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Film Finance. Aims: to gain an understanding of how Hollywood studio and independent film gets made. To research the production process of a film. Film Finance. Film is a medium where creativity and business are forced to meet. There is no such thing as a safe bet because each film is to

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Film finance
Film Finance

  • Aims: to gain an understanding of how Hollywood studio and independent film gets made.

  • To research the production process of a film.

Film finance1
Film Finance

Film is a medium where creativity and business are forced to


There is no such thing as a safe bet because each film is to

some extent a one-off prototype.

However, Hollywood studios try to reduce the high risks of film

production by recombining / repackaging successful elements.

This is another way of saying that Hollywood works to a set of

generic conventions. Successful formulas make money.

Task: in 2 minutes brainstorm all the sequels, remakes and

TV/comic book adaptations that you have seen in the last year.

The package
‘The Package’

  • The film package is put together by the producer.

  • It is presented to potential investors, financers and distributors.

  • It must include the following key elements and selling points:

    • Script Treatment

    • Generic Characteristics.

    • A Proposed Budget.

    • Storyboard of Key Scenes.

    • Established director / writer with proven track record to attract target audience and reassure investors.

The pitch
The Pitch

Term used for the presentation of the

package by the producer to potential

financial backers.

The producer may say their film is a hybrid of two successful movies.

“It’s Terminator meets Dirty Harry.”

- Hollywood Producer

High concept films
‘High – Concept Films’

  • Made famous by Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer as a response to high risk film production.

  • The repackaging of previously successful elements, such as big name stars and directors.

  • Remaking past hits or extending franchises (sequels).

  • Often ‘high octane’ action/disaster movies.

  • Made for a PG or 12 rating so appealing to a mass audience.

The summer blockbuster
The summer blockbuster

  • For many years Hollywood has made mass market films for the summer.

  • Many of these films will be released with merchandise tie ins and big marketing budgets.

  • The first merchandise led summer blockbuster was Steven Spielberg’s ‘Jaws’ (1975).

Commitment to invest
Commitment to Invest

Investors will only commit to a package when they have a clear presentation of the target audience for the film. This is done through extensive market research. Which includes?

If a return on the investment is possible then the project will be give the ‘green light’, meaning that the studio will fund the next stage, which would consist of the writing / finishing off of the screenplay.

Funding for independent films
Funding for Independent Films

  • Independent film production is developed and realised outside major studio settings.

  • Sources of finance:

    - Banks

    - Investment Companies

    - Rich Private Investors

    - The Government:

    the national lottery.

Independent filmmakers finance
Independent filmmakers finance

  • Example: Robert Rodriguez

  • Robert Rodriguez the subsequent director of ‘Sin City’ and ‘Spy Kids’ financed his first film ‘El Mariachi’ by borrowing several family member’s credit cards.

  • He financed the whole thing for $50,000 with most of the actors working for free.

  • He also made some of his own camera equipment to avoid expensive hiring.

Financing a film
Financing a film

  • What do producers have to consider when working out the costing of a film?

  • Star’s fees

  • Other supporting cast

  • Crew

  • Post production

  • Film stock

  • Travel/shipping and catering

  • Mise-en-scene (set building, hiring props, vehicles etc)

  • Film taxes

  • Hiring/compensating


  • A Select group of stars who can guarantee a film’s international success on the strength of their name alone.

  • Bankability is the ability of a star’s name to: raise money for a film

    • attract support from major studios

    • pull in cinemas-goers at the box office

    • Task: brainstorm a list of the world’s most ‘bankable’ actors.

    • How many are women?

    • How many are black/Asian?

    • Select two and list 5 of their films? Were they all successful?

Stars involvement in film s production
Stars Involvement in Film’s Production

  • Gives them greater control over their career.

  • Sometimes it is they who get the script first and get to choose who will direct the film.

  • Example: Tom Cruise

  • As well as being a huge ‘bankable’ star, Cruise is also a producer with the influence to get film made.

  • He co-produced ‘Mission Impossible 2’ and Minority Report

  • Cruise chose John Woo as Mi2’s director and JJ Abram for Mi3.

  • Stars are now a franchise or a brand rather than actors.

Film production
Film Production

  • Average cost for Hollywood blockbuster, including its marketing, is $100million, so studios are not inclined to take risks.

  • Any studio project made by untried talent or without a big name actor on whom to focus an advertising campaign will face an up hill struggle to be ’green-lighted’.

  • Can you think of any popular, high grossing films without any star names.

Independent productions
Independent Productions

  • With the advancement of new digital technologies it is easier to make films on a much smaller budget.

  • Such example include The Blair Witch Project.

  • Watch extract.

  • However, it is the major studios that have all the power when it comes to distribution, and without the help of their ‘independent’ distribution wings (Warner Independent, Miramax, Fox Search Light) many low budget films would never be seen.

Currently fashionable genres
Currently Fashionable Genres

  • What are the currently fashionable genres in Hollywood production:

  • ‘Torture horror’ – the ‘Saw’ films.

  • Comic book heroes- ‘Iron Man’, ‘X- Men’ etc

  • Broad parody comedies- ‘Epic Movie’, ‘Teen Movie’.

  • Fantasy – ‘Narnia’ and ‘Ring’ films, ‘Stardust’ etc

  • Animation- too many to mention!

  • Task: Why are these genres popular at the moment? Discuss and make notes.

The crossover film
The ‘Crossover’ film

  • The ‘crossover’ film is a relatively low budget independent film without big name actors that does well commercially (makes lots of money).

  • Generally these films begin in fewer cinemas but as word of mouth spreads (and it wins awards) the film becomes a surprise ‘sleeper hit’.

  • Read: page 99 ‘Titanic’ vs ‘The Full Monty’.

  • The crossover film is a dream come true to Hollywood or any film industry. Why?

  • Because it makes the biggest profit margin!

  • Task: read the article about ‘Slumdog Millionaire at the box office and answer questions.