Showing posts with label funding. Show all posts
Showing posts with label funding. Show all posts

PRODUCTION JOURNAL: How Tarantino Got Reservoir Dogs Funded and Why It's Worth Knowing People Who Know Celebrities


The gift of overwhelming information to read on the internet burdens us to actually read it. One article that I came across that I found personally engaging was Peter Darling's Best Way to Run a Business. I think it is aimed at solo attorneys and budding entrepreneurs and small businesspeople. I think it is also useful for filmmakers. (To read the entire short article, click here.) 

The part that stood out for me and which I find relevant for filmmakers is this one: 
There are people all around you excelling at what you’re trying to learn. Start paying close attention to how they do it...
Every day I am surprised when I ask clients and filmmakers if they know how "X director" or "Y producer" made "Z film" and the answer is "no." I am surprised because anyone who has been in the trenches long enough will tell you how hard it is to make a film.
The difficulty comes in 7 stages, each getting progressively harder:

  • It's hard to come up with an idea worth writing. 
  • It's hard to write a script worth raising funds for.
  • It's hard to raise funds for a film worth directing.
  • It's hard to direct a film worth editing.
  • It's hard to edit a film worth distributing.
  • It's hard to distribute a film worth marketing.
  • And it's hard to market a film against all other competing forms of art and entertainment. PERIOD.
So acknowledging the difficulties, doesn't it make sense to study how successful directors, writers nd producers made it?  Hence, the quote above. The people excelling at what you are trying to do are the Scorceses and Tarantinos and Iñárritus and Duvernays of the world. So why not study their methods*, and, at a minimum, gain some tips on how they produced their work.  With that concept in mind, I'd like to regularly update this section with clips that answer the question how did he or she write it, produce it or fund it.

* By "methods," I mean the way they developed, produced and funded their projects, I am not saying copy their directing methodology or their filmmaking style. 
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Today's question: How did Quentin Tarantino get the money to make Reservoir Dogs.

From Wikipedia:
Quentin Tarantino had been working at Video Archives, a video store in Manhattan Beach, California, and originally planned to shoot the film with his friends on a budget of $30,000 in a 16 mm black-and-white format, with producer Lawrence Bender playing a police officer chasing Mr. Pink.[4] Bender gave the script to his acting teacher, whose wife gave the script to Harvey Keitel.[5] Keitel liked it enough to sign as a co-producer so Tarantino and Bender would have an easier job finding funding; with his assistance, they raised $1.5 million.[1] Keitel also paid for Tarantino and Bender to host casting sessions in New York, where the duo found Steve Buscemi, Michael Madsen, and Tim Roth.[6] 
Three key takeaways from this excerpt:
  1. Keep honing your craft (in writing, acting or filmmaking) by taking courses.
  2. Develop good relationships with people who know people that can get your film funded.
  3. Most importantly, write a script with juicy lines and stories that gets people who know people to show your script to them.

PRODUCTION TIPS: Best Practices from A Grant-Awarded Writer to Fund All Types of Programs (Guest Post)


Giovanna Aguilar is a multimedia content producer and a good friend. She recently wrote an article on LinkedIn with tips for people, like filmmakers, who are seeking and applying for grants. Her article is very informative, helpful and encouraging so I wanted to share it with you. Show that you like it by sharing it and liking her original LinkedIn post, as well.


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So, you are considering grants to fund your dream project or program. Perhaps you are a nonprofit, filmmaker or public school program in need of financial support. How do you begin the grant writing process? How do you bring to fruition your thoroughly researched idea?

January is not only for setting new year’s resolutions but also for planning your grant submission calendar. It is important for you to know that this is when most grantors restart their funding cycles.This represents an opportunity for you, but it must begin with a mix of preparation, patience and perseverance. Trust me, these three Ps are going to make all the difference in how you secure your first awarded grant — funds.

I got started writing grants by chance and out of utter necessity when one of my film projects, DreamTown, needed funding. The director had sent me a previously submitted grant application that I wound up spending a couple of days rewriting expeditiously to beat the deadline. By the time it was completed, I had a severe migraine. My first tip to you: Do not do that - throw yourself into a tight deadline, especially the first time. It will deter you from the already draining process. Yes. It helped that I had a template to work from, which is essentially what your first application will be, a reusable document with key sections that include the project’s objectives, impact and budget.

