Movie Money CONFIDENTIAL
Director and Writer: Rick Pamplin.
Time: 101 minutes
by Mike Szymanski
This is a subject I know a lot about. Not only have I taken a lot of classes about the film industry, and have two bookcases full of dusty books about breaking into the business, but I’ve watched the plethora of how-to documentaries that parse out secrets of how to get your movie made.
Nothing has come up that is as helpful or as motivational as this movie, “Movie Money CONFIDENTIAL.” It shows how you can get your dream project done in any part of the country, how you can find funding in the most unlikely places. The experts in this doc tells behind-the-scenes stories about some of the biggest Hollywood successes.
This is an informative, inspiring and practical guide to getting the cash to make your film. If you ever thought about or dreamt about getting into the entertainment biz, then “Movie Money CONFIDENTIAL” is a must-see.
The brilliance of this movie is that writer/director Rick Pamplin shows how he is getting financing for THIS VERY MOVIE, while making the movie. Those tactics include the promises and compromises he makes along the way, and he shows how to do it.
The promises include: you may get a part in the film, you may get to hype your product, you may get a photo op with a big movie star. It all happens right here while we’re watching him make the film about making films.
Of course, the inspiration for the movie has a strong backdrop of credibility with what has become a bible to the business: “Filmmakers and Financing: Business Plans for Independents” by
Louise Levison, who has taught film financing at UCLA for nearly a quarter of a century. Her book is now in its 8th edition.
Personally, I have taken literally dozens of film classes at UCLA and danced around ever taking Levison’s class because I never thought that as a writer I would need to know about film financing. And then, when I realized that you do need to know this stuff, her classes became impossible to get into at all!
Levison is in the film, and she discusses some of the projects she has been involved with by creating the business plan for films.
The greatest success that she gets associated with is “The Blair Witch Project,” which essentially started the whole found-footage genre of movies, and became the most profitable independent success story in history, making $300 million.
Levison corrects some of the myths about the making of the movie. Those myths include: how it was shot without a script, with a bunch of actors just holding tiny cameras, and with a budget of only $15,000.
Nope, “The Blair Witch Project” had a very specific business plan, and Levison was commissioned to write it up. Of course, she never dreamed it would be such a hit, but then, who did? Yet, even today she has to explain to fans that the story was not real, and people still remain skeptical.
There’s also the story that Salma Hayek tells of getting a very non-commercial project done when she became obsessed with Kahlil Gibran’s “The Prophet” book. She says, “So many times I was thinking ‘What am I doing?’ This was such a very different project that had never been done before.”
But then, Hayek — who said the animated movie she was promoting reached both her Mexican and Lebanese roots, said, “I was getting people coming up to me saying it is the most inspiring film they have ever seen” and that made it all worthwhile.
As good as your script or idea is, if there’s nothing else like it out there, it can also be a hard sell.
This movie has the last interview and last filming ever done of legendary action star Burt Reynolds. His last film was an indie movie “The Last Movie Star” about an aging movie star whose career is being honored by a small-town film festival, which he is asked to attend. (I was lucky enough to see the movie and talk to Reynolds about it when it got made.)
This time, Reynolds talks about his experiences in the filmmaking world and says, “You are going to be beat up pretty good, but if you can give some joy, a few laughs, or scare somebody, it’s worth it.” He tells young actors to spend a few years in New York before coming out to Hollywood.
Naturally, Pamplin gushes over Reynolds, and toward the end and after the credits it is simply a love-fest for the actor, including a filmed photo op with some of the major investors in the movie.
One of the key pieces of advice repeated by a lot of the filmmakers interviewed is to ask everybody for money, and tell them what you are doing. Scott duPont, a producer, said he was sitting next to a guy while they were playing extras in a scene for Adam Sandler’s movie “The Waterboy” and the guy ended up giving him $780,000 for a movie project.
Even while the film is plugging along, Pamplin is asking people for more money for the movie he is making, asking them to get more involved with the project. There is a warning that: “Some investors get sort of abusive.”
Pamplin details some Internet backlash he got about abandoning one of his projects that he hopes to get back to called “Crimebusters.”
This movie has more than 100 hours of footage and about 60 on-camera interviews to put this film together, including a class that asks young newcomers who want to break into the industry. Prospective writers, producers, actors, directors, costumers, and others ask the experts questions and learn some trade secrets.
Pamplin talks about at one point living in his car, and being attacked by people on the Internet, but still continuing to have a dream about making movies, like this one.
There is advice about talking to investors, and dealing with rejection. Some investors are interviewed in the movie, including first-timers like a dentist who has never invested in movies before, and others who get asked by the filmmakers to invest more money right there on camera, and they do, some not as much as the filmmakers wanted. Some unrehearsed pitches are tried out on new investors and shown on camera with fascinating results.
Toward the end of the film, some of the movie experts talk about the new generation of up-and-coming filmmakers and ask “Are the kids all right?” They talk about new kinds of anxieties that other generations never had such as worrying about being safe at school and gravitating toward edgier materials.
But finally, Levison concludes that the young people will learn and be OK, saying, “I think they can be, they need guidance.”
Find the movie on 15 different streaming platforms, linked on the official website at www.MovieMoney.com