Michel is just like us, an inspired person with big dreams that he developed “from the ground up.”
My eyes are still puffy and I’m on my first cup of coffee. Was it worth waking up early? Absolutely! I’m sitting at Raleigh Studios across from Paramount listening to producer Michel Shane speak about his career and how he turned iRobot and Catch Me If You Can from a script into profitable international artwork.
I’m a recording artist, what am I doing at a Film/TV networking event? Yes, I will leave the acting to the professionals. I’m here because I find people fascinating. Everyone has a different purpose and an interesting life with important messages to share. A room at any networking event is filled with stories and lessons that translate across all industries. I’m excited to share the “cliff notes” from this intimate talk with Michel Shane! This is now yours to enjoy!
“Big Picture” Highlights
– The gift of youth is to ask for what you want fearlessly.
– Be thorough. Michel got his law degree and used it to his advantage to build credibility in the industry. When he started in the business, he read a 75 page contract and came back with questions before signing with a big wig UK lawyer. That big wig now runs a hedge fund and they are still friends today because of Michel’s ability to dive into and understand the details of the business.
– Right place, right time is a key to success. Have the knowledge to support your luck. Preparation meets opportunity.
– If you say it enough times, people start believing you.
– Why pay more, every dollar spent matters.
– You will have people who are not your friend. That’s okay.
– “Catch Me If You Can” took nine years to make. He’s still getting DVD revenues. If his revenues are still significant, imagine how much the other guys are making. Possibilities are huge. Believe in your projects!
Financing and Funding
– Market is bouncing back. Used to make pre-sales in order to get funding for movies (pre-sales would account for about 40%). When market crashed distributors stopped buying. Now equity from investors has taken the place of largely funding by pre-sales.
– Veronica Mars has raised 4MM via crowd funding. It’s brilliant. Free money. You give someone some merchandise and you get free money. It will probably start getting regulated to include investors receiving a percentage of earnings, especially now that larger companies are receiving funding this way as well.
– Equity is the hardest money to come by. However, there are lots of wealthy investors and a lot of boring business proposals. Thus, there is an opportunity to make your business stand out. There is still incentive to invest in films. Wealthy investors still like the opportunity to enjoy the perks of investing in a project that allows them to meet celebrities in person.
More Tricks of the Trade
– Read 5,000 scripts. Study your craft.
-Understand how much you can sell your film for. Then make your cost lower so you can make a profit. As creators, we can tend to overestimate the value of our work. Get a realistic market price perspective.
– Another way to get your movie funded, focus on talent to make a quality film. When those actors make it, you can leverage their notability to get funding.
– Film commissions and states offer funding for a limited time. This is another way to get your project made.
– Tv is fast versus film. What takes ten years in film takes two in TV. Netflix is essentially TV. It has as many subscribers as HBO. It’s all about story. Pitch stories that are interesting.
– All the banks have entertainment departments. It’s a high interest quick return for them. There’s no magic or special secret to getting a movie made. You should be proud that you’ve been able to take something and make it happen whether it makes one cent or millions of dollars.
Determination Pays Off
– There was a period of time that was challenging. Michel like has a family to support. Wife asked when are you going to get a real job and take your heads out of the clouds? He laughed and said “what else am I qualified to do?” Keep pushing for your vision to come to life.
– Negotiate. Even cash flow timing is negotiable. For example, if an investor is going to recoup 100% of money plus interest. You can still negotiate the timing of who gets paid back when. Once investor gets the initial investment plus interest back, you could receive profit first then investor gets an additional 25%. Otherwise, you may not see a dollar of profit for some time. Structure your earnings. That’s part of the negotiation.
– Put periods and commas in the right place. Otherwise, it can be detrimental. Get a good lawyer.
– In earlier days, he would read ten scripts a week. Now Michel chooses scripts that he can fight for today and for years down the line.
Persistence and Intuition
– He was approached by someone with a good movie concept. Four years later, they started pre production. Unfortunately, because the wrong actor was hired, they had to start over. Never know how long a project could take and for what reason. Allow time and planning.
– Partners are valuable. They can keep you humble and can keep your perspective in line.
– Michel enjoys being hands up until it’s time to shoot. He’s a problem solver. Know your strengths and what you enjoy and do that part of it.
– Trust your instincts. Always listen to your little voice. Michel has always gotten in trouble when he hasn’t listened.
– Audi and FedEx spent money to integrate their brands into the film iRobot. This can be part of your strategy from the beginning. Usually you’ll go through the brand’s agency.
– Trust but verify when it comes to everything and everyone.
– If you make a brilliant movie you’re set. Sometimes movies fail up. One film is met with great expectations, but upon release is not so good. Meanwhile you’re working on your next film. You’re second movie allows people to forgive you for failing on your first.
– Go to your core audience and build it slow. You’re numbers will tell the success story. You can’t beat word of mouth.
100 Million Good Deeds
– Most importantly, remember to GIVE BACK! Michel shared a tragic and touching story which began the Emily Shane Foundation. Read more and you can join the global mission to do 100 Million Good Deeds.
The theme of my week is “Showing Up.” I never know what opportunities could come about from stepping outside of my immediate line of work. What takeaways hit home for you?
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If you’re looking to build some relationships in the Film/TV industry, you can join Hollywood Networking Breakfasts next month. Every month they have an interesting speaker and attendees, many of who have nice accomplishments and are still active writing, producing, acting and financing projects. Check out the site for the list of previous speakers. Very impressive!