Here’s the deal. I’m going to be straight with you. Whether you are writing the grant proposal yourself or hiring a professional, it takes work, a lot of work. Your job is to write effectively based on a strategy for your program. Let me reiterate this point, you must write based on a strategy for your program. This is nonnegotiable. You must have a strategy, a plan, in place, or a spin doctor-grant writer who knows your industry inside and out. Yes. I won’t lie. Luck and spin happen too.

Ultimately, though, securing grant funds is about selling your story to the grantor. And I must admit that filmmakers are deftly suited for this, which is why I am happily sharing insight into grant writing best practices that have worked for me across all types of programs. While the grant writing process is quite an arduous one, these 10 are a good start.

G’s —Top 10 Best Practices for Writing Winning Grants
  1. Respect the Grant Writer. I start with this one because whether you are writing the proposal or hiring an expert, you will be asked to provide information. This is not an option. The sooner you get what is needed, the sooner the work can begin and be completed. For larger grant applications, you may be asked to provide audited financial statements, a tax-exempt letter, and other pertinent documents or information. Respect the grant writer. There should be no chasing down for information.
  2. Read the Grant’s Eligibility Requirements. Before you go any further, read the RFP’s or grant eligibility requirements. Go through the whole checklist and make sure they fund your type of program. For instance, will the grantor fund your project in your state? Is the grantor funding only STEM programs and yours is for dance? Does your organization need to be a 501(c)(3) nonprofit to apply?
  3. Who, What, Where, Why and How. Go back to the basics of every story and be ready to articulate concisely and effectively the following, but be as specific as you can be:
      • Who Is your program or project going to benefit or target?
      • What is your program going to do?
      • Where will the program take place?
      • Why is your program so important that the grantor must fund it?
      • How will you ensure that you can do what you are proposing with the funding? 
4. What Needs Funding? I know this is listed above, but you would be surprised how often the obvious question is the one that is least thoroughly considered. In my experience, this is a typical situation for public or government-funded programs, unfortunately. Wanting a lot of money, let’s say $100k, for the science department is not enough. You must present a program with defined objectives.
5. Be concise as you persuade the grantor to buy your story. Most applications are submitted via the grantor’s online platform. As a result, make sure your copy is not over each section’s character limit. I recommend using your handy Word count tool, as you go. Trust me. You will kick yourself at 11:58 p.m. when your application is due at midnight, and you have to cut 100 words from each section.
6. Are matching funds required? Yes? You will know this by reading the grant eligibility requirements, but I cannot stress how overlooked this one is. You will need to know how much the grantor requires to be matched i.e. 50%, 25%. You will be asked to provide this line item in the budget along with corroborating materials.
7. Request letters of support. If this is an option, get letters from your most influential supporters. Grantors are very interested in your resourcefulness, which also means you have a chance to brag about who you know and why they love you and your project. You can make the request easier by writing the letters yourself and sending them to your supporters for approval. Just make sure the letters are returned to you on company letterhead and with the appropriate signatures. This is common practice in the grant writing process.
8. What is your program’s impact? You can start by explaining the demographics of your target audience and how they will be positively affected or influenced by your program. This is where you really get to open up about the heart of your cause. Are you producing a story about an underserved, under-represented community? Research previously awarded grantees and study what type of impact they have had.
9. Prepare a realistic and thorough budget. Make sure you have a line-by-line budget of your project’s expenses and then get ready to write summaries of what each line means and how they all connect to the whole project.
10. Be patient and try and try again. Getting awarded a grant is ultimately like playing a numbers game that includes a mix of great storytelling, a program strategy and a justifiable, realistic budget. Grantors must be wowed by your proposal and be persuaded to trust you with their money. Note. As part of the numbers game, you can continue to tweak your living, breathing grant proposal, because that is what it will be. There is always room to color the story with another layer, shade, tint… OK. You get the picture. Each submission is an opportunity to improve your story.
Originally published on Jan. 14, 2017 by Giovanna Aguilar on LinkedIn

PRODUCTION TIPS: YOUR Calendar for the Documentary Film Grants, Fundsand Fellowships YOU Need in 2015

Will film scholars look back and consider this era the golden age of documentary filmmaking? Documentaries are all over the cinematic landscape from YouTube to Vimeo to TV to theater screens. Whether you like the genre or not, the ubiquity and power of documentary filmmaking can not be denied. Aside from educating audiences, spreading awaress or inspiring viewers, documentaries also open the doors for filmmakers looking to start a successful career. With a powerful message, a compelling vision and low-budget equipment, there is no reason to NOT shoot a great documentary. Ok, I realize you still need funding... but guess what, you can get that too. You just have to know where to look and when to apply. So, without further ado... Below is a list of Funds, Grants and Fellowships that cater primarily to the documentary filmmaker.  

