tl;dr: Raising $1m for something incredibly cool is hard.
If you have ideas, I want to talk.
In the month of January I had 60 meetings with producers, agents, financiers, people in tech, and close friends with good ideas. What began as a loose 3min pitch is razor sharp and takes 30sec now.
Everyone was excited. Most meetings haven't led anywhere, yet. What's been most interesting is how many times I've gotten ""Okay, here's how to make this project happen"" followed by an entirely new perspective. It fits into a lot of categories, and there's a lot of ways to approach the problem.
It turns out that while this project represents the future of cinema we have in our minds, there are reasons why something far-out has a harder time getting traction.
I'm also, at the moment, emotionally exhausted.
Here's more detail:
What I knew
Because something like this hasn't been done before at scale, the revenue model is unproven. I thought that I'd be able to convince a studio or entertainment brand to do it for name recognition.
What I've learned
The conservatism of established companies with established models is not to be underestimated. Trying to get a company to sign on to a business model they haven't executed before takes time, convincing, and clout.
I'm now focused on two possible sources of founding: extremely subtle product placement, and individuals who are interested in producing incredible content. I'm especially considering raising money in cryptocurrency, either as an ICO or from individuals. (know anyone I should talk to?)
What I knew
I started the month knowing that there would be a role in this project for the immersive theater community I know in San Francisco.
What I've learned
By watching our community come together on a music video we're about to make next week, I've seen the power of what this community can really do and feel even more excited about using the same model we've been using to create an immersive component to this project.
I've also met a huge immersive theater community in Los Angeles. The flavor and style is quite different, but there are a lot of great people down there who also work in cinema.
There are three things that this project needs that can kick it into high gear.
- Influencers who can be cast in the project
- A high-level presenting producer/director with the experience and connections to push the project to the next level
Nearly everything else can wait until the project has traction.
We're budgeting out the project now and I continue to talk to anyone and everyone who is open to a conversation. I'm making two versions of a deck, one that describes the project as a film, and one that describes it as an ad.
It is critical that if we do product placement, it is written into the story and doesn't come across as overt or as an ad. I am reticent to work advertising in in this way, but ultimately, if it has to be done I am willing to do it.
Perhaps the most salient moment of the last month happened this morning on a call with a friend of a friend in the UK. I explained the idea and he said ""oh, someone's already doing that."" Fear gripped me. Once I fully explained the idea, he told me that somebody isn't doing it. But in that moment, I was reminded of how critical it is that this is done, that it is done well, and that it is done now.
And if it doesn't succeed, maybe I'll go on to plan B...get a job at a tech company, or live in nature for a long while. That wouldn't be so bad.
So who wants to help make a movie-thing happen?"