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May 4, 2015

Full costs and income of a $1m independent feature film

independent feature film Papadopoulos & Sons movie posterGrab a cup of tea – this is a long one. It’s rare for filmmakers to get a candid look at the books of someone else’s film but, thanks to the generosity of Marcus Markou, that’s exactly what you’ll get to read below.

Papadopoulos & Sons is an independent feature film that tells the tale of an Anglo-Greek self-made millionaire who loses everything in the banking crisis and is forced to turn to his estranged brother to re-open the fish and chip shop they shared in their youth. It’s a fun family film starring Stephen Dillane, George Corraface and Georgia Groome.

The film was written and directed by first-time filmmaker Marcus Markou and was released in UK cinemas in April 2013.

Before we delve into the journey of the film, we need to take a moment to learn more about Marcus and his motives. Marcus is a successful entrepreneur, so much so that he was able to pay for the film’s £825,000 budget from his own bank account.

He wanted to learn how films are made, make something for his kids to see and have a fun time in the process. He’d taken a short course at the Met Film School but other than that, this was his first foray into the commercial film world.  

The budget

The independent feature film took 24 days to shoot in and around London.  The largest costs were art department (they had to build a chip shop in an empty shop!), cast and production staff.  The Above The Line costs came to £91,821 (11% of the budget), production was £584,800 (71%), post-production £109,436 (13%) with other costs coming to £39,165 (5%).

  • Production budget of Papadopoulos & Sons£      775  Story, Rights & Continuity
  • £91,046 Cast
  • £19,014 Supporting Artists
  • £90,332 Production Staff
  • £93,245 Art Department
  • £32,070 Wardrobe
  • £16,782 Make-up / Hair
  • £53,371 Electrical
  • £58,580 Camera
  • £16,882 Sound
  • £77,918 Travel / Transportation
  • £28,670 Hotel / Living
  • £70,111 Location
  • £27,343 Overtime / 2nd Camera
  • £     482 Digital Stock & Transfers
  • £25,507 Music
  • £83,929 Post-Production
  • £  9,307 Insurance
  • £  2,556 Legal & Clearances
  • £  7,705 General Expenses
  • £  2,900 Publicity
  • £      750 PACT & Training Levy
  • £ 15,947 Fringes
  • £825,222 Total

I’m focusing mainly on the numbers today but if you want to know more about the story of the shoot then here are a few entertaining links…

Getting an independent feature film distributed

Marcus made the film without any industry support and without any distribution deals in place.  This meant that once it was complete he had to figure out how he was going to get it to the public and recoup his investment.

At one point, he was close to signing a deal with YouTube to premiere the film online via a ‘pay what you want’ recoupment model.  The idea seemed to be well-received at google but in the end the deal stalled when YouTube insisted that Google Wallet was used to collect the donations, despite the fact it was only active in 8 countries at the time.

Marcus turned to self-distribution in the UK and collaborating with a producer’s rep for the international rights. He signed up with producer reps 7&7 who would take 20% of any deal they negotiated but they wouldn’t ever control the distribution of the film, as a traditional sales agent would. Marcus was on the hook for the sales costs (such as attending Cannes and other film markets) but this would be recouped first from income.

Soon after taking the film to the Cannes Marche du Film (the film market where the rights to films are bought and sold), 7&7 secured distribution deals for Greece, Germany and an airline distribution deal.

The film festival circuit

Many independent feature films rely on the festival circuit to get noticed, however Papadopoulos & Sons wasn’t shortlisted at a major film festival. Marcus puts this down to the film not being “an edgy, film festival kind of film”.

However, some festivals did take it, including…

Reflecting on his festival experience Marcus said “The film isn’t arthouse; it is too commercial. But it isn’t a big studio film with celebrities in it, so it is arthouse. It is stuck between those worlds, commercial arthouse. In the UK, those worlds don’t really mix.”.

One of the more surreal screenings was in the European Parliament. A member of the film’s cast knew the programmer of cultural events and told him it was a film about the Greek banking crisis (it’s not). The resulting screening took place at the same moment that the Greek Prime Minister was on the floor negotiating Greece’s bailout deal.

Securing a UK cinema release

Cineworld cinemasBy this point, the film had a German, Greek and airline deal but was still lacking a UK distributor. Marcus is not someone who gives up easily, and so he turned to self-distribution. Via Miracle Communications, Marcus struck a deal with Cineworld cinemas which placed the film in 13 screens for a week.

Marcus identified Greek communities throughout the UK by looking for Greek Orthodox churches. If there was a church, he’d target the local community, using a variety of off- and on-line media. 

The costs of the UK theatrical release

Marcus secured a small release in 13 Cineworld cinemas, opening on 5th April 2013.  By contrast, the biggest film of that week, The Croods, was playing on 553 screens across the UK.  It is fairly common for large studio-backed films to get a much larger release than smaller, independent feature films, in part because the UK is one of the most costly regions in the world to release a film theatrically. 

As Marcus was acting as his own distributor he had to pay up front for a number of costs (known as P&A, after Prints and Advertising).  These included…

  • £ 5,200 Tenancy fees
  • £    325 Virtual Print Fees
  • £ 1,000 BBFC certificate 
  • £ 2,000 Renting DCP drives
  • £ 2,000 Publicist
  • £ 4,000 Miracle Entertainment (who coordinated the deal)
  • £ 3,000 Radio ads on London Greek Radio, and print ads in Greek newspapers in London
  • £ 8,000 Facebook ads, to those with “Greek interests” living in areas close to Greek churches
  • £10,000 Posters, flyers and pre-release screenings of the ‘Making of’ documentary
  • £35,525 Total

Note: These figures are approximations from Marcus, whereas most of the other numbers in the article are correct to the pound as they come directly from his accounts.

How the film performed in UK cinemas

Papadopoulos & SonsEarly on in the three month campaign for the UK release, Marcus had been told that he should aim to achieve “500 per cinema” in the opening weekend. He took this to mean 500 admissions per cinema and set his sights on reaching this goal. He later learned that in fact the target was just £500 per cinema, which is under a sixth of what he was working towards.

In the opening week, across the 13 sites, the film sold 8,000 tickets and grossed £60,659. This means the site average was £2,870, the second highest of the week, beating fellow opening film Dark Skies (site average: £2,680) and GI Joe: Retaliation (site avenge: £2,421) which was on its second week of release.

The high per screen average spurred Cineworld to widen the release meaning that in the second week the film was screening on 16 screens. The vast majority of Marcus’ marketing efforts had been focused on driving people to see it during the all-important opening weekend. This can be seen in the box office figures, where, despite being available on 23% more screens, the film grossed just 31% of its opening weekend (£18,504).

UK cinema gross of Papadopoulos & Sons

After seven weeks on general release, the film finished its official UK theatrical run. It had grossed £95,509, according to Rentrak, although Marcus points out “I don’t think this includes indie screenings I’ve done because a lot of them come direct to me”. The overall per screen average of its seven weeks was a very respectable £2,274.

