THE PROMISE OF CHRISTMAS SEQUELS
The purpose of this business plan is to outline an actionable course for the successful adaptation, marketing, and distribution of a series of bankable spec-scripts for live-action feature film and/or streaming under a pending trademark banner THE PROMISE OF CHRISTMAS, featuring the titles of thee published books Three kings and a Prince-The First Christmas, The Sleighmaker, and The Promise Kept.
Management will work to develop relationships that will yield strong and proven attachments of credited writers, and development of trailers from a mix of bankable and up and coming talent, featured on the company’s website for book sales, social media advertising, and industry publications, for the purpose of both bankability and marketing awareness.
The financial requirement for this plan is $375,000 for adaptation of each book. This first funding will support the development of budgets for; Spec-Script Adaptation and Treatment, Production, and Post‐production deliverables per feature. This structure allows for both cost effective budgets and logistic planning, while keeping superior production value capable of supporting an online platform acquisition deal, and distribution plan.
Financing and accounting for each adaptation will be done independent of each other within the LLC to use and economize resources that could be made transferable to each following adaptation, thereby supplying consistency and continuity in quality and bankability, resulting in a higher return of investment for the LLC members.
The above funds are needed to complete each book’s adaptation spec script for a feature film and to supply added production value to ensure market viability. The completed feature film is poised to perform well in its marketplace.
Management will attach a strong executive producer to present The First Christmas domestically and globally at major digital markets. By attaching a strong executive producer that understands the market better than anyone else advising on the content presentation, casting, marketing, proactive merchandising, and sales positioning, The First Christmas can avoid the typical pitfalls of Live-Action features. Management believes that this project will position itself above most other features.
The budget for the proposed project will be developed with the financial return and market positioning in mind. The return strategy will be based on a practical plan for accessing traditional adventure/drama markets. Additionally, management will target adult audiences that recognize the value of a quality adventure/drama show.
Three Kings and a Prince, The First Christmas
This is a story of a prince who leaves the comforts of his kingdom after the sudden death of his princess bride, to find peace and happiness. After sleepless nights alone in his room, an angel visits the prince and tells him to follow a star to have peace and happiness in his life. He follows a special star northward deep into the Siberian tundra, and meets an angel sent by God who lives in a cave as an oracle. The oracle enlists the prince to help him prepare the way for peace on earth by promising to deliver a gift from the cave dwellers of the north to Bethlehem. However, to keep his promise and deliver the gift, he must leave a beautiful Siberian princess who he fell in love with. Regretfully, he leaves while knowing that the princess will be forced to marry the son of a wealthy and ruthless fur trader. He returns to his kingdom and joins his father King Caspar, one of the three Kings following the star to Bethlehem. After delivering the gifts to the Christ Child, he returns north hoping to rescue the Siberian princess from being forced to marry someone she did not love. The prince and his guards defeat the mean-as-hell trappers, and ruthless fur traders at their campsite. Then with the help of the princess’ guardian grizzly bear, Boris, and the oracle, the prince discovers her lifeless body. She had fallen off a cliff while trying to escape the fur trappers. Miraculously, while taking her body back to her home, the magical star appears in the sky, and her medal made from the metal of that same star, interact, and brings her lifeless body back to life. They return to the kingdom of the prince to marry and raise a family. Their first born is a son who they name Nicholas.
After returning from Tobolsk, Prince Ezra and Hannah raise a family in the comfort and security of their father’s Kingdom. Their first born is a son who they named Nicholas but called him Nikko, and after, they also have a daughter who they named Dasha. It was then they decided to return to Tobolsk when Dasha is old enough to visit Hannah’s Aunt and Uncle Ira and Igor. Not making the trip to return to Tobolsk for over 10 years, it was necessary that they updated their maps and charts of the stars from the most renowned mapper, astrologer, and historian of their time, Strabo, in Jerusalem. Since meeting the other two kings Balthazar, and Melchior ten years ago in Bethlehem, they have remained friends and planned a reunion in Jerusalem to meet Strabo and exchange historical records, along with their observations of the stars and geographic records. While in Jerusalem, Nikko meets Jesus in the temple and become friends along with Joshua and Isaac, grandsons of Balthazar and Melchior. It was during this encounter with Jesus that they realized Jesus was special, when, as a young boy, he could stop a band of thieves from kidnapping them by simply warning them with his words. It became stranger still, that Jesus, then returned the finely crafted box given by the cave dwellers that the infant Jesus used as a bed in Bethlehem, however, it was filled with carpenter tools Jesus no longer needed and be given to the cave dweller Ivan. It was only after their return to Tobolsk, that Prince Ezra and Nikko discovered why Jesus returned the box he slept in and his carpenter tools. Ivan used the wood from the box and tools to build a sleigh. And at a time when least expected, Ivan discovered that the sleigh and reindeer could fly. Prince Ezra and Ivan then used the sleigh to rescue Dasha and his sister Vera from the soldiers who captured them, then rescued Nikko from the thieves who followed them from Jerusalem, and who wanted to take their revenge out on Prince Ezra.
