If Tom Cruise wants to do your movie, there’s no need to approach individual investors; every studio in Hollywood will bid for your services. Short of having a star begging for your script, every would-be producer is in the same boat: 1) try to attach a name actor and then go after financing, in which case you’ll be in competition with countless other producers for the same relatively small group of ”bankable” names, or 2) get the money first.

While not eschewing the former strategy, Cascade Sky’s main focus will be the latter. The reason is efficiency and effectiveness. Anyone who can get the money first is in a position to take advantage of quirks in the Hollywood casting process. If the money is in escrow and the film in pre-production, the screenplay will go into a “breakdown” service, which will make a list (with descriptions) of the characters in a script and send that list to every talent agency in Los Angeles. Those agencies will then flood the producers with photos of their clients for the various characters.

This process will reveal a surprising number of high-profile actors who might be in the film because, no matter how famous actors are, they are always looking for roles they haven’t done or that might interest them for whatever reason. And no matter how many movies they do, there are always work gaps, where they sit around wondering if they’ll ever work again. Even major stars have a built-in insecurity. Most experienced years when nobody wanted them. And even at the peak of fame they lose desirable roles to other stars. Moreover, they are painfully aware of the capriciousness of fame and fearful that it will all end soon. Famed character actor Charles Durning, whose film credits outnumber his years, was once reported to have said that he always thought his next film would be his last.


The following may seem obvious, but it merits careful examination because it has such a profound effect on the profitability of a motion picture. “Name” actors are not all equal. They are rated (with opinions sometimes differing) by distribution companies, both foreign and domestic, as to their sales value. Actor X may make a $1 million film turn a profit, but cause a $4 million picture to fail miserably. The trick is to match actors to whatever is the budget.

This can also affect the base cost (referred to as “below-the-line) of a production. Minor names can mean a less expensive production--smaller crew, less equipment, amenities, etc.

On the other hand, the budget can balloon upward with bigger stars. Though scary, this does not necessarily mean disaster is immanent. Profitability can be hugely increased.

As in other investments, it’s serendipitous to see value on the way up, to cast actors just as they’re about to break through to stardom. Short of this, films can still be fun and financially rewarding. Balance in planning and executing is everything.