Joel Coen: “(To make Blood Simple) we followed the example of Sam Raimi. Sam had done this trailer, almost like a full-length version of The Evil Dead, but on Super 8. He raised like sixty or ninety thousand dollars that way, essentially by taking it around to people’s homes to find investors. He financed the movie using a common thing people making exploitation movies had used, which was a limited partnership….So Sam, also told us how to set that up and we did that in conjunction with a lawyer here and then went out and shot a two-minute trailer in 35mm…The trailer emphasized the action, the blood and guts in the movie. It was very short. We had a very effective soundtrack, which was cheap to do. And we schlepped that around for about a year to people’s homes and projected it in their living rooms and then got them to give us money to make the movie…If you call people up and you say ‘Can you give me ten minutes so I can present an opportunity to invest in a movie?’, they’re going to say, “No I don’t need this,’ and hang up the phone. But it’s slightly different if you call up and say, ‘Can I come over and take ten minutes and show you a piece of film?’ All of a sudden that intrigues them and gets your foot in the door. That’s something Sam made up wise to which was invaluable in terms of being able to raise the kind of money we were trying to raise…I think there ended up being about sixty-five investors in the movie, most of them in five or ten thousand increments. I think sixty to seventy per cent of them were from Minneapolis.
Ethan Coen: The good thing about Minneapolis is those horrible phone calls you have to make to people you don’t know—you’ve just got their names from whoever. They’re too polite to hang up.
Joel Coen: That’s absolutely true. In New York, they’d just go, ‘yeah, yeah,” and hang up; because the dangerous thing with any salesman is to keep talking to them. (Laughs.)
Note: They raised $750,000. for Blood Simple which was released in 1984. In AFI’s 100 Years…100 Thrills the film was ranked #98. (Just ahead of Speed.)