Dividing up the UK theatrical box office income

So, what happens to the money gathered by UK cinemas; i.e. the UK box office gross? Using Rentrak’s figures…

  • £96,000 gross
  • Minus tax (VAT at 20%) leaves £76,800
  • Minus Cineworld’s cut (at 65%) leaves £26,880

According to Marcus’ accounts, he received a total of £45,601 from the UK release, which suggests that he was right to point out that the true box office figure was higher (£162,850 by my calculations).

Normally at this point a distributor and sales agent would take a fee and also take back their marketing costs (see here and here for more details) but as Marcus was self-distributing, he saved himself these costs. It’s reasonable to assume that had he taken the traditional releasing model then he would be left with far less, if anything. (Although it’s technically possible that a large distributor would have been able to secure more screens and therefore a higher box office gross).

After we remove the approximately £35,000 he spent on the digital prints and advertising (known as P&A) he is left with £10,600 profit for his six month’s work.

UK TV deal

For the last few years, television has been the largest driver of income for British films and that’s certainly the case for Papadopoulos & Sons. The UK cinema release netted Marcus a profit of £10,000 for half a year’s work whereas by contrast his deal with the BBC netted him £50,000.

Ordinarily, the sales agent (7&7) would have taken a 20% cut but it had been agreed that Marcus would keep the full figure to recoup money he’d spent promoting the film in Cannes.

The BBC deal is for five screenings over the next five years, starting in autumn of this year. The deal stipulates that during the first two years, the BBC have the exclusive “UK Free TV’ rights, meaning that the film will be removed from the UK edition of Netflix until autumn 2017. Clauses such as this are fairly standard and explains why Netflix has different inventories between territories.

UK Film Tax Credit

HMRCThe biggest cheque Marcus received was from the UK taxman, in the form of his rebate for the UK film tax credit. If your film is certified as officially British then the tax credit will give you 20% cash back on the money you spent in the UK on certain costs. The eligible costs are confined to activities within pre-production, production and post-production; meaning that all the money Marcus spent on distribution, exhibition and marketing are not included in the calculation.

In the case of Papadopoulos & Sons, the UK film tax credit came to £156,000, or 19.1% of their overall production budget.

German income

German Papadopoulos & SonsIn Germany the film opened on 70 screens, showing to 23,850 people and grossing €141,000 (£120,000) in its first week alone. After a month, the film had grossed €223,240 (£159,770) according to InterPlan, and Box Office Mojo has the final German box office gross at $289,670 (£197,000). The company with the German rights also released the film in Austria and so all told the gross was £215,929.

In return for the German and Austrian rights, Marcus had agreed an advance payment of €20,000 known as a Minimum Guarantee (an “MG”), which translated into a payment of £15,594. From the £216,000 box office gross, the distributor was permitted to recoup their costs, the money they spent on advertising and this MG. This meant that Marcus received no further payments for the theatrical or DVD releases in Germany and Austria.

However, the German distributor did negotiate a TV deal in France and Germany, which netted Marcus an additional £36,072.

Due to the lucrative TV deal, the MG has been repaid meaning that Marcus will receive 50% of the net income of DVD sales in Germany and Austria.

Greek income

Papadopoulos & SonsConsidering the film’s plot, Marcus’ background and the press surrounding the EU screening, the territory of Greece was always going to be a big one for Papadopoulos & Sons. As with Germany, Marcus agreed an MG, in this case of €15,000. This translated to a net income of £12,753.

And there the Greek information trail stops. Neither Marcus nor I can find any Greek box office figures, DVD sales or how it performed in TV. It is fairly common in the film industry for distributors not to provide additional information and filmmakers are pretty much powerless in preventing it. The MG is often regarded as the only money the filmmakers will see from the deal and so distributors don’t see the need to provide them with updates on the film’s progress. When I asked Marcus what he felt the gross Greek figures were he said “Who knows… I am going to say £50k because I know its been on Greek TV and DVDs have been sold, etc”.

Update: I been tipped off that there are admission figures on Lumiere, although not financial figures.   Apparently the film was seen by 2,676 people in Greece in 2012 and a further 2,906 in 2013.

Video on Demand income

Most filmmakers are hoping that Video on Demand (VOD) income will grow to replace the lost income from falling DVD sales. Papadopoulos and Sons is available on a number of VOD platforms including…

  • £19,602 Netflix (UK and USA)
  • £  2,902 FilmFlex (UK)
  • £  2,889 iTunes (multiple countries in Europe, UK, Africa and middle East)
  • £        26 Blinkbox (Europe)
  • £        95 Google (UK)
  • £   9,428 Misc VOD*
  • £34,942 Total

*These misc payments come via the same aggregator as most of the other payments (The Movie Partnership) but the bank statements don’t reveal which VOD platforms the amounts belong to.  Marcus believes that iTunes sales account for around 80% of the ‘transactional VOD’ revenue (i.e. not including Netflix, which offers ‘subscription VOD’).

The Netflix deal is for the UK and America and the gross is around £15,000 per year for a two year deal. The sales agent takes 15% and the aggregator takes a further 15%, leaving Marcus with 70% of the gross.


The film has performed well on the platform, with an average rating of 3.6 stars from nearly 120,000 ratings. Marcus says that Netflix have indicated they want the film when they roll out to new territories across the world.  This is pretty impressive for an independent feature film.

Other Income

The film picked up other money from a few places…

  • £9,374 DVD sales in the UK, Australia and New Zealand plus an Amazon-only deal in America. The Australian deal was for two years and they paid a £1,000 MG upfront.
  • £7,457 Spiritual Cinema DVD club
  • £2,187 TV deal across the Middle East
  • £1,131 American theatrical screening via ’theatrical on demand’ company Gathr
  • £   275 Speaking fees related to UK film industry events

Totalling the income

It’s certainly possible that the film will recoup more money in the coming years so these figures are true up to 15th April 2015.

  • £158,000 UK tax credit
  • £  88,259 TV
  • £   45,601 UK theatrical
  • £   34,942 VOD
  • £   32,667 Airline
  • £   15,594 Germany theatrical
  • £   12,753 Greece
  • £     9,374 DVD
  • £     1,131 US screening
  • £        459 UK screening
  • £        275 Speaking fees
  • £399,055 Total

Income received from the independent feature film Papadopoulos & Sons

Totalling the costs

Papadopoulos & SonsIf we add up all of the costs of making the film (£825,222) with the rough costs of the UK release (£35,000) then we can see that the film cost Marcus approximately £860,000.

With income to date of £399,055, this means that the film is currently at a loss of around £460,000.

Note: You can see the full budget and costs at the bottom of this article.

I know this loss sounds like a lot but consider Marcus’ reasons for making the film. He wanted to learn how independent feature films are made, make something for his kids to see and have a fun time in the process. Marcus spent his own hard-earned money and was well aware of the risks.

I asked Marcus how he feels about the current recoupment status.  He said…

Think of this as a long-term investment. The capital is sunk up front. After a couple of years I am 40% recouped. The hope is that after 10 years I will be fully recouped. But because of the strength of Netflix and BBC it’s clear this film will have a long shelf life. In year 11, that means every penny that comes in will be PROFIT! Think about it. If in year 11, I am making £25k per year that is £25k per annum with NO COST. This is why catalogues of old films are so valuable. Because if you have 20 films like this, making £25k per annum with no costs… well, you can do the Maths.

