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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

One more Internet film financing site: IndieMaverick

I wrote last March about several attempts to help filmmakers raise money online, none of them very successful yet.

Just before the holidays, a press release went out announcing, a new financing site based in the UK. Here's their explanation:

    Filmmakers provide their script, budget, poster and links to any previous films etc up on the website. Investors search for projects they are interested in, read the scripts, watch the previous films. When they find one they like they invest for as little as $25USD. Once the filmmakers reach their desired budget their monies are released and they go into production on their film. All profits the film makes are split 70 percent (investors) and 30 percent (producers). takes no profit from the sale of the film. Filmmakers have total creative control over their project and can sell it wherever and to whomever they want. does reserve the right to offer the film for download from the site once the film has completed any cinema or DVD run. Every investor receives a limited edition DVD of the film.

The site is here. How will IndieMaverick make money, if not by taking a piece of the film's revenue? "Through advertisements on the site, uploading costs and through interest from investment." They're not very clear, though, about what the uploading costs are...

The biggest drawback with all of these sites is that it'll be hard to attract enough $25 and $50 investors to fund a $100,000 or $250,000 movie. But there are other problems, too -- how will the sites guarantee that a movie gets made, or audit the filmmaker's income afterward to ensure that investors are getting their fair share?

I think there is exactly one way for one of these Internet financing sites to take off: by roping in a project by an established director, or with an established star in its cast. That'd feel bankable enough to thousands of would-be film investors.

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  • Scott,

    There are several of these sites now and our group is also in the development of one as well. Where I see problems with these groups is in a couple of places.

    There is no accounting and due diligence for the investor. 25 bucks is a lot of money if you have no idea that the film has a chance to be made. There is no information on who is going to scrutinize the projects while they are being filmed and what happens if there is no completion? Does the online group place a completion bond in place as part of its fees to ensure success?

    The second issue is value. 25 bucks is not the price of DVD or a download in the eyes of the SEC. By not allowing people to "prebuy a download" they are in fact selling securities and would have to file an OM with every new listing. This of course would be outrageous, but the investor needs protection.

    Stay tuned for our site in a month or so when we launch what we think is the most comprehensive, safe, and feasible website for filmmakers and investors in downloadable media.


    By Blogger David Geertz, at 12:48 PM  

  • places the investors monies as their number one priority. When a film's budget is raised filmmakers and Indie Maverick reps have an assessment meeting to ensure the filmmakers are not fraudulent and can deliver their film on time and on budget.

    Indie Maverick will keep a close eye on all productions and filmmakers will have to keep a comprehensive on-line diary for their investors. Monies are released in stages also.

    At Indie Maverick we do not force filmmakers to have a completion bond. Many do and will state so on their film's page. We see the net as a market place where there are safer investments that cost more and riskier ones that are cheaper but could yield a greater return.

    Filmmakers are allowed to make their own decisions and the market place will crucify or reward them. Completion bonds for ultra low budget films can be near impossible to gain sometimes or the premiums so expensive as to not bother making the films. Investers will take this into account when investing, but believe this to be the decision of the filmmaker if they want one, again we will not force filmmakers to do something they do not wish to do, but clarity and openess to investors is our prime concern.

    The USA has not kept up with current technologies and does have regressive laws in this area, that is why we are based offshore. I believe it would be very difficult and costly to set up a business in the US that was based on a model simliar to ours and would be wary of US based start ups in this area for the very reason mentioned in the comment above.

    We do however look forward to seeing new sites simliar to ours springing up. Competition is always a good thing and will only lead to better services for filmmakers and investors. At Indie Maverick we simply want see more filmmakers making films. Whichever site they choose.

    if you want more information head to our site.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 2:27 PM  

  • Thanks for clearing up that bit about accountability. We are of the same mindset, and for that reason we are one of those "other" companies popping up soon. Perhaps what companies like ours and yours should consider is the creation of a low cost insurance policy that does protect them from things like "force majeure".

