I asked the woman who literally wrote the book on writing business plans for films to read my film’s business plan (for a fee). She lives about four blocks from me. When I learned this, I thought it was a sign from God: Get over there and get the EXPERT to weigh in.
The first words out of her mouth were, “You have to take the tone out that you don’t think it’ll make money.” I guess my worries were pretty transparent. I smiled politely and didn’t let on that all summer I’ve been wrestling with art-investor-money thoughts.
Perhaps you, too, have had thoughts like these as you waded into figuring out how to finance your plays, your projects:
Does all art have to make money? (Of course it doesn’t. Uh, but then… how do we pay investors back?)
Use art patrons! They love supporting creative stuff after a hard day at the office making boat loads of money! (Yeah, but still.)
Okay then, can I make a film for free? (No. I want to pay the cast and crew – and pay them more than food.)
Can I do the puppet version of the film for $25? (No! Ick!)
And then in a film’s business plan you have to do a chart of PROJECTED REVENUE. That’s right, putting on your best prognosticator wizard hat, you look at the first, second and third year life of the film and take a shot at guessing how much money will come rolling in. (Aren’t you glad you work in Equity Waver Theatre? Can you imagine doing that for your original play that’s opening down there at Santa Monica Blvd. and Lillian Way?)
These conversations in my head make me feel as if I’m constantly justifying my film. As if wanting to do it isn’t reason enough.
I will close with a snippet from screenwriter Charlie Kaufman’s speech at BAFTA in 2011 (thank you to a previous L.A.F.P.I. blogger who told us about his speech) from which I take some comfort:
“What can be done? Say who you are, really say it in your life and in your work. Tell someone out there who is lost, someone not yet born, someone who won’t be born for 500 years. Your writing will be a record of your time. It can’t help but be that. But more importantly, if you’re honest about who you are, you’ll help that person be less lonely in their world because that person will recognize him or herself in you and that will give them hope. It’s done so for me and I have to keep rediscovering it. It has profound importance in my life. Give that to the world, rather than selling something to the world. Don’t allow yourself to be tricked into thinking that the way things are is the way the world must work and that in the end selling is what everyone must do. Try not to.”