You must not underestimate the long-term value of a movie once its sunk capital has been recouped. In the West End a musical will have to run for two years before it’s profitable. Most never get to the two year mark. With a movie, if you have a universal story that has a long shelf life, you can be collecting payments for 20 or 30 years.

So I would always argue that this is a long haul investment. If I took the same £1m and put it in a bank, you may find that after 20 years Papadopoulos has out performed on a return many times over.

This is the recoupment stage but it is also still selling – e.g the US DVD and possible impact of Netflix rolling out across multiple territories. You say, existing deals MAY continue to pay out. They WILL continue to pay out because I get paid quarterly and for DVD, VOD, Netflix etc. Not in advance. So many deals are not completed yet (e.g Netflix) so it’s not a MAY it is a WILL.

Future income

It’s likely that the film will recoup more money. There is a full American DVD release due in October (the previous US DVD deal was exclusively with amazon) and 7&7 are actively pursuing deals in new territories.

In addition, the existing deals may continue to pay out, certainly the Netflix deal seems to be going well and the film continues to sell via iTunes et al. The UK Netflix deal will be on a two year hiatus but if it continues to prove popular then it’s reasonable to assume that they will extend and widen the existing deal.

When the film begins its five year screening period with the BBC this autumn it could lead to TV deals in other territories. TV remains the most lucrative media format for the film and so a few more TV deals could produce £10,000’s more.

Lessons for independent feature film-makers

Whilst this may not look like a sustainable model for filmmakers to follow there are a number of valuable lessons we can learn from these numbers…

  1. Self distribution is not easy. Marcus spent a huge amount of time and effort to secure the UK release, and then again to get the film in front of his target audience. There’s no doubt that a large amount of the success the film had in UK cinemas was down to his dedication, hard work and unwillingness to give up.

  2. Who you know, helps. At a few different points along Marcus’ journey it proved vital for him to trade on relationships with the right people. Cineworld only agreed to having the film screened in their flagship Shaftesbury Avenue site because one of Marcus’ employee’s flatmates was the manager. That said, Marcus isn’t the son of a famous filmmaker and so all his connections had to be earned. Anyone who’s met him will attest to the fact that it doesn’t take long after first meeting Marcus to want to do him a favour.

  3. The cost of deliverables adds up. Deliverables are the assets you pass over to a distributor after you sign a deal. These will include a copy of the film but also audio and image elements. For Marcus’ deals in Germany, Greece and on airlines the distributors agreed to reimburse him for the costs of creating these items. However, Marcus still had to pay up front and the total for just those three deals came to £10,558. Filmmakers should remember than they may need to cashflow costs like these after they have signed deals. Here are a few of the deliverable costs…

    • £5,200 Full Feature 35mm Theatrical Prints
    • £1,000 35mm Feature Trailer Prints
    • £  675 HD Cam SR Clone: Main film
    • £  450 HD Cam SR Clone: The Making of ….
  4. Soft money is vital for survival. Marcus took advantage of the UK film tax credit and it became his single largest income cheque at £158,000. However, as he paid for the film from his own funds he was not able to use any of the more tax efficient structures such as SEIS and EIS schemes. The SEIS scheme is for films of up to £150,000 (or the first £150k of a larger film) and it gives investors 50% of their investment back almost straight away. Then, if they fail to see any profits after three years they can claim a further 28% of their loss back from the taxman. The EIS scheme can support projects up £15 million and give investors slightly less back. If Papadopoulos & Sons had been funded by external private investors then they would have lost far less money than Marcus has to date.

  5. The publicly available data can be wrong or incomplete. At the time of writing, the Box Office Mojo figure for the UK box office is $124,794 (£84,870 in 2013 pounds). Rentrak’s official figures suggest it was nearer £96,000 and yet using Marcus’ own bank accounts we can deduce that it was closer to £165,000. This is a common complaint I’ve heard from indie filmmakers as big commercial box office trackers are not designed to catch every penny given to every small film. They don’t cover all cinemas and it can be easy to miss the odd screening for non-studio films.

  6. Research your marketplace. Data this candid is very hard to find but that’s not to say you can’t find some things out before you embark on the epic journey of making a feature film.  Talk to other filmmakers (who over a few drink might be this candid!), attend film markets, look at what data is available online and approach sales professionals.  Success if the film industry is not straightforward but neither is it random.  And it only becomes clearer via experience and by accessing the experiences of others.  (This point was a suggestion from Reddit).

Notes

The vast majority of data came directly from Marcus. I have cross-referenced as much as I can and it all seems to check out. In addition, Marcus didn’t just chat to me – he got his accountant to export all the transactions in the film bank account from the moment it was opened to date.  

Other data came from Rentrak, the BFI, Box Office Mojo and interviews with Marcus (completed by myself and others printed online already).

Epilogue

I considered cutting this article into multiple parts but I think it serves its function best as one enormously long article.

I’ve known Marcus for a few years now and he has always been candid with this experiences and keen to speak to students of mine. I’m grateful that he was receptive to my idea of publishing the full data, warts and all. Few other filmmakers would be so open and so brave. Thank you, Marcus.

If you’ve enjoyed reading this and/or feel you have learned from Marcus’ experiences then for God’s sake buy a copy of the film. As you can see above, he would welcome the sales (plus it’s a fun film from a lovely chap).

Appendix

For those wanting more information about the film, here are a few useful data points…

The script

Click here to download the script in PDF format

Rating

BBFC details of its 15 certificate.

Full Production Budget

See below for the full budget of the independent feature film ‘Papadopoulos & Sons’.  The only things which have been altered is removing names and combining the cast into one line item, due to requirements from agents.  

Click here to download the budget in CSV format.

