MOVIE PROFITS (What is Best Budget for Profits? The Filmmaker Odds for Success are?)
by Dov S-S Simens on January 27, 2019
FEATURE FILM SUCCESS ODDS:
Filmmaking success is not based on revenues and profits. It is, with respect to a first-timer, based 100% “Did you actually get financing”, “Did you actually get it made” and “Did you get an Opening Title Credit”.
Again, stop thinking how much money can you make with your 1st feature film; for you, for success with your 1st feature film, it comes down to (A) did you get the financing, (B) did you make the movie and (C) did you get a single-card Opening Title Credit… and if you got an Opening Title Credit, you have launched your film career… and your feature film was a success.
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 (95%) feature film.
(“99% of Producers/Directors, even Spielberg, start at the bottom with a 1-location movie… View his first “Night Gallery” episode “EYES”… five 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 usually a character driven suspense 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.
(“FYI: Hi. I’m the author. Like this post, then you’ll love my super cheap “2-Day Film School” (APR 6-7, AUG 10-11 or DEC 7-8, 2019 ) or “DVD” or “Streaming” Film Schools… www.WebFilmSchool.com “.)
(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 (95% 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….
The key to success today, for first-time filmmakers, thanks to all those OTT On-Demand sites, is that you can make a feature film, with little-to-no-money and control distribution by Self Distributing it yourself, upon aggregating and submitting 15-20 VOD (Video On Demand), SOD (Subscription On Demand) and TOD (Transaction On Demand) sites and forgetting about Theatrical releases…
And this is where a majority of today’s filmmakers, who are now rich & social media famous, but didn’t have wealthy parents, start their careers.
Now get you 90-page, 1-location script, 2-8 actors, 5-7 person crew armed with two inexpensive 4K cameras or iPhones and a superb soundman and do a 3-Day (weekend) or 7-Day (1-week) shoot.
ODDS: 19:20! Great to almost Guaranteed. Everyone has money for a “No-Budget” movie.
THE FINANCING ODDS
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.
PRODUCE, WRITE, FINANCE, DIRECT & DISTRIBUTE…
Want to launch your film career?
Sites like “Studio Binder” (for technical support) and “Stage 32” (for emotional support) and “Writers Store” (for resources) are superb… combine them with either of my super inexpensive film programs (DVD, VOD or Live) are perfect for you…
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