Most filmmakers begin their careers by persuading one or more private
investors to back them. Indeed, unless you are a Kevin Costner or
a Barbra Streisand, there are limited alternatives open to you.
It is rare for a distributor to back a first-time filmmaker. Banks
will not lend you money without substantial collateral. Loans based
on pre-sales are difficult because territory buyers typically insist
on packages with name actors from a director with a track record.
That leaves most filmmakers looking to mom, dad and whatever they
can scrape up from friends, relatives and Mastercard.

While such resources have financed many a film,
nowadays the bar has been raised as to what is considered marketable.
With the glut of independent films available, most buyers won’t
even consider acquiring a film unless it 1) is shot on 35mm stock
with name-talent, or 2) wins an important film festival.

Thus, filmmakers are being forced to raise increasingly
large sums of money to produce more expensive films with name
actors. Perhaps when digitally-shot motion pictures gain wider
acceptance, production costs will decline. At the moment, however,
there is a large pool of producers chasing a small pool of bankable
actors. This competition has driven up the price of talent, even
for low-budget indie films.

As a result, the ability to woo investors has become
a critical skill—one that is not taught in film school and
is rarely discussed in industry seminars or publications. Perhaps
the best preparation for an aspiring moviemaker would be to attend
business school and learn the intricacies of high finance. Even
if you didn’t pay much attention during class, you would
graduate with a bunch of eager MBAs who several years later would
be prime candidates to invest in your films. Better yet, go to
dental school.