DetailsCost
Story, Rights & Continuity
Script Editor£775
Cast
Cast£72,255
Rehearsals / Holiday Pay / Read Thr£79
Casting£7,500
Choreographer£1,500
Fish Advisor£138
Chaperones£1,800
Cast Travel & Living£7,774
Supporting Artists
Extras£19,014
Production Staff
Production Manager£12,000
1st AD£8,650
2nd AD£4,800
3rd AD£2,927
Floor Runner 1£2,275
Production Coordinator£7,200
Production Runner£2,938
Location Manager£12,142
Assistant Location Manager£6,650
Location Assistant£2,250
Script Supervisor£5,400
Production Accountant£16,500
Assistant Accountant£6,600
Art Department
Art Department Crew£54,225
Props Hired/Purchased£25,300
Action Vehicles£3,933
Construction£6,000
Van Hire£2,000
Location Reinstatement£679
Home Economist£599
Arts Additional Cost£509
Wardrobe
Costume Designer£7,418
Wardrobe Supervisor£5,095
Costume Assistant£3,927
Dailies£1,260
Purchases/Rentals£14,359
Consumables£11
Make-up / Hair
Make Up Designer£6,449
Makeup Artist 1£4,333
Makeup Artist 2£3,200
Makeup Trainee£600
Dailies£400
Materials£1,021
Wigs£779
Electrical
Gaffer£6,217
Best Boy£6,218
Electrician£4,640
Generator Operator£6,817
Lighting Overtime£975
Equipment£17,641
Consumables£1,280
Daily Sparks£1,810
Rigging and Drapes£3,644
Genny Fuel (facilities & lighting)£4,129
Camera
Director of Photography£7,200
Operator£5,773
Focus Puller£4,629
Clapper Loader£4,037
Key Camera Grip£5,425
Camera DIT£3,840
Camera Trainee£2,070
Package Rentals£22,258
Cranes£2,750
Camera Consumables£598
Sound
Sound Mixer£5,891
Sound Maintenance£4,235
Sound Trainee£2,000
Sound Equipment£4,756
Travel / Transportation
Recce Costs£1,060
Unit Driver 1£3,800
Unit Driver 2£4,370
Unit Driver 3£1,330
Camera Van£1,000
Sound Car£720
Camera Car£6,120
Lighting Van£861
Facility Package£30,163
Dining Bus£370
Minibus£5,220
3 Way Trailers£1,870
Diesel & Petrol£8,860
Bikes, Vans and Taxis£12,174
Hotel / Living
Location/Studio Caterers£24,654
Hospitality£2,829
Recce Lunches & Meal Allowances£1,187
Location
Rehearsal Rooms£563
Location 1£7,567
Location 2£2,000
Location 3£900
Location 4£500
Location 5£632
Location 6£11,280
Location 7£10,975
Location 8£-
Location 9£500
Location 10£6,940
Location 11£300
Location 12£230
Location 13£-
Location 14£6,260
Location 15£1,800
Location 16£-
Location 17£1,640
Pre shoot costs£289
Gratuities Misc£210
Security£9,945
Location Equipment£-
Walkie Talkies£945
Unit Signs & Other£3,295
Lighting£765
Water£720
Location Skips£1,265
Skips£590
Overtime / 2nd Camera
Overtime£2,633
2nd Camera£9,559
Additional day filming£11,911
Pick up days£3,240
Digital Stock & Transfers
Master Tape£482
Transcode£-
Music
Composer£5,000
Recording Costs£18,556
Music Score£1,951
Post-Production
Post Production Deal£66,801
Grade£17,128
Insurance
Production Package£8,912
Insurance Excess£395
Legal & Clearances
Rights Clearances/Archive Footage£744
Neg Check£1,812
General Expenses
Copier & Fax£1,695
Office Rental£1,100
Office Supplies£2,234
Office Refreshments£657
Telephones£886
Accounts Software£750
Health & Safety£315
Bank Charges£68
Publicity
Unit Publicist£2,900
PACT & Training Levy
Pact Fee£750
Fringes
Fringes£15,947
Total£825,222

Full income to 15th April 2015

See below for the income to date of the independent feature film ‘Papadopoulos & Sons’.  The UK film tax credit (£158,000) is not included as it was paid into a different account.  The items labeled “Deliverables” are repaying Marcus for money he has spent delivering the film to distributors.  They were repaid without mark-up and so therefore are not strictly revenue (I did not include them in the income calculations earlier in the article).

Click here to download the income to date in CSV format.

DateAmountTerrtoryTypeDetails
02/07/12£1,530.35AirlineAirlinePapadopoulos & Sons
02/07/12£6,121.39AirlineAirlinePapadopoulos & Sons
02/07/12£10,202.32GreeceGreecePapadopoulos & Sons
02/07/12£2,550.58GreeceGreecePapadopoulos & Sons
05/07/12£175.00AirlineDeliverablesSD Playout from Suite
05/07/12£10.00AirlineDeliverablesDigiBeta Sony BCT - D12
05/07/12£90.00AirlineDeliverablesImport > Capture
05/07/12£337.50AirlineDeliverablesDeliverables > Dub/Clone
05/07/12£40.00AirlineDeliverablesDigiBeta Sony BCT- D124L
23/07/12£12,475.34GermanyTheatrical & DVD80% on Notification of Delivery of Materials
23/07/12£3,118.84GermanyTheatrical & DVD20% on signature of the Deal Memo
19/09/12£74.52GermanyDeliverablesHDCamSR Sony BCT-33
19/09/12£112.50GermanyDeliverablesMCRHDCamSR Clone: Create SR Clone of Character Profiles
19/09/12£112.50GermanyDeliverablesMCR HDCam SR Clone: The Last Temptation of Chris
19/09/12£80.00GermanyDeliverablesAudio/Layback: To layback 5.2 stems to disc
19/09/12£450.00GermanyDeliverablesMCR HDCam SR Clone: The Making of .... Clone
19/09/12£170.00GermanyDeliverablesOnline/ HD Playout to HDCam SR 4:4:4:4
19/09/12£320.00GermanyDeliverablesOnline/ HD Online: Create the textless Elements
19/09/12£176.00GermanyDeliverablesHDCam SR Sony BCT-64
19/09/12£185.00GermanyDeliverablesHDCamSR Sony BCT-124
19/09/12£675.00GermanyDeliverablesMCRHDCamSR Clone: Create an HDCam SR Clone of 25fps 4:4:4:4
22/11/12£330.00GreeceDeliverablesMaking of HD Cam SR
22/11/12£180.00GreeceDeliverablesTrailor HD Cam SR
22/11/12£1,000.00GreeceDeliverables35mm Feature Trailer Prints
22/11/12£450.00GreeceDeliverablesFeature HD Cam SR
22/11/12£340.00GreeceDeliverablesStock
22/11/12£50.00GreeceDeliverablesInsert Logo
26/11/12£6,499.35AirlineAirlineRevenue Report November 2012 - January 2013. Papadopoulos & Sons Inflight Revenue.
26/11/12£5,200.00GreeceDeliverablesFull Feature 35mm Theatrical Prints with Hollywood Entertainment Logo.
13/03/13£15,000.00UKTV30% Thirty Percent of License Fee.
13/03/13£30,000.00UKTV60% Sixty Percent of License Fee.
13/03/13£5,000.00UKTV10% Ten Percent of License Fee
02/05/13£24,575.47UKTheatricalPapadopoulos & Sons
30/05/13£2,893.93UKTheatricalPapadopoulos & Sons
03/07/13£3,278.90AirlineAirlineOverages due on Quarter 2 Report.
30/07/13£806.57UKTheatricalPapadopoulos & Sons
19/08/13£16,850.56UKTheatricalPapadopoulos & Sons
27/08/13£193.46UKScreeningScreening Fee
02/10/13£233.89UKTheatricalPapadopoulos & Sons
04/10/13£1,000.00Aus & NZDVDAustralia & New Zealand Digital Revenue
04/10/13£4.67IrelandVODBlinkbox Ireland
04/10/13£47.23UKVODGoogle GB
04/10/13£83.73IrelandVODITunes Irelands
04/10/13£2,126.08UKVODITunes GB
04/10/13£44.29VODDigital Revenue
07/10/13£7,456.52USVODLicense Fee
08/10/13£186.54USScreeningScreening of Papadopoulos & Sons at The New York Greek Film Fetstival
28/10/13£92.95USScreeningPayment from Gathr Llc
06/11/13£265.12UKScreeningScreening Fee
03/12/13£130.20UKTheatricalPound Art Centre
03/12/13£110.25UKTheatricalChichester Cinema
15/12/13£2,762.50UK & USVODNetflix Payment Schedule
03/01/14£763.60VODTMP Reporting for December 13
03/01/14£651.61VODTMP Reporting for November 2013
03/01/14£851.70USScreeningTicket office sales
07/01/14£15,236.56AirlineAirlineOverages due on Quarter 4 Report.
09/03/14£7.84EuropeVODBlinkbox EUR Dec 13
09/03/14£327.37UKVODFilmflex Dec 13
09/03/14£277.29UKVODFilmflex Nov 13
09/03/14£25.07UKVODGoogle Jan 14
09/03/14£23.02UKVODGoogle Dec 13
09/03/14£62.57UKVODI Tunes GB Jan 14
09/03/14£3.23EuropeVODI Tunes Eur Jan 14
09/03/14£68.06UKVODI Tunes UK Dec 13
09/03/14£1.60EuropeVODI Tunes Eur Dec 13
15/03/14£2,762.50UK & USVODNetflix Payment Schedule
19/03/14£13.77EuropeVODBlinkbox ER Sept 13
19/03/14£2,297.11UKVODFilmflex Aug 13
19/03/14£536.75UKVODI Tunes UK Sept 13
19/03/14£7.12EuropeVODI Tunes EUR Sept 13
19/03/14-£211.00VODOvercharged on Nov/Dec Invoice
19/03/14£3,489.75UK & AusDVDDVD UK & Australia October Reporting from 1.7.13 - 21.1.14
10/06/14£175.00UKSpeakingSpeaker Fee
15/06/14£2,762.50UK & USVODNetflix Payment Schedule
25/06/14£36,072.43France & GermanyTVReport No 3100003 Extra License TV Arte France
17/07/14£417.25UK & AusDVDDVD UK & Australia October Reporting from 1.2.14 - 31.5.14
11/08/14£4,472.31USVODRevenue due from Netflix & other Digital
15/09/14£2,762.50UK & USVODNetflix Payment Schedule
22/09/14£336.34VODTMP Accounts totals Mar - August 2014
03/11/14£100.00UKSpeakingSpeaker Fee
04/11/14£2,186.87Middle EastTVLicense fee
11/12/14£1,531.14USDVDPapadopoulos & Sons
11/12/14£989.59USDVDPapadopoulos & Sons
15/12/14£2,762.50UK & USVODNetflix Payment Schedule
19/12/14£158.86UK & AusDVDDVD Revenue UK & Australia
06/01/15£1,787.46USDVDPapadopoulos & Sons
09/01/15£386.24VODDigital Aggregation
15/01/15£658.75UK & USVODNetflix Payment Schedule
15/04/15£658.75UK & USVODNetflix Payment Schedule

