Let me start with a little back story. I have been in the entertainment industry for a very long time, and here’s the truth: for every film I’ve seen produced, for every project that I’ve been involved with, there have been a dozen that didn’t get made.
All filmmakers have a burning passion to see their work produced. If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say “I just want to get my film made!” I’d have enough money to get my film made. But passion doesn’t always lead to success.
There are levels of success akin to a ladder:
First rung: You have an idea.
Second rung: You (or a writer you hire) put that idea on paper.
Third rung: You (or your writer) complete the script.
Fourth rung: The script is good.
Fifth: Others think that the script is good.
Sixth rung: You film goes into production!
Seventh rung: Your film is COMPLETED.
Eighth rung: Your film is good.
Ninth rung: Others think your film is good.
Tenth rung: Your film is distributed.
Eleventh rung: Your film finds an audience.
Twelfth rung: The AUDIENCE LIKES your film.
Top of the ladder: Your film is a financial and/or critical success!
In the world of independent entertainment, about ninety-nine percent of all movies are stuck on the first five rungs. The luckier one percent get to rung number six.
I’ve watched as filmmakers scratch and dig and fight to get their projects sold, funded, made. But in the throes of passion sometimes the obligation to take care of the investor gets forgotten.
Time after time investors looking to support cinematic artists are disappointed, and once an investor has been burned they’re highly unlikely to revisit the industry.
Horror Equity Fund has made the investor our first priority. But that means that we also must take care of the filmmaker.
We start by carefully evaluating each project for potential profitability, and then reverse engineer the process by going to sales reps and distributors prior to reaching out the investors and the horror community.
That’s another layer of protection we provide to the investor. By engaging with the folks that get the project into the market place early on we insure that they are onboard and can perform their function to the fullest capacity, and that in turn affects the bottom line.
And once we’ve done that work, and attached some form of distribution, we will have three paths (separately and/or together) to take to secure funding:
We can fund some or all of the project ourselves. *
We can engage third party equity partners. **
We can create a Regulation CF raise and take the project to the Horror Community. ***
While we’re on the subject of Community, let’s take a little side trip. Horror Equity Fund was partially founded on the concept that Horror fans are some of the most passionate, yet dispersed group in the known universe, and it is our goal to bring fans, content creators, and investors into a community that serves them all. This “centralization” of at least a bit of the Horror Universe could serve to bring immense value to each group in unique fashion.
We call this community the “Federation of Horror” (FOH). Imagine a place where a horror fan can get news, buy memorabilia, subscribe to a “Box O’ Horror”, and interact with horror favorites. Content creators can be a member of an elite group that can have their scripts crowd sourced, and the best of those will be championed by HEF. Feedback from the community can serve investors in the judgments they need to make.
Filmmakers will be able to come to the Federation of Horror for resources, from discounts on camera accessories to crews looking to help them with their project. There will also an educational corner where visitors can learn everything from the fundamentals of coiling cable, to legal and financing checklists, to tips on screenwriting.
At some point this community will become a OTT network and distribution platform of its own, giving filmmakers (and other content creators) a direct pipeline to fans and providing investors another revenue stream for the projects that they have supported.
Veering back onto the main road. We talked a lot about the investor and mitigating their risk, but let’s talk about the filmmaker. And we should note, while this article deals most directly with filmmakers, the lessons and objectives parallel those needs and objectives of content creators in many other media and circumstances. HEF and the FOH seek to embrace those creators and their work as well. As previously stated, taking care of the investor means taking care of the filmmaker. But what does that mean?
That means we want to help the content creator make the very best project they can. That means making sure that they have the correct amount of money (not too much, not too little) to get their vision completed to their satisfaction.
Once in a while, a filmmaker will come to HEF and announce that they have a $10 million movie, and then pronounce, “But I can do it for a lot less.” That’s absolutely true. You can do almost any film for less… but not without sacrifices. We want to make sure that any sacrifices you make don’t unduly compromise the quality of your vision, because if the film doesn’t come out as good as you hoped, then not only are you going to suffer, but most likely, so will the investor.
We want to help you secure the right budget to make the film you want to make, as long as we can illustrate the POTENTIAL for a return to the investor.
Philosophically, we are budget agnostic. If you have Margot Robbie and Hugh Jackman as the stars, and Guillermo Del Toro attached to direct and you tell us your horror film is $30 million, AND the script’s terrific, well hey, we’d be all over that. But if your film is a one location, six-character piece and you aren’t going to cast A-list talent, then you better be able to justify that $30 million.
And if we took that no star, six-character, one location movie to our sales reps, and the said – “You do $50 million all day long with this movie”, we’d be all over that too. That is, of course, highly unlikely. More likely you’re going to get DOWNWARD pressure to keep the budget as low as possible.
But what’s that number?
This is akin to the old story about a reporter asking Abraham Lincoln how long a man’s legs should be. Lincoln reportedly replied, “Long enough to reach the ground.” Your budget needs to be just long enough to make your film reach the ground.
How else will Horror Equity Fund support the passionate independent? I have witnessed time after time filmmakers caught in the whirlpool of casting to get funding, funding to get cast. The ol’ chicken and the egg issue. “I can’t get money ‘cause I don’t have a star. I can’t attach a star ‘cause I don’t have money.”
Horror Equity Fund wants to solve this problem in two ways. First, we want to help with locating actors that can be a meaningful attachment, potentially without money up front. Attaching an actor that means something to sales and distribution can kick off your financing, and cement your entry into the marketplace. While we bring our full weight to bear in finding that talent for you, we know that a great many actors, and more to the point their representatives insist that you “show them the money.”
Upon full funding, Horror Equity Fund will create a casting fund that can guarantee an actor’s participation in the project.
Another stumbling block, as previously mentioned, is distribution. Talent often wants to know that a film they are going to work on for peanuts will have a life, and without theatrical distribution they may be reticent to sign on. One way to “guarantee” that distribution is to set aside funds for Prints and Advertising (P&A).
Once fully funded, HEF will create a P&A fund that productions can utilize to give solace to nervous investors and assure actors that the film will be seen in theaters prior to going the streaming, VOD route.
Lastly, using our significant outreach in the Horror entertainment universe, and the marketing might of the Federation of Horror, HEF will provide a PR and marketing boost to the projects we take on.
We are the studio without the overhead, a “QQQ of Horror”. We strive to be the investor and content creator’s best friend. When we assist, you climb the ladder of success; we want to make sure that you don’t stall in the middle. And to get you to the top, we’ll be with you on every rung of the ladder.
Finally, as one reads this article, we hope you consider and take the “30,000 foot view”. This community and the company is set up to succeed. Its flexible business and social model is there for many to attend and enjoy. It is an organic company and community, where growth is virtually inevitable with proper attention and involvement. And joining with HEF through investment in HEF will best enable fans, content creators and investors to “Profit From Their Passions”.