The “Business” of Show Business

Business Plans 101

Working in the animation industry for the past sixteen years has been an exciting and enlightening journey that has afforded me some wonderful opportunities.  (How else would I have visited magnificent Seoul, Korea?)  Not to mention, it’s allowed me to cultivate many significant friendships with some truly cool and awe-inspiring people.  But, frankly, it hasn’t been the end of my rainbow.  I have creative aspirations.  I’ve always loved live-action films and I’ve known that I wanted to be in that world.

When I arrived at Nickelodeon in 2001, I was so inspired by the talent surrounding me (and the nurturing environment fostering it) that I started screenwriting in earnest.  I love being captivated by good stories and I was eager to bring a few of my own to fruition.  But my wordsmithing activities were extra-curricular as I continued working my “day job.”  I daydreamed about the moment when I’d be my own boss and finally get to focus on the “creative” rather than the schedules and the budgets.  Some day I’d have my own production company and tell the kinds of stories I want to tell.  I would pull together a team of lovely, talented people with whom I could collaborate to execute entertaining, impactful movies.

So now here I am doing it.  I’m ready for the creative confabs, the late-night discussions, the breakdowns, the in-depth analysis of all things cinematic as they pertain to the films I want to make.  I’m in the game now.  I’m flexing my artistic muscles!  I’m gonna make a friggin’ movie!  This is awesome!

Oh wait…

What’s that?  People aren’t just going to blindly throw money at a motivated yet-still-untested indie film producer?  I have to do what?  Put together a business plan?


Luckily, I have a very pragmatic Executive Producer (aka: dear old Dad) who is balancing out his skepticism over this risky quest of mine with his complete hope to see me succeed at it.  About a week after I made this decision, Peter Brenner, Sr. sent me a book called Filmmakers and Financing: Business Plans for Independents by Louise Levison.  She happened to create the business plan for a little film called The Blair Witch Project.  You remember that one?  The $60K movie that’s made $240M?  Yeah, Louise Levison knows what she’s talking about.  So I recommend her book to any aspiring filmmaker or new founder of a production company who is trying to get their proverbial act together.  Because you need a plan, dreamers – one that’s approximately 25 pages long.

So my last week has been spent typing words like “equity investment,” “cost-effective,” and “generating revenues.”  Yeah, not exactly the language I anticipated typing as a newly-anointed master of my creative universe, but I’m realizing it’s a necessary evil to this whole indie filmmaking process.  And if the “evil” ends up funding my ultimate dream, then there’s nothing really malevolent about it, is there?  Time to get back to work!

NEXT UP: Something Less Business-y!  (This is supposed to be FUN, too!)

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