Feedback on the film

Synopsis

Self-made businessman Harry Papadopoulos has got it all; a mansion house; awards and a super rich lifestyle. However, on the eve of a property deal of a lifetime, a financial crisis hits and the banks call in their huge loans. Harry and his family lose everything in an instant. Everything, except the dormant and forgotten Three Brothers Fish & Chip Shop half owned by Harry’s larger than life brother Spiros who’s been estranged from the family for years.

With no alternative, Harry and his family, plant enthusiast James; fashion victim Katie; nerdy Theo and their loyal nanny Mrs. Parrington, are forced to pack their bags, leave their millionaire lifestyle and join ‘Uncle Spiros’ to live above the neglected Three Brothers chippie. Together they set about bringing the chip shop back to life under the suspicious gaze of the their old rival, Hassan, from the neighbouring Turkish kebab shop whose son has his own eyes on Katie.

Each family member must come to terms with their new life in their own way and make the most of their reduced circumstances. Harry struggles with the banks to regain his lost business empire, but as the chip shop comes to life and old memories are stirred Harry and his family gradually discover that only when you lose everything are you free to discover it all.

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64 Responses

  1. anna May 5, 2015 at 6:19 am #

    Wow–super impressive. A definitive guide to film distribution. Have been asking these questions of distributors and sales agents for years–no one seemed to want to share the info.
    Thank you Stephen,

    • Rahim June 13, 2015 at 10:30 pm #

      Thank you, Stephen, for this excellent article.

  2. PETER SHILLINGFORD May 5, 2015 at 9:19 am #

    What a breath of fresh air…thank you Marcus…am off to buy the DVD

    Peter

  3. Brian Lally May 5, 2015 at 9:46 am #

    This is a really useful article. It is rare for independent filmmakers to be so candid with the facts and figures especially as it was his own money. I had my own experience producing and directing a small Irish indie feature called “8.5 Hours” a few years ago. The article reminded my of all the hard work involved, especially in organising the cinema release. Well done to Marcus.

    • Seppo Korpela December 4, 2015 at 9:37 pm #

      I thank my good example and people Marcus

      You have made their money by means of the film.
      You are a good example of how a person can build
      life and work. You are told openly what
      difficulties you have experienced down.

      Thus people are not capable of growing on top of a branch.
      I copied some pages and tea from the beginning
      screenplay spyfilmfinland.com Seppo Korpela Nokia

      Good continuation Markus

  4. Scott Grierson May 5, 2015 at 9:58 am #

    This is one of the best blog posts I’ve ever read.

  5. Nicholas Vince May 5, 2015 at 3:55 pm #

    Thanks for this Stephen. An essential insight into the money side of indie film making and DIY distribution. It strikes me that many of the distribution costs are fixed, irrespective of the budget of the movie, which I found particularly useful.

  6. Head In The Clouds May 5, 2015 at 5:04 pm #

    Excellent and tells the sad truth of the reality of indie movies. The sales agent / cinemas / etc etc all get their cash way before the producers and talent who do all the hard work!

  7. Sarah May 5, 2015 at 6:48 pm #

    Super interesting and refreshingly candid article. The true cost of both production and distribution really does prove to be an eye opener for a lot of people. Well done!

  8. Darren Scales May 5, 2015 at 9:37 pm #

    Just ordered mine! Fabulous article!

  9. Stavros G May 5, 2015 at 11:06 pm #

    Great post. Lets hope that the Sundance initiated transparency initiative builds in this to support the sustainability of practitioners. Great stuff!

  10. Tim Prescott May 6, 2015 at 9:01 am #

    I’d go as far as to say that this is a ground-breaking article. Anyone getting ready to make their first film should read this and appreciate how rare a full and honest account of the process is.

    We’re currently preparing to enter the distribution process for our film, Selective Listening, and trying to get stats and helpful advice from producers, sales agents, etc. before we started pre-production was like trying to access the Magic Chamber of Closely-Guarded Military Secrets… on Mars.

    Nice one.

  11. James Hacking May 6, 2015 at 2:42 pm #

    Thanks so much for this. Broadly speaking, my experience was very similar. I think he did very well to get the BBC deal and was very smart with his marketing. It was a charming film and surprisingly accomplished for a first time effort in this genre. I think he might be a little optimistic in terms of what he thinks the income will be in the future (for my sake I hope he isn’t). A word of warning to others though, this has been a very successful film by comparison with 95% of the films out there. So much of this business is about the management of expectation and you and he have done everyone an enormous service publishing this Many thanks. James Hacking (writer/director/producer/distributor Love’s Kitchen).

