Film Finance Essentials 2.0

Learn the ins-and-outs of independent film finance

A three-part online course that helps filmmakers learn the ins-and-outs of independent film finance

The old models of film finance are obsolete, distribution models have been upended, and new financing models have taken shape. This course will disseminate today's finance landscape for independent films to help you make sense of financing and put together the right financing plan and assets to attract investors and get into production.

In this three-part course we'll cover how film finance has changed from even just a few years ago, the current models, how films make money, and the different methods of film finance, including the upsides and downsides of each, what films they’re appropriate for and how to apply them.


  • Structured finance vs. pure equity
  • Where to find private equity, how to present to investors
  • How to mitigate investor risk
  • The role of co-productions and co-financing
  • Sales agent financing
  • Studio & SVOD financing
  • Pre-sales and debt finance
  • The upsides and downsides of tax incentives and "soft money"
  • Strategizing finance for your budget
  • The micro-budget business
  • How to have a back end
  • Deal structures: what they look like and how they work


The course will be delivered entirely online and run for three weeks, starting October 8. Each module will be a deep dive into different parts of film financing.

Module 1 | Overview & How Films Make Money (Available October 8)

  • Film Finance - what’s changed?
  • How Films Make Money
  • Strategizing a finance plan for your Film’s budget
  • Mitigating investor risk

Module 2 | Private Money / Equity (Available October 15)

  • The different levels of equity & where to look
  • How to present to private investors
  • How private equity deals work
  • Finding partners - Co-production and Co-financing deals

Module 3 | Sales Agent Financing, Tax & Debt (Available October 22)

  • Where to base your film to optimize for tax & soft money
  • Sales agent financing
  • Debt + Gap financing
  • Deal structures & waterfalls

The modules will be pre-recorded and will be available in the online course classroom (on the dates specified) so you can go at your own pace and never have to worry about attending any sessions live. However, the course will be fully interactive in your online classroom and you will be able to ask questions as you go and get individualized feedback on how to apply the models we'll cover to your particular projects.


  • Newer feature filmmakers who want to get a handle of film finance
  • Filmmakers who are interested in making movies in the SAG Low and Ultra-Low ranges and non-union micro-budgets.
  • Filmmakers who have been struggling to raise financing for their film

*This program is NOT for filmmakers who are planning on funding their projects 100% through crowdfunding donations or documentarians seeking grants or other alternative funding. We’ll be focused on the various models of traditional film finance for narrative feature films.

"A fantastic in-depth introduction to the financial aspect of independent filmmaking. Stacey quickly takes arcane and opaque processes and breaks them down into easily digestible topics that build from lesson to lesson, so that you not only understand the “what” but the “why.” The course also really helped me come to grips with realistic expectations for my projects – not always a pleasant thing to hear, but Stacey lays out the realities of the business and backs it up with practical real world examples. If it were not for Film Finance Essentials, I would undoubtedly be headed into the upcoming market season poised to make a lot of unnecessary mistakes!"

- Cary Brown, Filmmaker


"Essential for anyone who wants to understand how to go about funding a film. The lessons are well organized with a progression leading through the various steps. It was also helpful to understand where a certain project fits as to who to contact to invest and what potential funding options there are depending on your budget and your package. I have already implemented many of the ideas."

- Ross Schriftman, Filmmaker

Your Instructor

Stacey Parks
Stacey Parks

Stacey Parks is the founder of She has over 16 years experience in independent film as a sales agent, producer, and consultant for independent filmmakers. Stacey is also the author of "The Insider's Guide to Independent Film Distribution" (2012 Focal Press), now in its second edition and considered to be an essential handbook for independent filmmakers seeking production and distribution insight for their films. Stacey is the Executive Producer of the films Fits & Starts (released in December 2017) and Lost In France (released in 2019 and starring David Wain, Michaela Watkins and Matt Walsh), both distributed by The Orchard. She is the producer of the upcoming Miss Virginia (slated to be theatrically released in fall 2019 and starring Uzo Aduba). She is also the Co-Creator and Executive Producer of The Upgrade, a 32-part digital docuseries for Bravo that aired on in 2017. Stacey recently completed production on a docuseries pilot for Spanish studio MediaPro, on which she serves as Creator and Executive Producer, and she currently has several scripted series in active development, set up with major production partners in both the US and UK.

Frequently Asked Questions

When will the course start?
The course will start on October 8 and run for three weeks. However, you can always go at your own pace since all modules. will be pre-recorded. We'll be uploading one in-depth module per week.
What if I have questions about the material?
You can ask questions and get feedback at anytime within the online classroom.
Am I guaranteed financing for my film if I enroll in this program?
Of course not. This program will give you an overview of the various methods of film financing, but it does not guarantee financing for anyone's film.
Does this program apply to docs?
We won't be addressing docs specifically since several of the methods covered in this program are not typically utilized by docs. The program is primarily geared to covering the traditional methods of finance for narrative feature films but is completely appropriate for anyone who wants to expand their knowledge of film finance.
I want to make a short film, can I apply the info covered in this program to shorts?
This course does not apply to shorts since very few of the methods covered can be utilized for short films. This program really gives an overview on financing for feature narrative films but is completely appropriate for anyone who wants to expand their knowledge of film finance in general.

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