The original idea on which Indywood was founded--the idea I pitched to my sister to convince her more to New Orleans and start a business--was not to start a movie theater.
Our original plan was to start a website that would enable filmmakers to raise funding and distribute their films all through an online interface. A sort of online independent movie studio.
We wanted to enable the public to buy small chunks of equity in independent films, and then make their money back when the films were distributed through our website.
Here's a pitch video I made in our early days:
However, we soon learned that it was NOT LEGAL to sell equity the way we wanted to. The catch was that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) only allowed accredited investors--which, in layman's terms, means "people with a lot of money"--to invest money in the types of projects we wanted to fund.
So we pivoted our business plan to focus on the distribution side of the equation, and that eventually led us to start our own movie theater.
But this past week, things have changed! The SEC has finally released new regulations for Title III of the JOBS Act, which opens the door for equity crowdfunding for non-accredited investors (AKA: "non-rich people").
These changes have the potential to radically re-orient the 21st century independent film economy.
If you'd like to learn more about the JOBS Act and the new regulation released by the SEC, check out this article by Mark Litwak in Indiewire:
"Buckle your seat belts because there may soon be a wave of new indie films produced under relaxed government regulations. The Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC"), after a long delay, has finally adopted rules to permit companies to offer and sell securities through crowdfunding. Several years overdue, the new Regulations for Crowdfunding are to implement the requirements of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act ("JOBS Act"), enacted on April 5, 2012." READ MORE
Once we get our theater back up and running, maybe our next step should be to re-enter the world of equity crowdfunding to help indie filmmakers wrangle funding from the crowd!