Continuing last week’s journey into discovering ways to revive an otherwise dead product, this article is going to explore more ways in which you can attempt to save a project. Thanks to an array of technological advances, the global business world shrinking into more of a global village, and television and cable programming becoming riskier and less censored every day, you have several life support options. So, before you hold a funeral for that project you feel you’ve wasted the better part of a decade on, here’s five more things you can do when you think your project is dead.
While you may feel your project deserves to be a feature, what it deserves more is to get made. Thus, consider changing your feature into a product more suitable for TV or cable. The budget will be lower and the “stars” may be fading a bit, but actually getting a project made will advance your career at much faster clip than being the proud owner of an unsellable indie film. Besides, your project may not have to sacrifice too much in terms of its content by going on television. Network TV is always trying to redefine how far they can push the FCC envelope, with shows like Modern Family, while cable TV enjoys not even having an envelope, as evidenced by shows like It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, South Park, Californication, Weeds, and Curb Your Enthusiasm, among several others. Of course, it’s entirely possible your project is best served as a feature film, in which case you may want to continue to fight the good fight to find your beloved project a home on the silver screen.
You could also morph your masterpiece into series of webisodes to be aired on-line. While this move is more to grow a loyal fan base for your work and less to make money immediately, locating a loyal audience can be monetized if the number of followers gets big enough. Simply put, land 50,000 views and you’ll get a phone call or e-mail returned. At 100,000 views you’ll get a meeting, and if you cross 1,000,000 views for your work on-line, you will most likely get a deal.
Since over 30 states here in the USA have film tax credits, it may make sense to relocate your production to a location that will subsidize your budget. Of course these tax credits are evaporating daily thanks to our country’s current economy, but most of them are still on the books. Thus, you should contact each state’s film office to learn more about what they can offer. You can also refer to my Aug 24, 2010 Going Bionic article titled “Tax Credit’s Rock,” in order to learn about which state offers what tax breaks. Since raising the budget is usually the biggest hindrance to getting a film made, utilizing available tax credits could be a great help.
Side Note: Should you refer to my previous article about tax credits, just know that the information was valid at the time of publication, and laws in certain states may have already changed. For example, don’t get super-excited about Michigan’s 42% tax credit, because thanks to Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, that tax credit died a pretty vicious death.
Since several countries outside of the United States have government funds allocated specifically for film co-productions, you should consider shooting your film overseas in a co-production situation. Sure, you may have to give up the DP you so desperately want to work with in exchange for an equally qualified DP from the country you’ll be in the co-production with, and some of your cast may have to be stars from the co-production country, but again, you will get your film made. What’s more, some of the international co-production agreements are grants not investments, meaning you don’t have to pay them back. Lastly, remember that most large film festivals love international co-productions for their multi-cultural, artistic and esthetic value. In other words, you may have a better chance to get your film into heavy-hitter film festivals like Cannes, Berlin, Toronto and Sundance.
Crowdfunding isn’t easy, especially since it’s almost impossible to get noticed in a crowd of hundreds to thousands of filmmakers looking for money. The key is to have a very memorable approach. Just remember nobody is going to take your plea for money as serious as you take it, so you have to give your potential crowd of investors a reason to invest. They either have to love your project or love you, preferably both. Either way, it never hurts to see if the masses will fund you. However, be careful how you position your project through crowdfunding, because if it catches fire, gets distributed and earns a profit, there may be tax implications. The best approach is to know exactly what you’re getting into with a crowdfunding offer before you accept dollar one.
In the event you exhaust all of these options, as well as those discussed last week, and your project still collects more dust than it collects interest in getting it made, they you may have an officially dead project on your hands. Then again, you may not. Hollywood tends to have a short attention span and an even shorter memory. So, what’s “hot” today will be “dead” within a few days, weeks, months or years, depending on when society’s tastes and spending patterns change. Thus, even if your project seems dead, it isn’t. It’s a zombie, undead and angry, just waiting for the right time to attack.
I thank each and every one of you for lending me your eyes and I look forward to borrowing them again next Tuesday!