CASTING AND FINANCING:
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.
BUDGETS AND ACTORS:
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.