4 Top Lessons From Raising A Million Dollars For A Movie by Darroch Greer and Ron King

Watch the video interview on Youtube here

Film Courage: The budget was in the end a million?

Darroch Greer, co-filmmaker of THE MILLIONARIES’ UNIT: Yes, in the end it was a million dollars. Fred Rouse (our advisor), we met with him early on and he said  “So you’re talking about a millionaire dollar picture?” I said “Oh, no…no…no…I think $350,000.” And I remember thinking maybe 2 years (2 and a half years). But because of the fundraising and because the movie kept getting bigger, it took us seven years and in the end. Fred was exactly right, it was a million dollars.

Marc Wortman’s book – The Millionaires’ Unit

Ron King,co-filmmaker of THE MILLIONARIES’ UNIT: I mean, I would think that our film (for the budget that we had) that what we ended up spending on it was probably a big bargain because we did a lot of the shoots with a very, very small crew (like in some cases, one person). And then when we did get to New Zealand, we were flying with helicopters and airplanes and all of that. Everybody who was involved with that gave us lots of discounts. So I think it’s more of a two million dollar movie that got made for a million dollars. That’s the way I like to think about it.

Film Courage: But in the end, what did that teach you about raising money for a movie because looking back on it, (seven years prior) do you think you would have actually said yes to it [committed to the film]? Knowing it wasn’t just going to be a few years. It wasn’t just going to cost $300,000 and all that’s gone on. Do you think you would have said yes?

Photo courtesy of The Millionaires’ Unit

Darroch Greer: I’ve often wondered about that because it would seem very daunting. But the film grew in such an organic way and really we never flagged. I mean there were some times that were discouraging and sometimes we were just out of money and nothing was really happening. But you know, having a partner, passing the ball back and forth and I was always interested in the next thing we were going to do. And we learned so much. I had done documentaries for television but I had never done the whole thing soup-to-nuts myself. From the research (which I really love) and the writing to actually shooting airplanes. I went to Europe for 5 weeks and shot there, along the Western Front and over the English Channel and then the movie just kept getting bigger and bigger and more exciting and so there’d be another hurdle and I don’t know…we always felt up for it.

Ron King: My sense throughout making the movie was it was one of those ones of sort of focus and also never really taking no for an answer. It’s sort of like you have to be so dedicated that people are telling you “No you can’t do that. You’re never going to be able to do that.” And you basically in your own mind and in your own spirit, you basically say “Yes I can do that and I’m going to do that.” You know what I mean? So it’s one of those things of…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).

Watch the video interview on Youtube here


Photo courtesy of The Millionaires’ Unit


Photo courtesy of The Millionaires’ Unit



About the film:

Seven years in the making and filmed on three continents, The Millionaires’ Unit documentary tells the dramatic story of a group of Yale students who were the first to fly for America in WW1, some of them making the ultimate sacrifice.