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So, there was another conversation on this site lamenting the lack of financing in Denver and I thought it would be fun to do a little math. I'm a DIY-er at heart, so I thought I would see what it would take to just break even on one film.
Here are some parameters for the thought experiment:
Let's assume I can find a 200 seat theater, and they'll let me screen there as much as I want for free.
Let's also assume that 1 out of every 5 of my projects is good. Really good. So good people wouldn't mind paying to see it. Within reason. Say $5/ticket to see my awesome indie feature.
And I SELL OUT THE THEATER by spamming all of my facebook friends about it.
I make $1000.
Clerks was shot for $20,000. I've been told that's the nobody gets paid budget level. No SAG. DSLR. Stale bagels for lunch every day. Let's use that as a model. But only one in five of my projects is worth watching -- the first four flopped. So all together they cost $100,000 in startup cash before one of them took off. And if I popped them out machine-gun style development and production would take maybe 10 grueling years.
I will have to sell out that 200 seat theater 100 times to just BREAK EVEN. Ouch.
I have a conclusion about this one.
My goal with this was to figure out how many projects, at what average length, could screen together to start to look lucrative. It didn't happen. There IS no sweet spot.
So, when talking about independent narrative drama, and with the end goal of telling a great story and putting it in front of an audience:
Unless you have access to a million seats, and the marketing dollars to invest to fill them, you can't be motivated by the money. So I'm going to shoot as cheaply as I can, with as solid a story as I can. And enjoy the process of making it beautiful...
Apparently this makes me one of those "artist" types.
DMQ | We Drink it Black