Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A new year begins.

I'm back  home.  The arctic temperatures of Manitoba and Saskatchewan have slipped away and been replaced by our table at the Figtree Restaurant on the Venice Beach boardwalk where I join friends every Sunday for breakfast and a 12-mile bike ride. People ask me how I can fit into two such totally diverse cultures, frozen north and balmy Southern California.

It does take a few days going from one to another, they are truly universes of their own and about as far away from each other as is possible. They say the person you are at 7 is the person you are, and I guess I suffer from dual identities; the little kid on the prairie and the writer and producer in L.A. 

But oddly enough, they merge easily as I had already lived the Hollywood life as a 10-year old going to movies in my little village and being carried away by the images of Hollywood life where parents had great houses with sunken living rooms and they drank from decanters of liquor and always had ice ready. And parents who looked like Ward and June Cleaver, Ward even wore suits for dinner.  But that was long ago.

Now, it's 2010 and my new year's resolution.

Make Travel Day.

Where are we now? We have the Canadian producer finalizing his letters of commitment which are essential to convincing U.S. and any other investors that we are real. You would think my credits would be enough to convince the money people but they want to see someone else besides Shirley and I who are ready to put themselves on the line.

It's all about commitment. Who jumps in the pool first. Who leaps from the bridge with a bungee cord around their ankle.

So who is first to commit? It's probably looking like this:

  • Shirley and me.
  • Two actors, both Academy nominated who have read the screenplay.
  • Manitoba producer Dane and his partner and company.
  • One of the major banks in Canada.
  • A presale to a broadcaster in Canada.
 With actual Letters of Commitment (LOI's), from the above we will have a strong package to present to the U.S. investors for their share, which is around $500,000 Cdn of the $1 million budget. Exchange rates now are not all that attractive to U.S. money which means it'll be a little harder to raise.

My potential U.S. investors and I always use the term "potential" until their checks have been deposited and cleared, are an eclectic mix of experienced executive producers, private investors, an attorney with connections, two distributors who might be persuaded to part with some of their funds.

What about timing?

As many of you know, we started this way back in summer of 2009 and you might wonder if there might be a loss of interest what with a new year beginning.

It doesn't help, but yet, in this constantly contradicting business, it doesn't hurt. Since it's rare for an indie film to get financed quickly, the fact that we've been at it for just about 8 months isn't a liability. As I've mentioned in previous blogs, it can take years to get funding, even with major stars attached.

It all comes down to never giving up. Who can last the longest. Or just plain stubborness.

Which is my strong suit.

And it goes back to the studio exec who once told me that it takes three things to make it in this business; craft, discipline and talent. And the least important is talent. His words, not mine. But I agree.

What happens when the LOI's arrive?

I estimate it will take anywhere from 30 to 60 days to actually get and bank the remaining $500k which means a potential production date in March, still do-able for snow and winter conditions. God bless Canada's winters!

So stick with us as I wait for Dane's LOI's.