How to Find a PRODUCING PARTNER (not $!) for a "No-Budget" Movie? at

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Old March 10th, 2010, 10:27 AM   #1
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How to Find a PRODUCING PARTNER (not $!) for a "No-Budget" Movie?

I'm seeking advice on how to go about finding a Producing Partner for a "no-budget" ($10K) movie I'd like to make.

A little background:

I'm primarily a screenwriter. I've written a script with a low budget in mind (limited cast and locations) that I'd now like to direct. In the past, I've made shorts (with friends and on my own), but this would be the first time I've tackled a feature-length production where ideally I'd be working with non-amateur actors and (limited) non-amateur crew. In addition to writing and directing, I've thought about wearing the third hat of Producer all by myself...

...but I really don't want to do this as I believe the workload would be overwhelming and ultimately limit, if not damage, the final result.

Thus, I'm seeking a Producing Partner.

As stated above, this is a "no budget" production with only $10K to spend - or, as I call it, "bagels and gas" money. Nobody is going to get paid. Not the actors, not the crew...

...not the Producing Partner.

About all I can offer anyone, including myself, is the experience of making a movie. I'm going to try to get it seen as much as possible, of course, EVEN TO THE EXTENT OF GIVING IT AWAY - which is why I never expect to see my $10K again (and why I'm careful to tell people I'm "spending" it rather than "investing" it). So what's the point? What's the goal?

The goal is to get some experience making a movie and - maybe - encourage a few people to see our work. That's it.

So my questions are:

1. Given the above, do you think it's even possible to attract a viable Producing Partner to such a project?

2. If yes, how do you recommend going about it?

I've been thinking of putting up an embryonic movie website with some of the relevant details of the project so I can point any potential Producing Partners there to self-evaluate their interest.

However, this still leaves the question of how/where to post "Producing Partner Wanted" signs?

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

[You can chime in with opinions, too, if you'd like!]

In any case, thanks for reading,


P.S. BTW, I'm based in L.A. - for better and for worse!
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Old March 10th, 2010, 11:33 AM   #2
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Put an ad on Craig's List Crew Gigs that you're looking for a producer to come on board to help make a $10k film, that you already have the money, and you're hoping to find someone to pull that together. There are always people looking to add a new entry to their IMDb, and they'll be interested in taking a look. It'll probably get flagged off repeatedly by the boys who get hysterical over non-paid gigs, but ignore them - none of them are doing anything worthwhile. Put it up several times and you'll get numerous responses.
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Old March 11th, 2010, 09:25 AM   #3
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Lori: Thanks for your advice.

I've perused Craigslist, but never really used it before. I get the impression, due to its "anything goes" open architecture, that it's sort of a port of last resort for filmmakers trying to crew up (which, I'm willing to entertain, may not be a correct impression). Also, I, too, over time, have noticed a decline in postings for "no pay" film jobs.

I'll probably still give Craigslist a try, as it's easy (and the price is certainly right!), but I'm wondering if there aren't more targeted (i.e., movie specific) places to post a notice for "Producing Partner Wanted"?

In any case, thanks for the input.

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Old March 11th, 2010, 10:09 AM   #4
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Hi Steven,

I'm up in the San Francisco Bay Area so I don't know what types of groups are down there. But I'm a member of a film coop up here that pulls crews and equipment together to make movies. Some good, some not so good but the goal is to get movies made through a collaborative effort where everyone brings their own talents and if desired learns new trades. Here's a link to the website so you get an idea of what it's about:

Scary Cow Productions

There are also a bunch of other groups around up here that help to connect filmmakers up.

If you get up to the Bay Area to make you're film look me up.

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Old March 11th, 2010, 10:39 AM   #5
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Everyone in this industry slums on Craig's List. One of the things that I've done is find scripts - because I'm willing to sit down and read 200 scripts, if necessary. When I put ads up for screenplays, I've had replies from Academy Award winning screenwriters. A short editing ad when we were swamped one time produced a response from an editor who had cut for Stanley Kubrick. Seriously. When I was looking for a line producer last year, the two people that I wound up interviewing both had produced over a dozen features with multi-million dollar budgets.

The problem with Craig's List isn't that you won't find qualified people, it's that you'll be swamped by people begging you for the job. Just be very specific about you're looking for. You don't have to settle for someone just out of film school. People who love producing are going to be intrigued by getting a film made for $10k - that is, if the ad is written well.

Whoever comes to work on your project is going to be sold by the quality of the writing. You can get all sorts of people on board that you cannot afford if the writing is good. That's what I was interested in saying in the previous thread. Be bold with your script. Don't sweat the budget.
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Old March 11th, 2010, 12:09 PM   #6
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Garrett: Thanks for your post.

