What Is A Film Business Plan?

This is a foray into the key elements of a business plan, in which the philosophy, and the nitty gritty of proper business planning will be discussed. Feel free to respond. Comments that can be helpful to others may end up in future issues. My intention is to walk through the parts of a business plan and discuss them as we go.


The first thing I want to say is what a business plan is not. At least in my mind, it is not just a document which has the magic power to make the pitch and get you money without you showing up or exposing yourself, or putting sweat and your best thoughts into the process.


I like to call your business plan your plan for business. So, what it is, is a collection and recording of the assets (scripts, people, equipment, contacts, contracts, proprietary knowledge or technology) of a proposed and/or existing company, as well as a set of educated predictions for the marketplace and how the company will make money with their product.

Are there certain conventions in a business plan, items which one generally needs to get the story across? Yes. And we will get to what those regularities are as we go along, but for now, we will work our way through the preliminaries, the keys to how you should think about your business plan.

Many filmmakers are so focused on their creative goals that they forget that they also must have a business vision which they can articulate as well as they do their creative vision. It’ll be cool, trust me, just isn’t enough. Particularly now.


First we need to ask and answer a couple of questions, and from those answers we are closer to the business mission for you.

What do you want for yourself?

  • A new car?
  • New shoes for the baby?
  • The chance to make a second, third and fourth film
  • A house?
  • Access to a broad audience
  • Total creative freedom?
  • To work with friends in a collaborative environment?
  • All the money in the world?
  • Your own production facility?

To be an honestly successful blend of the creative and business person all in one..?


Honest answers to this question is the first step in creating a business plan. If a plan does not fit you, and you are the chief executive of the company, how can you pursue it to its logical conclusion? Any viable investor will want you to be motivated and fulfilled. It should be in fulfilling you that you fulfill an investor’s goals too.

As well, I would say, that if you cannot answer this question honestly, and in a way that takes into account the rest of the world, you may gain the whole world, but lose yourself along the way, and have no way to actually enjoy it. Maybe an outmoded concept to some, but I believe it is truly so.


What do you think your potential investors want?

  • Some want money for things like you want.
  • Some want money for things you don’t care about.
  • Some have money and want to have fun at something new they couldn’t do for themselves with all the money in the world.
  • Some want to change the world a little with the money they have.
  • None want to do anything stupid.

Your business plan is built internally, upon facts about the outside world.

Your business plan incorporates your vision (mission) for yourself.

Your business plan encourages the visions (missions) of the right potential investors.

Your business plan should be a road map to effect both sets of goals.

So, the first thing to do for a business plan is define your vision, your mission, your goals.


This is not an actual mission statement, but it incorporates the concepts that bring a mission statement to life:

To make the best damn film I and my team members can make. To make people laugh at the characters in the film, and thereby learn to laugh at themselves a little (hopefully). To have fun with a good team of people around me who know how to make high quality films on a reasonable budget that is not oversized for the market. Have that film sell enough tickets that it makes our investors (who we also think of as team members) money, that it makes my other team members money, and that it makes me money This is an actual mission statement:

Vision Pictures, Inc. a Florida corporation, has fully developed, and intends to finance, produce, and distribute a romantic motion picture tentatively entitled Vision, and thereby to manage the rights to Vision so that it is seen by mass market audiences on a global basis, and subsequently returns profits to the film’s investors and to all of its profit participants. This is an actual artistic mission statement:

The artistic mission of the film Vision is to produce an original and audience-pleasing entertainment which can inspire viewers from all backgrounds by showing them that there is more to be gained from life by giving to others than there is in merely taking from them.

You can have both a business mission and an artistic mission. A good business mission statement need not be complex, but it will signal that you intend to keep promises to achieve the financial goals of the enterprise as well as your artistic goals.

I have worked on films that also have a proselytizing mission. There is room within the world of business planning to incorporate any vision and mission that there is. If, however, your mission is all about yourself and your needs and hopes and fears and dreams, then be prepared for people you talk with about it to tune you out and tune your business plan out.


It is a document which describes your vision and how you are going to reach that vision, and it is a document which describes how you are going to enable the visions of others through effectively reaching your own.

Over time, in subsequent newsletters we will break down the elements of the business plan, and discuss how each is arrived at, how it works, and the decisions inherent within it. Here is an outline of the sections we will cover.


The outline below lists the contents of an average business plan which we find are important to investors and partner companies. Each film company and project bring a different set of talents, strengths and weaknesses to the table, and thus each plan has to have an individual set of emphases. A more detailed outline of a business plan is available on our web site, under Business Planning.

  1. Mission Statement For Your Movie
  2. Executive Summary
  3. Motion Picture Market Statistics Overview
  4. Domestic Markets
  5. The Birth Of An Independent Film
  7. Synopsis Of Your Movie
  8. The Process Of An Independent Film: From
  9. Conception Through Post-production
  10. Gaining Distribution For Your Movie
  11. Festival Strategy (if any)
  13. Domestic Primary Markets
  14. Foreign Markets
  16. Movie Audience Demographics
  17. Analysis Of Target And Any Crossover Or Secondary
  18. Audiences


  • Biographies and Resumes
  • Historical Studies of Comparable Films
  • Projections
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