Building Your Film Prospectus
How to create a film prospectus that will make your investors ask “Where do I sign?”
We all know the story about the young filmmaker who, after a short film festival premiere, gets a pre-sale offer from a well-known distributor. Although we all wish for that scenario, financing is not always easy. A little bit of business sense can make a big difference in the seemingly endless quest for capital.
The quality of your script is crucial when pitching to private equity investors. A strong prospectus, however, is an important component that many first-time filmmakers do not have a firm grasp of. A well-researched and comprehensive prospectus can make or break your chances of getting funding for your next film.
To create a prospectus that is effective, you must understand the context in which your project fits into the larger industry.
Now you have potential investors who are willing to meet with you and you have pitched your film. What should you do next? You should follow up with a prospectus detailing your pitch. If everything goes smoothly, you will answer the question “Where do I sign?”
A business plan is a great way to help you visualize how your film will be made. It is easy to get lost in your vision and view your film as a bubble. Writing out your intentions and strategies will make that bubble burst but in a positive way.
Here are 10 tips for writing the perfect prospectus.
5.1 Organize your flow
Outlining your document is the first step. To create a flow for each section, use your storytelling intuition. What is the best way to get investors to read it from start to finish? This will depend on the level of production and your resources. You should highlight what you have and minimize what you don’t. Including the following items in your prospectus layout is a good starting point:
Title sheet with legal disclaimer
One-page overview of the project
Brief production timeline
A short story about the film
Statement of the Directors
List of characters (leads only)
Comparable film examples
Overview of Production
Timeline in detail
Structure of deals
Budget top sheet
5.2 Show off your credentials
You may not be able to build a prospectus that is as impressive as Steven Spielberg’s, but that’s okay. Identify the areas where your project stands out by going through your outline. Don’t be afraid to try every angle.
What makes your film unique? What makes your film a good investment? Consider including a well-written statement from the director about the origins of your film if it is based on true stories. Consider how to make your crew pages stand out if you have an outstanding team.
This applies to any other resources that your production may have. Are there any great actors already attached? Are you able to access a stunning location? Mention everything. Don’t be afraid to explore every angle.
5.3 Define your market niche
It will help your production in many ways if you clearly define where your film is in the market. This will help you target grants and private equity during the difficult scenes on set and throughout your edit and up to your home video release. It will also show investors that your marketing skills are well-developed. Your niche is the sales version to your theme.
Do not stop at just naming your demographics and genre. You must have a solid understanding of these areas to be able to capitalize. What is the difference between 7-15-year-old girls and senior citizens watching movies? What genres are the most successful at the box office? Your business strategy will be more effective if you have a clear plan from the beginning.
This area can be used to showcase your industry knowledge. Mention the many distribution options available for films today, and show an understanding of each. Google is a great resource for information. There is so much information online about production. After you’re done with your research, you can call any professional you know to ask them questions.
5.4 Learn about the perks of your investor and how to work with them
Investors are rarely writing checks out of goodness of their heart. So make sure you emphasize the benefits to them. Find out about tax incentives in the area where you are shooting. In exchange for filming there, many regions offer tax rebates. Your investors will be interested in these rebates, as they will be the first income that your film will generate. Their investment is 30% safer with a 30% guaranteed rebate. So, make sure you understand how it works, and watch out for its currency and periodic renewal.
Your deal structure will determine the incentives you receive. Investors typically recoup their initial investment, plus an additional 10-20% before any other parties make a profit. Particularly if you’re pitching to non-film people, which most of you will ensure everyone is on the same page about how it works. You may need to adapt your prospectus language to suit the investor group you are targeting.
Investors can find great motivation from on-screen credits. Who wouldn’t love to see their name on the silver screen? A sliding scale of titles can be offered, from Executive Producer to “Thank You”. Be careful when giving producer credits; it’s not fair to expect someone to write you $50 and ask for creative approvals.