It's interesting you bring up the idea of a film co-op. Not too long ago, in thinking of ways I might be able to "crew up" for a short, I thought there MUST be similar co-ops in L.A. - the movie capital of the world! - where talents and services could be freely exchanged (e.g., I'll hold the boom on your project if you hold it on mine, etc.). But in searching online...


I think I found one group operating out of a bus (okay, a pretty well technologically tricked-out bus) somewhere around the deserts of San Bernardino, but I believe it's now gone to that big Greyhound depot in the sky.

It made me think I should start my own website called, "You Crew Me, I Crew You"...

...but I can't even drive a stick!

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Old March 11th, 2010, 12:20 PM   #7
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I think you will have to consider going outside of LA area, frankly. We have a similar group of people here in Sacramento area. I personally was considering a similar feature attempt this year, and I am starting to look for a property. For your no budget production, you are going to have to disclose a bit more about the project like a synopsis of the story, size of cast, and shooting requirements to get people interested in committing. Story and potential for making a great film is going to be everything for those dedicated to moving beyond most of the stuff that is being done out there.
Chris J. Barcellos
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Old March 11th, 2010, 12:37 PM   #8
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Lori: Thanks SO much for your followup post...

...which has not only changed my perception of "crew gigs" on Craigslist, but instilled enough confidence that I now actually look forward to giving it a try!

I had no idea that gems of the caliber you describe were available amidst the quarry of talent utilizing Craigslist, even in a "mining" town like L.A.

As to my future posts there, I'll be sure to be very specific AND very honest. That's why I'm going to embed a link to a website describing exactly what my proposed movie is AND isn't - something I find sadly lacking in many "low budget" solicitations for cast and crew.

Frankly, I'm hoping the honest approach will help attract people who know going in what they're signing up for and thus will be more likely to show up.

As for the script, I'm a screenwriter by trade (or, at least, I was). I'm fairly humble in most areas of my life, but the one place I allow myself to be genuinely immodest (for both ego and sanity's sake) is my scriptwriting...

...which is my not-too-modest way of saying: The script, already written, is the one (and only one!) area of this "no budget" project that I'm not really worried about.

Finally, Lori, a last word to you personally: I've now read through many of the past threads of this "Indie Production" forum, and seen many of your posts. It sounds like you've got a good deal of experience in this "low budget" world, and I just wanted to say thanks for the thought and care you put into your advice.

It certainly helped me here.


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Old March 14th, 2010, 03:21 PM   #9
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I'm in the same boat, though in NYC. I asked someone to be my producing partner but she doesn't have the time to devote, so she's now my "consulting partner" whom I bounced ideas off of! I tried posting ads on Craigslist and Mandy to no avail; everyone who responded either didn't have adequate experience or demanded lots of money for their services. It's tough in NYC, with unemployment so high, not very many can afford non-paying gigs.

Then I took a producing workshop and asked the person running it how to find a producing partner, saying that I tried posting those ads. I was told that the best way is to attend networking and filmmaker get-togethers as much as possible to meet people face-to-face. I try to attend two networking opportunities a month. If I find one person with whom I feel an affinity, out of the twenty or thirty or more I meet at these things, I think that's a success. At least to make connections. AND the most important thing to do when you meet people is listen to them - the theory being that since we usually find ourselves in situations where no one really listens much to us, anyone who does seems like someone we want to hang out with. So, meet people, ask questions, and let them know you're listening! They will want to get to know you more. Get business cards and get in touch with the folks to whom you felt most comfortable. Even if they are not producers, they might know someone who is.

I asked my consulting producer how I could find someone who would help me produce my project for no pay, and she said, "Hey, if someone says no, walk away and just keep asking. Eventually you'll find someone." Don't try to bend yourself to convince a "no" when there could be a "yes" around the corner. In the meantime, I am proceeding, one task at a time, to produce this project by myself until I find a partner.

Last edited by Diane diGino; March 14th, 2010 at 03:59 PM.
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Old March 15th, 2010, 08:29 AM   #10
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Diane: Thanks for your post.

Being (to this point) primarily a writer, i.e., I spend most of the workday writing in a home office, "networking" hasn't been high on my list of accomplishments...

...but I suppose that's going to have to change if I'm to start making things.

Living in L.A., you'd think the networking opportunities would spring up in every aisle of the grocery store, but I've found them to be somewhat fragmentary (or maybe I haven't been looking hard enough). And as you said about NYC, people in L.A. are hungry for paid work, which I can't provide, so I'm naturally curious (okay, concerned) about the quantity/quality of people I can attract to my project.

