I was talking to one of my Film Market Consulting clients the other day who returned from his first Cannes market and he said to me something to the effect of – How Does Any Film Make Money?
I think that’s a common question after returning from a film market since for miles and miles all you see are big posters of genre films throughout and films literally being sold by the pound. I remember being a sales agent myself and my first few markets even asking myself the same question – if this is the way it goes then how DOES any film make money?
The answer is not a simple one but boils down to this – most independent films DON’T make money unless they are budgeted modestly, happen to be the right genre with the right cast, and grab the attention of buyers such that you experience ‘lightening in a bottle’.
Then there are the break-out hits of course so I like to say ‘anything can happen’ and it’s true… but it’s very difficult to tell the true market viability of a project until you put it out to market.
What Can You Do To Increase Your Chances Though?
To increase the chances that your film will have ‘market viability’ you don’t need to reinvent the wheel – look at the formula other successful films use and follow their lead. Also, familiarize yourself with realistic sales projections so you know going in, what typical sales prices look like at various budget and cast levels.
If you have an opportunity (like my clients at Cannes did) to talk to sales agents and distributors before you make the film – take it! Gather all the intelligence you can and integrate that into your process.
I used to teach a Virtual Intensive called Distribution In Reverse that goes into great detail on how to reverse engineer your productions for market viability. It’s now an on-demand intensive and free for Film Specific Pro members. You can check out Distribution In Reverse here…
Back To You
At the end of the day, have your end goal in mind. I find many people make their film not to make money, but to start building credibility. So if that’s the case for you, then you obviously have more flexibility with what you can do. If you are in it to make some money (nothing wrong with that!) or you’re financing with a pure private equity model and need to pay investors back, then make sure you’re operating at the right budget level and doing everything you can on the front end to increase the market viability of your project so you don’t have to suffer through ‘surprises’ later on.
What do you think? What are you doing to increase market viability for your film? Please post any questions or comments you have in the comments section below…