“How are things going with raising money for that film you’re producing,” people ask. “How indeed,” I answer with a smile. I honestly don’t know what to say about it. Here’s how it’s going.
Funder A: We’ll give you 25% of the money you need to make this project happen, but you need to secure the other 75% before we’ll give it to you.
Me: Can I start telling people that you’re on board in order to help get them on board?
Funder A: Well … not yet.
Me: Okay, no problem, I’ll talk people into giving me money anyway!
Funder B: We might give you some money if Funder A is on board.
Me: Umm… hold on.
Me: Pssst, Funder A, can we tell people now? I’ve given you all the paperwork you asked for.
Funder A: Oh, we thought we gave you that go-ahead months ago!
Funder B: Okay. We’ll give you some money too, but we’ll only give you a little bit now, and the rest much later. Like, way later than you actually need it, ok?
Me: Great! Every little bit helps!
Distributor: We’ll pitch in too, we won’t give you any of it until after you’ve finished making the film.
Me: A-Okay. I’ll figure it out! Money’s money, right?
Accountant: Good news, you’ll get around 20% of what you spend back as a big ol’ tax refund, but that won’t happen until about a year after you’re done.
Me: Wow! This is all lining up really smoothly! I only need about 15% more!
Me: I just don’t know where I’m going to get that last bit of money from. Everyone else has said no.
Funder A: You should probably get that 15% covered by asking everyone to defer their payments. So, basically, get all your key people to agree to get paid later. After you get the money.
Me: I guess I can talk people into that. Sure.
Everyone: Great! Now, how will you actually handle your financing?
Me: Wait a minute. I see what you’re asking me. I need all this money to make the film. But I’m not going to get it until after I make the film. So, what am I supposed to do?
Everyone: Get a loan!
Me: So, I have to convince someone to give me all the money up front, and then after you give the money to me I pay them back?
Me: Excuse me, I need a loan for about half the amount of my budget. Is that ok?
Bank: Sure. How will you guarantee that you can pay us back?
Me: Here are all the contracts from these government agencies and signed agreements from reputable companies confirming that they’re going to give me all this money.
Bank: That’s okay, but it’s not enough. Could you give us all your worldly possessions as collateral?
Me: Uhhh … I own … a bicycle?
Me: But I thought you would take all these contracts and letters and assurances from funders as proof that I’ll be able to pay you back.
Me: I guess the dream is over?
Funder A: If the bank won’t give you a loan, here’s this other fund that’s totally designed for indie productions. Their fees are low! This will be much easier, we promise.
Me: Wow! Amazing! I’m so glad that exists.
Other Fund: So, you want a loan for 50% of your budget, but you’ll have to prove to us that you can cover the whole 100%.
Me: But I can’t, that’s why I need a loan.
Other Fund: Sorry, we need to be sure you’re going to make this film, not take our loan and fuck it up.
Me: So … how am I supposed to make this thing?
That’s how it’s going, friends. That is how it is going. I’m not saying “don’t ask”, I’m just saying “expect me to go on a rambling, incoherent rant and/or silently drag you to the nearest whiskey dispensary.