I love success stories. I really do. In a business where you constantly hear how much the odds are stacked against you, it’s encouraging to hear stories about people who have been able to beat those nasty odds. It’s not by any means easy and the common theme in most of the stories is the need for absolutely unrelenting and tireless perseverance. The following story illustrates that.
I was in San Francisco last Friday evening attending a filmmakers/investors meeting. The very first speaker was a first-time producer who was able to raise 1.5 million for his first film. Now that’s pretty impressive on its own, but becomes even more impressive when it was revealed that his film was not a narrative but, instead, a documentary. If you know anything about this business, you know that documentaries are notorious for being money pits. It’s hard enough for a narrative to make any money, but even rarer for documentaries, so trying to talk an investor into parting with his money for something that has a track record of losing money is quite a feat.
To add to this already impressive accomplishment, he was able to get theatrical distribution for his documentary. I’m not sure if it’s getting limited or wide distribution, but it is, nonetheless, going to be shown in theaters.
So how did he raise the funds? Well, he found an investor willing to put up a portion of the needed funds. It wasn’t enough to complete the project, but it was enough to get started on the project. Documentaries often have the luxury of being able to shoot over a long period of time and, in this case, the story takes place over a period of about two years. So they started shooting. And while they were were shooting, the producer continued to look for the rest of the funds they would need to finish the project. He said that over the course of those two-plus years, he must have gone to 100 to 150 different business meetings. Remember what I said about perseverance? This guy has it.
As they continued shooting, he kept in contact with his initial investor, keeping him up to date on the progress of the project. In the end, it was that initial investor who ended up bankrolling the entire project. He believed in the project, wanted to see it completed, and decided to support it fully.
Pretty cool story, eh? I thought so.
The name of the documentary is Speed and Angels. You can check it out at http://www.speedandangels.com/.