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Techniques for Independent Production
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Old April 29th, 2005, 01:26 PM   #1
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Getting money from a website?

So there's a part in my script where my main char goes into the library and visits a website to find apartments. Do you think that I could contact a apartment searching website and ask for money to put their site in my movie? I've never done this type of thing before and obviously I would love to get some extra funding for the film and I'm thinking this might be a good way to some extra $$. Keep in mind that this wasn't my purpose at first, but just an idea that came into my mind as I was writing the script.

What do y'all think?
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Old April 29th, 2005, 01:39 PM   #2
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Why not?

Determine beforehand what value proposition you would have for them.

i.e. audience for your film. What distribution. Length of time their logo and URL are on the screen. Whether their logo will appear on your marketing collateral. Logo and link from your own website.
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Old April 29th, 2005, 01:46 PM   #3
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I would probably film the address name and the logo for a few seconds. I have NO idea how to price that though. I'm also producing the movie myself and will be submitting it to film fesitvals. If it get's chosen for distribution then that will be something. Otherwise, my distirbution will not be great.

Would I let them choose a price if they decide to give me any $$?
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Old May 1st, 2005, 10:48 AM   #4
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Adam,

Product placement money...Usually, companies want to know if a hot star is onboard, or if the film is high concept and has high end production values (ie, a $1 million budget). If you had distribution, great, then they'd jump at it.

Doing product placements is easy when certain criteria are met, but for the rest of us in the sub-$100,000 world with no stars or distribution, it's tough. But not impossible. Be savvy, professional and a salesmen. Tell them why it will benefit them. If they don't budge, try one or two others. If no luck, move on and maybe create a fake website to avoid potential lawsuits.

Lastly, if they do give you money, make sure you are producing your movie under a specific, incorporated (or LLC or LLP) company and you've filed with the SEC. I've seen too many filmmakers get into A LOT of legal trouble.

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Old May 1st, 2005, 11:13 AM   #5
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Adam, regardless of whatever happens don't forget to shoot the scene completely VOID of all product placement! Anything can happen in the future, so you want to be able to take out the scene and insert a generic version of your chosing.

The reason I say this is - theaters, DVD's, cable, airlines...cell phones. You have to remember that every potential place to run your movie is place some company should be paying. If that site pays a flat rate...fine. But, what about if your movie gets picked up? You'd probably want to contact Google and get them to pay for the product placement.

Just my 2 cents - always think about "donuts" in your movie. You want to be able to re-edit it later and put in what you want. Think of it as the "Director's Cut" later on. :)
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Old May 1st, 2005, 10:56 PM   #6
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Thanks for the info guys. I'll definately be doing what you have suggested.
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Old May 1st, 2005, 11:14 PM   #7
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If a company doesn't want to pay, they could very well make YOU pay for the use of a logo. I read a great article by an entertainment lawyer that states people should AVOID the use of movie posters in their films. Because of the release by the studio and each person featured on the poster. My students were so sad, because they wanted to put Donnie Darko and other movie posters in their films.

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Old May 3rd, 2005, 04:33 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Heath McKnight
Lastly, if they do give you money, make sure you are producing your movie under a specific, incorporated (or LLC or LLP) company and you've filed with the SEC. I've seen too many filmmakers get into A LOT of legal trouble.

heath
Heath,
I'm a corporation with a federal tax ID number. I've not heard of filing with the SEC however. It worries me though because I don't want to skip something. What would I need to file with the SEC?
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Old May 3rd, 2005, 07:33 PM   #9
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Adam, I sent you private mail with a web name. Have a friend or a friend's friend make you a basic site that matches your script. Register a name with Network Solutions and create a site. Some places will host for 2-3 months for less than $30. Hey, if you go big, you can sell the domain name. ;)
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Old May 3rd, 2005, 10:11 PM   #10
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I was sort of thinking the same thing except just not registering the same name. I was going to just create a temp page on my site that read "Apartments for rent" or something to that matter. That's if no one wants to participate. hehe.

Good idea though. I'll definatetly think about it.
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Old May 4th, 2005, 08:32 AM   #11
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Go with www.godaddy.com because it's $9 a year to register a name, and the site will cost maybe $5 a month.

Any time investors give you money, you need to do one of at least two things:

1. File with the SEC, because they're the ones who make sure you aren't ripping off investors.

2. If you are taking money from investors ONLY located in your state, you don't have to register with the SEC, but you have a limited number of accredited and unaccredited investors. Then you can't advertise at all.

I'd STRONGLY recommend reading over SEC's site: www.sec.gov

Many indie filmmakers don't follow those guidelines and end up in SERIOUS trouble. I've heard and read about horror stories. One guy couldn't sell his movie to a major indie studio, because of the way he raised money.

And PLEASE don't ask for donations unless you're a non-profit. I read people doing this all the time, and the next thing they know, the SEC is all over them like they're a HUGE corporation that ripped off the world. It's ugly and can end in jail time (remember Enron? There's now a zero-tolerance policy). I'm tired of hearing indie filmmakers say their accountant will take care of it. Really? No accountant I know will ever recommend that.

Lastly, you want to designate a SEPERATE company with a Federal Tax ID number, because of the extra protection. Also, you'll soon learn that having a seperate company secures the fact that investors are investing in your indie film, NOT your company. Or at least the seperate company making that particular film. A friend of mine made a film without a seperate company producing it, and one of his investors said he now owned a part of my friend's company. And guess what, he did. So my friend let the company expire to get out of it and created a new deal for the film investors.

I'm not 100% on all this, but there are plenty of books in the library that can help out, esp. ones on creating corporations, etc., in your home state. And plenty of books on raising money and more for films. Check the net.

Ultimately, I let my accountant deal with a lot of that, then she refers me to my lawyer, who helps out with the rest. Protect yourself, then make great films! It may sound like overkill, but I've known filmmakers and read about others who got into SERIOUS trouble. Even over a $5000 movie.

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Old May 5th, 2005, 12:04 AM   #12
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Wow.. I, and my compadre, had no idea about this. We weren't doing much research on investments because we weren't planning on asking for them. I just got the idea while writing the script and thought I'd ask the experts here. :o)

Thanks for the VERY GOOD tip Heath. I will be surely checking this out.
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Old May 5th, 2005, 08:28 AM   #13
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Well, if you aren't looking for investor money, you probably don't need to worry. I threw all that on the board here to help educate EVERYONE! I've done a lot of research over the last 8 months for my next movie.

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Old May 5th, 2005, 08:37 AM   #14
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I wonder if you should make that a sticky Heath? I mean, I've done a LOT of research and this was the first I've heard of the SEC. And like you said, there are a lot of filmmakers that get into trouble with that. If a post like that is a sticky, then hopefully that will help us indie filmmakers.
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Old May 5th, 2005, 09:45 AM   #15
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I hear ya. To me, the SEC is something I vaguely associated with the 80s (in a good and bad way) and Enron (in a bad way), so I thought they were the money cops. But that's only part of it.

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