Main Street: So You Want to Be a Hollywood Producer? Here's One Way to Do It

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By Juliette Fairley | Main Street

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — When Wade Bradley founded Empire Ventures in Portland in 1999, it was not uncommon for the venture capitalist to receive full-length scripts from desperate filmmakers fantasizing about funding.

“I received three or four scripts a year from producers I didn’t know,” Bradley told MainStreet. “Every once in a while I’d read the script, their business plan and do an analysis.”

Bradley was too busy launching tech start-ups such as Learning.com, SnapNames, Xora.com and Anvita Health to write back or offer production money to the hopefuls, but the script submissions ultimately prompted him to move to Los Angeles and try his hand at funding and producing Hollywood movies.

“Filmmakers don’t think about raising money for the cost of advertising theatrical distribution until after the film is completed, because it is such a challenge to raise money for the production," Bradley said. "But raising money for print and advertising is the cornerstone of distribution.”

And that is the secret to the launch of Media Society two years ago.

“We secure funding for both production, print and advertising then we shop our films to major film studios after completion," said Bradley.

If movie studios don’t pick up the film, distribution is easily secured independently since funding for marketing is already in place.

“Feature films are a more efficient start up than tech companies for an internal rate of return and return on investment, because you physically produce the film and after 30 to 60 days, the cast and crew go home,” said Bradley. “Only the producers, director and editor stick around for post production.”

Bradley’s business model appeals to the conservative high net worth accredited investor who is attracted to the visibility that movie producing affords.

“At the end of the day, our investors walk the red carpet,” said Adam Shaw, vice president with Media Society. “Investing allows them to go on this Hollywood journey, go behind the scenes on a movie set and see their names scrolling down the screen with a credit.”

Bradley has funneled potential projects from A-list producers and agents who work with William Morris Endeavor (WME) and Creative Artists Agency (CAA). His first slate includes three movies and the Broadway musical First Date, which is now being licensed globally by Rodgers & Hammerstein Group.

“It’s a disciplined, end-to-end managed risk strategy with complete transparency,” Bradley said. “This slate will raise about $50 million and targets net returns of 10% to 20% per annum within 36 months without needing to have a box office hit.”

Media Society’s movie studio Altar Identity is premiering its first film called Big Stone Gap starring Whoopie Goldberg and Ashley Judd and produced by Donna Gigliotti at the Virginia Film Festival on November 6. Gigliotti also produced the Oscar- winning films Shakespeare in Love and Silver Linings Playbook, starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence.

“I’ve learned that you have to work with A-list producers who follow the same discipline our model follows,” said Bradley. “Donna is highly disciplined. She shot the film in 20 days, brought it in on time and on budget.”

The minimum amount for investors to participate in Media Society’s current slate is $150,000.