Art and the Art of Raising Money, Part 2: What Investors Look For When Deciding To Invest In A Film

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In the first post of this series, we introduced the program Art and the Art of Raising Money: Funding Film, which Ziliak Law cosponsored in June. The first post focused on equity versus non-equity funding sources for films.

In this segment of Art and the Art of Raising Money, our Elaine posed the (literal) million-dollar question – what do prospective investors look for when deciding whether to invest in a film? Although the trio of panelists each responded with answers tailored to their own involvement in the industry, they all agreed that talent is key. For Bobby, this was more than just an educated guess about what spikes the interest of banks and high net-worth individuals – he actually did the research and made a business off of the fact that talent sells.

Ted also stressed that movie stars sell movies. In his experience with foreign distributers especially, the genre of a film and talent attached are the only two factors that people consider in their decision of whether or not to invest. Because of this, he believes that the answer – even where independent film is concerned – is that talent will ultimately sell a project best.

However, it is not as easy as casting Brad Pitt in your movie and calling it a day. Bobby made it clear that every type of investor wants to see a different package, which is why it is so important for a producer to wear many hats. Major players in the game are able to customize their pitch to capture interests across the board.

Angie recommended packaging a project to meet the needs of an investor as well, but her model does so on a much smaller scale. While she agreed that it is important to have talent attached in order to increase the marketability of a project, the independent films she deals with do not necessarily need a movie star to generate interest. Angie believes that it is imperative for investors to know why a project has the potential for success along with why investors should want to be involved on a more personal level. Oftentimes, the answer to the latter is because a project or story promotes a conversation that needs to take place.

Along with talent, projects with the potential for multi-media circulation are becoming increasingly more attractive to high-equity investors. In an age of unlimited digital accessibility, Bobby and Ted both capitalize on projects that allow for other ways to distribute that are “bigger than anything on screen”. In the future, being able to continuously reach an audience through different forms of multi-media could overshadow the need for expensive talent.

While this post focused on the inherent project aspects that can make a film an attractive investment opportunity, in our next installment, we’ll spotlight the panel’s views on what filmmakers can do to impress investors and producers in their quest to create a successful film.

Julianne Dardanes

Julianne Dardanes

Julianne Dardanes is a summer intern at Ziliak Law. She is an undergraduate student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in English along with a minor in Business. After graduating next spring, Julianne plans to attend law school and eventually become a practicing attorney in the Chicagoland area. Read more
Julianne Dardanes