ZDONK’s Pitch: Invest in Our Movies

zdonkMovies are kind of like startups. They’re risky ventures typically funded with other people’s money — and most are duds. But a new production company called ZDONK hopes to be a blockbuster in both the business and film worlds.

Here’s the pitch. ZDONK has access to scripts floating around Hollywood and will make them available on the site, where the ZDONK community can purchase shares in an entity set up to create the film. Once the financial requirements for the films are met, the film gets made. If the film doesn’t meet those requirements, then all funds are returned to the investors.

The company is focusing on comedies that can be made in the $3-8 million dollar range. Anyone can buy shares in the film project and will be a participating owner in the intellectual property (yes, setting up such a system required a lot of due diligence with the SEC). Investors have no creative input into the film but get in on the upside should the film do well at the box office, with DVD sales or any merchandising.

According to Roy Klabin, ZDONK’s chief digital officer, the company wants small investors who feel ownership of the film and will promote the film actively in their respective communities.

ZDONK will have a stake in the film project, reserving secondary revenues (after box office, DVD and merchandising) for itself. The company will also charge an underwriting fee for purchasing shares.

There’s also going to be a social network for creative professionals on the site, connecting directors and writers and actors and so forth. I’m not sure the world needs another social network, but ZDONK believes this add-on is a natural extension of its movie-making endeavour.

ZDONK was founded 8 months ago and currently has three employees. It received $1 million in financing and will soon be going out for a second “small” round that it will use to acquire scripts. Joe Roth, former Chairman of Walt Disney Studios and CEO of Revolution Studios sits on ZDONK’s board. ZDONK plans to officially launch in April.

The boys at ZDONK aren’t the only ones trying to democratize Hollywood. Indievest also lets people pony up to pay for indie films, but is only open to accredited investors.

While crowdsourcing the cost of a movie seems like a novel way to get funding, especially in these tight times, it will take a lot of people to get a project funded, especially if they are going for the smaller, unaccredited investor. If the average person gave $500 (which isn’t chump change), ZDONK would need 6,000 investors. Sure, you can get tons of people to fund Obama’s presidency — but a feature film other studios probably rejected?

Oh, and in case you are wondering, a zeedonk is an actual animal. It’s a cross between a zebra and a donkey. Here’s a picture.