  12. Bryan Fugal May 6, 2015 at 6:58 pm #

    Great article! Thank you for writing it and thank you Marcus for sharing this information. It was very insightful and helpful for me as I prepare to shoot my first indie feature.

    All the best!

  13. Mauro Mueller May 7, 2015 at 12:23 am #

    Great article and so candid. Thanks to Marcus and you! We just went through distribution on “Copenhagen” and it’s all about getting the word out which requires a lot of effort (if you don’t have huge amounts of money). The indie business is hard but if there is a plan and self-determination, it can work out!

  14. MIke May 7, 2015 at 3:34 pm #

    Great article Stephen, thanks for sharing Marcus!

  15. Joe Sweetinburgh May 7, 2015 at 6:54 pm #

    A really useful overview. Many thanks to you both and lets hope you get into profit soon.

  16. Mike Shields May 9, 2015 at 7:29 am #

    I’m surprised American readers haven’t noticed that a few key costs are missing entirely from the budget; Writer, Director, etc. Story rights are all fine and good, however there’s still the matter of the guild minimums that haven’t been met in this case.

    • Stephen Follows May 9, 2015 at 5:46 pm #

      Mike,

      Well spotted. Marcus wrote and directed the film so he didn’t take a fee (it was all his own money so it wouldn’t have made sense).

      The system in the UK is quite different to that of the US. There is little-to-no universally agreed rates for low budget film crew. There have previously been agreements between BECTU (crew union) and PACT (producer body) but the latest round of talks fell through two weeks ago (Screen International: “BECTU to set new UK production pay rates as Pact talks fail“). A few days after the talks failed, BETCU published their own rates. Even so, few low and micro budget films stick to them.

      My understanding is that the rates paid on this film are on the high side for a low budget UK feature film. I was told that they’re around 90% of the recommended TV rates, although I’ve not calculated that myself. Are there any UK crew members reading this who want to comment on the amounts paid by Marcus compared with the going rate?

      No matter what the industry bodies agree or not, the national minimum wage applies to all people who are not freelance (i.e most of the below the line crew).

      Funnily enough, I’m hosting a panel for BECTU next month all about pay rates on low and micro budget films.

      Stephen

      • MarkAshtonLund May 10, 2015 at 2:45 pm #

        Stephen, this blog post was just great. I actually referenced it in my blog post this morning. Thanks again for a great story!

  17. Richard Tierney May 10, 2015 at 1:20 pm #

    I’ve been looking for this information for some time, well done for such dogged detective work, ann for Marcus for sharing so openly. I agree with Tim – ground breaking – although why that should be so I have no idea.

    Thank you

  18. Bob wasserman May 10, 2015 at 8:08 pm #

    Like so many indie films this was set up to fail. And will never recoup in spite of film makers still hopeful thoughts. Congrats for squeezing as much as he did out of it, due to unnecessarily hard work on the back end selling. Had he done his business financial homework on the front end the result vwould have been different. Money in films, like real estate, is made when you buy. Only with films that means setting it up properly, genre, talent, budget. It is apparent from this story he knew nothing about any one of the three or how they properly interact. That same money could have been spent properly and he would have made money. And so it happens over and over in the beginner indie world. And when it is all over there is no sign of any useful learning indicated in the occasional story that leaks out, like this one.

    • Stephen Follows May 10, 2015 at 8:57 pm #

      Thanks for your thoughts, Bob. I think you raise some good points about researching your marketplace before committing money. I want to share as many stories such as Marcus’ so that first-timers can be more informed and take appropriate action.

      The reason there there seems to be a never-ending circle of first-time filmmakers treading the similar path and giving up (https://stephenfollows.com/how-many-films-do-people-make-in-an-average-career) is that this kind of informtion is rarely shared.

    • David Wilkinson May 11, 2015 at 9:58 am #

      You only have to look at the published returns of the UKFC invested films to know that statement Bob is not true I am afraid. The UKFC had some of the very best people working in Britain selecting films, films that had all of the above and still some of them failed.

      Even with stars, top sales and distributors attached made by well try and tested talent the UKFC got it wrong from time to time. Even the Hollywood studios fail. If it was as easy as you say then Waitrose and British Gas would be making films.

      Marcus at least tried and well done for sharing.

    • Jonathan April 8, 2016 at 3:10 pm #

      Can you expand on your comments? PLEASE!!!

  19. David Wilkinson May 11, 2015 at 9:49 am #

    Hats off to Marcus for allowing all this data to be made public. As the UK distributor, of only British & Irish productions, I am restricted by confidentiality clauses with filmmakers, financiers, broadcasters etc so have never be able to be as honest as I would like.

    I have to say he did very well indeed. Most British films do not I am afraid. I have some horror stories.

    Marcus did know his market and knew how to find it which is extremely important.

    Remember that very few British broadcaster ever buy British independent films. In France broadcasters there must license every French film that plays in French cinemas.

    British TV could do so much more to help. I remember a time when they would license a British film for £250,000 for just two showings. Sadly those days are long gone.

  20. John Carstarphen May 13, 2015 at 9:16 pm #

    The film may not be groundbreaking or even tops in its genre but the article is. Yeah, he could’ve handled prep and production more efficiently but that misses the point: revelation of the closely guarded numbers and how transactions are carried out in the business side of filmmaking is vitally important stuff for serious filmmakers to know and not at all easy to come by—whether or not you have all the “right” elements in your movie. Will be following this blog from now on. Thanks for sharing this story!

    • Marcus Markou May 14, 2015 at 9:32 am #

      John, I never set out to be groundbreaking or top my genre. But I did touch hearts and told an honest story well. Prep and production was handled very efficiently. The shooting script was finished in March 2011. We were scouting locations in April. Casting in May. June and July were pre production. Shooting in August. Most industry people thought I’d made it for 2 or 3 million, but that’s because we put all the money on the screen and we were efficient!

      • The Last Tycoon May 15, 2015 at 6:21 pm #

        Bravo!
        Question: did anyone suggest or offer bank financing since you were capitalizing your own cost? Doing so would have cut your capital outlay to maybe 30% of the budget. This is for both you and Stephen since this blog shared something normally not shared….I will also in a big way: from an accounting standpoint; what did you ‘project’ the film to make? This is very important and relates to a followup question; has anyone discussed with you what ‘Unamortized’ cost is’? Every dollar you have recouped should be multiplied by a preset factor….let’s say 10. So if it cost you $900k to make the film….you project it would make $9M….from an accounting standpoint….and this is where misunderstandings exist about 2 sets of books and funny accounting from a participatory standpoint….whenever ‘you’ decide to ‘write the film off’….every dollar you did not earn, basically becomes a ‘loss’ that you can use to write against any ‘profit; from any source until its gone. Let’s assume you get to $500k in all-in receipts….if you projected to film would make $9M….you can retain $8.5M in unamortized cost(losses) to offset any income ..I’m not sure what UK tax law is, but in the US….you have to use your unamortized cost within 10yrs. To be clear, you can use it all at once…or whatever amount ….meaning unless you owe more than this amount, you get money back. You guys are very welcome

        • michael June 19, 2015 at 9:34 pm #

          Hi,
          Wow. That was one of the best articles on film finance I have ever read. Maybe the best. Thank you to both of you for this incredible work.
          Meanwhile, to the Last Tycoon, can you point to some places to learn more about unamortized loss in the film industry. That’s an incredible concept and I would love to learn more about it!

