How Much Is My Film Worth

By Elliot Grove


What is my film worth? This is the most common question I hear year after year at the Raindance Film Festival. I meet many filmmakers at various stages of the fimmaking process, all of whom have varying approaches to the tricky question of valuing their films.

Here are some typical scenarios:

Raindance Film FestivalThe Auteur
"I'm making he movie of my dreams, using some innovative camera work and editing style, and I don't care if the film sells at all. I know my film is beautiful, because I am beautiful"

The Entrepreneur
"I'm really good at making money in other businesses, so I am going to analyse the marketplace, find out what people are looking for, make it and clean up at the box office."

The Crass Marketeer
"I've just seen a report that 100,000,000 milllion people around the world play soccer. Thus, if I make a film about a kid trying to make it in as a soccer player, it has an in-build audience. And even if only .001% of the soccer playing community sees my film, I will make a handsome profit."

The Festival Groupie
"To get my film sold, it has to get noticed. The easiest way to get a film noticed is to take it on the festival circuit. The films on the festival circuit that get noticed right now are films dealing with __________ (name the topic - but usually sexual violence). Thus my film about _________ will get noticed, I will sell it for loadsa."

The Passionate Artiste
"I feel so strongly about this particular topic, I am going to pour all my energy, and my life's savings into this one project. And it better sell, otherwise I'm bankrupt"

The Genre Junkie
I make horror (or sci-fi, or thriller) because I know it will sell.

When valuing your film, it is important to decide how you intend to recoup your fim BEFORE you start shooting. Or indeed, before you start writing. The type of film that you make will pre-determine the level of financial success your film will achieve.

Please note: Prices are in 000's and in USD

Here is a guideline of how your film, with no recognizable stars, will fare on the international market stage:
I have based these figures on films we have had at Raindance which have sold to at least 2 territories.

Genre:                 Sci-Fi          Horror       Thriller    Action       Topical     Rom-Com

DVD Only           $1-300       $3-500      $2-500   $1-400      $.5-500       $.5-500

If your film does well in the festival circuit, manages theatrical distribution in 3-5 key European territories, revenue basically rises 5 - 10 fold

Lo To No Budget filmmaking with elliot GroveDocumentary

A documentary that is not commisioned by a broadcaster, and which does not win distinction at a major film festival will be lucky to secure $50,000 in revenues.

If the doc is topical, and if it does exceptionally well at festivals, you may see the revenue climb to $2-400K

Short Films

Expect a revenue of $100 - $200 per minute, although I have known good shorts to go over a $1,000 a minute.

The Internet

With the explosian of IPTV and Web 2.0 sites, like www.raindance.tv, filmmakers can now expect to earn between $1,000 - $10,000 per annum. Make sure you only sign non-exclusive rights away. Certain companies offer the earth, but insist on asking for a 5 year exclusive contract which in some cases means filmmaker's cannot submit to film festivals, or join compilation DVDFs etc. Beware the 5 year exclusive contract.

Certain companies, like Babelgum, are offering up to 1,000 euro per hour, as a Minimum Guarantee against ad-based revenue. While its great to get a bit of cash up front, the terms Babelguma are offering beyond recoupment are quite onerous. so think before you leap.

The Way Forward

I have learned from my many years at Raindance that every film has a revenue possibility. The trick is to try and guesstimate what that is, and then make it for less, thereby ensuring a profit.

Also, there is a definate no-man's-land between films produced for less than $1 million, and $10 million. Make a film with $10mil+ and you have money to hire bankable actors. Between $1-10mil your actors are probably not going to make your budget back.

Hey. And I'm still learning.

Happy Filmmaking.







Elliot Grove

Casting Your Film

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Tutors: Rory O'Donnell Venue: Raindance Film Centre
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About Elliot Grove

Elliot GroveCanadian born Elliot Grove founded Raindance Film Festival in 1993, the British Independent Film Awards in 1998, and Raindance.TV in 2007, the Raindance Postgraduate Film Degree in 2011 and Raindance Raw Talent in 2013.

He has produced over 150 short films, and 5 feature films incuding his latest feature film, Deadly Virtues: Love.Honour.Obey. He has written eight scripts, one of which is currently in pre-production. He teaches writers and producers in the UK, Europe. Japan and America.

He has written three books which have become industry standards: RAINDANCE WRITERS LAB 2nd Edition (Focal Press 2008),  RAINDANCE PRODUCERS LAB (Focal Press 2013) and 130 PROJECTS TO GET YOU INTO FILMMAKING (Barrons 2009). His first novel THE BANDIT QUEEN is scheduled for publication next year.

Open University awarded Elliot and Honourary Doctorate for services to film education in 2009.
He is regularly interviewed. Here is an interview for Canadian television

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How much is my film worth