From reading your post on "how to interview a line producer", I understand you're doing a short with a 2-day shoot. I've done some shorts in the past (though none with "professional" cast and crew) and am finding crewing up for a feature (approximately 90 minutes) to be particularly intimidating.

However, like you, I'm plowing ahead. It's slow going at first, like turning the wheels on a stationary locomotive, but I have a feeling it will accelerate once other people start responding to my cry of "All aboard!"

Good luck with your project,

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Old March 15th, 2010, 11:17 AM   #11
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Crewing up, at least for the creative positions, is easy. People need footage for their reel, and you'll find superb people itching for the chance to work on a good project. The dicier part is for people who don't need reels - grips, etc.

If you want to talk, drop me a line.
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Old March 15th, 2010, 06:31 PM   #12
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Hi Steven, I'm a producer, aren't we all in some form or another. Anyway, Full disclosure: I'm not available for your project but I believe I may be able to point you to someone that is. If not, I wish you the best and good luck. Don't give up because at the end of the day, there's nothing more rewarding in this business then to watch 'your' baby go from script to screen.

Feel free to contact me at your leisure:
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Old April 9th, 2010, 11:29 AM   #13
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Steven. Are you going to attempt to make a feature film? What is your goal?

I think you really need to consider the legal structure of the film you are going to make. No matter how good a film is, it won't go anywhere if it's not set up the right way. On the flip side, people wonder how such crappy films become distributed... it's because the producers had the legal issues figured out.

You say that you're making a (feature?) film for $10,000. You're wrong. You may have $10,000 in cash to spend, but you're likely going to be making a film for $30,000-50,000. You're failing to consider sweat equity. You can't just say that you aren't paying people... that's not how things work from a legal stand point... unless of course the film is going to be a personal project that will never stand a chance of ever being distributed no matter how good it turns out. Whether you think you are going to pay people or not, you still need to have agreements. You need to figure out the value that people working on your film are giving you. You may not pay your actors, but you may still figure that they are worth $100 a day... and you need to keep track of that... because it's going to end up being your "debt" ... and if the film ends up being picked up, there's a very good chance that a distributor will pay off your "debt."

But, really... I think you need to figure out your goal before anything else... if you want to spend $10,000 of your own cash and have the film sit on your shelf for your own personal satisfaction, fine. Continue in the direction you are headed. If you actually want to see your film go somewhere... I think you need to change your mindset... just a bit.
Late December. A feature film by Matthew Overstreet & Christopher J. Adams.
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Old April 14th, 2010, 11:54 AM   #14
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I have been in a similar boat-finalyl decided to lower my sights to do things that i could do alone.

Craigslist must depend a lot on location. For example, here in British Columbia, despite claims that it is the third largest film production center in North America, it is practically useless--more than useless-for finding a producer partner/film collaborator. You mostly get hit by scammers and wannabe actors/producers or immigrants looking for language practice partners or no responses at all.

Can lead to some interesting stories though-like the time I got a reply from an actress/producer and the first hit that came up on google for her name was a nude photo site since she had appeared topless in a sorority house horror movie.

Or the guy who wanted me to give him $5000 to consult and tried to scare me with indie filmmaking horror stories,.
or the guy who offers to film your low budget movie for the meager sum of $50 000 while asking for donations to his non violent movie foundation (at least he has principles!).

I used to wonder why BC got called La La Land, spend time responding to or posting ads on Vancouver craigslist and you find out.

Unfortunately the indie film community is very fragmented here with little genuine interest in collaboration or building a local industry(if it wasnt for US runaways there would be almost nothing--in fact the US productions probably hurt local development and drove costs up and made people jaded) and very little online channels to communicate. BC is a leader in online dating service use, but for common interest pursuits outside of a tourism brochure there is scarce online communication/connection. The Indie film Meetups are actor networking sessions.

I have been told repeatedly that "serious" film people in BC only use word of mouth to hire people-and wouldnt use craigslist --sounds elitist to me since filmmakers in other places use the internet.

The only significant local industry development are schools(which cater to foreign students), and speed filmmaking contests.

We have a couple of indie filmmaking co-ops but people would rather do their own thing in obscurity than collaborate, and there is a strange tendency to want to make quirky dramas or romantic comedies as opposed to genres that have more audience appeal.
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Old June 13th, 2010, 10:15 PM   #15
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Stu Maschwitz has a book out called The DV Rebel's Guide: An All-Digital Approach to Making KILLER ACTION MOVIES on the CHEAP that I'm reading right now.

He puts it pretty succinctly, that no one really cares about your movie but you. Craigslist ad or not, if you're not paying someone, you're probably not going to find a hardworking, committed producer. Search, and if someone steps up, great, but even if that happens, be prepared and willing to do all of it yourself.
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