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Old 09-17-2017, 05:10 PM   #1
Benzo
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Caution Letters of intent and getting funding without feature experience but a seasoned crew

So, I've never made a feature before and I made the brash decision to seek out 5 million dollars for my first. I made this choice two years ago and I've slowly been developing the film this entire time (and with my own money, I should add).

I went into this nearly blind, only reading a handful of books on this topic, but I'm here because I wanted to get a general 'feel' (if that's possible) for how things might transpire from here. Of course, I'll likely fail, but I'd just like to know why and how.

For context, it's absolutely key to note that I've surrounded myself with hugely talented and established artists (by paying them with cold, hard cash for their work on development). Firstly, I'm working with a renowned casting director, someone whose name has landed on the credits of an innumerable amount of my favorite films - and I mean, huge Hollywood films.

Secondly, I've managed to snag Kubrick's lighting cameraman and the cinematographer of a few Winding Refn films - Larry Smith!!! Yes, really! It's probably best I keep this to myself but I had to share this.

I also have a "known" production designer, a "known" composer, and three "known" producers on board (I picked three who worked on Sundance films I'm fond of, and paid them a LARGE sum to help seek funding for my project).

I, of course, hired an entertainment attorney and am currently in the process of finalizing an investment package for the film. On paper, it looks fantastic. Marketable concept, three established producers, a famous cinematographer, a casting director with incredible connections, just an extraordinary amount of talent.

But what's the catch?

Keep in mind, I have no feature experience. Only a handful of amateur short films (which I've kept to myself), and a teaser for the film I shot for $40k which has garnered over 1 million views on YouTube (!). But is this enough? Even if I have the rest of the package lined up, and a trailer with clear interest online, will I still be laughed out of Hollywood?

My next step is to work with my casting director and entertainment attorney to attempt to hire some A-List stars. The casting director has personal relationships with my primary choices (that's why she was hired), but do I even have a CHANCE at letters of intent being signed? Is this ridiculous? Or, with everything going for this project and all the talented people I've surrounded myself with, could they possibly say yes?

My nightmare for this project, frankly, is that we only manage to snag C-List talent and a budget in the hundreds of thousands, and wind up failing like the rest of the straight-to-VOD indie films. But how slim are the chances that any marketable actor will agree to work for me?

And, of course, how slim are the chances that any investor will want to fund my project, even WITH connected producers, famous crew, and potentially A-list stars? How many people go down this road and fail? I've spent a lot of money and I'm afraid I've made the wrong decision. The next step to this process could make or break my entire dream.

Please let me know if you have any information at all, anything that might soften the blow (or potentially give me hope).
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Old 09-17-2017, 07:19 PM   #2
buscando
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Do you have an amazing script?
Did you write it & plan to direct it yourself?
Do your 3 producers have access to any A-list & B-list actors?
Or is their sole responsibility to get funding?
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Old 09-17-2017, 09:02 PM   #3
Benzo
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Quote:
Originally Posted by buscando View Post
Do you have an amazing script?
Did you write it & plan to direct it yourself?
Do your 3 producers have access to any A-list & B-list actors?
Or is their sole responsibility to get funding?
Yes... I made sure to hire producers with access to A-List actors. For context, they all worked on Sundance films from 2014.

As far as script quality goes, I don't imagine I'd have been able to attach all this talent without something worthwhile. But who knows?

Edit: And yes. I'll be writing and directing.
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Old 09-17-2017, 11:45 PM   #4
directorik
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Benzo View Post
Even if I have the rest of the package lined up, and a trailer with clear interest online, will I still be laughed out of Hollywood?
What do you mean by “laughed out of Hollywood”?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Benzo View Post
but do I even have a CHANCE at letters of intent being signed? Is this ridiculous? Or, with everything going for this project and all the talented people I've surrounded myself with, could they possibly say yes?
Yes, you have a CHANCE at letters of intent. It's not at all ridiculous.
Your casting director will tell you that actors are far more interested i
n the part and the story and the director than the composer and
production designer.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Benzo View Post
But how slim are the chances that any marketable actor will agree to work for me?
No one here can answer that question. What does your casting director
say about getting LOI's from the marketable actors you want? What
do the three producers tell you about this? THEY know the script.
THEY know the actors. THEY know you.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Benzo View Post
And, of course, how slim are the chances that any investor will want to fund my project, even WITH connected producers, famous crew, and potentially A-list stars?
With true “A-List” actors your chances are pretty good.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Benzo View Post
How many people go down this road and fail?
Does that matter? What if only 1 in 100,000,000 succeed? Will you drop
it? What if I say that 999,999 out of 1,000,000 fail? Will you forget about
this?

Lots of people go down this road and fail.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Benzo View Post
Please let me know if you have any information at all, anything that might soften the blow (or potentially give me hope).
I'm quite confused about this: you have three known producers and a
renowned casting director yet you ask complete strangers whose experience
and knowledge you know nothing about to either soften the blow or give
you hope.

Okay, you don't know me, you know nothing about my experience or my
knowledge of the business but I'll do a little of both:

It's very rare for a first time director to succeed like this. You know that
or you wouldn't ask this question, am I right? But “Hollywood” is filled
with decades of unusual success stories – people who have succeeded
beyond all odds – you can be one of them. You have put together a great
team of people who are working hard to make your dream a reality.
Trust them!
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Old 09-18-2017, 01:04 AM   #5
buscando
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Right. It sounds like you have good people on the team, so I guess your ability to attract A-list stars depends on the quality of your script, teaser, & any other presentation materials you'll show them.
So it's hard for us to say without knowing those things.
Do you want to show us the teaser you made?
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Old 09-18-2017, 02:32 AM   #6
jax_rox
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Sounds like you have everything more or less set. In my experience, Producers with a track record are of much more value than Production Designers, Casting Dorectors or Cinematographers (though key HODs with a track record certainly do help), but it seems like you have key HODs with quite the track record.

Locally, it's not unheard of for a production with a first time Director and seasoned HODs to employ a 'Directing mentor' - a more seasoned Director who takes on the role of mentor which can make your project more attractive.
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Old 09-20-2017, 07:35 AM   #7
Sweetie
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Quote:
My nightmare for this project, frankly, is that we [snip] wind up failing like the rest of the straight-to-VOD indie films.
What does a win look like for you?

Quote:
Please let me know if you have any information at all, anything that might soften the blow (or potentially give me hope).
You're looking at 7 figures. Not a small number. It might be a challenge to attract that funding as a first timer without some sort of distribution. It does depend on what your win condition looks like.

Quote:
I don't imagine I'd have been able to attach all this talent without something worthwhile.
Have you been paying them? That may be motivation enough for them.
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Old 09-20-2017, 09:10 AM   #8
MinutemenPro
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Benzo View Post
My nightmare for this project, frankly, is that we only manage to snag C-List talent and a budget in the hundreds of thousands, and wind up failing like the rest of the straight-to-VOD indie films.
Considering most films don't ever make it beyond the "idea" phase, I'd consider this a win.
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