What goes into a Film Proposal?

First you should read: Who is Reading My Film Proposal – and Why?

What goes into a Film Proposal?

Based on your hit list targets and call to action goals, your package may or may not include all of the following material (you may not even have or have a clue to some of it – but it’s a living, breathing, evolving document – part of the process is doing this research and homework so you’ve earned the answers – and own them).

You may highlight certain elements, reposition the order and deliver it in a variety of formats. Maybe you give a one-on-one pitch over coffee with a sizzle reel on your iPhone. Maybe you snail mail a full blown business plan with a PPM to your cousin on Wall Street. Maybe you put it all up on a password-protected website for friends and family to invest and/or support. Maybe you create a Powerpoint or KeyNote presentation for a group presentation is a small rented ballroom or private home dinner. Maybe you Skype a web-based conference call. It all depends on goals, access, timing, expense – relationships, value of the outcome, etc.

For an Indie (or possible Studio Co-Production),

here are the guts of what you ought to have lined up and polished to shine:


Executive Summary

The Who, What, Where, When, Why and How top notes customized for the purpose of this pitch (you may or may not have all – or any – of these elements)

Project: Great Title, Logline and/or TagLine


* Wish List

* LOIs

Distribution info

* Targeted Hit List

* Expressions of Interest or Personal Contacts

* Contracts

* Pre sale info


* Source of Funds

* Marketing and Distribution Plan


* Script

* Synopsis

* Treatment

* KeyArt

* Rip-o-Matic Sizzle Reel

* Source Material (Book Reviews, True Life Story News Article, Graphic Novel, Video Game, etc.)


Who’s involved at this point? Don’t feel the need to add a soul – sometimes “attachments” who don’t really deliver the goods can just be a daisy chain of albatrosses around the project. Be very clear who you’re legally obligated to versus who you have just circling the project. Photos can be nice if they’re uniform (or flattering!). Custom written bios (specific to the project/undertaking) are great, resumes less so, IMDB links – or personal websites and reels, all the better. In an interactive/dynamic presentation, the more full color or moving visuals, the better.

* Production Team

* Writer/Director/DP/Editor

* Dept Heads or Key Crew Members

* Line Producer, Production Designer, Composer

* If its a period piece, maybe the costume designer

* If its a horror, maybe make-up and special effects

* You get the idea – what matters to whom at this stage of the game?

Any other key attachments

* A-List Actors or Directors (or well-respected, credible in the biz, high star power ranking pros)

* Famous race car driver/builder for a race film

* Famous Greenpeace Captain for a seal saving environmental/animal activist film

* Famous musicians for soundtrack possibilities, etc.

Talent Wish List

Tread carefully here so as not to mislead but if you’re very clear these are your HIT LIST TARGETS, photos and credit highlights can be helpful illustrations for key roles – if you really think you can get them at those rates and terms or through your relationships.


The Numbers/The Plan

* Film Comps

* The Budget

Could be just the top sheet or the whole 50 page version – or just the figure – or even a ballpark range mentioned in the Executive Summary – again, depends on who’s asking (and if its any of their business):

Investors – yes

Distributors – not necessarily if they are a…

* BUYER or a VENDOR – it’s none of their business what your true hard costs are or were or how you cut corners and finagled deals or what your relationships favored you)

* PARTNER (and sharing the risk – i.e.: putting up money) – yes

Who else has skin in the game?

* You?

* Other key figures?

The Waterfall Scenarios

Any MOUs or LOIs for Distribution, Talent, pre-sales, grants, tax incentive lottery placement, etc.

P&A plan and budget

If you know:

* Estimated Start Date

* Projected Release Date

* Shoot Location(s)

* Tax Credits

Two Film Proposal Sample Scenarios.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

9 Responses to “What goes into a Film Proposal?”

  1. JR Beardsley says:

    We are in search of business planners. Please look over the website. We have many of the items listed.
    Script, book and documentary developed with A list players and have been in contact with major studios etc. Would like to find someone interested in offering services to help us develop this into a reality. Thanks JR

  2. Heather says:

    Hey JR –

    I sent you some business plan samples – let me know what else I can do to help! 😉

  3. robert says:

    I need help and guidance. I am trying to raise money and get investors, sponsors to help fund a Film project, that will tie into a Campaign for an Olympic Athlete. It will be a variety of projects pertaining to creating commercials on causes. But one of the other Film projects also involves creating a reality documentary project on this talents life.
    I do not know how to start or begin. And of course Funding is a key thing here, but need some support in how to go about drafting proposals up, a business plan etc. I appreciate any help for anyone who wants to help this Champion Athlete out.



  4. John amadi says:

    kindly is it possible for me to get a copy of A sample
    of full film proposal video proposal.

  5. Michael Benjamin says:

    Yes please I would really love a sample too,thanks

  6. nelson says:

    pls i would love a sample of a full film proposal video proposal too pls

  7. smanga says:

    I would like to have a simple too

  8. DASH says:

    Hi! Everyone, I seriously do need your help. I am an independent film director in Nigeria. I would like you to put me through on how to write a “movie company Business Idea Proposal”. I guess that’s too wordy.

    Really I just need help here, I was speaking with someone about starting up a movie production company in Nigeria because its very profitable here and she seem interested. All she said was please send me a proposal for starting up a production company.

    Personaly, I have searched google to find a sample of a completed proposal for starting up a movie production company. But I still can not find any, all I see is templates for a film business and in thus template, they talking about the stage where you have an investor already, and a company is in place already but will to go on a specific movie title project. In my own case I have to further convince my investor to start a film production company in Nigeria.

    Please i’ll be glad if anyone can help me out here with a completed sample ( starting up a movie production company). With that I can read through and write a proposal that best suits my case.

    Thank you all so much for your help in advance.


  9. Heather says:

    Dash –

    I responded to you back in August but there are several samples posted and linked to in the articles on this site. (Just do a simple search).
    Also, when this site is overhauled (shortly, with the new “How to Work the Markets” book being published) there will be more.
    Feel free to email me directly, as well, if you need more support.

Leave a Reply


Admin Log in