How Would an Up-And-Coming Production Company Prove Return on Investment?
This is a million-dollar question, isn’t it? If you are specifically trying to prove to investors that there will be a return on investment, I believe you have two options.
The first option is to produce small, self-funded projects until you have one (or more) that generates a return. Once you learn how to generate a return, you have proof of concept, showing investors that you are ready to take on bigger projects.
The second option is to pre-sell your project. If you have a distributor or audience that has already guaranteed purchase of your project (via contract, pre-order, or otherwise), you have successfully proven that investors will get a return.
Now, neither of these options are easy. The first option will take a lot of time. The second option will be very difficult if you don’t already have relationships with distributors and/or audiences. But you asked for proof of return, and these are the only two proofs that I can think of.
There are a few caveats here. First, some “investors” in film/television projects are not seeking a return, but just want to be involved in the creative process. You can sell equity to these and other types of investors without proof of return. Second, investors are not the only way to fund film/television projects. It may be easier to fund your project by securing grants, donations, or by crowdfunding. And, of course, I would be remiss if I did not ask you to think about whether or not you even need funding for your project. When you start taking on funding, especially from investors or grants, your project becomes fundamentally different. Whether you like it or not, you have to answer to your investors. They may interfere in the creative process in ways you are not comfortable with. Finally, many people take on funding and the scope of their projects grow out of their control, becoming far less personal. I’m not recommending that you avoid fundraising, I think it’s often a necessary part of creating engaging film/television programs, but that you think it through very carefully first.
My honest recommendation would be to take the first option. By starting small and scaling up, you can develop your own style and gain mastery over your craft while still creating very impactful work. When you’ve proven your concept and are ready to take on investment money, it will be there for you, and you’ll have built a solid foundation upon which to expand with it.
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