Saturday, November 17, 2007

It Takes a Perfect Storm

With all of the terrible animated movies out there getting made, you would think that getting funding to put one of these together is easy. To the contrary, it is extremely difficult and time consuming. Most never are successful. The days of money flying around left and right for CG features has died out.

DreamWorks, Blue Sky, Disney, and Pixar (last two being the same now) are set. They have the cash, infrastructure, crew, and reputation to continue to make films. But even Sony Imageworks is having trouble - a company that you would think would easily make that list.

I'm constantly being barraged by business plans (btw- I enjoy reading them, keep them coming!) that producers and executives have put together trying to find financing for their films. It is just plain hard to break into this area. Sometimes you look around and think that everyone and their mother is making animated films, but if you knew how many were trying and failing or floundering, you'd realize just how rare it is.

Take for instance that company I've talked about in the past for years now. It continues to have difficulty getting over the hump. No matter who is behind it and how well thought out the business plan is. It just flounders (the latest reasons are almost laughable it is so silly). Think about established studios like Wildbrain in San Francisco who have been rumored to be pitching a CG feature of their own to everyone in Hollywood. Word on the street? No takers so far. The history of the company and the financial backing seems to matter not. Some people either don't have the connections, have bad luck, or are just have bad timing. Even mega company - Universal has been trying to get their CG films going for years now. I've heard that they are still moving forward, but are tripping up as well.

I'll occasionally get an email from someone pitching their business plan or presenting their pet project. Sometimes the ideas are fantastic and something that I honestly feel would make a boatload of money or become an extremely popular franchise. They just don't have the contacts or business background to draw in financing. Sometimes they are just civilians (to use a Soprano's term) with a great idea but no clue where to go with it. Other times the business plan is almost amazing and has obviously been written by someone that has put in the time and research, yet the stories are bad, or they have unrealistic expectations about how easy it will be to get distribution or how much a good film will cost.

It takes a perfect storm.

Meaning, the companies that not only get funding, finish production and find distribution takes a huge stroke of luck and hard work that few can achieve. And those that somehow pull it off, can easily become a one-hit-wonder and never achieve elite multi-film-status.

It all has to come together; great story, business plan, sound production team, and real distribution from a legit company. Something almost always breaks down in the process.

If only these groups knew about each other. If the executives that put together this awesome business plan with realistic numbers and forecasts could hook up with a writer with a great story, and they knew about these artists that could supervise the project, and they had this producer/director team to lead the project, a distributor that recognizes the genious before them, and finally an investor looking for the perfect project stumbles across this group.

Good luck with that one.


Anonymous said...

Lets say a foreign CG film has already gotten the full finance in place for production. And lets assume that it has a great story, production team etc. In your opinion, will it still be difficult to locate a good distributor in US. Thk you for your advise in advance.

Staloren said...

Distributors want as little risk as possible. If you come to the table with an already created product that they see as being commercially viable ... Then yes, I think you would have a reasonable chance to get distribution. They would be foolish to let it slip by.

If you are approaching distributors prior to the completion of the product, you will have to convince them that the production team is capable and that the financing is real. If you can do that and they consider it commercially sellable, you should be okay.

Anonymous said...

I have been following your blog for about a year. All the things you have written here are very valuable tips. Thk you so much for sharing for thoughts on distribution. Really appreciate it. Thks.