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What It Takes To Make A Movie

Man has always asked the question: what is it all about?

J. Krishnamurti, 1969

Stories are intrinsic to being human, a survival mechanism. Some forms of story—poetry—can be created virtually for free and others—movie making—cost millions of dollars. But just because we need something, doesn’t mean it’s easy money.

What’s a good business? Monopolies (toll bridges), massive economies of scale (big tech), products people are addicted to (cigarettes), and services you are legally obligated to buy (insurance) all offer good cash flow even if some of them, like cigarettes, are terrible for you. Making movies is far cooler than any of these businesses but faces a structural challenge. Supply is unlimited and demand (our time) is fixed.

That’s why I wanted to talk to Mike D’Alto, the founder of First Gen Content, a film finance and production company that has made the films Bird, Catch the Fair One, Call Jane, and On Swift Horses. Mike co-founded the company with three others: Claude Amadeo, Randal Sandler, and Chris Triana. Mike and I both share a passion for stories and business. Many storytellers don’t understand finance; many business people don’t understand stories. Mike is the rare person with an understanding of each.

The basic issue is stories and businesses operate on different time frames. You can only measure good art over long time frames, like centuries. Does it have staying power? Yet, we measure business acumen in quarters or years. Any storyteller who is not independently wealthy must navigate these opposing realities.

Also, before turning to the investment update, I want to share that one of the previous podcast guests, George Manahan, testified before Congress, the link to his testimony is here, before the passage of the National Plan to End Parkinson’s Act. I’m hopeful this podcast gave him a platform to share his message.

Investment Update

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