Looking At Opportunity Beyond The Lockdown | Script Revolution

Looking At Opportunity Beyond The Lockdown

We're all familiar with the saying "When One Door Closes, Another Door Opens" but does that apply now while millions of us around the globe close our doors and self isolate? Kevin Christoffersen of Film Education & Development, a producer with over twenty years experience to his name, puts forward a case to suggest opportunity is opening up all around us and makes the wise call for more screenwriters to stop waiting for Hollywood to come knocking and to strongly consider seizing this moment to produce their own projects - CJ

As we forge ahead through a paradigm shift underway in the independent film industry, the mindset of turning a negative into a positive all begins with seeing how things have always traditionally been run from the top down hierarchical structure to now a potential even playing field for the mid-majors on below.

If the six major U.S. studios that produce the vast majority of all content are at least in some slight way affected by our current crisis, would that not lead to more open doors for a new indie revolution to take shape? Could it allow the streaming platforms to gain more strength in the global distribution market especially if a certain proportion of the studio controlled brick and mortar theatres go out of business altogether?

The need for content will not dissipate with COVID-19. What will change is who the content is produced for and who will distribute it. These changes will affect production safety protocol and subsequently production budgets.

The fourth quarter of this year may also see investors looking for more tax write-offs than usual making Section 168 a natural fit to balance the alternative asset class of their portfolios through entertainment driven investments.

At the same time, consider where you are filming in order to take advantage of higher tax credit incentives according to the state’s latest legislation roll-outs. Here’s some news from New York.

Under the duality of this business scheme, up to two-thirds of investor interests can be protected.

So rather than waiting around for the slim hopes of having your script optioned from a production company reeling from the industry fallout, now is a better time than ever to apply a business start-up approach by piecing each element (talent / budget / schedule / legal / marketing, etc.) of your package together.

A well-formed investor-ready package will then qualify the project to investment opportunities on both the equity and debt side. Under this model, screenwriters maintain intellectual property rights and chain of title control from development onto distribution. The investor-ready package must include a line budget, look book and visual reference, be that a proof of concept short film or any other kind of video. It’s no longer the case that only the film savvy or film centric investors expect the mentioned items. In 2020 all investors expect to see a well-produced video, a comprehensive budget including tax incentive return amount and a look book that transmits the Director’s vision. Filmmakers will then be prepared for that Q4 investor pitch when the light at the end of the tunnel is perhaps shining more brightly.

A case study for investor-ready packages is the ultra-low budget feature film “The Atlantic City Story”, starring Jessica Hecht and Mike Faist, which was produced by Javier Gonzalez in Atlantic City, NJ.

Atlantic City, NJ offers a 5% additional credit on top of the 30% NJ credit. The investor for said film was found in Q4 of 2018. The 35% credit along with a very helpful and cooperative local film commission make Atlantic City, NJ a desirable place to shoot.

All filmmakers should become acquainted with the various self-distribution models as COVID-19 is turning distribution on its head and much will change by the time Sundance 2021 arrives.

About The Author

Kevin Christoffersen's picture

Kevin Christoffersen has been working in just about every form of media for nearly three decades - producing content internationally across four continents while living in five countries.

He is an Educator and Development Executive of the new platform, 'Film Education & Development', which he runs in partnership with producer Javier Gonzalez. In this role, Kevin...Read more

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John Hunter's picture

We may find ourselves in a brave new world? Streaming has increased while traditional film distributors with expensive popcorn may have a long slog back to profitability. In any case, I'm anxious to see what new opportunities will present themselves and remain hopeful.