5.5 Countries with Best Film Tax Incentives
Many countries provide aid to the production, distribution, post-production, and development of film, documentaries, television series, commercials and other audiovisual work. These “soft money” sources include tax credit and tax shelters, cash rebates, grants, film funds, and co-production financing. A tax shelter is a government-approved program that allows production companies to raise production financing from the country’s taxpayers.
These film incentives are designed to promote, develop and maintain a country’s film industry. They also promote the country’s culture, history, and beauty, and increase the quality, appeal, and thus the exploitation, of supported films. The country then attracts foreign capital and benefits from higher economic activity and spending. Qualifying projects must be filmed in the country, and use the country’s vendors and crew.
Below is a list of “soft money” financing incentives for filmmakers worldwide, both for foreign and national film productions.
16.5% tax rebate (the Australian Produce Offset) for large-budget film and television productions (Location offset), and 30% tax rebate for post-production digital and visual effects projects (PDV Offset), no matter where they are shot. Australian and foreign-resident companies must have an Australian business number. Minimum spend (1) Location offset: A$15,000,000 for film, A$1 Million (avg.) per hour TV series. (2) PDF offset: A$500,000.
Up to 25% grant for Austrian service producers (service productions), up to 20% grant on production expenses Capacity for the project: EUR1.1 million. Available to Austrian productions, Austrian-international co-productions, and international productions obliged to work with an Austrian service production company. Austrian productions and Austrian-international co-productions must have a minimum budget of EUR 2.3 million for feature films and EUR350,000 for documentaries.
Austrian service production companies must have at least a EUR8 million budget for feature films and EUR1 million for documentaries for international productions. For feature films, you must shoot at least five (5) days in Austria. You must pass the “Cultural Test”. Support from “Film Industry Support Austria (FISA), can be combined with funding provided through other film subsidy institutions and government authorities. Minimum expenditure: EUR1 million (for service productions).
Tax shelter investments: 40% to 45% tax credit for qualified expenses. European and International productions can access tax shelter investments. Tax shelter investments are only available to producers from countries that have signed a bilateral or co-production agreement with Belgium. Minimum expenditure: EUR250,000 in the Flemish Region
Economic funds – (1) Up to EUR400,000 in refundable advances for qualified expenses within the Flemish Region. (2) Production expenses in Wallonia (South of Belgium): Up to EUR500,000 (3) Refundable advances up to EUR500,000 for qualified expenses in Brussels-Capital Region
Cultural resources: (1) Flanders Audiovisual Fund, (VAF), discretionary grant for expenses within Flanders (Flemish Community), and international coproductions with Flanders producers. (2) Centre du Cinema et de l’Audiovisuel, discretionary financial grants and advances upon receipts for expenses within the French-speaking Community (“Wallonia-Brussels Federation”)
Foreign producers can co-produce with a Belgian production to be eligible for these cultural and economic funds. These co-productions are normally done within the framework of bilateral co-production agreements with countries such as Canada and China.
16% federal tax credit to resident labor; plus tax credits issued to Canadian provinces including the following:
British Columbia – 33% tax credit (35% for Canadian Content) for resident labor Budget must exceed C$1,000,000 for feature films, C$200,000 for each episode of series or pilots over 30 minutes. Minimum spend: C$0
Alberta: (1) 25% grant (26%) if you shoot for more than 30 days in Alberta) to residents who work and provide vendor services. Alberta company must not own more than 50% of the production business. At least four resident department heads are required. (2) 29% grant (5% if you shoot for more than 30 days in Alberta) is available to resident labor and vendor services if Alberta owns more than 50% of the production business. At least 8 resident department heads are required. C$50,000 minimum spend for projects that have a commercial licensing agreement. C$100,000.
Qualifying production expenditures in China’s Qingdao Region qualify for a 40% cash rebate and a 10% tax rebate. A minimum of 50% must be spent at Dalian Wanda Studios. Maximum project budget: 120 million RMB Minimum spend 30,000,000 RMB.
