The American Film Market

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Sunday, September 1, 2013

Crowd Funding and the JOBS Act

With all of the talk about the changes coming to crowd funding as a result of the JOBS Act, it is important for entrepreneurs to understand what the act entails. JOBS stands for Jumpstart Our Business Startups and the act is geared towards entrepreneurs who are raising funds for their next business venture.  Once the Securities Exchange Commission releases its regulations for the JOBS Act, the act will do three things for entrepreneurs:

1. The act will allow entrepreneurs to attract professional investors to their business concept.
2. The act will allow entrepreneurs to raise larger funds with investors that have higher annual incomes.
3. Instead of the entrepreneur promising a tangible reward for donation (which is basically like selling products), the entrepreneurs will be able to distribute equity stake in their business. 

This act will no doubt will be greeted with mixed feelings because of the regulations and policies that will be set forth to protect investors.  The banking institutions may also see a drop in business loan requests, which may allow the business loan process to be more feasible and accessible to newer entrepreneurs.  All in all, the JOBS Act was created because the government saw the billions of dollars being donated to great business concepts.  As a result, our political leaders felt that crowd funding offers an enormous opportunity for our country to create jobs within small businesses.  As we move forward, we all will be watching for the success or failure of this act.  Either way, it will have an interesting impact on our economy and our outlook on small businesses.  

To read the actual act, visit  If you would like to keep up with the progress of the Securities Exchange Commission on its drafting of rules and policies for the JOBS Act, visit the JOBS Act section at  

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Sunday, August 18, 2013

Indie Film Financing

Independent filmmakers normally have interesting stories about how they made it to the big screen.  Blood, sweat, and tears literally make the movie, and the stories inspire new filmmakers to follow suit.  The many forms of financing for independent films are slate financing, equity financing, hedge funding, bank financing, crowd funding, product placement, and many more that are even more convoluted.  The Raindance Film Festival explains the various forms of film financing here.

The above article points out that any filmmaker should always have a business plan before seeking any funding.  Some unique financing strategies listed in the article include putting together unique music for the film and deferrals.
  1. Music – With this strategy, film producers would land a well-known musician to compose the film score.  The musician’s name would be used to promote the film.  Such examples of this are Pharrell Williams/Despicable Me and Jay Z/Great Gasby.
  2. Deferment – This strategy involves paying key people and firms on the back end, after the film brings in revenue.

A website called provides more loan related insight on film financing.  The following widely used forms of financing are also unique:
  1. Pre-sales – Pre-sales is a minimum guarantee usually provided by a distribution company that has access to various markets.  The payment is usually delivered in the form of a check to the producer of the film.  The disadvantage of this channel is the packager and sales agents make commission off the sale.
  2. Gap-financing – This form of financing is used to bridge the last “gap” of funds that are needed to finish the project.  These funds are usually provided by a bank and they range from 10%-20% of the film’s budget.  Larger, riskier gap funds can be up to 35% of the film’s budget.

With all of the different types of funding, filmmakers find interesting ways to find money to produce their film.  A great example of hard work put behind a film’s production is the film The Butler. With an all-star cast from Oprah  Winfrey, Forest Whitaker, Lenny Kravitz, Jane Fonda, Mariah Carey, David Banner, Terrance Howard, Cuba Gooding Jr., Robin Williams, Live Schreiber, and many more, the movie attracts interest in many markets.  However, the all-star cast is not the unique aspect of this independent feature film.  The film raised money through forty-one producers, including a Ukrainian billionaire, a retired professional athlete, and numerous African American celebrities.  Each producer raised their own funds to put towards the film, and the world is awaiting its success. The Butler debuted August 16, 2013. So far, it grossed $8.3 million on its opening day. View the trailer below!


Saturday, August 3, 2013

Business Plan Essentials

“Blog Post #1” discussed the various key pointers that two particular experts in the field gave for successful business plans.  These two business experts are Jim Blasingame and Richard Milton.  Jim Blasingame stressed that business plans should evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of a company, and should assist in acquiring financing. Since investors want to see where they can make a profit, showing profitability and accurate financial projections is also important. 

