A Producer's Contribution (Part 3 of 3)

Recently on this TrulyFreeFilms blog, Michael Walker of Pangofilms asked why more producers don’t invest in their own movies. This part three of my attempt to answer Michael. Parts One & Two can be linked to at the bottom of this post.

Each movie requires outreach into the aforementioned communities and careful discussion with them to build the audience for the film. My partners and I are lucky in that we have been able to make quite a few films; with each film we forge new relationships with theatre owners, bookers, journalists, festival programmers, and audiences. Each new project asks us to reinvest the relationships we've previously developed. I have no money to invest in my film projects, but I have my history, and personally, I find that priceless.

My experience and my relationships are my capital -- the investment I make in every project I do. To miss that part of the equation is to forget that cinema is an ONGOING dialogue with the audience. It is not a single movie, although with each one we hope to lift that conversation up to a new level of passion, thoughtfulness, and aspiration. Each project we take on requires a considerable investment, one in which the profit will be likely be cultural at best, one in which the profit is still going to leave me wondering how to afford to take on the next movie, although with each new project I will be richer in terms of experience, and hopefully relationships too.

As a producer, we don’t look to make one film or five. I have made close to sixty films now and look to make at least the same amount going forward. Each of these films is a new start up, a new company, and a new product that requires I invest all the profits from my prior work into it -- albeit not financial profit, but the good will that I have built. With each new film I take on, it all is put to risk; my collaborators could jeopardize it all. As I wade through this hazard filled swamp, I have my own ambitions too: I am constantly trying to improve my craft and expand my resources. I grow from working in all genres and budget levels. I grow from working with the new team we assemble for each project. Each director helps me see the world afresh, to recognize that there is no template for creation. And that is my personal profit.

I have mostly made what are called Art Films, but I hope to also make what some will call crass commercial crap. And I hope to continue to make what some will prefer to call pretentious arty farty wank. I hope to make works of truth and honesty and beauty. I want to make the populist crowd pleaser and the radical revolutionary call to arms. In each my investment will come from the alliances that were built on the prior journeys, the swarms of energy from the many, the donations of the devoted and delighted. If I can invest in a film, it will because of the investment in me that others have made. This is one Ponzi scheme that I think benefits not just those that play in it, but those that sit on the sidelines too.