With all the discussion about Kickstarter and other methods of crowd-funding to get movies made, it’s important that filmmakers don’t forget that traditional methods of financing are still out there, and some have been given a new spin thanks to the Internet.
The New York Times recently looked at the New York-based website Slated.com, which hooks up potential investors with filmmakers whose projects they might be interested in financing. The members-only service was founded in 2010 as a way to tackle the problem of decreasing independent film financing in the wake of the recession.
Slated isn’t meant for people who want to throw a few bucks a filmmaker’s way in order to receive a token incentive. Investors must have “net worth of $1 million or annual income of at least $200,000 for an individual and $300,000 for a household for the last two years.” On the filmmaking side, the project must already have a director, a producer, a writer and principal cast and have be budgeted for $500,000 to $15 million (feature film) or $250,000 to $2 million (documentary). Slated makes the connection between the parties based on the types of films the investor wants to bankroll and the filmmakers want to make, but then it is up to the two sides to strike a deal on their own. Since the site’s launch in January 2012, nine films have been financed. Like Kickstarter, Slated plans on charging a transaction fee once the service is better established. Slated has even made partnerships with already-established film companies like the Tribeca Film Institute, which helps advise the company on what projects it should select to present to potential investors.
Filmmaker Marina Zenovich, who used the service to partially fund her documentary Roman Polanski: Odd Man Out, points out that the site put her in direct contact with those who could offer her money for her film. She explains, “You’re rarely in a room with investors. Slated is almost like being at a cocktail party with a bunch of investors, and, if they’re interested, they reach out to you.” Of course, the article points out the biggest risk — since the film isn’t finished yet, the investor has no idea how marketable the final product will be. But as they say, that’s why it’s called an investment.
Since it seems like every other filmmaker or actor is crowding Kickstarter to get his or her next project off the ground, it’s good to remember that there are alternate paths to financing projects that aren’t as crowded. While Slated is obviously not for every indie filmmaker out there, it’s yet another important sign that the Internet is revolutionizing the way films are funded.