Someone might finance me. Oh god, HELP!

A while back, I was lucky enough to catch the eye of some people looking for good, small investment opportunities, who ”liked my way of thinking” (long story). We’ve been discussing ideas ever since, and although it’s outside our original area of discussion, they now want me to pitch my Embassy of Time concept as an animated movie (and yes, they like the idea of using Blender, since it makes the work cheaper and easier to scale, and they’ve actually checked this forum out and were very positive, from what they told me). Problem is… I’ve never, ever pitched a movie idea, and I have no real idea how to! I’m a geek, not a business tycoon…

Note that these people are not studio execs, not Hollywood or ”L.A. types”, they’re just a small group of people (from northern Europe, if it matters) who want to try financing something ”fun” (for them, that is). I’ve read all the usual ”how to pitch your movie” stuff, but it feels made for studio pitches and the like. Hollywood this is not, so I’m a bit lost. I went through some of the same when they asked me to pitch a game, but I don’t know if this is like that…

Any ideas? Anyone have experiences with this? The format is undecided, could be a feature film, a mini-series, or anything like it. I don’t think they expect anything big, like theatrical release, just something they can try out without massive risks (no, it’s not for a million dollar budget, sadly). Honestly, I’m not perfectly sure WHAT they expect, so I’m trying to cover my bases for when they start asking questions. I can’t really say much more about them without breaching their trust (they’re okay with me discussing practical stuff in here, though).

All ideas are welcome, even seemingly silly ones!

PS: If anyone knows me from, yes, it’s the same people. They’re very vague in their interests, but the term ”crossplatform media franchise” keeps popping up. Not sure if it’s just a buzzword, though…

Please excuse me, and I mean no offense by this, but you sound like a total babe-in-the-woods… You should be far, far more concerned about your legal protection in this business deal… regardless if they are Northern Europeans, Southern Chinese, Western Australians, or North-Eastern Americans. Yes, pitches are important if you need to sell something, but I personally would be seeking legal advice first before even pitching anything, and have a clear understanding of what your ownership in the business venture (and intellectual property!) is going to be, BEFORE you sign anything. Don’t be surprised if they have what is seemingly an attractive contract waiting for you at your meeting… This is where folks often get completely screwed in business deals…

I don’t like how they allowed you to post here. Sounds very much to me like they totally already have the upper hand…

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“Babe in the woods” isn’t entirely wrong, this is not something I often do (I do strict contract work normally). They’ve already financed one small project (though it didn’t really go anywhere), and I had a lawyer look everything over on that one, it was legit. I’m not taking chances on that end, don’t worry. And the “allowed” part is that they want me to check in before discussing our common projects in public, which I was unnerved by at first, but I do understand now. I think I would play a bit closed to the chest if financing others, too.

In short, yes, legal protection is of the essence, completely true, but I know my limits so I’ve got someone skilled on that, luckily. I’m more worried about the things I need to do…

Before you give them your idea, you need a NDA and intellectual property protection. I’m a strategic communication/pre-law student, and I can assure you that no matter how nice and friendly everything is at first, it WILL go downhill quickly if you aren’t protecting your intellectual property. If you just pitch to them without a clear and legal understanding that they cannot use your idea without you, you are exposing yourself to serious chance of abuse. Here’s an important lesson I’ve learned from my teachers: there is always someone who will make your idea for cheaper than you would.

Ok, to answer your actual question, the most important part of any pitch is emphasizing why the person giving you money should care. You may like your idea, and think it has potential, but they don’t know that. Show them the value to THEM.

Here’s six basic principles of persuasive communication that may help as well:

  • Assume the intelligence of the listener
  • Use positive validation when teaching a new concept (i.e. you already know this, and here’s a new thing)
  • Emphasize listener importance (i.e. you are the reason, here’s how this helps you)
  • Use gentle repetition to emphasize unfamiliar information
  • Cater to short attention spans
  • Keep information segmented and easy to follow

Lastly, make sure your pitch is heavy on visuals and stories. We connect with stories, much better than with anything else. Tell stories about the process that went into your idea, etc, and it will resonate with your backers. As for questions- run over your pitch with your mom, or your dad, or someone else you trust that doesn’t know what you’re talking about. Whatever questions they ask, your backers will probably ask similar.


And have your pitch totally written out, and practice in front of a mirror or better yet shoot video and play it back, just like in pro sports…

Remember, YOU are the one that has something of VALUE (possibly a butt-load, if they are talking about franchises etc)… they just have money and want a return on investment. There is no shortage of folks with money wanting an opportunity to multiply it. Never forget that, and if needed, remind them of that fact, if things are not to your liking.


Could you provide some kind of link to other threads where you have talked about these people?

That would be helpful.

At this point in time, you need to engage an attorney. (Your business should have one on retainer anyway.) You need the expertise of a qualified legal professional with practice experience in this realm. The cost of attorney’s fees is fully tax-deductible in the United States.

You should also engage an accountant, preferably a CPA, for a similar reason. (Deductible: ditto.)

Get started on the right foot. And, don’t rely upon the hearsay of forum participants. :slight_smile:

Thanks for the advice! The legal stuff is taken care of already, the challenge is to make a good presentation. I’m not handing over the keys to the ‘castle’, don’t worry, I am keeping rights and such close to the chest. As for the GameDev threads, the most interesting one is probably the small experimental game project they supported the preliminary work for but we then decided lacked a clear player base. The thread is here:

So am I correct in assuming that when you say “support” that they actually financed the early stages of development? So that would mean that these guys are serious - they actually gave you money - but not stupid, if they see something they have a basic issue with they will pull out. Is this correct?

So it is clear that if they pulled out due to an unclear player base - these guys want a return! Of course.