40% cash rebate on pre-production, production, and post-production expenses of resident labor, 20% rebate for “film logistics services” (hotels, food, and transportation), and 41.23% tax credit for qualifying foreign investment or co-producer. At least 20% of the production company must be Colombian-owned. Colombians must have at least one (1) principal actor, one (1) principal director, and two (2) department heads. US$600,000. The minimum spend is US$600,000.
20% discount on expenses for resident labor (cast, crew) as well as goods and services. Croatian producer, coproducer, or production service provider. For productions in Croatia that are partially filmed in Croatia, you must (1) have secured at least 70% financing, (2) pass the cultural exam, and (3) the cast and crew must consist of at least 30% citizens or nationals, or 50% if productions are filmed entirely in Croatia. The minimum spend is $0.
Co-productions with foreign producers are eligible for discretionary funding under either a bilateral agreement or the European Convention on Cinematographic Co-Production. The Croatian contribution must not exceed 10% of the total production budget. Croatia has bilateral coproduction agreements with France, Germany, Italy, and Canada. Minimum spend: 60% of the budget approved.
20% cash rebate for expenses for goods or services rendered by residents. 66% rebate for withholding tax in the Czech Republic paid on salaries to above-the-line talents. You must pass the production and cultural test. Minimum spend US$594,300 to produce a feature, animated, or TV film. US$79,200 to make a documentary. US$316,000.00 for a TV episode. US$39,600 to produce an animated series episode.
25% tax credit transferable on all development, production, post-production, and post-production expenses in the Dominican Republic Screen credit must be included. Minimum spend of US$500,000.
Maximum 30% discretionary cash rebate If the film production employs Estonian-based actors, filmmakers, and other production crew members, and an Estonian story or Estonian-set storyline, the maximum grant of 30% can be applied.
Tartu Film Fund: A 10-20% rebate on eligible expenditures incurred in Tartu by local film production companies that provide production services for international co-productions. The film fund has a limit of EUR150,000 per year.
Viru Film Fund: A discretionary cash rebate, co-finance, or co-finance for qualified expenses incurred within the Eastern region of Estonia. This includes above- and below-the-line expenses (except the producer’s fee which is not more than 7% of the eligible expenditure). There are no residency requirements. Annually, the film fund cap is set at EUR50,000 Minimum spend: EUR0.
Local spend eligible for up to 47% tax rebate. Fully-funded offshore productions are eligible. FJ$ 28.2 million is the project cap. FJ$250,000 minimum spend for feature films, large format films, and short films. FJ$50,000 minimum for television commercials.
F1/F2 investment: Tax rebate of 125% or 15% to Fiji taxpayers/investors against their tax liabilities. The project must be fully funded.
Production must (1) have distribution and (2) a minimum spend of (a. 40% for large format films, feature films, or broadcast television programs; (b. 50% for direct-to-video or video disk programs); and (c. 55% for an audio recording in order to be eligible for the tax rebate of 125% or 150%.
Fiji taxpayers are eligible for the 150% tax deduction. This is because (1) the project was written or based upon the creative ideas of residents or citizens, (2) the audio recording is composed or produced by or is the performance of residents or citizens, (3) the computer software is based upon the original creative idea developed or shared by residents or citizens, or (4) the storyline portrays Fiji, Fiji’s history and Fiji’s fauna and flora.
30% tax reduction on qualified expenses for international productions You must pass a cultural test. For live action, you must shoot at least five (5) days in France. You will need to spend 50% on VFX and post-production. Actors and crew are not required to reside in France, except for the director and production staff. The project cap is EUR30 million. Minimum Spend: The lower of EUR250,000, or 50% of the production budget.
French Regional Funds: Available to 100% French Projects or Official Co-productions (productions that are based in the EU, an EU Convention on Cinematographic Co-Production Member State or one of 56 countries that have co-production agreements with France or the UK).
The Automatic Subsidies (Compte de Soutien): A portion of the film’s gross sales from France, including video (DVD and Blu-ray), TV broadcasting rights, and video (DVD, DVD, VOD).