  21. The Last Tycoon May 15, 2015 at 6:04 pm #

    This is one of the few articles as comprehensive as a book on the subject. Very well done. Have you considered compiling a list of soft-money programs globally? As noted, if he was aware(or someone working with him), he could have structured to production synthetically as investor funded by creating one or more LLC’s….food for thought for your students.

    • The Last Tycoon May 15, 2015 at 6:24 pm #

      I left this as a response to a comment for Marcus….will do so here as well.

      Question: did anyone suggest or offer bank financing since Marcus was capitalizing your own cost? Doing so would have cut his capital outlay to maybe 30% of the budget. Since this blog shared something normally not shared….I will also in a big way: from an accounting standpoint; what did you ‘project’ the film to make? This is very important and relates to a followup question; has anyone discussed with you what ‘Unamortized’ cost is’? Every dollar you have recouped should be multiplied by a preset factor….let’s say 10. So if it cost you $900k to make the film….you project it would make $9M….from an accounting standpoint….and this is where misunderstandings exist about 2 sets of books and funny accounting from a participatory standpoint….whenever ‘you’ decide to ‘write the film off’….every dollar you did not earn, basically becomes a ‘loss’ that you can use to write against any ‘profit; from any source until its gone. Let’s assume you get to $500k in all-in receipts….if you projected to film would make $9M….you can retain $8.5M in unamortized cost(losses) to offset any income ..I’m not sure what UK tax law is, but in the US….you have to use your unamortized cost within 10yrs. To be clear, you can use it all at once…or whatever amount ….meaning unless you owe more than this amount, you get money back. You guys are very welcome

      • PapaSonsFilm May 19, 2015 at 11:16 am #

        Hi The Last Tycoon (I have this image of you as Anthony Quinn – The Greek Tycoon!)

        I did not consider using bank financing. I would do in the future. What I did was create a loan from my brother and I’s company http://www.Dynamis.co.uk to Double M Films. It was a commercial loan that I envisaged I would pay back quickly because I believed I was making a £3m movie for £1m so even if I sold the movie for £1.5m or £2m we would be in profit.

        My mentor was the legendary Elliott Kastner. I knew him in the last year of his life and we became great friends. I was helping Elliot set up an internet business and he was filling my head with wonderful Hollywood stories – one of which was how he famously made a movie called “Oxford Blues” for $1m and sold it for $17m. I think that was his greatest ever margin. He made over 50 films in this way.

        And I guess, naively, I thought I would do something similar. The plan, as said, was to create a £3m for less than £1m and sell for around £2m. What I didn’t know was the market to purchase indie films had collapsed and was collapsing.

        Once I realised that I was never going to make a straight sale, I had to find a plan B which was my self distribution story.

        The truth is I am still paying back the loan from Double M Films to Dynamis. If I was to write down the Dynamis Loan and play with the losses at the Dynamis end, then the money to Double M would be treated as income and taxed. Therefore, it just makes sense to plough on and keep paying back the loan.

        So I could write down the loan from Dynamis to Double M and get the 30% losses to play with but then at the Double M end the money would be treated as income and taxed accordingly.

        And truly, I want to pay it back. Every penny. The one thing I really didn’t factor in was the time it might take.

        What all the other commentators say here is correct. It’s really hard to make money. There are much easier ways to make money. But I never came into it to make money. I came into it to break even (and tell a great story along the way).

        I do think it is getting even harder now because whilst there are even more audiences now for movies as a result of greater access to whole libraries of films – it sometimes feels there are less buyers willing to pay for them.

        This is why I believe it is important that indie film makers make films with heart, soul, life experience. They need to offer wisdom or a way to live. The stories have to come from them. That doesn’t mean films cannot be commercial or entertaining. But I think a big mistake that many first time indie film makers make is to try and second guess what the market wants in order so that they can establish themselves as film makers. Forget it! There are some serious players out there that spend millions working out what the market wants! So don’t worry about the market. Make your film from the heart. This is something I stress in all the talks I do at film schools.

        The truth is, I may never make another movie. If so, I die a happy man because if I only made one movie then Papadopoulos & Sons would be it.

  22. Robert Niessner May 22, 2015 at 12:01 pm #

    Thanks for sharing these very detailed information. I had a very similar experience producing our first feature film (called ‘Jenseits’) in 2005 here in Austria. Our core team consisted of 5 guys (myself included) working in the key positions on the project. We could not afford to pay anyone. Our budget of EUR 50k just covered equipment, catering, transportation, expenses on locations, and some specialized work we could not do ourselves and did not find someone willing to do it for free. If we would have paid wages, our project would have been around the same costs like this one here. Our budget came out of 50% federal promotion and 50% own money of the core team. The biggest single cost was the music (orchestra & choirs recording), music mixing & mastering and audio post production. That took 40% of the budget. Because of our inexperience shooting took 80 days over a 1 year period on weekends. Lots of scenes never made it into the final cut. After editing and all the post production we finally finished the film after almost 2 years of hard work. We were so tired. Trying to get the film into cinemas was much harder than we thought and we too went the road of self distribution. It was exhausting and depressing. Back then in 2006 there was no DCP. 35mm prints were too expensive. We played from DVD on the cheap projectors used for ads in the cinemas. Because of their terrible quality we invested in a good projector and borrowed that to the biggest cinema playing our film.
    A Hollywood blockbuster gets released on the opening weekend in almost every cinema, while an indy just gets a few. So while the blockbuster gets 2-3 plays per day in 200 cinemas all over Austria, we just got 1 play per day in 7 cinemas.
    You can do the math how much money you possibly can make over a period of 14 days.
    After that we produced the DVD and a soundtrack CD and found a distributor in Vienna willing to support us. They supplied all of the big merchants in Austria and Amazon with our DVD.
    The only reason we got away with such a low budget was because we did all the work we could ourselves. That included production, planning, camera, lighting, audio recording, first AD, editing, post production, color correction and grading, DVD authoring, poster and DVD design. All in all we worked for 3 years until the DVD was out. And we never made our money back. But we learned a lot and ATM our director is in the middle of making his 5th feature film now.
    So this is why I really appreciate what Marcus has done and I know the ups and downs all too well.
    And as a small sign of support I bought Papadopoulos & Sons on iTunes today 🙂

    • PapaSonsFilm May 22, 2015 at 1:15 pm #

      Thank you Robert! Gosh… I hope you like the film.

      Marcus

      • Robert Niessner August 20, 2015 at 6:03 pm #

        Marcus, indeed I liked your film. Some people criticized it for its low pacing, but for me that was a good thing. I also liked the cinematography and the actors (some critics found their performance not so good) – although I watched it in German, so this might be a point for the German synchronization.
        My only problem is the story itself, which unfolds a little bit too little, somehow avoiding depth. But I know how hard it is to get this right.

