What Goes into a Film Proposal?

by

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:

PACKAGE/PROPOSAL

Film Proposal Package - Heather Hale

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

Talent

* Wish List

* LOIs

Distribution info

* Targeted Hit List

* Expressions of Interest or Personal Contacts

* Contracts

* Pre-sale info

P&A

* Source of Funds

* Marketing and Distribution Plan

Property

* Script

* Synopsis

* Treatment

* KeyArt

* Rip-o-Matic Sizzle Reel

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

People

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 just have 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 it’s a period piece, maybe the costume designer
  • If it’s 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