    One comment that I might make about your site and I did go to it with the intent of listing a short film for an animation company in Vancouver, was that there is no company description, management team or location of your banking system and how funds are released.

    If I was to say - get 5000 people to commit to doing a film in my community and the money went somewhere else...I'm left with my community shooting out MY porch lights!

    By Blogger David Geertz, at 2:20 PM  

  • David,

    Not a problem. The company details are in the contact us section...if you need more just ask. Management team isn't there maybe i can look into that, but really the buck stops with me. Banking systems we have a few depending on where funds are coming from but presently all monies are sitting in paypal, and are released through pay pal.

    Hope this clears things up. Any other questions just contact us through the site.

    Do be mindful Indie Maverick only deals with features, not shorts. You would have to be looking to turn your short into a feature to list it.

    And mate no one at Indie Mav is running off with anyone's money...this site was set up to help filmmakers not rip em off. If you're in London I'm happy to meet up for a beer or coffee if that helps allay any fears. I have been working in Film and TV as a director and screenwriter for many years and am not about to run off with your monies I'll guarantee that.

    I look forward to seeing your site too and am happy to discuss further your low cost insurance idea.


    By Blogger Unknown, at 2:43 PM  

  • I love the idea of this, but there's a reason the SEC regulates this sort of thing. It's so investor's don't get ripped off.

    Here in the united states it's illegal to solicit private funds on the internet. It's because a company has to be registered, and audited to make sure it has a fair and solid structure. Also so that you can find these people if they do something wrong.

    Who is this company? Why would I direct everyone I know to give money to a company on my behalf, when I don't know them from a hole in the wall, and there is nothing to regulate the legality of this?

    Even if the company is "legit", who's to say they know how to run an effective businsess. The film examples they list on their home page does not even list the cost of expenses. It lets the reader assume you deduct the rate they list as "the take" (did they really call it that?!) minus the cost to make the film. But that is not the profit. We all know there are also marketing and distribution costs, and that most indies do NOT make money.

    The competition and "glut" of product makes it more and more difficult for a movie to actually make it's money back, let alone make a profit...

    Even if this is a well-meaning site, it seems more likely that hardworking and hungry filmmakers who use this site will work hard to raise money, bank it on this site (for no interest, in no escrow account), while Mavarick profits off the interest on these little piles of monies for years, or forever.

    I'm sorry, but offering to give me a beer is not going to make me trust you.

    By Blogger Movie Lover, at 11:32 AM  

  • "And mate no one at Indie Mav is running off with anyone's money."

    Wow! If someone was going to run off with my money, do you think they would say something different?

    By Blogger Rob:-], at 3:06 PM  

  • If your your invitation to engage to invest (your website) can have an effect in another country, then you could be bound by the laws of that country.

    For example, even if you are registered in St Kitts and Nevis, my interpretation of the UK Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 means that you are in breach of the law if you promote your investment in the UK and you are not authorised by the UK regulator. As well as being regulated by the FSA, this also means selling interests/shares/rights an approved collective investment scheme.

    I am not an expert, but if the money the investor provides comes from a UK bank account, then you may be liable to UK security laws.

    I am assuming you have investigated this and feel you are clear of being subject to these laws. Or am I wrong?

    I would love for my interpretation to be disproved.

    By Blogger G, at 8:50 AM  

  • I'd say to the Indie Maverick crew, regardless of where you guys are registered, based or operating from, you are going to have individuals questioning you're right to hold people‚Äôs money and your legal status in any one particular country. Unless you lot are cashed up to the eyeballs and can afford to retain the services of the blokes in the cloaks in every single territory, you are never going to satisfy everyone. If money invested through your site is being held in escrow and you're not of driving canary yellow Lamborghini vee-hickkles around town at other peoples expense, then myself and I'm sure many others would not have a problem at all tossing $25 through your site to get behind independent film making. After all Indie films are a breeding ground for the greats. I hope your site is a success and I'm looking forward to seeing the first film funded through your site.

    Keep On Truckin

    By Blogger C Diddy, at 9:14 PM  

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