Pitching to independent investors is a much different formula than we’re generally taught in Film Schools. The formula we’re taught in Film School is generally built around a studio pitch. A studio does a lot more than give money to a project. They have huge marketing, PR, legal, and distribution teams that they use to monetize any films they finance. As such it’s not the filmmakers job to pitch their projects on anything except story when working within that system.
Filmmakers must take a different approach when talking to independent film investors. Generally, angel investors are only looking to finance projects, they don’t have resources to help market and distribute the film. While Film is a highly speculative and inherently risky investment, and most film investors don’t invest in film solely for the ROI, they need to know you have a path to get their money back to them.
There’s a certain formula for creating a successful slideshow for investors. These presentations (Generally referred to as “Decks” in Silicon Valley) have been honed to tell the story of your company. Investors are used to seeing this format when deciding whether or not to invest in your project. It’s pretty easy to find samples of this formula for regular companies on SlideShare, but since the film industry is so specialized there must be some modifications made to the formula in order to make a good Deck to pitch your film to an investor. Below is a breakdown of what should go into a Filmmaking deck.
SLIDE 0 – Project Name/Artwork.
In a standard company pitch, the first thing that appears is the name of the company and the logo. For a film or media project, instead use the name of the project, the name of your production company, and the onesheet for your project.
SLIDE 1 – Project Overview
Generally, this would be where an entrepreneur would put an overview of his or her company, what it does, and what it’s mission is. For a film or media project, put the logline of your project, as well as the genre and a basic overview of the story.
SLIDE 2 – Why Does this Project Need to be Made?
In a standard company pitch, slide 2 and 3 would be the problem that the company seeks to solve, and the solution it offers. Since Films are generally made more as entertainment, they don’t always have a problem that they’re fixing. So instead, focus on why this project should be made.
Some approaches you could take on this would be that there’s not enough family friendly media being made, Women and minorities are vastly underrepresented in media, young LGBT kids need a role model, or that whatever niche you’re targeting doesn’t have enough entertainment. Figure out WHY your story needs to be told, and it can’t just be that you’re an artist and it’s in your soul.
SLIDE 3 – Why Your Project is the One to tell That Story.
In the standard company deck, this would generally be the solution that your company offers. For film, focus on why you and your team are the ones to tell the story you established in slides 1 and 2. Don’t go too deep into the team, you’ll cover that later.
SLIDE 4 – Opportunity
This slide is where an entrepreneur or filmmaker focusus on the size of the market and how they plan to access it. Focus on any niche communities you can target, and the genre your film is in generally performs internationally.
SLIDE 5 – Unique Competitive Advantage
Your Unique competitive advantage will remain mostly the same as it would in a pitch for any sort of company. You need to emphasize why your film should be the one they invest in. Do you have a large following in the niche audiences you’re targeting? Do you have some unique insight into the subject matter that no one has heard before? Is there something unique about your background that makes you the ideal person to tell this story.
Focus on why your film or media project will stand apart from the competitors and has the best chance to make a profit. In short, How will you stand out from the pack when others don’t?
SLIDE 6 – Marketing Strategy
Long time silicon valley strategist Sheridan Tatsuno likens market research to setting up a target, and marketing to shooting the arrow at it. You’ve set up the target in slides 4 and 5, now it’s time to show how you’re going to shoot the arrow and make a bullseye. How will you utilize social media? Which platforms will you use? Are you already a part of communities of your target market?
SLIDE 7 – Distribution Strategy
Generally, this would be your Go-To Market strategy. In film, this essentially means your distribution strategy. What rights will you be handling yourself, and what rights will you be handing to a distributor? What platforms will you use? How will you handle US Sales? Are you planning on attaching an international sales agent? How will you go about doing that if you haven’t already?
SLIDE 8 – Competitive Analysis
Show other films in a similar genre that have done well. Remember, this isn’t your business plan, so only show about 3 if you’re showing individual projects, not the 20 you should research. If you’ve already done your full competitive analysis, show one or two profitable representative samples and then the aggregate on all of the 10-20 films you researched. Charts and tables are good here.
You only want to use content from the last 3-5 years. Content older than that doesn’t realistically represent the current marketplace. This is something that even professionals who estimate ROIs don’t always follow. It’s always a red flag for investors when your examples are too old,
SLIDE 9 – Financials
Generally, you’ll need a few of the major line items from your topsheet budget. A good bet would be your above the line, pre-production, principle photography, post production, and marketing and distribution (or P&A) costs. Due to union caps, it can often be beneficial to raise your marketing and distribution budget at a later date. Projected ROI will also go on this slide.
SLIDE 10 – Current Status
This should be fairly self explanatory, but here are a few questions to ask yourself. What have you accomplished so far? Do you have any talent attached? Are you talking with Sales Agents? Where is the script in development? Are there any notable crew on board?
SLIDE 11 – Team
Focus on why you and your team are uniquely qualified to not only bring this film to completion, but deliver a quality product that can give an excellent ROI to all involved. Has your leadership team won awards at festivals? Have projects they’ve been on done impressive things?
SLIDE 12 – Summary/Thank You
For the final slide, put the three most important and/or marketable things about your project into a single slide. Investors get approached with a lot of opportunities and their brains can get cluttered. If an investor walks away knowing only these three things about your project, what do you want them to be?
Most importantly, thank them for their time and consideration, and make sure there’s an easy to find way to contact you ON YOUR DECK. Ideally on the first and last page. We’ll often send out decks when we send out the executive summary, so make yourself easy to contact if they’re interested.
On that note, Thank you for reading. If you’re in the Bay Area and would like to learn more about pitching your film project, please come to Producer Foundry’s Pitch Workshop, on Wednesday, March 18th at Samy’s Camera on 9th and Bryant in San Francisco. Click here to register.
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