DOCUMENTARY FILM FUNDS, GRANTS AND FELLOWSHIPS*

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr
June

July

Sept

Oct


* Links are listed under the month when the application deadline to submit a proposal is due.  Check each site for exact proposal deadlines.  This list is composed of funds and grants for documentary ideas and proposals.  If you know of other grants, funds or fellowships, email me and I will update the list. For an exhaustive list of programs and funds to apply for films in other stages of development, production and post-production, visit the PBS site and the IDFA site.

image above: Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One (William Greaves, 1968)

CASE STUDY: On Celebrities and Crowdfunding


The recent crowdfunding campaigns for Veronica Mars, Zach Braff and James Franco brought one thing dramatically to light: it's good to be a celebrity when you're crowdfunding.   Celebrities tend to easily reach and even surpass their crowdfunding goals when they go online and ask for cash (James Franco is a rare exception - he only raised $328,329 out of the $500,000, still a sizeable number that a non-celebrity filmmaker would have a hard time getting).  Even though they are subject to criticism for not offering profit participation in their films, celebrities do offer a panoply of prizes and rewards for the contributions they receive.  I found that interesting since their prize lists are exhaustive.  Filmmakers should learn from these celebrity campaigns even if they can't always do all of the things celebrities can do with theirs while also being attentive to potential changes or improvements occurring with crowdfunding legislation.

Hollywood is watching and learning. Already, Spike Lee has made his debut on Kickstarter and he won't be the last.  Once the stigma that comes with rich and connected Hollywood filmmakers asking the public at large to donate money passes, there will be more of them at the spigot.  Although we may question the fairness of it all, it's not illegal for rich filmmakers to crowdfund.  Still, the transaction seems sullied because crowdfunding was initially meant to serve the person who had NO access to funds or guarantee of success.  When celebrities jump into the crowd seeking funds, they presumably already have access to funds and stand to profit from their project in a way that the typical filmmaker is unable to.

Is that why James Franco didn't reach his goals?  Because of a backlash against celebrity filmmakers using sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo? If so, then it seems to not have affected Spike Lee's campaign so far.   Maybe it's just that Franco's project didn't appeal to the crowdfunding audience.  Or maybe Franco didn't advertise it enough.  Regardless, it's interesting to note that Braff and Franco had almost identical campaigns in terms of the prizes they offered and contribution amounts they sought.  And they offered just about every type of award possible, which leads me to lesson #1...

OFFER AS MANY PLEDGE AWARD TYPES IN YOUR CROWDFUNDING CAMPAIGN AS POSSIBLE.  In studying Braff's and Franco's pledge list I noticed that they used EVERY possible type of pledge award one can offer in a typical crowdfunding campaign.  Of course, they are able to offer these because they are rich and famous and have a readymade fanbase but the breadth of their pledge awards reveals proper planning and strategizing, too.  And that is something to strive for with your campaign to generate as much interest from your contributors as possible (they are your first fans and the foundation of your future fanbase).  I placed all the awards Braff and Franco offered within one of the following categories which covers practically every type of pledge award possible in a typical crowdfunding film/tv campaign:
  • Exclusive Info Access - privileged access to news and information before the general public gets it  (ex. news updates).
  • Tangible Online Award - a product that you can only receive by online delivery (ex. pdf script, streaming link of music playlist, etc.).
  • Tangible Offline Award - a product that you can only receive by some form of physical delivery (ex. t-shirt, postcard, etc.).
  • Exclusive Attention - an award personally addressed to an individual and meant to be read, heard, seen or experienced.  Can be delivered online or physically (ex. personalized voice/video greeting).
  • Live Experience - an award you can only experience with a large group of similar award winners (ex. live group movie screening).
  • Collectible - a tangible product of limited manufacture or hard-to-find nature that has potential value as a collectible (ex. anything signed, products with limited editions, etc.).
  • Live Experience On-Set or Credit - an award that you can only experience on the set of the production (ex. walk-on role, group set visit, producer credit, etc.).
  • VIP Exclusive Live Experience - an award you can only experience alone or with a small group of similar award winners (ex. private dinner and after party with cast and crew, set visit for 2, etc.).
  • Production Contribution - an award that allows you to make a creative contribution to the production that is not credited as acting or producing (ex. name a character, your name on a prop or backdrop, post-production rough cut screening and corrections, etc.).
Granted, although many of these awards yield more contributions when it comes from a celebrity, you can still diversify your pledge award types with as many as you can include to make your campaign more attractive.  But celebrity power still counts which leads me to lesson #2...

