On Thursday, June 21, 2018, I had the privilege of attending Ritz Group Entertainment's 2018 Shark Attack event with Cheryl Harris, owner of Studio 27 Talent Development. Shark Attack is a film industry networking and pitching event, designed for filmmakers, theatrical groups, and other industry pros to pitch their film, television, and other ideas for funding.
The "sharks" included: Erin Bethea of Fireproof fame; John Adcox, President of Gramarye Media; Stan Shklinyl; and Chris Helton.
This was an invaluable learning opportunity that taught me a lot about how to pitch my future film and TV show ideas to investors - namely, the below:
It's all about story and money.
Pitch your story first, then talk about how that story is going to make your investors money, and what kind of ROI (Return On Investment) they can expect if they provide funding for your project. Even if the folks in attendance at your pitch meeting are solely money guys (and gals), they're going to want to hear your story, why it matters, and why people will want to see it and spend money on it. The short version of all this information is, "How can this film/TV show/theatrical production monetize?"
Shark quote: "Lead with your story, not numbers. The film market is shot right now - don't focus on variables. What sells now? Why are you asking for it, and how are you gonna make the money back?"
Make your pitch deck as visual as possible. If you're pitching to a roomful of investors, have a laptop, playing your visuals in the background while you're speaking. Naming your talent and crew always helps - what are the people on your team doing? What have they done? Investors need to feel confident in their investment, and names help with that. On that note, if you're looking to hire named talent, you can bet that you'll likely need over $5 million for your film.
Be sure to also flesh out fully dimensional characters. What is/are your character(s)' arc(s)? How does the character change? Again, it all links back to story. We're all human - even investors! - and we all want to hear a good story.
Shark quote: "Too many moving parts are not appealing."
One of the sharks kept talking about international sales, i.e., what kind of ROI will you get on this film or show domestically and overseas? He also noted that he would like to know who would represent the film that is being pitched, and that it's important to know that films based on certain cultures are hard to sell overseas. So, make your film or show accessible!
Shark quote: "For international sales, a [film] needs to be 80 - 90 minutes long."
The money stuff.
There were a lot of phrases being thrown around during the pitch process, like "ROI," "tax credits," "soft and hard money," "GAP financing," "equity," - and more. Do, do, DO your research before heading into a meeting like this - if you can't talk money, you simply should not be pitching. You have to speak the same language as your potential investors, even if you're not a numbers person. Google is free! And we've already done quite a bit of the legwork for you by simply writing this blog post, wink.
Have you financed your own film or sought money from investors or sponsorships? Let us know what worked and what didn't!
Click through the slideshow below to see photos from the event, taken by yours truly!