Most producers and writer/directors that are looking for movie financing have at least a business plan when they pitch their project to investors. How else could you gauge the financial risk and viability of the project? A pitch deck is just a more succinct, visually engaging version of a business plan.
I got the idea of PowerPoint presentations from Silicon Valley web app entrepreneurs at the SXSW Interactive Convention in Austin, TX. Everybody who was pitching venture capitalists had a super nice PowerPoint pitch deck.
Nobody wants to read a boring 20 page business plan anymore. The investors want you to SHOW them your product. They want to see it in action, already built and ready to go. They want to meet the founder in person, watch them pitch, see how they handle themselves professionally. You have to be able to present your business idea in a succinct, emotionally engaging manner.
Whether we like it or not, a movie script is a “product” that’s still in the R&D stage. It’s a new product that’s never been in stores before. We don’t know if an audience will buy it. In fact, it hasn’t even been built yet – it’s still a blueprint, a person’s pipe dream, so we can’t view it to see if it’s any good or not.
Financiers (and I include distributors in this group because they are essentially banks) are flooded with hundreds of business investment opportunities. How are you going to separate yourself from the crowd of other talented producers and writers who also want the investor’s money? If you have a star attached or a major director behind your project, you are going to move to the front of the line, but you still have to close the sale and put lots of pieces of a complex puzzle together.
If you don’t have a major big 5 agency repping you or you don’t have a track record with at least one significant IMDB producer, writer, or director credit, you are at a distinct disadvantage when hunting for money.
The more you can make your fledgling movie project look like a “real movie” that’s going to get produced with or without the investor’s money, the better leverage you’ll have. You can do this by having a pitch deck with movie poster artwork, storyboards (comic book pages), photos of stars, crew members with prestigious credits, photos of compelling locations and other production value elements, and state tax incentives.
You can see that having these additional, tangible assets is better than merely having a script and a budget like nearly everyone else has. In fact, laughably, I’ve even seen some so-called producers shopping a project with no screenplay even written yet, which means an accurate, real world budget put together by an experienced production manager hasn’t been done yet either. This is just plain lazy, which shows me that the producer is naive and doesn’t really care whether the investor gets their money back or not.
As a legitimate producer your job is to develop the material to the fullest extent possible BEFORE asking somebody to give you a million dollars or whatever amount you seek.
- More Guerrilla Screenwriting with Martin Shapiro
- Sci Fi Circuit: Breaking into the Sci Fi Spec Market
- Reel Story: You Need the Truth
- Script Angel: Writing on Spec – Should You Write a Film or TV Script?
Tools to Help:
- Pitch Clinic: Get Your Pitch in Shape with The Story Consultants
- Hollywood Screenwriting Directory
- Writing Successful Loglines, Query Letters and One-Sheets
- No B.S. for Screenwriters: Advice from the Executive’s Perspective