Monday, April 26, 2010

Firstly I am sorry it took me so long to post this blog. You see my blog goes through censor approval committee and we had lot of back and forth...anyways here is my next blog

“I'm gonna be a producer! Sound the horn and beat the drum! I'm gonna be a producer! Look-out Broadway, here I come!”

Those were the famous lines from the Producers, that I hummed when we decided to MAKE When Harry Tries to Marry!

The horn was blown, the first beat of the drum was hit, but wait a minute where was the MONEY?

We had the sweat equity in place, our own debit cards ready for swiping, but we did not have the financial equity 

If you love roller-coaster rides, you should try raising funds, especially for independent films. I mean it’s the fastest, largest and highest roller coaster ride of the world, and without safety harnesses like at Great Adventure. Once you get on
the ride, there’s no telling when you may fall and there’s no net underneath to save you.One minute the roller-coaster cab can take you so high and next minute down – one minute you are laughing at the high and the next minute your are scared shit – with a funny feeling in your stomach that never stops.

So began our quest to raise the funds – and let me tell you it was quite a journey. Anyways so we put together this whole book – what we called the HARRY BOOK – and like every noble endeavor needs blessings from above, we found Ganesh emblems and stuck then to the cover of the book. The Harry Book had everything that an investor would ask us for - from Synopsis to Distribution plan. I mean to point of being conceited this was one kick ass book (140 pages – every page carefully designed, written and printed) and would be an amazing reference for any aspiring film-maker.

The Harry book was put together, but now the question was – “who do we approach for money?” We made this long list of people – Family, Friends, Families families, families’ friends, and friends’ families – ok so you know what I mean.

From that list we went to most likely person – He was like a mentor for my director and in two meetings he cut us a check – (well 3 checks actually). For us he will be always be the guy who wrote that first check(s) – Priceless!!!

Then we went on to approach other people but we noticed a common dysfunctional problem – none of these guys had time to read our script / or weren’t used to reading script, and we kept going around in circle – as the script is basis for the investment and they had not time to read the script. The second problem was, and that was a bigger problem as the script always received the same comment from Hollywood “could it be executed well” and “who would execute it”. The third problem was “who’s in it?”

So we decided to raise money by putting on the proverbial “dog and pony show” via STAGED-READINGS. More on how the readings were planned, the work put into doing them, and not listening to the nay-sayers in a future blog.

We staged three readings in New York (May, June, and August 2009) and raised about 40% of our money that way. Investors came to theatre, sipped some wine, ate some cheese and crackers and laughed for 2 hours and (next day) cut us a check. Sounds very simple but don’t try this at home boys and girls (till you read how the readings were put together) and how much work goes into putting together the plan / collateral material / legalese / prospectus / casting / rehearsals / re-writing / music / graphics / reference imagery and choosing samosas versus pakoras / Saturdays versus Sundays...

We had the 40 % of the money but yeah you cannot make only 40% of your movie – we needed the rest 60%. You see we had quit our (day) jobs and had used up all our meager savings and had no incoming revenue – so if we did not raise money soon our only option would have been to drive a cab AND I DO NOT EVEN KNOW HOW TO DRIVE!!!

During all this, we met a whole bunch of characters.
Lets call this guy the Pirate of the Indian Ocean. We had this gentleman, who was a friend of a friend, of a friend, who had some background in show business. Now this guy (on paper) was the dream financier. He loved the story, loved the project, loved the whole deal, and promised us that he would give us all the money. In fact, he said “don’t take money from anyone else” numerous times by email and in calls. He wanted to “own” the movie himself. Can you imagine our excitement? We had to choose whom we would take money from. Awesome! Right? Wrong. One day while, we were doing a presentation to a bunch of investors in Texas, this gentlemen sends an email telling us that he won’t give us (partial) money. He wanted to be the only one. He asked for our wire transfer details. Holy shit! We’re in business folks. He also said he’d spoke to this guy / that guy / this actress / that star / we’re gonna be in the company of A-listers.

And then.

We called the bank. Our minutes, hours, days, were spent waiting for him. We had a catch 22. Either raise 60% elsewhere or get the entire 100% from him and he even wanted to INCREASE the budget. We even bought a ticket to go meet him (all this was on the phone and emails since he was always travelling). He always had an excuse - wife sick, child sick, business meetings, weddings, the wire details got deleted, the bank messed up – you name the excuse and he had one but the best one was the last excuse – brace yourself ladies and gentlemen, he said that his GOLD WHICH WAS ENROUTE TO DUBAI WAS STOLEN BY SOMALIAN PIRATES!!! We were so head ***ked by that time that that we would have actually gone and hunted those pirates out. He sent us looking for El Dorado which never really was.

But we didn’t flinch for a minute. We knew that Lord Ganesh would not let us down. If we could raise 40% in 3 months, we’d raise the balance 60%. We had decided “come what may”. And like a farishta we connected with this investor that my producing partner knew from a decade ago. He read our Harry Book and agreed to meet us with his family.

They heard us, grilled us and said nice meeting you, we will think and get back to you in a week.

The next week we got a call from him saying he and his friend would invest together.
And that’s it folks we had our money to make a movie…

I have always believed in Angels. You see this is my theory – since God is so busy looking after bigger issues and larger problems he has no time for us smaller beings. So to protect us he has given us our Angels. We all have our Angels – You know someone that comes and gives you his hand when you fall, someone who smiles at you when you are in grouchy mood, the one who takes your loneliness away, someone who shows you a open door when you think all of them have shut, they are always there in some shape, some form – helping you, guiding you, holding you, soothing you. They are our Angels!!!

Our investors have been our Angels- every time we had an issue – any issues - they have helped us, guided us and held us. So from our whole team I want to thank our Angels – thank you for being with us – for being our super heroes and letting us make our dream a reality. We will never forget it.

Lastly - If you believe in your project enough, have conviction and confidence other people will assume you are on to something, and they'll want to participate. An anecdote. The first investor (my director’s mentor) asked if we had quit our day jobs. We had. And that’s the reason he gave us the money to begin with. He said if you don’t have skin in the game, why would anyone else.
Cheerios, hugs and kisses,


Hollywood Memos

From: Film Investor

To: Marty Simmons (producer of Animal House and Vacation)

Matt your script reads, "As we open, an adorable little penguin struts down a quiet hallway." We checked out rentals on a penguin and they are too expensive. They had a special on camels—we went with the camel.


  1. That's a fascinating story. You mean you'd been through all this when we met in Mumbai many moons ago? Amazing. But you guys seemed so calm and composed I got the impression it was a breeze to make this movie.

    I hope the end result makes it all worth while. From what little experience I have, I have seen and the more effort and suffering that goes into a venture the better the result.

  2. Enjoyed reading your posts. Looking forward to more! :)