A CROWDFUNDING CAMPAIGN IS HELPED IMMENSELY BY THE INCLUSION OF A CELEBRITY AND CELEBRITY-AFFILIATED AWARDS.  It shouldn't surprise anyone that a celebrity significantly raises the spotlight of a crowdfunding campaign and increases the chances of it reaching it's financial goals.  The general public simply attributes more value to a pledge award from a celebrity than from a non-celebrity even if the award is technically the same thing (ex. the film slate used during. This is because the award from the celebrity can raise the amount of "utility" (pleasure) a person can get out of the awards they offer.  "Utility is not a measure of usefulness or need but a measure of the desirability of a commodity from the psychological viewpoint of the consumer." (Vogel, 12)  "Individuals differ in terms of the sense of psychic gratification experienced from consumption of different goods and services." (12)  Celebrities can, by the very nature of their celebrity, add value to their awards that the average joe can not possibly manufacture.  So, what's an "average-joe" filmmaker to do? Incorporate a celebrity to your campaign or add celebrity-affiliated awards to the pledge list.  I understand it's not easy but then again the film industry isn't easy either and you're not letting that stop you.  There are a variety of ways to add celebrity magic to your campaign whether it's partnering with one to offering contributors signed collectibles.  The strategy is only limited by the relevancy of your celebrity to the project.

Lesson #3... USE A CROWDFUNDING CAMPAIGN TO TEST AND CREATE DEMAND FOR YOUR MOVIE.  Hollywood is paying attention to crowdfunding because it not only offers a way to raise funds without having to share profit but also because it is a marketing coup.  Crowdfunding campaigns are a combination of public awareness, buzz creation and market research.  This can give Hollywood the rare opportunity to create demand for a supply BEFORE it gets made.  With this knowledge they can determine whether it should be changed or even made.  This is different from the traditionally unknowable risk a production company must shoulder to make a movie.  When a company makes a movie, "the initial capital investment in production and marketing is risked without knowing how many units (including theater tickets, home video sales and rentals, television viewings, and the like will ultimately be demanded.  The possibilities range from practically zero to practically infinite." (18) With a crowdfunding campaign, the possibilities at least begin with the people who pledge (a ready-made market ) and the quickness with which the money is raised giving filmmakers feedback they can base their marketing research on.  BECAUSE OF THESE TYPES OF COLLATERAL BENEFITS, ONE CAN FORESEE THAT HOLLYWOOD WILL FIND WAYS TO CREATE CAMPAIGNS (STEALTHILY OR NOT) AS WAYS TO NOT ONLY LESSEN PROFIT PARTICIPATION BUT ALSO CREATE AND TEST DEMAND.  This is not necessarily a bad thing if it allows Hollywood to take risks and create projects that would normally be hampered by the current system of "better to play it safe and formulaic."  Projects like this, for example.
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SOME THOUGHTS ON HOW CROWDFUNDING LAWS CAN CHANGE IN RESPONSE TO CRIES FOR PROFIT PARTICIPATION IN FILM PROJECTS.  Are donors happy with simply contributing for awards or do they want to be profit participants?  Is it reasonable or ludicrous to expect to be a profit participatnt when you've only contributed $500?  Should people go to equity crowdfunding sites and find film/tv production company start-ups if they want a cut of a project?  There is no clear answer but traditional crowdfunding sites based on donations and pledges are undergoing scrutiny and it wouldn't surprise me if crowdfunding undergoes a metamorphosis.  At the moment, people still donate even if they are not profit participants. This could be due to the fact that there is no other alternative or they don't know better. "Rational individuals try to maximize utility -- in other words, make decisions that provide them with the most satisfaction. But they are hampered... because decisions are made under conditions of uncertainty, with incomplete information... and they end up maximizing expected utility rather than utility itself." (12) Maybe people prefer the awards because it is a sure thing compared to waiting for profits; for an x amount of contribution you get an award priced for that amount.  Profit-participation is a gamble since a potential profit is not a sure thing even if a celebrity is involved.  Plus the formula for profits are complex, there are tax and other financial issues involved, and there are no guarantees you will even get your cut in Hollywood; there are many movies that break box-office and still can't "afford" to pay profit participants their share.  But the dream to reap a reward lives on and it's possible to make an educated guess by studying and assessing the quality of a project and it's profit potential.  Plus, movies with a built-in audience tend to do well (for example, Braff's new movie seems likely to replicate Garden State's success).

