When Alberta-born, California-raised producer/director Lawrence Roeck attached Scott Eastwood to his upcoming feature, Diablo, he knew it was time to return to his roots. His star’s father, Clint, shot Unforgiven in Alberta. Lawrence wanted to continue the tradition of the Eastwood western. However, filming in a place known more for its oil and gas industry than its movie industry added an extra challenge to raising money.
“A typical investment in Canada could be oil and gas, timber and real estate development,” says Lawrence, settling into a booth at the Yellow Door Bistro in Calgary next to his executive producer, Shana Wilson. They’re famished after spending the afternoon scouting locations in Longview. “So it’s tough to market this type of investment to that person unless they have an interest in film or a desire to be involved in the movie business in some way.”
In addition to moving to Calgary to start pre-production, Lawrence enlisted Edmonton-based Shana to set the stage for financing. Diablo’s $3 million budget may be modest by Hollywood blockbuster standards, but it’s still a lot of sawbucks to rustle up.
“For Albertans, film is a very strange animal,” says Shana. “It was really important to make it something that would pique people’s attention and get them interested in the project.”
Wary of the slow pace of fundraising for many independent filmmakers, some of whom spend up to 10 years securing backers before they shoot a single frame, Lawrence and Shana looked at the opportunity they were offering from another angle. They realized they weren’t only selling an investment — they were selling an experience.
“Anyone can invest in a movie, but to do an Eastwood western, with the son taking over the legacy of his father, it’s a rare one,” says Lawrence. “We wanted to cut to the chase, define the experience and show people exactly what they’re getting.”
Taking a concierge approach, the producers decided to offer VIP passes to the progression of Diablo, both during production and on the festival circuit. Tailored specifically to give top-level investors a taste of the movie mogul lifestyle, the Experience Programis divided into different levels of financial commitment.
For $500,000 an investor can buy the Platinum Package, which includes jet set perks like flying private to the Hollywood premiere with Diablo’s star headliner, a walk down the red carpet and a round of golf in Pebble Beach, on the Eastwood’s home turf. If the investor is so inclined, he or she can even play a small part in the film. Packages are also available for $250,000 and $125,000. Each one includes that private jet ride with Scott Eastwood.
Beyond the mile-high perks, the money also translates into share purchase, with first monies being paid back at 115%. After that, investors and the original production team are projected to profit 50/50 in perpetuity.
“At the end of the day, not only will they have had a once-in-a-lifetime bucket list experience, we will deliver a significant return on their investment,” says Shana.
Financing isn’t complete yet, but they do have enough funds to green light the movie. When filming begins in early 2014, “Action” “Cut” and “Print” will be echoing through the foothills, as Southern Alberta stands in for California in the 1860s.
A former broadcast journalist who has worked for CBS, ABC and CBC, Tiffany began covering financial news when she was based in Toronto, working for CityTV and Cable Pulse 24. The UBC graduate's career has seen her report on a wide variety of topics, including directing and producing a feature documentary about a controversial undercover police tactic, Mr. Big.
Besides her work for You Inc, Tiffany is also creative director for the fashion/lifestyle website Blue Besos. In between, she tries to find time to work on a novel about the TV news industry.
Her favourite interview ever was with cellist Yo Yo Ma.