But the heart of your production, if your film is to be profitable, will be the Iron Triangle, which is to say a cast, financing and distribution.
If you have a good cast, reasonable financing, and solid distribution you have a good chance at a financially profitable film Without these three things, getting your film made will be a hassle. It will be a hassle because once made your film is unlikely to make money and no one wants to lose money right along with you in most cases.
Let’s define these terms in a meaningful way:
Cast: If you go to www.breakdownexpress.com and post descriptions of your characters for your SAG or non-SAG film you will get thousands of applications. There will be many fine actors in the list. To get a cast that an investor (who is not related to you or friends with you) will invest in, you need to make sure at least some of the actors on your list are “names”. You can go to your grave trying to figure out what a “name” is. Let me help you. Names that can get a film financed are found on the A or B list in the Ulmer’s Scale book as a rule. There are exceptions to this rule (for very tightly targeted films) but if you want a quick way to find out what constitutes a nam The larger your film, the more “names” you need. Look there. The Ulmer’s Scale is a statistical analysis of actors and their box office value for a given year. To get great cast you usually have to have a fully financed film, or great distribution.
Distribution: Distribution for a feature film may be theatrical or non-theatrical. A theatrical release almost always means a film is going to make more money because it sells for more in foreign markets, and is probably going to make more money in the US market as well. To get theatrical distribution and foreign presales, a great cast is usually necessary. A great cast of “names” guarantees that less PR will be needed to sell the film because the names will get press interest. Names also attract a certain base of diehard fans. Full financing of a film and good names guarantees good distribution. Non-theatrical distribution can work for you as well, but it does tend to limit your budget because financers won’t put as much money into a lower budget film.
Financing: A film with a good cast and good theatrical distribution/pre-sales can get funding because it is very likely to make the money invested in it back along with some profit. A film without a good cast or distribution is likely to earn a loss. Investors don’t often invest in movies that are likely to make a loss.
Now you see the Iron Triangle. Get any two elements of the iron triangle and you will get the third. This is why everyone a filmmaker talks to asks who is in their film, do they have distribution, and if they have financing. If you have none of those things, you have a problem.Tweet
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