I am torn between the camps trying to change the crowdfunding laws to allow some form of broader investing and those who want to keep things as is.  Although I think it's unfair that celebrities can, by virtue of their fame, raise more funds than the average without having to share any of their profits, I am also wary of weakening the disclosure requirements that are supposed to protect investors from the hucksters who are waiting to take advantage of any loosening of the rules.  Current Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) laws generally prevent crowdfunding sites and campaigns from offering equity, financial returns and/or solicit loans.  And so project creators keep 100% ownership of their work. As Kickstarter says, "backers are supporting projects to help them come to life, not financially profit.  We hope you love your reward for helping bring this project to life."

But I still can't help wonder, do the people value the awards as they stand because it's all they can get or would they prefer profit participation? I would love to see that tested out and I think that would, ultimately be the fair thing to do.  It would also be one way to bridge the 2 camps regarding crowdfunding laws. 

And so, here's my suggestion: AFTER A THRESHOLD AMOUNT OF PLEDGE FUNDING (for example, a contribution of $500), LET PEOPLE CHOOSE BETWEEN ACCEPTING THE EQUIVALENT PLEDGE AWARD OR CHOOSING GROSS PROFIT PARTICIPATION FOR A FILM PRODUCTION WITH A BUDGET OF $500,000+. My idea is mainly for the purposes of film crowdfunding campaigns and would work out in the following ways:
  1. Projects intended for commercial distribution AND with a $500,000+ budget can allow a person to use their $500+ pledge as a stakeholder participating in profits or as a donor pledging to receive an award. (Btw, I chose $500 because I notice that there is usually a big dropoff in numbers from the amount of people who pledge that amount or more and that seems like a number that would matter to an average person.  However, I am not beholden to that dollar amount.)  If they choose the profit participant stakeholder route, then they get a position from any gross profits (not net profits) the picture makes. (Whether the profit is from theatrical only or there is additional contingent compensation can be evaluated for fairness to all parties and is outside the scope of this article.) If they choose the pledge award, that is all they get; no profit participation.  A person can't have both unless they make 2 different pledges for $500+ (one for the award and one for equity).
  2. Those that pledge to become equity stakeholders have to then submit additional documentation as required by the SEC, the IRS, etc.  The crowdfunding campaign would also be subject to disclosure requirements and more, as needed.
  3. Only pledge awards for pledge amounts of $499 or less are unaffected by the above.
Maybe people will prefer to go with the profit participation route whenever a celebrity is involved? Or maybe some people will forgo the profit participation route because they will prefer the sure thing in the award or because they value the experience with the celebrity more than a couple potential extra dollars.  What do you think?  What would you suggest? Feel free to share in the comments section below.   

Also, note that the SEC is open to public comments (regarding crowdfunding laws through the JOBS Act and other things) between now and October 31.  If you want to submit your comments to the SEC you can do so by clicking here.  If you want to read other comments, they are published online.  (hat tip to crowdfundingblogs.com)

Source:
Entertainment Industry Economics: A Guide for Financial Analysis, 6th Ed., Vogel, Harold, Cambridge University Press, 2004 

Bonus - here's a handy chart from Reinventioninc.com on crowdfunding types and tips:
http://www.reinventioninc.com/zach-braff-veronica-mars-and-the-5ps-of-crowdfunding

PRODUCTION TIPS: A Plan for Managing Film Funds in a Joint Account

“People who want to make a million borrow a million first”
― Sophie Kinsella, Shopaholic Takes Manhattan  

“Money often costs too much.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson 


Money is both the lifeblood and the bane of film; we need it to express our visions on celluloid (or digital) but getting it is a struggle.  And getting the money is not only hard to get but also hard to keep.  Now, although most directors and producers (and sentient earthlings) would prefer to have the problems associated with money than be broke, it is still important to remember that keeping the money can be even more problematic than getting it.  That point was made vividly clear to me by a case I read recently and a question I came across on a Facebook group page. 

