The Importance of Showing up

For the past last two months everything has moved steadily in the direction I’d hoped it would — which is why you haven't heard from me in a while.  This is what’s happened:

First, Mike Hausman finished my budget. The initial draft of the budget totaled about $4 million. That was too high. Mike and I both felt that in order to  secure investors’ backing of a film with a first-time director, we’d have to get it down below $3 million. And since we’re planning on shooting in Florida, it means that we “only” need to raise about $2 million in private equity. That’s because Florida offers a tax credit of between 20 and 30 percent, depending on a series of variables.

In order to work the budget down, we had to reduce the number of shooting days. Don’t ask me exactly how that was done, but Mike went back to the drawing board and produced a budget for $2.8 million based on 25 shooting days. That puts a lot of pressure on the production, but with Mike working as 1st assistant director, we’re confident that’s doable.

But now, the hard part. Where to get the $2 million?  On one level, the answer is simple, you ask for it. Several people have suggested the crowdsourcing model, but this is simply too much money to raise in that manner. And although this script bears all the classic hallmarks of an indie picture, I want to make a film that will be a commercial success, or at least make earn more money than it cost to produce. I wanted to be able to go to people and offer this as an investment. Crowdsourcing even a portion of the budget seemed to me a signal that this was not a viable commercial venture.

I know what I’m good at and what I need help with. I needed a producing partner who could explain the investment, the risks, the potential rewards, and could also talk film. Someone who could speak with authority about the script, the process, and the business.
I met him at a dinner party that I almost skipped. (I also met my wife at a party I almost skipped.) My wife was out of town, and my son was insistent that we stay home and watch The Hangover again.  He pouted and complained for the entire 15-minute ride to the party.  As Woody Allen famously said, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” That has indeed been my experience.

I’ve known from the beginning that in order to get this done, I’d have to talk to everyone I met and tell them what I’m up to.  (Which isn’t difficult because everyone eventually asks, “So what are you up to?”)  The hosts of the party introduced me to Alfred Sapse, who I’d known by reputation as an entertainment attorney. Alfred moved to Connecticut from Malibu looking for a lower key place to raise his kids. He’d been working for his old clients and quietly producing low budget films.

We hit it off immediately.  The next day I sent him a copy of A Short History of Decay.  Two days later we were partners. Last week we met in New York with Mike H, to move the process forward. And since Albert came aboard, things have been moving very quickly.

A corporation has been formed: Short History, LLC.

Our first investor is now aboard, a very smart investor whose presence we hope will convince others give us a serious look.

There’s more than that to tell, but I’ll do it in the next post, casting for talent.

Click HERE to see the first post in this series.

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