October 27, 2021


[ri-mahr-kuh-buhl]
adjective
1. conspicuous or conspicuously unusual: exceptional: a remarkable change.
2. Noteworthy or attention-grabbing.

I’m invited to a lot of guest speakers, and in general, my hosts want some simple, sharp, cinematic facts in one uplifting and inspiring package – not exactly a lucky pill, but similar, I suppose. Then I realized that in order to be successful and rise to the top, you have to be remarkable. Especially when filmmakers appeal to investors.

We all know that filmmaking experience requires a filmmaker to be remarkable. But have you ever thought about how investors must feel? How can a filmmaker deliver a remarkable experience to their potential investors?

It’s pretty easy to understand one remarkable filmmaker’s experience: all of the hard work to be found one day at the Oscars or the British Independent Film Awards. We all went to the cinema and knew what a remarkable movie experience it was.

Filmmakers, and especially filmmakers who create content for the web (as we celebrated at our upcoming Raindance Film Fest, know how remarkable content has to be to break into today’s competitive marketplace.

How many filmmakers know what a Investor experience is like? Investors are not something filmmakers usually associate with noteworthy (unless they write a check). Investor relations and dealing with investors aren’t the kind of notable filmmakers. On the contrary. Words like pain, irritating, bored, and tiresome are more of the norm.

What does a remarkable investing experience look like?

With one recently Certificate from the Producer Foundation In the 1st class, I decided to ask this question:

What is the goal of an investor presentation?

Most people respond with statements like: To get a check or not to waste too much time with a “no”.

The correct answer is simple, having a great meeting with great conversation.

Period.

It is an unwise filmmaker who enters an investment meeting filled with thoughts about a check and full of facts and figures about how fantastic the return will be for his potential investor or client. When these thoughts fill your head at the beginning of a meeting, your conversation is being manipulated and controlled. They give off the energy you just wait for a moment to pounce on every sign of a deal. This gives you a smell (if I may call it that) that will make an investor walk a mile.

If you’re approaching an investor meeting with an open mind and ready to be noteworthy, and by that I mean being able to have sparkling conversations, then make a list of results like this:

  • We just seemed to click
  • We were both on the same page from the start
  • You asked the right questions
  • The meeting ended with a series of achievable and actionable questions

The strange thing about this list is that if you turned the situation around and asked the filmmaker to step in the shoes of their investor, the list would be exactly the same.

The lightbulb moment

Here is the short and curly one:

Potential film investors want to have the same conversation with filmmakers as filmmakers do with them! So, if you can have a remarkable conversation with an investor, chances are that you are getting closer and closer to a potential deal. But if you start the meeting with that expectation, it really will never happen.

The world of securing film investments has changed dramatically. Not only do potential investors expect filmmakers to lead them into great conversations, investors deserve it from us. If we start to think that investors are expecting these “remarkable talks” then we are wrong and will likely perish. The modern filmmaker must realize that securing investments has more to do with mentality than ever. The same is true when we try to “sell” our crowdfunding campaigns or sell the finished film, whichever route we choose. Our customers (aka investors) have the right to high-quality, meaningful discussions.

How do you have remarkable conversations?

Most filmmakers have no idea. Basically, it means listening a lot more than speaking. It means asking big questions. It involves actually putting yourself in your investor’s shoes and really caring about how they are feeling. And above all, it means not to pitch at the wrong time.

I learned a lot about filmmaking, not from film school, but from my grandpa.

My grandfather taught me to fish on the farm. There was a small stream that ran through a corner of our farm outside of Toronto. He sniffed the air, judged the direction of the wind, winked at me, and said it was time to go fishing. We prepared the fishing rods and equipment and dug up worms for bait. When we got to the riverside, he sat down for a good twenty minutes to assess the stream, the light, and the reactions of the birds and insects over the water.

Sometimes he would look at me and shrug, and we would go home without even putting a line in the water. “I have to fish if the fish bite,” he said. Another time, after the waiting and observation ceremony, he slowly threw his fishing rod into the pool and that’s it – a fish. He always told me that 90% of fishing is preparation and waiting.

Remarkable? I think so. He rarely went away empty-handed. Had he rushed to the river and quickly cast out his line (as I wanted), he would probably have waited for hours in vain.

It’s a wrap

Be warned that changing and making these adjustments (such as keeping an attentive listener) can seem quite easy. In fact, I have found in my own life that this simple change is very difficult. When I think back to one of the countless pitch meetings I’ve attended, I shudder the number of times my potential investors or sponsors tried to tell me something really profound and I just drowned them with gossip.

It worked the few times I learned, like my grandfather, to sit and patiently listen and wait for the bite. If you do it this way, it means you will get them addicted 9 times out of 10.

Now it’s your turn: enter some comments in the box below.

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