5 Tips to Financing Your Film

Posted on by Larry

jago_maximLast week, on the Digital Production Buzz, Maxim Jago shared the five key thoughts that he learned as he financed his latest film: “Jolie’s Garden.” I found his ideas to be thought-provoking, which is why I want to share them with you.

NOTE: You can hear his entire interview here.

Maxim Jago is a film director, screen writer, and author who splits his time between film making and speaking as a futurist. He’s a regular speaker at media technology conferences, film festivals and events celebrating creativity. He’s also the Chief Innovation Officer at filmdoo.com and a mentor for new film makers.

Website: JoliesGarden.com


Maxim Jago’s five tips to financing your film:

  1. Emphasizing story and characters are key to capturing the attention of potential inventors.
  2. Avoid getting overwhelmed by well-meaning advice; listen to your “gut” and do what you feel is right.
  3. Strive for “No.”
  4. Make your film pitch visual.
  5. Don’t give up.


Larry Jordan: You mentioned that you needed both a compelling story and a compelling character, is there more weight to one versus the other? I have watched movies where the characters were interesting and the story wasn’t so great.

Maxim Jago: I think that’s a great question, Larry. I think it has to be a mixture of both, and maybe even, I don’t know, 60% story, 40% character. If you don’t have a character that you care about, it doesn’t matter how many explosions there are, how much action and how much conflict. If you don’t care about the character in the first place, you are left unmoved. But, equally, if you love the character and nothing much happens, it’s kind of boring.

– – –

Maxim Jago: I love to get advice…, but what I realized is that when you’re working on any endeavor, not just a film project but any endeavor, there is an ocean of advice. It’s a tide of advice. Every single person you speak to, including my mother, every single person suddenly becomes an expert on what you should do and what you shouldn’t do and why this is important, why that’s important. I talked to a good friend of mine recently Kanan Flowers, he’s an absolute genius, and he was chastising me for taking too much advice, and he quoted Steve Jobs saying” Every rule ever made by anybody was made by nobody more intelligent than you.”

I realized that your gut feeling about something, when you’ve done your research and you’ve thought it through, and you know your project and you know what you’re capable of achieving, and you know the team that you’re working with, is probably the best guide you have. Sometimes you just have to listen to what people have to say and thank them for it and move on and do what you feel is right.

– – –

Maxim Jago: I think the third is to strive for no, actually. You know, when you’re trying to finance a film and you’re trying to put a team together, you’re trying to get people to commit, and everybody says yes, particularly in the media industry.

I don’t know what is about this industry…. In the media it seems like every single person you speak to says absolutely yes! We’re going to do this! It’s going to be amazing, let’s go for it! But then there’s delays and delays and delays, and somehow most of the time the people that say yes don’t fulfill their promise. So one of the things I’ve learned to do is to push people to say no, because if you speak to an investor, and they’re just as bad as anybody else, they’ll say yes, you know, it sounds brilliant!

You have to push for them to say no if they don’t want in, because otherwise you begin making plans on the basis of things that turn out not to be real. So I’d rather that people said no instead of maybe.

Larry Jordan: Are you suggesting that some people may over-promise?

Maxim Jago: You know, Larry, one of the things that, one day, maybe on my deathbed, but one day I will understand if not today, why people don’t do what they say they’re going to do.

– – –

Maxim Jago: I realized late with Jolie’s Garden that it’s important to make [your film] visual [to investors]. You really need to make sure that people can see what you’re describing, and so one of the things we invested in relatively late in the development of the project was finding a fantastic illustrator, a great photographer who did photo shoots, and we had an amazing guy do the finishing work on the photos.

I hope that when people see them they’ll be as impressed as I am. Making it visual enables people to engage with the story immediately. They get a visceral reaction to what they’re witnessing instead of trying to imagine it based on what you’re saying.

– – –

Maxim Jago: Just don’t stop. You have to keep going. I forget who said: “The most important step is the next one.” You know, what they say, keep breathing, because as long as you do that you’re winning, and I think in life and in projects in particular, my goodness, you just have to keep going.

You’re going to have disappointments, you’re going to have ups and downs and, you know, it’s a rollercoaster ride. But if you just keeping going, the opportunities will come. People remember you. Those follow-up conversations will happen.

We’re speaking to an investor right now who’s been talking about investing in the firm for about six months, and I was saying don’t worry about it, it’s done, forget it. Just we’ll have a beer, we’ll have a coffee, it’s okay. Just because we kept going, it’s come back around and now we’re in much more serious talks about investment in the project.


I enjoyed our conversation and found his ideas fascinating. Maxim has much more to say during our twelve-minute interview.

You can hear Maxim’s interview here.

You can hear our entire show here.

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