Sofica Funds: Private equity investment for 100% French projects and official co-productions. Most commonly available as gap financing. Soficas are equity fund financed with tax-related funds. We have therefore placed them in the “soft” category.
The Advance on Receipts (“Avance sur Recettes”) is a discretionary, refundable grant for French-speaking projects. These grants are chosen at the script stage based on their cultural value.
New Technologies in Production Fund – A subsidy for producers of movie or television projects that work in 3D or use innovative digital technology (digital visual effects or synthetic imaging, development, or specific processes).
Assistance aux Cinemas du Monde: A discretionary support grant for co-productions in production and post-production. The minimum spend is 50% of the grant amount. To be eligible for the grant, there is no requirement to have any funding in place. If the budget exceeds EUR2.5 million, must be produced in accordance with a bilateral or coproduction treaty.
20% non-repayable grant for qualified production expenses. This aid cannot be combined with any other state aid. Must pass a cultural test. German producers/applicants must contribute at a minimum of 5% to the total production costs.
International co-productions require that a German producer/applicant (1) contribute at least 20% to the production costs, or EUR5 million if the budget exceeds EUR25 million; (2) produce the film alone or with majority participation (if international coproduction involves a producer not from the European Economic Area (EEA member state); (3) take part in the production of the film.
Limit on project budget: (1) EUR4 million, (2) EUR10 million if qualified spend equals or exceeds 35% of the total production budget or if you score at least 2/3 of the possible points in the cultural test. Minimum budget: EUR1,000,000 for feature films, EUR200,000 to make documentary films, EUR2,000,000 for animated films. If the budget exceeds EUR20 million, the minimum spend is 25%. (20%) Minimum spend not required if qualified production costs exceed EUR15 million.
Tax rebates up to 25% in the form of cash refunds (post-financing), on all direct film production costs, Hungarian and non-Hungarian. The non-Hungarian spend that is eligible for tax rebates is limited to 25% of the Hungarian-eligible spending. You must pass a cultural assessment. Non-Hungarian expenditures must not exceed 20% of the total production budget to be eligible for a 25% tax rebate.
Project cap: (1) 50% production budget; (2) 50% Hungarian co-production contribution from a non-EEA member state; (3) 60% Hungarian co-production contribution from an EEA member state to international co-productions. (4) 100% budget or Hungarian contributions for low-budget films made in Hungarian. (5) 100% budget or Hungarian participation for documentaries, animations, shorts, etc. produced in Hungarian.
Hungarian National Film Fund provides a discretionary grant for Hungarian companies, Hungarian citizens, or residents of EEA Member states for script development, project creation (to cover preproduction costs) as well as production (for Hungarian live-action, animation, and documentary features primarily for theatrical release).
25% cash rebate, or reimbursement for production expenses. The project cap is 85% of the production budget. Minimum spend 80%. Productions that are shot for 30 days or more in the country, create 50 jobs locally, and have a minimum budget of not less than $2.7 million will receive a 35% rebate.
Tax credit up to 37% on eligible production, postproduction, or VFX expenses for local cast and crew as well as goods and services. The 90% tax credit is available upon proof that either (1) 68% of eligible expenses are deposited into the project account or (2) the production company has obtained a completion guarantee or bond or another banking instrument to secure the 90% tax credit payment. You must pass a cultural assessment. The project cap is the lesser of EUR70 million or 80% of the total production budget. Budget minimum: EUR250,000 Minimum spend EUR125,000.
Qualified production expenses qualify for a tax credit of up to 40% You must pass a cultural exam.
Tax shelter investments – Up to 100% of your taxable income can be invested in film production or distribution.
20% tax credit on qualified production expenses. Must pass a cultural test. Except for animation, you must shoot for at least three (3) days in Lithuania. At least 10% or 20% of the following must be produced or created in Lithuania for animation projects: (1) shooting; (2) creating and/or developing visual or graphic designs of characters, settings, and props and (3) compositional layouts of frames, storyboards, and (4) animatic visual and special effects. A minimum of 51% must be Lithuanian citizens or residents of an EEA member state. Minimum spend EUR43,000.