The Promise kept
Thirty years passed since Herald used the sleigh to take Nikko, his sister Dasha, and Aunt Vera where time stood still far above the clouds over Tobolsk. God told Nikko then, that in time, he would understand that Jesus was born to bring peace in the world, and the sleigh used to bring happiness to children throughout the world for the season called Christmas. With the passage of time, what happened with Herald and the sleigh seems to be a recurring dream that raises unanswered questions about his friend Jesus and what he needed to do with the sleigh. Nikko decides to look for Jesus to answer the questions about the sleigh. He receives news of where Jesus lives and invites his friends Joshua and Isaac, grandsons of the other two Magi Melchior and Balthazar to join him in search for Jesus and the answers to his questions about the sleigh. After meeting Joshua and Isaac in Capernaum, and while helping a young boy deliver wine to Cana, they battle marauding thieves on the road and capture their leader Barabbas who killed a merchant and turns him over to the authorities. Reaching Cana, they meet Jesus and join him and the disciples to learn about the teachings of Jesus and begin to witness more miracles that begin to answer his questions about using the sleigh and how he will use it to teach children about Christmas and bring them joy and happiness. While traveling with Jesus, Nikko falls in love with Aisha whose husband was killed by Barabbas and decides to take care of her and her daughter Calla and Akeem who he helped deliver the wine to Cana. Nikko leaves them to return home but returns to meet Aisha and discovers that Jesus is arrested in Jerusalem where he is tried, found guilty, and his life exchanged for freeing the convicted murder, Barabbas. After released, Barabbas kidnaps Aisha, Calla and Akeem while Nikko helps to take Jesus to the tomb, but then discovers that Aisha and the children are missing and uses the sleigh to rescue them.
The Promise of Christmas Sequels are a unique mix of several popular innovative story-telling structures and aesthetics. The ensemble vignette narrative combines with the speed, wit and sharp edge of modern reality and documentary storytelling techniques. The look pushes a vibrant and dynamic color palette and mise-en-scene cinematography style, matched with vibrant humor. The sequels are part drama and part commentary about modern society. The characters are over-the-top examples of their cultures, which will supply a compelling landscape of dynamic cultural differences and similarities.
An investment in the production of a feature film is extremely speculative and involves a high degree of risk. Management will seek qualified investors who understand this risk. The ideal investor is one who believes that The First Christmas should be shown to the widest audience possible. With this goal in mind, the producers will set up a correct budget and prepare a marketing strategy for network pickup or digital distributor acquisition. This is to cut the element of chance and to ensure future returns.
The cost of developing and producing feature film and future projects is often underestimated and may be increased by reasons or factors beyond the control of the producers. The mistake many inexperienced filmmakers and show creators make is to complete preproduction and principal photography before any strategic distribution elements are in place for the successful delivery of quality product that is positioned for sales. The producers intend to mitigate these production risks in three ways.
1. Ensuring key elements are satisfactorily addressed and resolved before the full production phase (large expenditures) begins. Such issues include securing valuable talent, opening building a market strategy, and ensuring the project has a committed cast in place that have both the skills and draw to attract an audience.
2. Create alternate plans for personnel and workflow that limit production delays due to unexpected circumstances. The producers of The First Christmas will be experienced in the field and have excellent production planning and execution skills. Essential factors in planning are to have qualified personnel available to step into key positions in case of emergency. Additionally, management will have alternate shooting sites available when inclement weather is predicted and build the production schedule so it can easily accommodate necessary changes.
