Finding the money

When Felice Gorica spoke to our group about The Business of TV and Financing, I think a lot of us felt shell shocked.  She gave us some great information and left out the sugar coating.  It was good, but I know that a few of us started to question the viability of the projects that we were intending to work on.

Felice is a factual producer – she doesn’t do drama or comedy.  Apparently factual shows are the easiest to get financed.  It’s very difficult to get comedies funded.  Ouch.  One strike against my proposed project…

Not only is it difficult to get comedies funded, but if they do get funded by a broadcaster, it is likely that the broadcaster will want VERY EXPERIENCED people attached.  So unless you have some experienced people on your team, the broadcaster will likely want you to go through another production company which means that you will lose control of your project.  Ugh.  Sounds like a second strike…

Another point that Felice brought up was that it was important to really love the project you’re going to work on because you will be living with it for at least 3 years: 1 year to get the money to make it, 1 year to make it, and 1 year to do the follow up paperwork and collect your payment.

It is really important to be able to get funding.  Felice stressed over and over that we should avoid putting our own money into projects as much as possible.  The main reason is that it is unlikely that you will be able to get that money back, especially if the project is not successful.  If you can’t get funding for it, you should really question whether or not the project will have an audience.

Which leads back to something Felice spoke about in the beginning.  How do you come up with an idea you can sell?  The main thing to remember is that it isn’t about you – it’s never about you.   It’s about the buyers and the audience.  Who are the buyers and what do they want?

To be fair, if you’ve come up with an idea that is very different, it might be challenging to convince people that it’s something they will like, but that’s why you get people saying things like: “it’s a cross between Starsky & Hutch meets The Twilight Zone.”  Hmm.  Would that work?

My head was spinning as we covered the gamut of finding the idea, to creating a treatment, to talking to broadcasters or production companies and then to distributors and foundations.  I kept asking myself, “What am I getting myself into?”

Finding money isn’t easy.  But that’s the job of a producer.  It was great information, but a little scary, too.  All of a sudden, I realized that I needed to look at my project a lot closer and a lot harder.  I mean, it seemed brilliant to me initially, but the odds are against it.  I’m not necessarily going to drop the project, but I definitely need to reassess it.

The class is made up of people doing scripted shows and factual/documentary/reality shows.  As a “scripted” person, I am definitely going to consider the possibilities for factual shows if they are easier to get funded.  And of course, “easier” is a relative term.

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