I'm writing this post as a quick resource to those who wonder about easier ways to fund smaller projects. It's much easier for me to write a post about the common ways you can acquire investments than to answer questions via e-mail which tend to become long answers.
The financing model for VR projects can be somewhat similar to financing for film projects. The simple answer to most questions I get is, do your homework and do it well, learn and read about your situation and think about how to reach your goal. So this quick post will be about the different ways you can finance your project. A note though, every project is different, this is a simple rundown of some things you might not think about for your perticular project.
Let's start with the common misconception that a government can and might finance your project. Well. in some cases you might have the time and the right project to approach a government fund or grant. In that situation it can be a great way of getting funds for your project. This will almost always attract media attention and PR opportunities so don't skip that route if you have a viable project. However, it will probably be time consuming and in most cases, your project is to small or not very interesting for a whole country to bet on.
If you do go this route, check the tax and investment incentives for each country, region or state (The U.S.). BFI in The UK is a great example of a organization helping with funding. SFI in Sweden is another example, however, Sweden does not have tax incentives for film productions at this moment.
Quick information: Apply for funding from each country and contact agents to see what territory works for your production. Lobby, until you get approved, denied or give up. Many filmmakers with larger projects can create job opportunities in countries, cities and/or regions. They usually include potential tax incentives and governmental funds in their budget. Always make sure you have a good reason to why you need investors, in this case how you bring value to the region. Soft money or public funds most of the times have many applicants and are often hard to get. In addition, these funds will probably restrict and compromise your creative integrity.
The Studio Model & Slates
The studios have a great strategy that helps investors lessen the risk of failure and that is called "slates". I'm not going to get into details around this strategy, as always, with several projects in your pocket, this can be something for you.
Quick information: Get 3 to 5 films or "VR episodes" together of a similar genre or idea and approach investors with this list of projects (slate). What you want to do is to show that you have more than one idea (actual productions that will happen) and what you need is for one of these to succeed on the market. The idea is that the successful project will recoup the investment made in the less successful projects. As with everything else, if you go with a slate, make sure all of them are great projects with different people behind them. Getting a couple of projects together that have clear value, energy and talent behind them is not easy. Being engaged and creatively invested in all of them is even harder.
Pre sales & Co-productions
Now we are talking. This is probably the best chance you'll get if you need funding. Also, this is a good way to see if a project is worth jumping on, if you are an investor. As an investor it's always a good sign if someone has already invested in a production. If a distributor made a pre-sale deal before you come in, that is also a good sign.
Co-productions can be a great way of knowing if a project is doable. For example a smaller production company might get a bigger production company to help in certain areas and that is making the whole project much more interesting for potential investors or team members.
Quick information: Sell your movie or project upfront (pre-sales) and/or join producers in other companies (or countries) for a joint project. By co-producing you can take advantage of soft money not normally accessible to your production, either by being a stronger entity or by expanding your network. This is usually the best or at least the easiest way of getting started. If you ask me as an investor, I would feel safer to know that there are a team behind a project, rather than one company or one entity. If you own the project and are honest with your capabilities and knows where you need support, then that is a sign that this individual is serious. I always tell people to not get too attached to their projects because the drawback with having co-producers is that they might want to exercise creative control. This might not be the easiest thing to accept for some.
I get asked about this one a lot and I include this just for that reason. Product placement or brand integration should not be included in a budget. If you are looking for companies to include their products in your project, you should first of all have the project fully financed. However, for the right project, product placement can be a great addition but many projects are simply to small to even be considered for brand integration. Talk to local companies if you really want to use brands in your project.
Quick information: Unless you have a great project and exceptional talent, just skip branding and sponsoring. If you do try to approach companies to include their products in your project, please do us all a favor and be fully financed before you reach out, trust me on this one.
If you want more information about different types of film funding, click on the link. That's all for today. Have a good night and thank you for stopping by.