3. Ensure comprehensive production insurance is in place to mitigate any expense that might truly be out of the producer’s control. Procuring business insurance might seem obvious; however, too often inexperienced producers decide to forgo production insurance to save costs. Although the management team’s first goal is to continue working once the momentum of full production starts, it is vital that all measures be taken to ensure the project will be completed and there is no legal exposure that endangers delivery. Comprehensive coverage will include Film Producer’s Indemnity (Cast Insurance), Negative Film Coverage (or digital equivalent), workers compensation.
100% Hard-Equity; Partnership
Investors will be able to buy 45 of 100 available shares in the LLC. Shares can only be bought in increments and will be valued at $25,000 each and will give an investor a proportional % profit share of the full gross stake in the project (Before net profit). Investors and or investing producers with workable equity are invited to partner with The First Christmas Management to enhance the facilitation of production through hard-equity or other fair means.
Predicting the return on any feature investment is speculative.
On the one hand, there are very reputable and knowledgeable producers who fully endorse the position that predicting revenue return is, at best, a variable driven business practice. Variables that include a producer’s budget (production and marketing), industry know‐how, industry connections, and market accessibility (among many others) will influence revenue potential. However, even well-situated producers have difficulty predicting how the public will receive a feature. Therefore, it is impossible to predict with accuracy a potential return.
On the other hand, there are those who argue return estimations must be included in a business plan, as the Return on Investment (ROI) calculation is necessary for any serious investor. These producers argue that it is possible to make “potential” revenue predictions based on historical performances of features of similar genre and budget.
Management has spent much time exploring both positions and has determined one thing is certain: There is extremely little available data on the world's average ROI for feature, statistical risk analysis for independent feature projects, or even success to failure ratios for independent productions. What information is available is usually incomplete, based on out‐of‐date assumptions, and not proven in practice.
Therefore, management cannot find a prediction of future revenue with finality, and instead has developed a specific strategy for maximizing earnings over the life of the project. This strategy will follow the following guidelines:
Budget the project appropriately to the market
Recent programming purchases have revealed that many digital distribution buyers were specifically looking for projects with negative production costs in the lower budget ranges due to ease of execution once bought. Projects with larger budgets, say in the million‐dollar ranges, were widely ignored by many distributors, regardless of attached talent. Minimizing overhead and maximizing results is an industry norm.
Collect project specific data from industry
Although some general information about current deals being made for comedy features will be useful to our sales strategy, getting project specific data is critical. Not only will there be knowledgeable information available on “realistic” pricing for the project, but distributors and sales agents will also have input on potential talent choices that will work well both domestically and overseas to maximize revenue. Data gathered will be based on this project, not guesses based on other projects.
Explore all revenue streams
As mentioned, broadcast, Internet, and cable Video on Demand (VOD), steaming services, app-based services, traditional DVD, Direct to Consumer DVD, and foreign distribution outlets will be pursued. Specific strategies will be explored for all revenue streams.
Invest in the right places
A recent analysis of spending showed that a 10% increase in talent spending is currently yielding an approximate 2% increase in return. A 10% increase in marketing spending and research, on the other hand, is yielding a 10% increase in return. Adding marketing dollars makes the most sense to a project’s bottom line and is good investing.
Exponential Return Potential
The most alluring aspect of film and television industry investing is the potential yielding massive return with quick turnaround. There is no exact science behind what makes a show successful, but the opportunities are virtually endless. In an era of shifting distribution models, distributors are experimenting with diverse types of productions - especially productions that require little overhead. New Media is widely becoming a popularized form of viewed content for the masses - The First Christmas is poised to penetrate this market.
ASSUMPTIONS THAT AFFECT BOTTOM LINE RETURN
In evaluating the financial potential for The First Christmas, management has used a conservative approach based on industry standards:
1. All funds flow from each revenue source (exhibitor) to network, who deducts his print and advertising expense before distributing revenue to the production company.
2. A period of at least four months from start of photography to delivery of finished project should be expected for this or any feature. This period can vary but accommodates most circumstances that can affect delivery.
3. The release date depends on finalization of network arrangements, which may occur either before or after the project has been completed and is an unknown variable at this time. The budget, also known as the project’s “negative cost,” covers only the expenses that are needed to create the original film of the project. All marketing costs, or “distribution expenses,” which include copies of the original film, digital distribution conversions, and major advertising costs, are distributor costs and are normally recouped by the distribution company before monies are dispersed to the producers.