  23. Susanne Schmitt June 4, 2015 at 6:43 am #

    Thanks a lot – this is really interesting and very helpful! (I needed two cups of tea to read it….)- Hope to see the film soon here in Germany!
    Susanne

  24. Christopher Langen June 8, 2015 at 4:31 am #

    Thanks for sharing, Stephen. I wish more people would know how the financial scenario of a very successful indiefilm is looking like. Just think of the ones which do not perform as well. Interesting point of view to see a film production as long term investment. Nether thought of this before. After all: I had a lot of fun in reading this in every detail. Thank you VERY much for working this out! Greetings from Barcelona

  25. pbBabu June 15, 2015 at 6:18 am #

    Great article Stephen, thanks for sharing Marcus!

  26. Friel Films June 18, 2015 at 12:08 am #

    A GREAT read and thanks so much Marcus! I’m heading down the same path with my film this fall, working with Miracle Communications for a day & date release (DIY) in the UK (October 15′) then back to the US for a day & date release with a distributor helping on that one. Going to be working with Porter/Frith on PR also.
    ps I enjoyed your film Marcus.

    • PapaSonsFilm June 26, 2015 at 9:22 am #

      Good luck! Tweet me about it and I will come and see it. I am @papasonsfilm

  27. David Pinnegar June 27, 2015 at 11:45 am #

    This is a most brilliant and helpful article and I have put a link to here from http://www.ukfilmlocation.co.uk/ as a result. Congratulations on making a brilliant analysis.

  28. NobleDigitalOne July 7, 2015 at 8:10 pm #

    Thanks to you and the filmmaker for sharing this insight.
    I see an incredibly low number allocated towards advertising in general. This seems to be the #1 area that hurts film makers chances as recouping their costs back. Hangover 2 cost $40M to make and Hollywood spent $40M to market. A 1:1 ratio!
    I truly believe that this would have made all the difference, in terms of monetizing his product.
    Imagine $425,000 going towards the film and the $425,000 going towards marketing…. what a difference that would have made to really find the “tipping point” of where your audience is and where to keep finding them.
    Having a go-to market strategy would only HELP you get an investor to invest in your film and probably help you ask for more. nobledigital.com/strategy

  29. Rajita August 12, 2015 at 3:47 pm #

    Fantastic Blog! Thank you for sharing.

  30. Rachelle Goldblatt August 26, 2015 at 8:39 am #

    Hello mate, .This is a great post for such a tough subject to talk about. I look forward to reading many more excellent posts like this one. Thanks

  31. Daz Kaye November 26, 2015 at 3:33 pm #

    This insight is f***in “magic” ! I’m working towards being in a similar situation, and therefore so grateful for your incredible masterclass Marcus.

  32. joyce January 20, 2016 at 3:21 pm #

    This is a great case study, thanks for sharing!

  33. Louma April 5, 2016 at 10:07 am #

    Thank you very much for writing such an report!

  34. Bob Baldwin April 18, 2016 at 4:46 pm #

    This a great post, thank you for being so open and congratulations to Marcus Markou. I agree with the above post from NobleDigitalOne, the proportion of the budget the advertising spend is low and other moneys could have been brought to the project had it been larger, but I have one other quibble, I can’t find any reference to producer, director or writer fees. I feel to get a true picture, the budget should include these even if deferred, and the income reflect their profit share so real income can be deduced. Also, although the distribution and audience approval is clearly positive (I haven’t seen the film…yet) I do wonder if an experience director of the genre, and there are many very good ones, would have produced a film more efficiently with even greater appeal. …but I guess there is no anwser to that.. I look forward to seeing it. Bob.

  35. Anton April 30, 2016 at 3:48 am #

    The long term profit theory does not apply to a movie that is not a major hit. Only classics stand the test of time. All other movies age fast and past the 5th year of release will make little or no further sales. The sad fact is the following: Virtually every movie produced without a distributor will lose most of its investment (if not all of it). Distributors know it but won’t tell producers because they live on commissions and need product. One could argue that first and last time producers are the backbone of the film industry. They are the ones paying for industry’s deficit. To make matters worse, the entire economic model has collapsed since digital cinema and internet joined the show along with thousands of films schools. Now the amount of product has exploded and the distribution outlets are overwhelmed, driving prices further down. To make matters worse, the consumers download pirated copies of anything. The filmaker is left with two choices: Retire of lose money. Most will lose money until they retire. The only ones making money are giant coorporations who can buy their way to success by pumping so much money into the promotion of their movies that the consumers will pay in the fear of missing a important event. Small movies have no chance.

  36. Andrea May 23, 2016 at 4:27 pm #

    Very insightful.

    Wondering whether there’s any information on who secured the VOD deal with Netflix? Was that through 7&7…?

    Thanks!

  37. Neeraj June 26, 2016 at 11:28 am #

    What an extraordinary achievement; I am taken aback and totally in awe of Marcus’s efforts, skills and tenacity. I would help if I could, and if I could get involved, I would too. I take note of Marcus’s experience and seek to learn from this. Thanking all in this discussion too.

  38. Janet July 28, 2016 at 3:18 pm #

    This is so interesting and beyond helpful. Big thanks to both of you, Stephen and Marcus!! I will be reading the script and buying the DVD!

  39. binoption.online August 30, 2016 at 12:51 pm #

    It is actually a great and helpful piece of information. I am happy that you shared this useful info with us.
    Please stay us informed like this. Thanks for sharing.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The full costs and income of a £1million ... - May 9, 2015

    […] Grab a cup of tea – this is a long one. It’s rare for filmmakers to get a candid look at the books of someone else’s film but, thanks to the generosity of Marcus Markou, that’s exactly what you'll …  […]

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    […] The full cost & income of a £1M indie film: if you’re looking to put together a budget proposal for your feature but not quite sure where to start, how the process goes, or how the money is spent, you’re in luck – Stephen Follows examines the roughly £1M budget for Papadopoulos & Sons, self-funded by producer/director Marcus Markou. It is a long one, but well worth your time if you are interested in learning about budgeting and self-distribution. […]

  4. The full costs and income of a £1million ... - May 14, 2015

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  5. The full costs and income of a £1million ... - May 15, 2015

    […] Stephen Follows: Grab a cup of tea – this is a long one. It’s rare for filmmakers to get a candid look at the books of someone else’s film but, thanks to the generosity of Marcus Markou, that’s exactly what you'll get to read below.  […]

  6. Papadopoulos and Sons: Self-Distribute Your First Film - June 16, 2015

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  7. The Business of Foley | Designing Sound - July 31, 2015

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    […] of the complete indie film case studies I know of come from the US and the UK. There is very little disclosure about what worked and, even more importantly, what didn’t work […]

  9. How important is television income for filmmakers? | Stephen Follows - February 1, 2016

    […] had read my breakdown of the income from indie film Papadopoulos & Sons and noted that the television distribution rights brought in far more money than theatrical, DVD […]

  10. How much has the UK government paid in film tax breaks? | Stephen Follows - February 1, 2016

    […] of the money a film spends in the UK.  For example, indie film Papadopoulos & Sons received 19.1% of their £825,000 budget back via the […]

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