW-BUDGET ($1M or $1-2M)

(5) THE MINI-BUDGET ($100K, $100-200K or Under $500K)

(6) THE MICRO-BUDGET ($30-50K, $50-70K or Under $500K)

(7) THE NO-BUDGET ($10-20K or $20-30K)


(“Blair Witch Project” was a 1-location, No-Budget feature that grossed over $250 Million.)


(1st) MEGA-BUDGET (0.000001% Chance of Success): This is a Studio Feature (aka: “Eye Candy”).

The story truly doesn’t matter. It is just explosion, after explosion; visual effect after visual effect; product logo after product logo with a title like “Batman”, “Superman”, “Ironman”, “Pizza Man” or “Burger Man” or “Souvlaki Man”… and now “Wonder Woman” or “Galaxy of Super Kids”… with budgets of $100M, $100-200M, $200-300M or $300-500M.

The secret is “owning” the rights (very expensive option) to either a comic book hero (“Goofy”, “Batman”, “Wolverine”, “Thor”, etc.), a gaming character (“Mario Brothers”, “Pokemon”, etc.) or a YA (young adult) or MS (middle school) novel (“Hunger Games”, “Harry Potter”, “Hobbit”, “Diary Whimpy Kid”, “Captain Underpants”, etc.), and like real estate, flip the rights, to a company with a studio deal to deliver a franchise (Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, etc.)…

ODDS: 1:1,000,000! Near impossible. Fuhget about it…Play PowerBall.


(“Fast & Furious” is a Mega-Budget franchise that started as a Low-Budget movie.”)


(2) MEDIUM-BUDGET (0.0001% Chance of Success): This is a a Pre-Sell at Cannes with 50% government funding. Good theory but not likely.

A global co-production with an A-list Hollywood actor and an A-list actor from nation where you’re shooting, for that nation has a 40-50% Rebate, Refund or Tax Credit to utilize as long as you spend their money in their nation.

ODDS: 1:10,000! Near impossible also. However, with billionaire relatives (Pritzker, Ellison, Skoll, etc.) who knows.



(“Eastwood still produces Medium-Budget pictures like “Gran Torino”, of 1-location shoots that used Michigan’s Tax Credit program.”)


(3) LOW-BUDGET (1.0% Chance of Success): This is a Roger Corman-like flick. “Blood Zombie Massacre Sorority Girls Booty Call”

Genre movie, with two B-names, funded by 15 pre-sales to the 35 nations or territories at a film market like AFM, Cannes or EFM. I actually worked for a man, Roger Corman, between 1980-1985, who did this 20-30 times/year.

You  need about $30-50K ($10-$20K to get 2-3 scripts, 4-5 posters, and an additional $20-30K for a room at either AFM, Cannes or EFM) to give it a shot.

And, with a gift of salesmanship to hustle foreign buyers who have never met you before… it is done.

Got $30-50K? Then give it a shot.

ODDS: 1:100! Odds are getting better. Still not great.


(“Roger Corman financed over 650 films by pre-selling posters at Cannes.”)


(4) ULTRA-LOW-BUDGET(3.33% Chance of Success): This is a character driven story, a 25-28 day shoot, 7-10 practical locations, no stunts or effects, signing with the 3 guilds (WGA, DGA & SAG) Above-The-Line and non-union Below-The-Line with a fair chance of it obtaining a Producer’s Rep from ICM, CAA or WME and screening at Sundance, Cannes, Tribecca or Toronto.

This is a private placement dog-and-pony show, done by wealthy entrepreneurs, if you qualify you will need only $17-27K ($10-15K for script and casting, with another $7-12K for a private placement, with an offering memorandum) and an entertainment attorney to sell 10-20 units at $20-50K each.

ODDS: 1:30! Getting even better but still not Great.


(“Most Sundance Films are 25-28 day shoots, with superb acting and a character driven story.”)


(5) MINI-BUDGET (10.0% Chance of Success): Odds are good. Just need 3-5 Friends or Relatives with jobs.

It will be a 2-week (13-Day) shoot, shot where you grew up, with a local 12-15 person crew, 8-10 first-time actors and a lot of zombie makeup.

Also be called a private placement and when micro-budget ($100K) and with 20-30 friends/relatives (20-30 units at $3-5K/unit) you have a fair chance of raising money, making the movie, screening at a film festival, buying 50-60 tickets for the investors to attend and watch everyone smile… Oh yeah, you will also likely become an award winning filmmaker. Congrats.

ODDS: 1:10! Good. Got 20-30 friends/relatives who like you for $3-5K a unit.


(“Hi. I’m the author. Like this post, then you’ll love my super cheap 2-Day Film School (Dec 9-10, 2017 or April 21-22, 2018) with DVD or Streaming Formats also”.)


(6) MICRO-BUDGET (20.0% Chance of Success): No-brainer. Now get the 90-page, real-time script.

This is a 21st century millennial movie with a traditional film schood grad.

Things happen when you own a script, that takes place in real-time, and hit up your dad to become, what he actually is, your Executive Producer (“Dad gimme $50,000…please.”) and shoot a 1-week movie.

ODDS: 1:5! Good to Very Good. The lower your budget, the better the odds.


(“Tangerine” a recent Micro-Budget discovery at Sundance was a 90-minute, 1-location movie, shot in real time, with 2 Smart Phones… made by a millennial.”)


(7) NO-BUDGET (80.0% Chance of Success): This is a movie shot guerrilla style with 2 DSLRs or 2 iPhones, a 7 person crew and a food budget of burgers-n-fries that eventually costs $20,000.

This, “if you truly want to make-a-film”, will have you finding $10,000 (Uber, Starbucks & Whole Foods) as you get the great script to commence the project….

And this is where 95% of all filmmakers, who are now rich & famous, but didn’t have wealthy parents, started their careers.

ODDS: 4:5! Great to almost Guaranteed. Everyone has money for a “No-Budget” movie.



God likes people who are good humans, with work ethics and absolutely wants them to succeed for they become excellent role models for the rest of humanity.

From Spike Lee, to Ang Lee, to Chris Nolan, to Steven Spielberg, to Q Tarantino, to Will Smith… they are all nice individuals who started with a No-B, Micro-B or Low-B project and moved up.

The odds of success are good if you start at the bottom…and you’re a good person.

God wants you to succeed.


Happy Filmmaking,

Dov Simens / Dean / Hollywood Film Institute




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2 comments on “MOVIE MONEY & FILM SUCCESS (Get the No-Bull Odds)”

  1. joe sixpak says:

    i think you way overestimate the odds especially at the high end

    the chances of you getting a megabudget for your first film are fat slim and none
    as in <0.0000000001

    now if you have compromising pictures of some rich people your odds will improve
    or if you know how they have been laundering money with 3 sets of books to evade taxes

  2. Sofia Gelman says:

    Thank you I appreciate your thoughts and knowledge. I’m 86 old an immigrant from former Russia. My autobiography book JIDS awarded in 2013 in NY by International Foundation. If you want to make a movie of it (better than Fiddler on the roof ) after my death who will pay for that? Such kind of movie is the best source for fighting anti-Semitism all around the world. If you are interested to work on it The Jewish Foundations will give you much more than you need. the book is on Kindle E BOOK, or I can send you by E mail. I’m a neurologist and never wrote anything but my scientific findings. And while studying English in ESL classes I wrote the book only for one purpose – to fight anti-Semitism. It is my only last wish to do it. With hope, Sofia Gelman

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