Thursday, June 21, 2012

Tom Malloy on “Bankroll: A New Approach to Financing Feature Films”

Why did you decide to expand your career, from actor to actor/producer?

TOM: After my film Gravesend came out in 1998, with Oliver Stone behind it, I thought I was going to be famous right away.  When that didn't happen, the roles were getting smaller and the auditions were going away.  I think when my agent let me go around 2000, I felt I needed to take control of my own career.

Nowadays "multi-hyphenate" is almost required.  Back then, it was unheard of and/or frowned upon, so I kind of feel I'm a trendsetter in that area!  I felt I was going to do it anyway, no matter who stood in my way.

What's the biggest misconception independent filmmakers have about film financing?

TOM: 1) It's something they can get someone else to do for them.  They don't want to put the effort in, and, 2) They need to raise millions.  This is now untrue (see next response)

How has film financing changed in the last five years?

TOM: Due to the banking crisis of September 2008, investors are a lot more scared to put money into anything, film included.  The economy tanking has created problems, but it has also created opportunities.  The truth is, you can make a movie these days for a fraction of the cost of what it used to be.  A movie made for $200,000 in 2005 would look like a glorified student film... it would have no stars and a non-professional crew.  Nowadays, that same movie can look like it cost $3 million, have several stars, and have a top-notch crew.

What was the best lesson you took away from the first film you raised financing for?

TOM: Never make promises.  I wasn't the producer who did this.  One of the other producers GUARANTEED an investor his money back and ran into problems when it didn't happen.  There are no guarantees in the film business.  We can try as hard as we can to make a good movie, which I can guarantee now but couldn't back then, but a return on investment is a crapshoot for even the biggest studio films.  Ask the producer of John Carter... he's now looking for a job.

What's the biggest or most common mistake a filmmaker can make while raising money for their movie?

TOM: He or she will get in front of the potential investor when the project is not ready.  You're not going to get a second chance.  You need to have all the five elements I outlined in Bankroll working for you.  This includes the Pitch, the Killer Script, The Right Budget, the Business Plan, and the Liabilities Addressed.  If even one of these steps is not executed properly, you're not going to get the money.

What still excites you about the money-raising portion of film production?

TOM: The close.  The day that check comes, or the wire hits, there's really no greater feeling in life.  It's when a project becomes "REAL." Real projects are hard to come by.  When the money closes you feels so good because you know you're making a movie.

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