Home | Behind the Scenes | Film Financing Diary, Day 2: A San Francisco Party, a Posh Screening Room & People With Money
Film Financing Diary

Film Financing Diary, Day 2: A San Francisco Party, a Posh Screening Room & People With Money

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Film Financing DiaryA few weeks ago, I wrote about my first attempt to raise money for my independent feature film, “Exit Strategy.” In that column, I told how my billionaire ex-boss declined even to meet with me about financing the film.

I wondered if the problem was him, me or the script. The script does heavy-handedly abuse (but in a very funny manner) dot-com billionaires such as he is. Perhaps … I should try some different rich people. Perhaps I should instead meet with some folks who made their gazillions owning sports teams.

Using the telephone game, whereby I ask a rich person whom I know slightly to play the “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” game and get me connected to someone who owns an NFL franchise, I bluster my way into a party in San Francisco.

At the party, I’m the only one with a net worth less than $100,000,000. Some of these folks have socks that cost several hundred dollars a pair. The host, Roger, is showing me his new toys.  Of course, the latest phone, three tablets — one for each operating system — a phablet, a new Bluetooth-Blu-ray-network-attached stereo system wired into the mandatory screening room with chairs that disappear into the basement when the sprung-bamboo dance floor rolls out. The underground wine cellar: who on earth can drink that much wine? His-and-her showers carved out of volcanic rock with water careening from a fake spring at the top of the rock. Too bad he doesn’t have a wife (just three ex-wives) to share the his-and-her showers.

His guest, Peter, interrupts my tour guide to complain that money is tight. Peter has a full-time chauffeur living in guest quarters on his estate; a full-time live-in maid, a daily maid, a cook, a secretary and a nanny. He’s bitching that the 2014 model year Lotus has gone up to $75,000; what will he do; must he keep his 2013 model?

This party seems to be veering in the wrong direction. It’s all about toy-bragging (or toy complaining). No one is asking anyone, “What do you do, my dear, to justify your existence?”  Perhaps it’s considered gauche to ask what someone does for a living when clearly these people sit around pushing “buy” and “sell” buttons for their various investments. They don’t actually have jobs like screenwriter, filmmaker, actor or other titles which imply real work. I begin to think it was a waste for me to show up.

I begin to think I should have sent an actress much younger than me — but she wouldn’t have known how to pitch.

I begin to think I should be more aggressive. I insert myself into a conversation and say that I’m a filmmaker. No one is very interested. It’s a gamble — some people in other industries are enthralled by the movies; some not. I muscle into another chatty group; same disinterest. Yes, perhaps I should have come with the young actress.

Granted, this party is not an investment pitch: I just wanted to meet some money people in a more casual setting.

Aha! Inspiration! Back at the magic screening room — empty now — I push every button I can find. The floor retracts; the floor unrolls; the chairs lean back; the chairs sink into the basement; the screen goes up; the lights go disco; hip hop blares from the ceiling; Rachmaninoff infuses the walls. Whoa! A one-way glass partition is revealed, looking into the guest bedroom. Push that button to the “off,” quickly.

Finally I find a button that serves up the DVD player. Pop! My teaser disc into the disc drive.  Button push. Down the screen. Button twist. Dim lights. Button. Chairs back up from the basement.

Lean back in a chair. Put the DVD on loop. Sit.

Wait.

Wait.

Wait.

A lone partier enters.

“What is that?”

“A teaser for my film.”

“You’re a filmmaker?”

“Yes.”

“I love the movies.”

No, this is not my happy ending. It will take many more efforts and meetings to find funding for the production and marketing. It is hardly ever this easy.

However, this person, Rake, asks me to meet him later in the month to talk business about films.  It’s a start.

Michelle Shyman is an actor, comic, screenwriter, filmmaker, corporate video producer and film journalist. She’s appeared in 35 films and stage plays and has won regional acting awards. One of her screenplays placed in American Gem Screenplay Competition and Script Nurse Screenplay Competition, and she’s produced or assistant-produced a number of independent films, three of which won festival awards. Michelle executive-directed the Lake2Sound Youth Film Festival and serves as a judge for several student film festivals nationwide. She coaches actors, teaches directors how to work with actors, and presents seminars on directing actors. She’s a former Board member of Women in Film Seattle chapter. Michelle also consults on product strategy for entertainment startups. In addition to her Reel Life With Jane column, Michelle writes “Balancing Act,” a weekly column for Reel Grok, named one of MovieMaker Magazine’s top sites for working filmmakers. Follow her on Twitter @michelleshy.

Michelle Shyman has written posts on Reel Life With Jane.


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2 comments

  1. I keep thinking that with a name like “Rake,” maybe this person can help you rake in some cash.

    Oy, that one-way mirror! That would have freaked me out. Hopefully, there wasn’t anyone in there when you stumbled upon it.

    And yeah, some people just have way too much money and lose sight of reality after a while.
    Jane Boursaw recently posted…WGA Pickets at E! TV in Support of ‘Fashion Police’ WritersMy Profile

    • SRSLY, these folks should be making tons of donations to charities instead of buying spy mirrors and such. At the very least, they should be funding independent films about wildlife.

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