Film Funding: Money, Politics and the Emotive Factor

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In an excellent article over at nofilmschool linked by Creative District on Facebook, a concise but comprehensive rundown of all the available options currently in the world for film financing is offered. Somewhat surprisingly, crowd-funding is given a mere mention. Not surprisingly at all, there's no mention at all of Bitcoin or cryptocurrency.

The usual, traditional channels are given weight - equity, pre-sales, tax incentives. The article then goes on to how you can make your project attractive to investors, ie, gap financing after you've done all the right things to secure partial equity.

What's missing is POLITICS, and the EMOTIVE FACTOR. It's all about numbers and ROI, but as the article plainly states at the start, for the pure investor looking for a return, there are plenty of other options. Investing in film is not something one does because they think it's an easy way to make money - there's clearly something beyond the financials. (Though it's understood that in order to reach them, you must speak their language.)

The EMOTIVE factor is of course the cachet and glamour of "being in film" - why buy stocks in U.S. Steel when you can be invited to exclusive parties and rub shoulders with Lindsay Lohan? Essentially, they're BUYING this - it's a buy-in to glitterdom. So who cares (to a degree) how much money they lost? It was the price to pay.

But the POLITICAL factor is something else entirely. How did Spike Lee get Malcolm X made? Or Baz Luhrmann Australia? And even Veronica Mars (though "political" may be a bit strong a word)? There was always that extra element, an urgency, the idea of "if we don't do it, no one else will."

I want to explore this idea for our community, and appeal to the POLITICAL factor. Bitcoin's rise to prominence has always been about proving the naysayers wrong, doing it on our own. How about a purely Bitcoin-funded film, where there is a political, concerted effort made to KEEP IT IN BITCOIN. So only hire actors who are willing to be paid in Bitcoin, only use caterers who accept Bitcoin, only use hotels/housing options that take payment in Bitcoin, etc. Impossible? Now, here in 2014, probably. In 2016? 2020? Who can say.

This is why the issue of Bitcoin film financing is relevant to the Bitcoin community. In film, you vote with your dollar. For the first time, we can have a purely Bitcoin-funded (and paid for) product that you can support, by going to see it, renting it on VOD, buying the Blu-Ray. Of course, all the right elements have to be in place - good script, experienced crew, recognizable actors, fresh idea. But all these are possible - what is unknowable right now is, will the community come out to support it.

We need a platform to test this. Let's make it happen. Bitcoin crowd-funding, here we come!

About the author


Mark is a New York City-based filmmaker with a background in theater (as playwright, dramaturg and director) and literature (with focus on modern European literature and literary translation theory). He is currently executive, co-, and associate producing three indie feature films, one set in the avant-garde art scene of 1960s…

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