Of course it can. Everyone knows stories about screenwriters who got a film financed because of the involvement of one key cast or crew member. Many new filmmakers are looking for attachments as the most reliable way of getting a film greenlit.
At the same time, those filmmakers are finding themselves in a "Catch 22" when it comes to financing. Most of the big names won't sign onto a project unless the money is there, and most of the money won't consider a project unless there's a name.
Is this the most sustainable approach available to would-be filmmakers today? Are filmmakers doomed to root through all the same stars and investors, until they give up on their dream or find that one person willing to give them a jumpstart?
No. There are more sustainable approaches. What's more, trying to "break in" with one big push probably isn't going to do much for you in the long-run. Can you beat a team that takes 5 yards with every play by making one AMAZING touchdown?
Of course not. Even the coolest touchdown is still only worth a handful of points. Those five yard plays are going to stack up on you. Trying to win miles of ground with one big win will never be as effective as fighting your battle for success by inches. After you’ve gained some ground, crossing the end-zone becomes a matter of just another inch or two – instead of the hail-mary pass you’re trying to throw.
Allow me to illustrate the point by tooting my own horn:
Sam Bailey has reached a point where stars and financiers have finally started approaching the project on their own. I’m still pushing the project forward on a daily basis, and having this attention does not mean we've reached some kind of "critical mass" – that’s not the point. The point is WHY they’re approaching me.
When I started, Sam Bailey was just a script that a small group of people believed in. Our first step was getting all the believers into one room. Together, we started putting together the filmmakers, the resources, and the audience we would need to bring a great film to success in theaters. At the time, our best tools were our personal networks and the "social media revolution", so that's where we focused our energy.
After we’d compiled a sizeable crowd of online supporters, the production and distribution relationships at least to give us a chance at theaters, and had a script that lived up to the promise of the film, we began approaching key production talent and distribution partners. On the strength of our reels and our social media numbers, we opened negotiations with arthouse cinema chains, and got a clear picture of what they need from us to get the film into theaters. Based on the strength of our business plan, we got an outstanding line producer to help us with the budget. Oscar-Winning creative talent began committing to the project. Things were snowballing, and it was all in baby-steps.
Our script continues to evolve. Our social media efforts - of which this blog is a part - continue to do likewise. Just the fact that you're reading this means we've taken another step forward. Over the last year, those steps have added up into quantifiable yardage.
These financiers and actors are approaching us because they can see that we have a sustainable model for success. Why should it be otherwise? Why should they carry my business, when it's my job to provide them with an opportunity?
Now consider that building this structure into your film is the only way to secure creative control. To be an independent director, you need to be a producer – and not just in name. You need to be at the helm of these issues, because otherwise your best chance of getting the film made becomes finding someone who thinks they can do it better than you.
On the rare occasion that someone actually wants that job more than you do, is it any wonder that they wind up with all the financial and creative power? Is it any wonder they don’t give it back?
When our investor cuts the check for Sam Bailey, they'll be investing in our film and they'll feel safe doing it. Nobody else will need to step in and manage things, because up until now we've done a great job. That trust isn't something we sold them on. In fact, trust is the whole reason they're interested in us to begin with. Taking the field 5 yards at a time has convinced a lot of people that we're going to win this game. What's more, they're right. With or without their help, we will probably make this film successful. Nobody's waiting breathlessly for the "hail-mary", and that's exactly why folks are betting on us.
One big attachment can get your film made, but it probably won't. What makes your film work, in the end, is a sustainable business model. That's what the talent and the financiers are both looking for, in the end. There's no "Catch 22" here. When money sees talent - or talent sees money - they feel free to assume, at least to a point, that you've done the hard legwork of getting this film into motion.
This film is your dream, right?
If so, then making sure it works is your responsibility. That doesn't happen with one clean pass. It's a yard-by-yard battle.