Richard Milton stated that the marketing plan is an extremely important aspect of the business plan, for it has a direct effect on corporate revenue.  Another article by Kirkus Reviews (2013) reviews a book called “Start Your Own Corporation”.  The author, Gary Sutton, claims that the difference between a good idea and a prosperous idea is a well-written business plan.  Therefore, it is extremely important to sit down and draft a thorough business plan before conducting any business. 

The business plan of White Label Events, LLC has a detailed and thorough marketing plan because of the expert advice provided by Richard Milton. Even Rhonda Abrams (2010), author of Successful Business Plan Secrets and Strategies, states that an effective marketing plan that secures customers is vital for a company’s success.   The White Label Events marketing plan provides marketing goals and marketing channels in which it plans to gain impressions from potential customers. In addition, the thorough financial estimations and projections, that Jim Blasingame discussed, suggest a profitable business structure for White Label Events.  Instead of breezing over essential details in the marketing, financials, and industry analysis sections, White Label Events incorporated the sound expert advice provided by Blasingame and Milton.  The most important sections of the business plan would be the financials section and the industry analysis.  These two sections will attract investors and help them feel comfortable with investing in a growing industry, and a company with potential to create a profit within the first eighteen months of operation. 

Abrams, Rhonda. (2010). Successful business plan secrets and strategies. California: The Planning Shop.

Writing winning business plans: How to prepare a business plan that investors will want to read and invest in. (2013). Kirkus Reviews81(2), 320. Retrieved from

Sunday, July 14, 2013

How Important is the Business Plan to Potential Investors?

Jim Blasingame, founder of Small Business Network, Inc., is an expert in entrepreneurship and business development.  In fact, Google ranks him the number one small business expert in the world. His blog provides immense information on entrepreneurship, financing, and much more.  With several honors and awards from his small business journalism, chamber of commerce, radio show hosting and keynote speaking engagements, Blasingame “leverages his multi-year relationships with organizations and communities that support small businesses”, which in turn allows these businesses create their own relationships with gigantic entities.

Jim Blasingame suggests that a business plan should help a business with three specific things:
    ·     Document progress with a new or future plan.
    ·      Evaluate with strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT analysis).
    ·      Assist in gaining loans, financing, and investments from third parties. 
Bankers and investors want to see long-term cash flow projections and how the capital would be utilized. Investors want to see how much return they can exploit from the business concept. When it comes to angel investing, investors have combined heads in order to spread the risk involved with investing in new businesses. Mr. Blasingame claims that angel investors are considered the “mini venture capitalists”.  According to Mr. Blasingame, angel investors usually have a closer relationship and are geographically closer to the start-up business owner.  The one similarity, however, is that all investors want an “exit” plan, where they leave with a profit on the principle value invested. Blasingame states that this very similarity is the reason why many entrepreneurs are not eligible for capital investment. 

Richard Milton is considered the Business Plans Expert.  He writes the business section for The Daily Telegraph and has written several books on business development. Milton has written numerous business plans for various companies, services and product launches.  He has written for various publications like Electronics Today and New Data.  Lastly, Milton is the editor and publisher of Windows Phone News. 

Richard Milton stresses the importance of writing a business plan from the outsider’s point of view. The “outsider” is considered the potential banking institutions and backers who are interested in providing capital for the business.  Backers range from venture capitalists to stockholders (for publicly traded businesses).  Milton claims that the number one reason businesses fail is because they run out of capital.  In addition, Milton believes that the marketing plan within the business plan is the most important section of the plan, because the marketing efforts will most likely be the only thing “directly affecting the generation of revenue”.

Regardless of the focus of a business plan, it should capture the differentiating factor of the business. That unique characteristic is the most attractive aspect of the business for investors.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Pros and Cons of the Retainer Fee

Here at Love, Entertain, Live, the creative is number one.  It is only right to discuss a major issue with the artist once the art has brought in considerable capital.  All artistic professionals, graphic designers, painters, sculptors, musicians, vocalists, and even celebrity and sports figures have one thing in common: they have a team of professionals working day and night to keep them relevant and successful.

What’s this “retainer fee” you speak of?

Creatives need professionals like publicists, managers, accountants, and lawyers working behind the scenes.  Some professionals ask for a retainer fee for their services.  A retainer fee is a monthly or annual fee, paid out by the client.  It is a flat rate fee that usually ranges anywhere from $500 to $3000 monthly, depending on the extent of work and the quality or reputation of the professional providing the work.

