I have money to burn and want to make a movie....

…and I have a non movie background. How do I go about it? I can think of two senarios here

  1. I have a story that I want made into a movie, lets say its a thing on the Rome-Persian wars. Do I just have to hire a screenwriter and director and let them do the work? For Argo George Clooney was one of the producers and his involvement probably got many others interested in it. Would my rather heavy resources attract similar attention or not.

  2. I get approached by some artists to finance their project and being interested in the Arts, I agree. Lets say these are good actors/actresses, like Natalie Portman, Christian Bale etc. WHat would I have to do here?

My own WAG is that for the first, I probably could not get it made, unless I pour in huge amounts of money to attract the right kind of people and for the second, I could.

Well, for Plan 2, you should remember that Hollywood Finance is like bistromathics. The best you’d get is net points, NOT gross points. And there is never a net. I understand Star Wars hasn’t shown any net profit yet. Especially for a newb like you with a lot more money than experience financing movies.

So, you have money to burn and want to make a movie? Start off by spending some of that money on tuition for some film making and screen writing classes.

No. 1 is a good way to do it, it happens a lot. You may need more than just “an idea” though. An actual plot with characters would be a step forward.

There are thousands of talented Indie movie-making teams that just lack funds or a Producer. If you’d be willing to let them do it all their way, you could easily locate a small group via a website or industry publication. Or watch a lot of short films, and when you find one that matches your sensibilities, contact the creators of it.

This seems to be a combo of 1 and 2.

As Rule #1 in Hollywood is “Don’t make movies with your own money,” you are perfectly set up to blindly fund someone else’s project. If you are trying to drive the project, you’re violating the rule.

It’s a *good *rule. Just ask J. Neil Schulman. :smiley:

Making a movie is easy! Just look at the tons of movies fighting to get a spot at film festivals around the world.

However, getting a distributor is the biggest problem. If you have a great movie, but nobody sees it, you are not going to become rich or famous.

There is a monopoly of sorts - the biggest studios have deals with the biggest movie theater chains. Everything is planned long in advance. If a theater chain wants to show that huge blockbuster (that will make them a lot of money), they also have to agree to take some of the upcoming “stinkers” from that studio that will probably open and close in a week.

This is why, at film festivals, it is not as important to win “Best Film” at those festivals as it is to find a distributor who is willing to put your film in those movie theaters!

If you should have “On Demand” at home, check out the list of films that you have never even heard of - some with fairly big names attached! Those are films that were made, but could not find distribution and they are desperately trying to recoup any money they can, even resorting to a high priced ($6.99 and more) On Demand rental fee.

DMark, if I may ask, you are in the industry are you not?

From your post, it seems that a billionaire like Bill Gates would be able to get a distributor more easily than an artiste like Clooney, Gates can use his business connections to call in favours from people who own the distributors.

Just send it to me; I’ll burn it for you.

Not any more, but I worked for a large movie studio for many years and still have friends who work for some of those studios - plus I used to do reviews for films when I was in Berlin.

Bill Gates, as well as Clooney, are well-connected with the bigwigs at studios and I am sure it would only take a phone call to get in the door and come up with a distribution deal for them. Like most businesses, it is “who you know”. Trust me when I say there are not many people who can do that. Even some other fairly well-known actors/directors cannot just make a film and waltz into a studio, expecting a distribution deal.

There are only so many screens at a limited number of movie theaters, and the theater owners only make big money if the films bring in big crowds. So when Hunger Games, or The Hobbit or any of the “guaranteed hits” are released, there is a fight to see which theater chains gets to screen the films. That is when the studios make the deal:

“OK, we will give you The Hobbit and Mission Impossible this summer, but you also have to take five other crappy films we are stuck with and screen those as well.”

Thus, on screens 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 you will see The Hobbit, but on screen 6 is the new Pauly Shore film and on screen 7 is Battlefield Earth Part III. This, of course, limits space for any other films.

BTW, I happened to see that Pompeii is not doing well in theaters this week, but it was interesting to note that the film was fully funded by a German production company (Constantin?) and the US studio is simply distributing the film here. So, the US company can make money simply on the distribution profits, but that German company is losing their shirts on trying to get their investment back, especially considering they have to fork over some of the profits to the distribution company!

The film business simply isn’t as easy as it looks - for every big hit that makes a billion dollars, there are thousands of films that never see the light of day and have no hope of ever breaking even, let alone making a profit.

But they make it up on volume.

Indeed. Apparently Tom Hanks struggled with getting funding for Larry Crowne and his movie had Julia Roberts in it!

On reflection it wasn’t all that good a movie, which may have been part of the problem, but it still had two of the biggest names in Hollywood associated with it and yet had to go through the same complicated rigmarole a regular Indie film does.

Bill Gates would not need a distributor, simply pipe it down through the xbox live network.


What happens if a Film gets rave reviews, does that increase the chances of distribution greatly? I seem to remember that Gods and Monsters(Ian McKellen was in it) did not even get a full release until after it had been nominated for multiple awards, including Oscars.

What you describe seems to me to have the potential for great misuse by powerful people. Someone like Donald Trump (for example if he was so inclined) could use connections in business to get a movie distributed and lean on media/press for good reviews if its not totally awful.

BTW, I have really enjoyed your insights, both here and in other threads. Care to do an “ask the film industry insider” thread?

Any of us could pipe it through YouTube or a Roku channel, essentially for free.

Easy Peasy. When Natalie or Christian knock on your door, ask how much they want and write them a check.

Repeat until your checking account is empty. :stuck_out_tongue:

Let’s say you’re completely right… so Da Donny spends a billion dollars shoving a movie at us no one likes.

And? He’s out a billion. So what?

Also remember that it might not even be that easy; you’d think that an enormously weathy man already in the steel industry could make a damned good go in the auto industry. Henry Kaiser would disagree.

Or sometimes: “Sure, you can have The Other Side of Midnight, which should be a guaranteed hit, but to do so you must also accept this tiny, unknown sci-fi film called Star Wars…”

I’ve heard of this rule, but why is it so important? One would think that investing money in your own film is a great way to strike it rich if you’re lucky, like George Lucas or Mel Gibson who both made money hand over fist and weren’t required to share any profits with plucky investors. What difference does it make if it’s your own money you lose instead of some anonymous investor’s?

Don’t hire a bunch of friends.
All I’ve got.

For a RL example, see John Aglialoro, the fitness equipment CEO who produced Atlas Shrugged I, II and this Fall III. The first 2 were box office flops despite promotion on Fox News, writeups in Forbes and various RW outlets.

He isn’t a billionaire though and I suspect he has raised money from others. One of his associate producers hosted a Kickstarter for Part III, raising something under a half million dollars for a 10 million dollar film. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Aglialoro

Your best bet might be to make a movie about someone who takes a bunch of cash and publicly burns it in a big bonfire.

The plot would then consist of what happens to someone who does such a thing.

What do you think might happen to someone who does such a thing?