The biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.
—George Bernard Shaw
July 9, 2013
Check out this excerpt - from the new book Filmmakers & Financing by Louise Levison
No matter how great your film project is, you may be unable to gain your goal—raising the money—unless you can communicate well with others. When you have a meeting, you think that the goal is to get money for your film. It actually is to communicate with the other person. Communication is a two-way street. You need to understand and think about what the other person is saying, in addition to how you are going to explain your project. Go in with a plan, but let the other person go first. You will probably give your short pitch first, but I advise letting the other person be first to speak about a potential deal. There may be a counter proposal you can make, rather than having the meeting end abruptly. Here are a few suggestions to aid your meeting style:
1. Don’t interrupt: Let the other person finish what they are saying before you speak. I’ll admit that one of my failings with clients is to interrupt due to my “psychic ability” to know what they are going to say next. Even if I am right, the rudeness tends to put people off.
2. Take a breath before speaking: Think about what you have just heard. It lets your investor know that you are taking what she said seriously; or, alternatively, gives you time to form a reply. This comment applies to serious conversation, not if the other person merely says “hello,”
or asks if you would like coffee or water.
3. Observe nonverbal cues from their mannerisms, tone of voice, gestures, and so on. At the same time, try to be aware of your own. Are you relaxed and smiling? Try nodding once in a while to show you understand what they are saying. Of course, be sure you do understand.
Common Sense Is More Important Than Rules
The variety of possible conversations is too broad to make a lot of hard and fast rules for you to follow. That gets us back to the sticky point that the desire to raise the money for your film may chase all rational thinking out the door. As with the filmmaker’s experiences mentioned earlier, I would rather offer observations:
1. If an investor asks a simple question, give a simple answer. For example, if you are asked the total budget number, just say it. You’ll have plenty of time to go into other items in your pitch. A client was asked the budget of a film four times. She talked about all the wonderful qualities of the film but didn’t answer his question for 30 minutes. He finally ended the meeting.
2. What not to say is almost as important as what to say. Don’t be the first to bring up negative news reports. On the other hand, be ready with a response to items that you know have been in the news. If someone has heard that statement and asks you, agree that there is no guarantee
that a film will make money. Then go into a short explanation of your financials.
3. Although you are a salesperson in this instance, the motto that “No is only an opportunity” usually doesn’t apply in this situation. Sometimes no means no. Thank the person for their time and leave. Later you can assess how the meeting went. You may find better ways to present your