4. Production costs are projected to fall on the high side of estimates. This is done to minimize the likelihood of financial shortfall. If there are overages in funds available, these funds will be assessed to decide if best spent on marketing or if they will be returned to investors.
5. Revenues are traditionally realized upon execution of sale to a distributor, though waterfall revenue stream can supply ancillary income for investor depending on specifics of individual deals. Although the earning life of a feature can be much longer, the management team is assuming this trend will hold true for The First Christmas.
6. The producers will seek an advance from networks or digital distributors to cover the first investment, allowing for an earlier payout to investors. However, such a payment is not guaranteed and would be considered an advance on behalf of the network, and as such, would be deducted from later profits.
By far, the professional who can do the most to garner attention for our project will be our show runner. Combining the promotional skills of a publicist, the deal-making ability of a lawyer, and the marketing skills of a salesperson – the LLC will guide our projects trajectory. Although many reps prefer to get involved with a project during post‐production, management’s approach is to engage a producer’s rep as soon as possible. Many early milestones can be reached much easier with reputable help.
Get to Acquisition Departments Early
Management will begin to contact the acquisition departments of targeted networks and give them the opportunity to “track” the project. This process must start early; as larger networks need time to review a project to be sure there is a fit. Once a project is being “tracked” a potential network becomes the recipient of updates during production.
Establish Proof of Concept
It is important to show potential networks that there is an audience for this project. It is not enough to “think” people will be attracted to a project. It is up to management to prove it. To that end, management will engage in word‐of‐mouth activities (like generating “fans” on a Facebook page) that will serve as “Proof of Concept” documentation. In addition to this word-of-mouth grassroots campaign, management has chosen to create a feature on spec. Doing this has a record of accomplishment of successful return.
Be Proactive in the Strategy
All the above is pointless if a poor deal is negotiated. It simply cannot be assumed that a network deal will supply acceptable distribution and revenue solutions. Being proactive means focusing on strategies that maximize opportunities to return revenue to our investors.
PUBLIC WORKS; EDUCATION
MARKETING & RELEASE STRATEGIES
Innovative Grassroots Marketing Strategy
The First Christmas is poised to take advantage of a cutting-edge grassroots marketing campaign. Management will harness the power of viral marketing by creating a presence on Facebook and YouTube, showing a strong viewership with their target audiences. Additionally, management will use other social media outlets. One main push will be to create unique Twitter profiles for the main characters to drive added consumer consumption. There is also a focus on other viral media outlets that are otherwise largely unharnessed by the media such as meme creation and distribution.
With an emphasis on the general drama market, covering children and adults, The First Christmas appeals to the crucial male target audience of both mainstream and cult media. The comedy genre in general tends to have the most loyal fan base within the most desired show demographic (18–39-year-old males) despite having lower budgets than other genres.
Women also serve an interesting place within the demographic. Women more than men will watch content with a group of friends and female audience members are more likely to recommend a show based upon their experience than any other audience market. This trend shows that word-of-mouth and a grass roots marketing campaign using social media sites such as Facebook and other marketing tools such as social media ads will have a strong influence on marketing results and thus positive experience within the audience leads to a continued potential revenue of sales. A strong female lead is crucial in the current climate to secure and engage the female demographic.
Like Live-Action-drama fans, families are a target audience with proven results in shows with similar genre, budget, and production size. The marketing organization Esri has labeled this market segment as the demographic to target. These individuals are technologically savvy and are thus easy to reach with social media. Additionally, the potential for word-of-mouth numbers is great with this group.
Social media and technology have enabled families to become not only a large audience in and of themselves but also a force for continued sales. Lastly, and not to be disregarded, families are the prime building ground for growing a driven share-centric marketing campaign.
Young Urban Professionals and Progressives
Young urban professionals with sophisticated sensibilities, disposable income, and an upbringing in the modern media culture - make them one of the most crucial emerging sales groups to focus on. The marketing group Esri has named this marketing segment as “metro renters” - young (median age 33), educated singles who are beginning their professional career as well as “laptops and lattes” - more mature (median age 38.7) singles who live in large urban areas and who are quite affluent, educated and politically liberal. The average resident of these groups is at least 1.5 times more likely than the average American to go to the movies at least once per month, not surprising since these individuals are renters and thus have considerable amounts of disposable income and free time with which to see movies. Management feels The First Christmas can appeal to these groups with a story that's part critique of modern media culture and which also exploits the cultural differences in our country.