How to Film in Nigeria and still be human by Niyi Akinmolayan

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Preparing a Film Deck for Investors

A film deck or what’s you might refer to as a film proposal is a presentation material that introduces the idea of the film. It basically contains the storyline, who’s involved (these are usually wishlists), what makes it special, and ultimately win over the hearts of those in front of it. It can also contain a summarized budget and a summary of investment and returns. If you are looking to share costs with the investor, your deck should include what the ratio is and who owns what rights etc. a film deck can be created in PowerPoint or any word processor and then converted to pdf or a presentation.

Here is a simple idea of a 10-page deck. It’s for an idea i was shopping around 3 years ago. If you have 30million naira, lets talk 🙂 This template is basically a guide since yours should be more detailed. read through the next steps so you can include in yours. Also its important to add a detailed budget at the end of your deck. (check out our previous post on budgets) Download below

SEVEN FILM DECK TEMPLATE

The Cover Page

This is the first page your investor is going to see and it should be your most impressionable one. Usually, I advise people to imagine what the poster of this film could be and use that. There are three approaches depending on how creative you are.

  1. Photoshop Magic: You can get a good photoshop person to create a concept poster using the faces of the actors you want. This is a very effective one cos the investor will already see what this means if the movie actually happened. 
  2. Concept Art: You can create a concept graphic illustration. It’s hard to find photos that match what you want on the internet but you really want to express your idea. For instance if your film is about a young hausa boy flying a rocket. That will definitely be hard to find online. You can get an artist to help create the concept idea. Because it’s unique, even though it’s not real images, whoever is reading your proposal will get the idea.
  3. A photo montage: if you don’t have the time, skill or money for the first two, then you can creativity stick together photos that help covey your idea in the shortest way possible 

Some of the other important things on the cover page could be the names and logos of the companies you want involved (your investor included), the name of the director and even the name of the actors. Then you can find a convenient place on the page to add the words “Film Deck” or “Film Proposal”

The Summary Page

The next page is what I like to call the Summary page. Here is where you put the Logline of your movie. A log line or logline is a brief (usually one-sentence) summary of a television program, film, or book that states the central conflict of the story, often providing both a synopsis of the story’s plot, and an emotional “hook” to stimulate interest. Imagine you have 2 mins in an elevator with an investor and he asks you to tell him, in one sentence, what your film is about. That’s a logline. Here’s an example of log lines:

A young woman, with the help of her professor friend fights to preserve the heritage of her people against all odds

When a Roman general is betrayed and his family murdered by an emperor’s corrupt son, he comes to Rome as a gladiator to seek revenge.

In this brief description, you’ve basically established the main character, the supporting character, a strong motive and the hurdles the character will face. If your logline isn’t captivating enough to make the investor want to know more, it’s probably not a good logline and your probably don’t even have a captivating story to start with.

Your summary page can also have information like the producer, Director, production companies, Executive Producer (in this case, you add the investor)

The Synopsis Page

A synopsis is a brief summary (one to two pages long) of the major points of a movie or TV show. It is a short document usually a page long, that summarizes your story, in such a way that readers can rapidly become acquainted with your story without having to read a script. Unlike promotional documents, it is important for a synopsis to include the full story including the ending without leaving any plot questionmarks. It’s usually advisable to make it one page but ensure all the key story points are there. You should also write it in a way that reads interesting. This is basically you telling your investor what to expect from the film after it’s finished. Make it as clear as possible. Your investor might not understand film lingo.

The Key Production Team Page

On the page, you list some of the Key people you want on your Project. This is important because you will also attach the profiles to it and that gives your investor something to hold on to. Necessary on this page are the Producer, Director, Writer, Director of Photography, music Composer. Sometimes if the film is strong on aesthetics and visual design, you can even include the Art Director, Make Up, Costume.

While these are wish lists, it shows how serious you want your film to be. For each person, make sure to put their name and photograph, works they’ve done, years of experience etc. if you are pitching a musical for example and you include the DOP of one of the best musicals in your deck, your investor is bound to take you seriously. 