It also kind of seems like these investors are not really experienced in film financing or games for that matter. But they like you and your ideas. They want to invest in something that they find interesting. However now they want to invest in something to do with media. Like a game/film franchise.

Regarding the presentation of ideas, I don’t think there is a set formula. I have done a few myself. I think what it comes down to is knowing your audience and what they will be expecting. Which is why before I wanted to give you any “advice” I wanted to know more about who these people were.

So, you know them better than anyone here. But I think here are the important points:

  1. They like you and your ideas
  2. They want to see these ideas and efforts show a return in investment.

While this might seem obvious, it would be easy to over look in preparation.

So, now here comes the homework:

First thing you want to do , is find all of the similar projects or franchises that actually made money. The more popular - as well as interesting - the better.

It is not like you are trying to say - for example - that your idea will result in the next Marvel franchise. But rather, what is it about a particular successful franchise - that interests audiences in the same way - as your idea. What are the similarities?

Find all of the points of commercial success that you can connect back to your project. Show them how and why it is that your idea has value.

Potentially all people who are fans of (x) franchise could be fans of yours. And show them why.

This is before you get to specifics of the story line. And at this stage I would keep that very brief and basic to start. But only touch on the story points that support value at this point.

The next thing would be production. At this point I don’t know much about you or even this idea to try and figure out what advice to give here.

But if you have never produced a film before then you need to find a studio that has. But whatever the case is you will need to add this to your presentation. And it needs to be real. Not “well I can put it together myself, using Blender and the community.” It has to be very tangible.

So you will have to either a) already have a studio, or b) find one who will agree to work with you at least in the initial stages to help you get financing. And you will need to do the same with this studio. Why this studio has value to the production. Awards they have won for a short film as an example. A small Blender studio that agrees they could make this kind of film and what the overall budget is to be.

But trust me here. Don’t over look this part. It has to be a real existing studio who agrees initially to do the project. You could contact more than one. And present more than one.

So at this point in the presentation you are not getting into specifics about budget details. You are just building confidence that the money will be spent on a legitimate way to get it done by experience people.

The final homework will be distribution. How is this film or franchise going to find an audience?

So here you will have to research other indie projects. Find some case histories and summarize them. And present what you think is the most likely scenario. And also present the fact that making these things happen (hiring marketing people or whatever) should be a part of the budget.

So I would say in this initial presentation. Keep it very very very simple and basic. But make sure and cover these three bases:

  1. Your idea - similar to other successes
  2. Production - a successful studio partner
  3. Distribution - former successful projects that found their way to an audience.

Now, it is likely that none of the distribution scenarios you present will actually happen in the way you present them. It does not matter. Right now you are just building confidence in the idea. And in your understanding of the practical aspects of making it happen.

Hope this helps.

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Could not have put it better myself. This describes them very nicely! Most seem to be the classic merchant type, or succesful craftsmen. I know to be wary, but they don’t seem like the business people I’ve dealt with before. Or I would have likely walked. To be honest, I think they’re just a bit bored and want to try new things.
The rest of your post is excellent stuff, I’ll do my best to keep it all in mind, thanks!

If that is the case then I should underscore, caps, bold the fact that your presentation has to be based on solid realistic things.

Or these guys will back out.

And I might further suggest that the presentation be done in different phases over time, starting simple and getting more complex.

And also in the early stages, since these guys did it before, they might be interested in giving you a development budget. And at this point bring in a studio or artists to make concept art, mood boards and some very basic storyboards.

I don;t know the status of your story. But at some point you need a very well flushed out treatment.

Screenwriting. Who will write the screenplay? The best would be to hire someone or a friend who has some talent with this.

But the development budget would be in part to complete enough of the preproduction stuff to actually even have a budget.

You can’t have a production budget before you have:

  1. The screenplay
  2. The style of the production (anime cartoon, reaslistic)
  3. A full list of assets

And then only an experienced studio can supply the budget.

But a studio could be brought on in the initial stages of the treatment and screenplay to advise and steer clear of any major things that will not be possible given the overall budget range you are being asked to work in.

And a final idea would be to get them to agree to finance - in this very same way - a 1-3 minute short film that could be sent to short film fests or a trailer.

I could go on…lol

But I already feel a bit like I am shooting in the dark without more info.

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I do hope that you have made friends with a qualified attorney whom you can work with, because these days I’d feel naked without one. It has become quite natural for me to say, “Let me ask Tom about that.” I call him – he starts the clock – and (perhaps, not extemporaneously …) I get an answer about which I can have confidence. One word for an attorney is, “counselor,” and that’s exactly the business relationship that I have with Tom.

Choose wisely, of course. There are snakes out there too. But, “find your Tom, and don’t leave home without him.”

Please do! If this was a movie, youød hear my pencil scraping till it broke :slight_smile:

I’m all covered on that, believe you me! The wise words: Have a good lawyer, a good accountant, and a good doctor! (priest used to be the fourth, but things are different now…)

OK… well be careful what you ask for…lol

But seriously, anything beyond this, to get more detailed might be more suited to consulting. The only reason I say that is because these situations are really sensitive and delicately crafted to the individuals involved. And often choices I make (in my own deals and so on) are a bit intuitive. Sometimes I might not know what I am going to say or phrase it until the night before. And up to now - knock on wood - I have done pretty good for myself. Not in Hollywood pitching deals or anything. (though I do have some brief experience with that) But definitely dealing with people who have money to invest in me and/or my projects/films or initiatives. And I have made a few indie films. Also built up an animation studio from scratch. And it took no small amount of deal making to get there.

I don’t mind helping if I can - free of charge - but I think getting more detailed might be better to do in private. If you are interested.

If I think of any more broad ideas I will post here.

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