Thursday, April 19, 2012

Funding Project 23

I am currently taking a Movie Producer Master Class with Richard Dutcher, the very successful independent director, producer, actor, and writer who in the year 2000 made the fourth most profitable film in dollars returned compared to dollars spent, approximately $9.61 for every $1 spent. In context, Star Wars Episode 1 was in 17th place for the year at around a 4 to 1 return. In Richard’s own words, when you looked at the dollars per screen report in the trades, “there were the studios, the secondary distributors, and then there was me.”

As class members, we are also all Producers on Dutcher’s year plus long experimental project, which is codenamed Project 23. As details emerge, you can find them at

While the number of producers means we each have relatively little influence on the nature and final content of the film, we are all participating in each step of the creative producing process. My own experience to date has 90% been on the business side of film, excluding some film school, so this is great experience. I am the Production Coordinator on this film in addition to being a Producer.

While I have experience funding and investing in films, many of the record twenty-three Producers on Project 23 do not. It is fascinating to see in other people’s experience what I’ve gone through in learning curve over the last seven short years.

While I cannot discuss specifics of the offering associated with raising funds for SEC reasons, I can say it is a complicated process, one I expect will be simplified for future projects between now and November by the JOBS Act passed in late March. New SEC rules are being written to help implement the law, which was encouraged by a Republican Congress and signed by the President in hopes of easing access to capital for small businesses and creating jobs.

For more on the JOBS Act (Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act) and how it will affect film financing, click here:

Director Richard Dutcher says the skill that makes or breaks one as a Producer is finding investors, whether within the studio system or the world at large. Project 23 is seeing great success, and should start filming in May.

While you can learn film in a school, the deeper lessons are learned on the street and on the set. Knowledge is nothing without relationships in this industry and of course relationships with investors willing to believe not only in profit but art as a product and the commercial or creative artist. Cheers to them!