Is Mogul Productions the Bitcoin of film financing?
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As we wrap up the book on this film awards season and look to the next one, Mogul Productions (from Emmy-nominated producer David Cormican) is looking way beyond that. The platform, which just officially launched in March, began with the impetus to decentralize both film funding and the power of Hollywood‘s longtime guardians. Cindy Cowan, Project Purchasing Manager, told Backstage how early-career filmmakers can benefit from Mogul’s groundbreaking support and why she isn’t afraid of resistance from the old guard: “People just aren’t not able to get ripped off. more.”
“Everything is very transparent. And it’s something Hollywood has never seen before – and probably doesn’t want to see. “
For those who don’t know, what is Mogul Productions?
Mogul is a decentralized movie funding platform, which means it basically uses blockchain to fund movies and engage fans. [with] all the scenarios we ultimately choose and how the financiers can get their money back. If someone doesn’t understand blockchain, it’s a way to protect funders in a way they haven’t yet been protected. Any dollar amount goes into a chain – imagine a gold chain – and whether you put $ 20, $ 200, or $ 2 million in it, your money comes out along the chain at the same time. So there’s no way you can do what the old studio systems did: sort of hide money or rip people off or say, “Sorry, all that money went into marketing. There’s nothing left. ”Because even marketing money – whatever it is – has to flow into the chain.
What does your role consist of as a project purchasing manager?
We are brand new. We are one of those rare and leading film funders in the cinema industry. And so we’re currently looking for projects that would suit the genre of the fanbase – things that, ultimately, Mogul fans will have the right to vote on and choose from. We’re going to keep the budgets pretty low – probably $ 5 million or less to start with. But these will be exciting, story-driven projects, and ultimately fans will have a say in which projects exactly go, as well as who plays them.
How to become a producer
How did you find scripts for the platform?
We were lucky. Mogul has only been officially launched for a few weeks. And on the first day, we had over 1,000 projects that had been submitted. They will be submitted in different ways, directly through Mogul – and anyone who wishes or reads it has the option of addressing Mogul directly. There is no charge for submitting your film to us. And then again, there are different ways they will be voted on to see which movies will ultimately be made. But because there are so many of us filming there too, we have already had agents, managers and talents themselves who come forward to submit projects to Mogul. Ultimately, I think what we’re hoping for is that Mogul becomes a kind of side fund company and kind of a [a] ministudio, so to speak, where people will feel like a real player, and they should submit plans to us just like they would any other real player.
How would you recommend an early career filmmaker to gain ground on Mogul?
If it’s a finished script – because we’re unable to develop it at the moment – they can submit it as is. Our team, if we have a real interest in the script, will help them take it to the next level. If they are involved enough in the business, then we can look at what they have and help guide them. These things could just be creating marketing material, and we’ll engage the fans, whether it’s a trailer, which you can do these days by being a great editor, and literally going online and doing something. called rip-o-matic. If you’re not an editor, you can do things like create a sheet just to get people’s attention. And again, Mogul will be able to help them do that. We can either guide them so that they do it themselves, or, if it is a project that we decide to defend, we will do it with them or, sometimes, for them. What’s great about Mogul is that we can teach people what they would need anyway to get to the bigger studios. [to pitch]. But they will have more opportunities to step in and go a little faster on a platform like ours, especially since it is in its first year.
“Every time there’s something new in Hollywood, there is a backlash.”
Part of Mogul’s mission is to “decentralize the power of the guards”. Why is this a business imperative?
Funders over the years are more and more optimistic [when it comes to] the film industry. As the money comes in Hollywood loves to spend and often these people will never be seen again after the money runs out. Studios are known to say that some of the biggest blockbusters in the world have never paid off. There were movies like “Batman” and “Forrest Gump” and some of the biggest movies – they said those movies never made a profit. And you say to yourself, “I don’t understand. How is it that these films are never profitable? It makes absolutely no sense. But then the studios will say, “Oh, well, we had marketing costs” or “We had studio costs” and “We had overhead costs.” Ultimately, as a funder, you never have the capacity to know [if] these costs are real or not real. While in the decentralized capabilities of the blockchain, these costs need to be built into it. They are visible to everyone, whether you invest $ 2 million or $ 2 million. Everything is very transparent. It’s something Hollywood has never seen before – and probably doesn’t want to see. So there will be reluctance from the old players who will say, “Well, wait a minute – we’ve had something good going on here.” But the truth is, as we see with cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, this is the way to the future. People are no longer able to get ripped off. This just happens to be the cinema’s path to the future.
Hollywood is notoriously reluctant to democratize power. Do you think there will be efforts to prevent this platform and others like it from becoming mainstream?
Whenever there is something new in Hollywood, there is a backlash. When you saw HBO Go [launch], people would say, “What? HBO as an app? And now their streaming platform has become Amazon’s streaming platform, Netflix’s streaming platform, and everyone else’s streaming platform that we love. But at first people were like, “I’m not going to watch this; I’m not going to see it that way; I don’t watch a movie on my cell phone or my iPad ”, without even thinking that it would become what it has become. It’s the same with that. I think there will be some mainstream actors who don’t necessarily want this to go ahead, as they appreciate excess and sometimes enjoy hiding money and seeing movies make a profit, but don’t have to. never be reimbursed. This is one of the reasons we were determined to keep Mogul’s budgets at a certain level, so it doesn’t require a typical studio player to be involved with us, but allows the masses to get involved in it. the film industry in a way they don’t have. could not have. I don’t think we’re happy with typical Hollywood. If this [takes off], I think it’s going to hold a lot of people to account, and maybe we’ll be the way into the future for all film funding.
What advice would you give to an emerging producer who, like you, doesn’t necessarily want to follow all of the long-standing rules in the industry?
I say to anyone who wants to get into the cinema: there are certain rules that you will have to follow – even [in] how I choose my next project. You have to know the market. What is currently working? What works now didn’t work last year, and what worked last year didn’t work 10 years ago. I always tell people: when you get started in the cinema, choose something that you are passionate about, because it could take years. But also, pick something that everyone wants to see done too. Don’t come up with a project on your grandma that appeals only to you and your family. Pick something everyone can relate to and go with the wave of what people are seeing right now so the movie has a place to land.
How to finance your next independent film
Right now there will be a crackdown on these very depressing films that sort of facilitate a political agenda. Those are most of those Oscar movies we’re seeing coming out right now, and they’ve served a purpose so far. But in the future, most of the actors I know and the studios I know say, “Okay, that was great for this year, but next year we want to have more fun. Let’s go more into fantasy. Let’s go more in the direction of the elevation and the positive. Again, they hit their target and they did it really well, but we can’t be 10 more years with the same thing.
This story originally appeared in the April 15 issue of Backstage Magazine. Subscribe here.
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