Essentially, they dealt with the strategy and consequences of handling money with a business partner and setting up a joint bank account for the purposes of a production. The case I read  dealt with the misappropriated funds of a movie named Shadow People (previously titled The Door and picked up at the Cannes Film Festival in 2012 by Anchor Bay):
The director-writer Matthew Arnold was teaching at the New York Film Academy when he met Sun Jee Yoo, a student who expressed interest in raising money for his film project.  Together, they came to an agreement, put in writing, where Yoo was to use her best efforts to raise $4.5 million. She leveraged her connections back home in Korea and was able to raise the funds...
Most of the money went to the film's account but about a $1 million came later.  Instead of transferring it to the film production's account, Yoo put it in her personal account and used it as leverage to try to force Arnold to give up the rest of the money or the rights to the film.  To avoid further problems, he reduced the budget and gave her a portion of the money to return to investors.  Too bad she transferred the money to her own personal account instead.  At this point, Arnold's only recourse was to sue her, which he did and eventually won.  Read about the case here and the full ruling here

Around the same time I read this case, I came across a Facebook user in a film group who wanted help in setting up a joint bank account for a production.  Thinking about both the case and the question made me reflect on what a filmmaker can do to protect themselves from a potential thieving or negligent partner.  As you rise up the production ladder, you will do business with multiple partners or with investors who need assurances that you are doing the right thing with the money they give you.  Plus, you might want certain people in your crew to have access to production funds so that they can rent or buy the things necessary for the production.  And for all these reasons, you can easily find yourself having to set up a joint bank account.  

Although there is no perfect preventative system, there are things you can do to ensure that your funds will be used solely for production purposes.  Remember your last recourse is to go to court -- which you want to do the most to avoid.  (A caveat: Discuss your plan with a lawyer, accountant, bank, producer and/or consultant before setting up an account.)  Until then, here are some guidelines:
  1. First and foremost, ask yourself questions about the partner: Do you really TRUST this person?  How long have you known this person? What do your instincts tell you? What projects have they produced?  Are they more concerned with using the funds for the picture then for themselves i.e. what do they talk about more - the future movie or the future profits? Constant "future-profit talkers" would seem suspect in my book.
  2. Create a budget.  You need to know what you need the money for before you get it.  Even if it's mostly tentative, try to be as low-budget but as accurate as possible.  Include a contingency amount.
  3. Create your schedule.  Anticipate daily expenses.
  4. Discuss the use of funds and what your proper procedures for bookkeeping and withdrawals will be.  What will be the limit for daily withdrawals, if any? Who has access to the account? -- Issues like that.
  5. You need a pact.  Whatever you orally agree to, have your lawyer, consultant and/or accountant verify and approve your procedures. Then prepare a written agreement.  
  6. Preferably, set up one account under your name, assuming your partner will let you.  If not, choose a bank together that allows for joint bank accounts, then go to the bank together (if possible), discuss your concerns and procedures with your bank rep and open the bank account together.
  7. Once the funds are in, limit the daily withdrawals to what is needed based on the budget and schedule.  Put a cap on overall withdrawals.
  8. You will delegate certain jobs during the production but managing the money shouldn't be one of them.  All of the partners with power in the account should be proactive in keeping tabs on the money. At a minimum, you can set up a system where one partner pays the bills and the other reviews receipts.
  9. Check the account balance daily.
  10. One thing to consider with your bank is whether or not to institute a requirement of two signatures for account transactions.  Not all banks require this so if it's a concern for you then find a bank that allows two signatures.  Also, two signatures is a good system to have if any crew member is empowered to draw and sign checks.
  11. See if your bank provides online alerts that let you monitor account activity.  If so, use it.
  12. You might want someone in the crew like a PM or an Associate Producer to be able to draw and sign checks with autonomy.  If so, consider transferring money from the main account to another account that your crewmember can access without being able to dip into the main account.
  13. Require approvals of all the main partners in the agreement if you need to withdraw beyond any agreed-upon caps.
  14. In the end, if sh!t hits the fan and you ARE dealing with a dirty, rotten scoundrel, be proactive and have money set aside to go to court.  Just in case.

Overall, with this plan and good trustworthy people who believe in the movie (over profits), perform with diligent oversight, and are experienced in production, you should be fine sharing an account with them.  Personally, I like to believe people who work in film really want to do it for the future film and their future credit.  Thus, most people will think twice before potentially ruining their reputation to engage in criminal behavior. But because you're a professional, you know it's better to be safe than sorry.  

The COVID-19 “Get Back to Filmmaking” Checklist

The COVID-19 “Get Back to Filmmaking” Checklist A 40-point checklist from development to post-production   by Danny Jiminian www.djimlaw.com...