When it comes to funding a truly indie (e.g. non-studio-supported) film, there are several popular and well-known methods: credit cards (e.g. Kevin Smith with Clerks), selling your body as a scientific test subject (Robert Rodriguez for El Mariachi), selling all non-essential Earthly possessions, write letters to family/friends asking for support/donations (Darron Arronofsky for Pi), or getting the financial backing of a few well-banked sponsors. This last option–while a dream for almost every indie filmmaker—only happens for a small percentage of the filmmaking populace largely due to the fact that most indie filmmakers are unprepared to make it a reality.
It is no small undertaking to try to get investors to help fund your film. They’re taking a big gamble on you, so you as the filmmaker or producer want to make sure that you have it all together when presenting your pitch to potential investors (for more info on this topic, see our review of Bankroll). An essential part of this is a detailed, written-out business plan which describes you, your proposed film, how you plan to market your film, and (most importantly) how you plan to make a profit when it’s all said and done. Getting the Money breaks down the rather intimidating process of putting together a business plan that is concise, detailed, and professional.
Books of the financial ilk can sometimes be daunting; it’s easy for the reader to feel overwhelmed with the avalanche of numbers and information in front of them. However, this book is incredibly well-organized and refreshingly easy to follow, as it breaks down the process of constructing a business plan into 30 steps, spread out over the book’s 10 chapters. Juuso carefully but expertly guides the reader through each step with detailed explanations and numerous examples.
There are two aspects of the book which I think are the greatest assets in making it easy to understand. The first is that each step builds upon the explanations of the previous step(s). Instead of organizing the book chronologically (that is, the order that the final business plan will be in), Juuso starts out with the parts that are the most time- and labor-intensive: research and projections. Once those topics are covered, he then moves on to assembling the marketing and distribution information (which is easier to understand, since you’ve gained knowledge from the previous step). Each chapter and each step therein builds upon the material you read before, which in turn better helps you understand how everything fits together.
The second aspect is the plentiful examples. While a fully assembled sample business plan is found in Appendix A, an example of each individual section (e.g. financial projections, company description, etc.) is found at the end of the chapter that addresses that topic. Additionally, Juuso has created samples and template spreadsheets for financial projections which are available on MWP’s website.
If you’re the person presenting the business plan, you’ll need to have knowledge on a wide variety of topics so that you can accurately answer questions your potential investors might have. This book contains a tremendous amount of detailed information, covering everything from researching and assembling financial projections to explaining the filmmaking and distribution processes.
One of the things I really liked about the book was that it gives you the information you need to know in the main body of the text, while Appendix B contains clarifications and more detailed explanations. If the material in this Appendix had been placed within the main text, it would have slowed it down and the book would not have flowed as well. Additionally, this information in the Appendix is organized to correspond with the different Steps, making it very easy to follow. In this way, the author was able to not only include a greater quantity of information, but he also did so in an efficient, understandable way.
The “business” aspect of filmmaking is not for the fainthearted; it’s easy to get bogged down by all the minutiae. I’ve read many books that tackle complex topics and end up tiring the reader with an overload of details. This book does get quite complicated in some parts, particularly with Steps 2, 3, & 4, which discuss financial projections. However, Juuso helps maintain the reader’s interest by covering the necessary information in the main text, and moves the “Nitty Gritty Details” (as he calls it) to the Appendix, where you can read it when you’re ready. Additionally, the author’s sense of humor with his aside comments and amusing subheadings (e.g. “Step 18: Briefly scare the crap out of the investor: a.k.a. the mini-risk statement”) make the content enjoyable.
The necessity of having a detailed, well-written, professional-looking business plan is so essential to obtaining financial backing for your films, that this book is one you’ll definitely use with each film you do.
Putting together a properly written business plan is very similar to writing a script. You may have the best script in the world, but, if it’s not properly formatted and it looks amateurish, it will end up in the trash. Likewise, a poorly-written business plan can make you (and/or your company) look unprofessional and incompetent, which will scare away investors. The amount of money you could gain by obtaining the financial support of the right investors with a solid, well-prepared business plan makes this book’s value well worth the cost, even if you only use it once.
This book is best geared toward low-budget filmmakers who are making (or will be making) feature-length films with budgets of (at minimum) a few thousand dollars. The amount of research, time, labor, and money needed to put a thorough business plan together isn’t really worth it if you’re making a short film, or if your budget is less than $2,000. Having said that, if you’re one of the former, then this book will be an incredible asset to you. (This is especially true if you've read Bankroll and are planning to move into Indywood budgets.)
The examples and detailed explanations were extremely helpful in making the material understandable, as well as the fact that the information was organized in a cumulative structure. While there is a lot of information in the book, the author concentrates the necessary information in the main body of the text, and organizes the more specific details in the Appendix; this ends up increasing the amount of information the reader is able to understand. In turn, this improves the reader’s interest level because it doesn’t overwhelm them. For the amount of beneficial information this book contains (as well as the fact that you’ll be able to use it as a guide for each film you make), it is definitely a worthwhile investment.