What is Cavalier Films?
Cavalier Films, Inc. is a production company specializing in independent feature films with content and stories that can be well served on limited budgets. The films selected are often sourced from up and coming writers or writer-directors with the hope of producing movies which provide a fresh and insightful view, and have the potential to appeal to a large theatrical audience.
What is the Cavalier Film Funds?
The Cavalier Film Funds, (LLCs) are privately placed investment funds with the goal of providing meaningful profits to investors as well as a rewarding view into the fascinating world of filmmaking heretofore unavailable to the public. The Cavalier Film Funds exclusively provide financing for the operation and film productions of Cavalier Films, Inc.
Why doesn't Cavalier Films
mention specific films?
Usually when people are raising funds for the production
of a feature film, the focus is exclusively on that film. Cavalier
Films' business plan is quite unique in that it is a company that
has been created to produce several films, not just one. In this
way, Cavalier Films will operate as a mini studio, spreading the
risk over several films.
Toward this end, multiple projects will be developed
simultaneously, eliminating the need to push forward on a project
that, for whatever reason, may not be ready. If one project cannot
get on the track for some reason, Cavalier will have the ability
to move forward on another.
How will Cavalier Films
find their stories?
Cavalier Films does not plan to develop story ideas
from scratch. Such development is costly and presents timelines
to completion that do not fit well into the Cavalier Films business
plan. With this in mind, we accept submissions of fully realized
scripts, often from writer-directors who are looking for the opportunity
to direct their first feature film.
There is never a shortage of scripts to read and
consider. Scripts find themselves to us through direct submission
from the writers themselves as well as through the many literary
agencies who specialize in scripts for feature films.
How are the scripts that
will be produced selected?
First, they need to present a story that can fit
practically within our business plan.
Cavalier Films will produce films that can be fully
realized on a limited budget. Almost without exception this means
that our films will be human stories that are "life size"
in scope. Presented scripts that require whole worlds to be created
or that take place in drastically diverse geographies around the
world seldom are read to the last page.
For stories that do fit from a potential budget
standpoint, three questions present themselves. Is the story commercially
viable? (Are audiences likely to turn out and spend their entertainment
dollars?) Judgments concerning this question relate to how fresh
is the material? Is it likely to connect with a large audience?
Is it different enough to satisfy the special demands of independent
film audiences, while still remaining accessible enough that a
crossover success is possible?
The second question is do we, as producers, love
it enough to spend the focused time and emotion for the next year
that is necessary to bring a film to life. The creation of a feature
film in our world is an intense activity and an essential ingredient
to success is a sincere passion for the material.
Finally, Cavalier Films looks for stories that matter.
Our goal is to have our audiences leave the theater in some way
better than when they went in. This might mean that an essential
truth is illuminated through experiencing the film, perhaps a
view into another perspective that can make the world a little
better place. Idealistic? Why not?!
When will production on the next film begin?
Continually scripts are evaluated as potential Cavalier Films projects. Several projects are usually in various stages of consideration and when they are ready to bloom into production, the intense work of gearing up for filming and bringing a film to the world begins. Considering this, we are always in production, sometimes in the very early stages without a set target for filming, and sometimes completely focused on bringing a loved project to life.
It is our hope, however not a requirement, that we would average on production each year.
Will you use (can you get)
It would be unusual for us to make a film without
a recognizable actor involved but no one should assume that this
means actors from the "A" list. Tom Cruise is very unlikely
to appear in one of our films. That said, a recognizable face
can be a very important ingredient in the financial success when
marketing a film and this fact is well recognized in our business
Independent films provide an opportunity for actors
looking for a chance to stretch - perhaps breaking out of TV and
into features or a good character actor stepping up to a leading
role. Other situations have provided opportunities for stars who
have fallen a bit from the radar of Hollywood to polish their
star a bit.
Richard Hershkowitz, Director of the Virginia Film
Festival, is quoted as saying, "Independent film is a place
where acting careers are made or rejuvenated." We believe
this sentiment is quite true – and it doesn’t hurt that several
major Oscars have gone to performances in independent films in
Why do the Cavalier Films
Funds have an operating plan limitation of three years?
This limitation is incorporated into our business
plan simply to provide an end game to our investor/partners. Our
"mini studio" is definitely not a liquid investment
and when developing a business plan we wanted to address all of
the concerns that we would have when considering such an investment.
Barry R. Sisson, President of Cavalier Films and a frequent investor
in private equities, is quoted as saying, "A major question
I have always asked in my own investments in private companies
is, What is the end game? How do I get out?". A built in
sunset provision provides our answer to this question.
The three-year "sunset" only applies to
active production of new projects. Our partners share in the success
of the projects undertaken during the active period on an ongoing
What do you hope to accomplish
during the "active" periods?
During the three year operating period of the fund,
our goal is to produce three features and, if all goes well, to
make strategic investments in others. The idea is to diversify
risk as much as possible while providing the opportunity for our
investors to get a view into as many interesting situations as
What does participation
by your Investor/Partners mean as it relates to your business
This part of our plan emanates from Barry's own
entry into the business. He had been fascinated by the power of
feature films all his life, and wanted to be involved in creating
something that was this important. By investing in "The Station
Agent", he was able to get involved and "peak behind
the curtain" so to speak. Of course, as he has often said,
this turned out to be one of the most rewarding experiences of
his life so it makes perfect sense as we launch Cavalier to offer
what is essentially the same opportunities to others.