The Key characters Page

The actors you intend to put in your film are a very important element of your film deck. It says to the investor; this person knows what he/she is doing. Just like the production team page, you should profile all the key actors. Their real name, character name, photos (if you can find a photo of them that resembles what the character is, even better) the investor will also be able to figure out the scale of the project so it makes defending your budget a lot easier.

It’s also a great place to put character description. Since the investor has only read your synopsis, this can help them get more insight into who the character in your story is. They can then make a strong connection. For instance if you put the image of Richard Mofe Damijo and the character he’s playing is that of a rich business guru, it’s easier to make the connection as to why he’s your choice.

You should also add supporting characters to another page. Even though this is not compulsory, it can be very useful if your film is an ensembles of some sort of the idea can use a lot of supporting cast. This is good for big comedies and musicals etc. 

The Value Proposition Page

why do you think this movie will work or make money. Why do you think this is the right movie and the choices you’ve made are right. In this section of the deck, you want to be able to make a clear case for why the film is attractive. For instance, you might want to make a film about a black superhero simply because no one has made one yet and there seem to be a high demand. You might want to make a big comedy about Polygamy because it’s a very popular issue and big comedies sell in Nigeria. 

On this page if you have some evidence, statistics that show your case is worth considering, you should add it here. Have you done some research? What does the research say. Are you building your argument based of statistics the investor can easily verify, add that as well. The easier it is to verify, the stronger your case will be.

The “Other Valuable Information” Page

This page is where you include things like locations, shoot format, delivery formats, Distributors and partners. This is also a good place to state specifically all the different platforms the film will be distributed.

The Money Page

This is where you present what your estimated budget for the film is. At this point, you only need a summary budget that can be broken down into key parts like preproduction, production, post production and marketing. I always advice people to separate the production cost from the marketing cost. This is important because there are many ways to work our Marketing so it doesn’t have to be bundled with production costs. This also allows the investor clearly see what it cost to make the film as a product. 

On this page, if you intend to give out equity for the project, use data tools like a pie chart to show the share. Say you want 10million Naira and you want an investor to give you 7million Naira. That’s a 30:70 split. This can help the investor already see what the relationship is and can help him decide quickly. This ratio also allows his see how much eventually gets back to him after the film is sold.

A third critical component of the money page of forecasting the sales/returns. For instance. Cinemas in nigeria as at the time of this book returns about 33% of the box office to the producer. Other platforms like netflix and cable will return about 85% back to you because the distributors have a share. You should be able to foreshadow how much your film will make and how much you will generate. It’s an argument but you have to put figures on it. Investors are not kids, they also understand the risks but what you are presenting to them is a best case scenario and while it’s never accurate, it’s a good way to position yourself as serious about making profit.

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Comments

  • Posted: February 15, 2020 12:50

    Frankie

    Thank you for this. Very helpful.
  • Posted: February 15, 2020 14:05

    Sunday Erhunmwunse

    I've been searching for this. Thanks, sir
    • Posted: February 16, 2020 00:00

      Joseph Agbi

      Thanks for this insightful piece sir. Is this guide used for pitching TV series as well and how does one handle the budget aspect considering it will have different seasons. How does one estimate? How does one project income? Also in writing the synopsis, do you summarize the entire series plot?
      • Posted: February 16, 2020 03:33

        admin

        Yes it’s basically the same idea for a series. Although you might wanna also show the potential for more seasons in your proposal
  • Posted: February 15, 2020 17:23

    Olarewaju Dave

    Very Very Helpful Thank You Sir
  • Posted: February 15, 2020 18:39

    Kaykay

    Thank you, sir. What would it cost to intern with you? I know a talented individual that have been dreaming of working for or with you and I would like to make her dreams happen. She is good with SFX make up, Costuming and props and a hard worker. She studied performing arts at Unilorin. She said she would love to start as a production assistant. What should she do?