The Pros to hiring someone on retainer:
1.     There is no limit to the tasks that need to be done. Once both parties agree on the extent of work and the retainer fee, the publicist or lawyer contributes accordingly.  Based on the Huffington Post, the publicists job is to present the artist to the world. 
2.     The retainer fee is usually a discounted amount, compared to the hourly rate. says that  as long as a client is using the discounted amount calculated hours, the retainer is worth it.  For example, if a lawyer requests a retainerfee of $3000 per month, at 10 hours per month, but the client only uses 5 hours a month, it may be cheaper if the hourly rate is only $350 per hour.
The cons to hiring someone on retainer:
1.     The employee does not have a vested interest.  If a publicist is hired to work on commission, that publicist is required to show results in order to receive payment.  In other words, if the artist does not make money, no one makes money. 
2.     It is expensive to have an employee working on retainer. It should only be done if income is steady. 

So what’s an artist to do? Start out simple.  Offer an affordable flat rate, with opportunities for commission throughout.  This allows both parties to test the waters and prove their dedication to the art itself.

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Saturday, June 8, 2013

Live Nation Canada Stage Collapse

Live Nation is a huge worldwide concert, touring and merchandising giant.  They have changed the way the concert and merchandising industry thrives within the music industry.  With the change in music lovers’ buying behavior, Live Nation has attempted to change the business model and redirect where profit comes in.  As of now, the public is still waiting to experience the viability and profitability of this model. 

Live Nation has been in and out of entertainment news for a few years now. Just this weekend, news reports claim that Live Nation Canada has been sued for an accident at a Radiohead concert last year.  According to Rolling Stone, The Ontario Ministry of Labor brought up a suit against Live Nation Canada for a stage collapse that occurred last summer in Ontario.  Several charges were brought up against the concert promoter, while the remaining charges were brought up against the staging company responsible for building the stage for the event.  Radiohead’s drum technician died in the collapse, while several others were injured. 

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Live Nation fervently denies responsibility, for they claim they did their best to ensure safety at the event.  A company as big as Live Nation invests heavily in special event and liability insurance for situations just like this.  Resource Nation states that most businesses are sued by third parties, and every business should have liability insurance.  Liability insurance should be supplemented with special event insurance, because special event insurance covers more situations, like a fire, mob, or stage collapse.  Even if someone commits a DUI after a special event, the sponsoring business can be held liable for that individual’s actions.  It may seem extreme to blame Live Nation for most of the stage collapse, but the reality is, a company like Live Nation is well prepared to pay the fines associated with such a catastrophic occurrence.  

Image Sources: Live Nation Logo
                              Stage Collapse

Friday, June 7, 2013

Xbox One May Impact Our Television Viewing Experience

     The Xbox One has been revealed recently and has been in news articles and blogs alike.  Operating under the Windows OS (operating system).  This powerful system will allow for game play, video chatting, television and film   As a gaming console, the Xbox One will display “cinematic” and realistic graphics ( Games will automatically update in the background while gamers do other things.  In addition, the games will continue to “play”, even when the gamer is not.  This technology is considered the gamer’s “shadow”, and it will act how the gamer would normally play during gameplay.  So what does this mean for media?
streaming, applications, and web surfing.

    In our inundated age of media online, in print, in music, and in film, the Xbox One could be an interesting outlet for media publishing and distribution. It is incredibly easy to publish and share content with technology and access.  With technology like smart televisions and the Xbox One, viewing and enjoying entertainment content has become extremely personalized for the viewer.  No longer does a family have to purchase an expensive cable bundle to enjoy their favorite content.   Consumers can download applications and content that interest them. These alternatives deliver only the content the consumer desires. 

       With mass adoption, the Xbox One could open up the television to a new experience.  Our internet has allowed the knowns and unknowns, alike and unalike, to compete on a more level terrain.  If television can assimilate into this process, business models of major studios nationwide may crumble.  Although this sounds like a frightening time for entertainment publishing and distribution, it is also an exciting and defining time to live in.  Watching every moment unfold is a privilege for those living to see it.
Application developers for the Xbox One could easily release applications that showcase and recognize independent content creators, from filmmakers to musicians.