How do I access funding partners for a tv series in development?

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I am seeking a financial partner to shoot a pilot for this TV Series. I have the interest of Adrian Grenier, but i need funding for the pilot. This project is based on two successful and ongoing blogs about being a single dad. There are three books published and a podcast. I’ve got several pilot scripts and a well-fleshed out shot bible. Are you interested in the film/tv business? I need a partner. john.mcelhenney@gmail.com

Here’s the teaser for the show.

The Off Parent – TV Series – Teaser

Mike Carreon Answered question August 5, 2022
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I’m an LA-based episodic director’s assistant on a couple of Netflix shows, and a represented Tejano writer-director. My last short film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and another I produced was acquired by HBO. I’m also a seasoned marketer and creative consultant for startups.

While it may feel like a step back, I’d recommend entering the script into some competitions on Coverfly or The BlckLst. I had producers reaching out and have the opportunity to pitch my show after a comedy pilot of mine won some accolades and ranked Top 1% on Coverfly. There are a couple reputable contests with submission deadlines fast approaching so I’d hop on that fast.

Also, if Grenier’s interested and available (assuming y’all are both in Austin at the moment), grab a few folks and make a no/low-budget sizzle reel. Or, cut one together using footage from his past work. While I prefer to use short films as an MVP and a way to gain interest, a solid sizzle reel is the next best thing. It gives financiers the confidence that you have the skills to produce a marketable story and that you’re not just talk, which is super common this industry. Plus, from a user experience stand point… folks are way more likely to watch and engage with a ~2min sizzle reel than read a cold email/multi-page pitch.

That said, there are also resources like Roadmap Writers, Stage 32, and others that have pay-to-pitch opportunities. While I’m not the biggest fan of pay-to-pitch opportunities, I personally know of at least 3 folks that have either gained reps or have had their projects optioned off one of these initial conversations.

I might be telling you a bunch of stuff you already know, so, my point is… if you can’t afford the entire show right now think about breaking down your measures of success into more manageable goals that you control vs. being dependent on a partner to get your TV show on air.

Hope that helps! Best of luck, and godspeed!

MC

John McElhenney Posted new comment August 5, 2022

So good. Thank you for the encouragement and info. I’ll say on it.

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Wonderful question, particularly here, because we’re certainly frequently asked, in MediaTech Ventures, but we’re not explicitly in the funding of productions world (we’re in the funding of ventures / entrepreneurs / startups world).  Hence though my celebration of your question here – that *I* (or we in particular) don’t really have the answer you’re seeking John, but we need to have the answer and advice here.

I’m answering not with an answer but more so a thought, really to help us facilitate others to contribute their answers and advice here.

We did explore it a bit, in this article: How do Investors in Film Get Their Return? How are Movies Funded?? and interestingly (even more validating your question here and our collective need for more advice), is that that article is one of our most popular articles from Google – people are seeking answers.

From that article

When we talk about “funding,” we’re typically, in entrepreneurship, referring to investors in a business.  Those might be angel investors or Venture Capitalists; they invest in a company by taking a share of the ownership in exchange for their capital investment in the company.   The startup thrives and when it “exits” (gets acquires or if so luck, goes public), the investors get their money back, plus some.

We use the word *funding* in a very specific way so as to be clear that we’re referring to investors in the company.  Other terms, such as “financing” refer to the loans that are available to businesses.

Does it work the same way in film??  Well yes, and no.

In film, we’re not funding, nor financing, the business that produces the film; we’re funding the film.   The idea, the distinction, is rather like a startup trying to get investors in just one of the things they’re building.

Film industry investors are investing in the movie production; so, somewhat similarly, they receive their return when movie is sold for distribution.  Like the startup exiting when it gets acquired.

The most important difference is that when we’re talking about movie investors, it’s more accurate to call them creditors. Like a loan, their money is against the finished product , the film, and the value of that is factored into the return of their capital.  Technically, it’s financing, not funding, a film.

A few of the common ways a movie is financed

Grants

The Producer pitches a local entity, usually a city, state, or region, where Arts, Economic Development, and even Tourism funds can be found – often there is a Film Commission involved and available.   Such funds are allocated to support programs that put local talent to work, show off the city, or celebrate the community.   These are usually grants in every sense of the word – come make your movie in Texas!  Here’s money for that.  (Er… well…)

Gap/Supergap

This one I’m still doing homework on myself.   A Gap.  Essentially, the Producer takes a loan against the value of all unsold rights.    Basically, the film is pre-sold to the tune of, say, $700,000 but it takes $1,000,000 to produce.  The Gap is the $300k.   To do this, you’re pre-selling the film and likely have to have a reputation and some bankable names involved so that the financier can be confident that you’ll make up the difference.

A Negative Pickup

Strike a deal with a film studio that commits that they will buy the film for an agreed upon amount of money. They establish certain requirements of the finished product and you can seek the financing or funding to ensure those things are delivered so that the film meets studio expectations and gets purchased.

Private funding

Someone gives you the money.  More or less.  Granted, they’re doing so for participation in profits or as a loan with fixed interest  —  You pay them back.   Often part of the arrangement here will involve some credits on the film… this is why you see things like “Executive Producer” as the credits roll (that’s not too dissimilar to an investor in a business expecting a seat on the Board of Directors of the company).

Ask your fans: Crowdfunding

Shares the idea publicly and offer what you can to your fans: advance ticket purchase, red carpet treatment, pre-screening, merchandise, private party with the cast, etc. In crowdfunding it’s important to appreciate that your audience really isn’t getting their money back; their supporting you because they want to and they want to participate in the experience.

That’s where my understanding and advice ends.

So, everyone else here and visiting us – what more can you share?

How do I access funding partners for a tv series in development?

John McElhenney Posted new comment August 5, 2022

THANK YOU, Paul. Very informative.

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