There’s a lot happening at the moment, despite the grinding economy and continuing global financial woes.
It’s not as if it’s stopped people from progressing; more that it’s just slowed it up a bit. After all, everyone still has to make investments to secure their future financial security, even if on occasions it feels a touch like stirring treacle. But we’re resourceful creatures, and imaginative and creative, too, and most often we’ll figure a way around an obstacle/find a solution to a problem, given enough time and motivation. Necessity is, of course, the mother of invention. Very few of us actually go under; most go sideways, and the mavericks go over.
Making movies is a case in point. They’re generally rather expensive to produce and risky as an investment. And yet more people are going to the cinema now than ever before, even in the depths of this recession. I have no idea why. But because there’s not much money around, not enough people are making enough product to satisfy demand (quality product, that is, not art house nonsense).
But movies don’t need to be expensive, if you’re creative and inventive. What required an edit suite to achieve a few years back, can now be accomplished on an Apple Mac at home in your study. And I met with a chap only last month who’s done just that and is set to make a fortune, and not necessarily a small fortune, either, but potentially a large one. It helps that Tim Burke is an exceptionally brilliant director/ producer combined with a high degree of commercial acumen. You should watch the trailer for the movie he’s just made on a shoestring budget (The Harrowing).
It’s phenomenal. And I mean really phenomenal. Tight, sharp, gripping, original, clever, ingenious, intelligent, with not so much as a nanosecond dropped. But his talent doesn’t stop there: there are the cunning publicity stunts that command sheaves of press coverage for free; the skilful involvement of major movie players for pennies on the pound; the gaps in the market Tim has identified and successfully crafted product to fill. This simply, simply, simply just isn’t hyperbole; they are as accurate and as valid statements as to the worth of the individual as it gets. Witness his charity movie role enterprise, supported by the likes of Bono - which is another of Tim’s inventions. And now I’m on the case to help him raise funds for his second movie, and the third.
They’re all horror flicks, and they don’t really appeal to me … but who cares! I don’t need to watch them. This is an investment , not a lifestyle choice; they appeal to the market, and that’s all that counts. Witness …
Oren Peli and Jason Blum, writers, directors and producers, who together made $22.5 million in 2009. Their first film, Paranormal Activity , cost less than $15,000 to make, yet grossed over $200,000,000. In recent years low budget horror movies have made bigger impacts than ever imagined. The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity are the most profitable products/films in cinematic history, the latter having produced a 414,000% return on investment! The Blair Witch Project cost $35,000 and made $248,000,000. Open Water (which was terrible) cost $60,000 and made $55,000,000. Halloween cost $225,000 and made $107,000,000. Friday the 13th cost $555,000 and made $117,000,000. Now that’s seriously impressive.
In my role as Editor of HPN, we are offered dozens of cinematic and theatrical opportunities on a monthly basis. Following the success of The Railway Children (125% profit in 9 months), and having funded its London re-staging and North America debut in under two weeks, we’ve developed a reputation for shrewd media investment. But we reject almost everything that comes through our door. But not this one. I shall keep you posted as to how our involvement with Tim Burke progresses. My colleagues in the property world are also inventive. I have a friend who owns a mobile home park. Sales are slow in this market, even though prices are low compared to bricks and mortar. Again, people don’t have the cash to splurge £30k on a holiday home that’s got to be paid for in cash.
However, never missing a trick, he watched a TV programme recently (Channel 4, Country House Rescue ) where that bright-coloured lumpy woman goes around telling crusty blue-blooded families how to monetise their land. And she introduced yurts to one stately home (it’s like a large tent, but with a proper bed, wood-burning stove, water and electric on tap – like a hotel room in the garden made from canvass – see photo). Apparently they’re very cheap (say £5,000), but can rent out for up to £400-a-night, especially at the moment cos they’re trendy, see.
Okay, so that’s in the grounds of a country house, with probably some nice facilities on tap. But even in a mucky field in Wales people would still flock, I would hazard, even at £100 a night. Now, do the maths. So, you’ve got a bit of infrastructure to prepare, like piped water and running electric cables, furnishing and decorating etc, but even so that’s £700 per week per unit. Even if the cost doubles, once suited and booted, to, say, £10,000 per unit, the whole shebang is paid for in 14 weeks, which is a British summer season. Next year and all subsequent years it’s all profit. And I know full well how easy and cheap it is to advertise such rentals on the internet. What’s more is that you don’t need planning permission, because they’re considered to be temporary structures (indeed in the winter they can be taken down and stored).
However, my friend doesn’t have much cash to splash, so here’s an investment opportunity for you: you buy a yurt for £5,000 and lease it to him for an excellent yield (you might even get as much as 50% pa, which is a damn sight better than bank deposit interest – and, of course, secured on the yurt itself). Alternatively, he’ll sell you one of his mobile homes for £30k with a guaranteed buyback in 12 months time of 115%. And if you want a proper foray into this lucrative world, then he’ll sell you 10% of his site, which is projected to be worth 6 times its value in 3 years. That’s how Deborah Meaden of Dragons’ Den made her money. Lots of opportunities for large or small sums, all secured on property (so very little downside risk), and all of them kick the benefits of keeping cash in the bank into touch, especially when, after tax, you’re earning half the rate of inflation these days.