Clearly there will be differing levels of participation
within our pool of partners. Some have indicated an interest in
taking a job on set and really digging in. Others will be more
passive, mostly taking advantage of our members website and the
regular newsletters detailing all of the activities of Cavalier.
I think that most will want to read scripts that we are evaluating
or actually developing and we really look forward to this as an
opportunity for input. Who knows where an idea can come from that
makes a scene magic? We feel that the more input the better!
Our overriding caveat is that no investor participation
will be allowed that will adversely affect the commercial or artistic
success of the project. Other than that, our business plan is
designed to provide a rewarding participation experience where
the films that are produced will be thought of as our Partners
"own". There is no pride like the pride experienced
when "your" film is shown to an appreciative audience!
How have Partners participated in past projects in association with Cavalier Films?
Extensively. This said, one of the beauties of this opportunity is the ability for each individual partner to participate at the level that their interest and other life demands dictate. The process of developing and producing a feature film is a detailed, intensive, and exciting process. Some partners enjoy looking in and participating passively and others jump in with both feet!
The important thing to understand is that there is no pressure. Cavalier Films manages each and every element of the process, so there is never an obligation on any partner to participate, only the opportunity to do so if that is the right thing at the right time for all considerations in a particular partners view.
In “Familiar Strangers”, partner participation was quite valuable in creating what this film has become. In the earliest stages partners participated in selection of the script. During development, Partners attended staged readings and development sessions where each element of the story was evaluated and parsed in the process of searching for important meaning in each scene that will end up on the screen. Ideas from our partners lead to enhancements that ultimately lead us to the realization that this film was deserving of production, with certain scenes actually created by partners.
During production, several partners took on responsible roles and worked on set throughout the production, gaining real industry credits. Others assisted with elements of the production such as identifying locations for filming, finding needed props, transporting actors, or just coming to set and offering to be the extra hands that are often so valuable. In the end, one of our Partners even submitted for consideration the name that ultimately was selected for this story – “Familiar Strangers”.
Are there reasons for the
Cavalier Films plan to shoot locally?
The idea and then the structure of Cavalier Films
business plan evolved from many different quarters.
First, Barry Sisson lives in Virginia. "The
independent film industry is centered in New York so when I took
my first steps into the business, the films that I was associated
with were produced out of New York. Of course this required that
I spend large blocks of time away form home away from my fourteen
year old daughter and my wife. I started asking myself why we
couldn't shoot films locally?"
Our area has a wonderfully diverse geography so
there is no shortage of stories that can be well served by what
we have here. Beaches, universities, cities, mountains, suburbs,
small towns, large towns, lakes, rivers, streams, country and
suburbia all can be found to serve the story. Just scratching
the surface a little bit yielded great comfort that the skilled
trades necessary were available in abundance. Some of the more
central skilled players - directors, principle cast, cinematographer
- may or may not have to be brought in, but they are assembled
from afar in many cases no matter where one shoots.
Of course the idea of shooting close to our partners
gives them access to experience the process so all involved are
well served by this element of our plan.
Has the previous business
experience of the managers been helpful in the film world?
Marc and Barry both approach the business of film
production in the same way they would approach any other business
- conservatively. Film production is a wonderful blend of business
and art but all too often in the independent film world there
is not enough focus on the business side, jeopardizing any financial
returns and even the completion of the project itself.
Their prior long years of experience in other tight
margin business is an important element in the attractiveness
of Cavalier Films to our partners. The production of a film requires
tight and disciplined budgeting, time and performance planning
and monitoring, recruitment and employment, communication structures
and disciplines, market evaluation and sales. All well honed skills
from the world of business - any world of business!
What exactly is a Producer?
The Producer is the CEO of this enterprise that
is created for the sole purpose of capturing a story on film.
They select the story, arrange the financing, assemble the cast
and crew, manage the process, and manage the sale that ultimately
brings it to the theaters. Film is the ultimate collaborative
art, sometimes incorporating hundreds of highly skilled and dedicated
individuals to the purpose. The Producer manages the business
that puts all of the elements in place, and makes sure that a
management structure is ready to execute as necessary.
Once filming begins we often use an analogy of a
hurricane when describing the job of a producer during this critical
period. In a hurricane there is tremendous chaos around the perimeter
of the storm and then a calm center that exists in its eye. The
wall of the eye is perhaps the most turbulent of all as it sets
up a shell around the calm center.
The producer exists in the wall of the eye of this
hurricane that is film production. It is the producer's job to
keep the chaos away from the center as this is where the art is
created. Producers keep the world at bay so that art can happen!
How do you find your Partner/Investors?
We have been sharing our story mostly at cocktail
party events around the state. Many of these have been in conjunction
with theaters that show the kinds of films that we are planning
to produce, but some are held in the private homes of our many
All of these events are invitation only as we serve
refreshments and need to monitor attendance to make sure everyone
has a good time, but getting an invitation is as easy as contacting
us and asking to be included.
At these events we have a presentation that has
proven to be interesting to everyone, even those who may not have
interest or the means to invest. We show clips of films that fit
our mold, we discuss the independent film industry as a whole
and then discuss the Cavalier Films business plan and opportunity.
Those with interest step forward and we meet with them privately
at a later time to discuss their involvement.
The one common thread within our investors is a
love of and fascination with film. Our combination of conservative
business practices and access to this normally inaccessible industry
is quite exciting for the right people and these people are those
who are joining us to make movies going forward!