20% Cash rebate on eligible expenditures, including resident crew labor. Minimum spend EUR100,000.
30% Cash rebate on qualifying expenditures Minimum 30% of the production crew must reside in or be citizens. Minimum spend for foreign productions and co-productions: MYR 5,000,000 for production, MYR 1,5 million for post-production, and MYR 385,000 an hour for TV series.
All eligible expenditures are eligible for a 40% cash rebate subject to local employment and cultural testing. The minimum spend is EUR100,000. There is no cap on annual spending. Hybrid ATL Cap.
Film productions can receive up to 35% cash rebate and TV-series high-end producers 30%. Cash rebates are not subject to cultural tests. International co-productions must take place with a foreign producer in a country that is a party to a bilateral or European Convention on Cinematographic Co-production. For feature films and animated feature films, the minimum budget is EUR1,000,000; for documentaries of feature-length, EUR250,000. Capacity for the project: EUR1.5 Million Minimum spends EUR100.000. These minimum production budgets are applicable to high-end TV series: Drama series: EUR12,000/min., animated series EUR8,000/min., documentary series EUR3,500/min., drama for children EUR8,000/min., single episodes EUR1,000,000 ( Thanks to Jonathan Mees Communications manager, Publications & Research NL Fonds.
20% cash grant on qualifying production expenditures, 20% cash grant on the first NZ$25,000,000 of post-production, digital and visual effects expenditures, and 18% after that. Plus, 5% uplift for projects that are likely to bring significant economic benefits to New Zealand. Minimum expenditure: NZ$15,000,000 for feature films, NZ$ 4 million for television and other media, NZ$500,000 for post-, digital, and visual effects.
A maximum 25% cash grant for production costs is approved. You must pass both a citizenship and cultural test. International financing must be at least 30% of the production budget. Nok 25 million minimum budget for feature films. NOK 10,000,000 per episode for drama. NOK 10,000,000 per episode for feature docs. NOK 5,000,000 per episode for the doc series. NOK 2,000,000 minimum spend
Zefyr: Provides support and investments for audiovisual projects in the West and South of Norway through:
Public funding: Nok 10 million annually in non-recoupable funds. Priority is given to projects that support the development of regional producers, directors, and screenwriters.
Private equity/Gap: NOK 40,000,000, to be recouped at 1st position/alongside other private investors. The project must be for Norwegian theatrical distribution.
Norwegian Film Institute: Non-recoverable funding up to half of the budget in Norway or EUR100,000. – EUR500,000 International co-productions are possible with a Norwegian producer as a minority coproducer. You must pass a cultural assessment.
15% Cash rebate on qualified production costs Minimum Spend: $3 Million.
In the case of difficult films, up to 50% of qualified costs can be subventioned. International co-productions require that a local producer contribute at least 20% in the case of bilateral co-productions and 10% in the case of multilateral co-productions. The minimum artistic contribution of a local producer to the project must be at least 20%.
Regional Film Funds – up to 50% of the film budget There are many Polish regional film funds. They differ in how they manage the budget, what support they provide, and the amount that must be spent in each city, town, or region for production. Most often, support is provided by the fund manager as a co-producer. This could be in the form a financial contribution or a contribution in kind.
Eurimages European Cinema Support Fund – A conditionally repayable loan with no interest. The capacity of the project: 17% or EUR500,000, whichever is lower. At least two producers must be independent of the Fund’s member states. The total co-production budget must not exceed 30% if co-producers are from non-member countries of the Fund.
The European Union’s Creative Europe initiative offers grants that are not repaid to producers, distributors, and sales agents of new digital technologies, VoD platforms, and operators.
The Polish–German Film Fund: A EUR70,000 subsidy to project development and EUR150,000 for film production. Must be a project development/co-production agreement between at least one Polish producer and one German producer. Producers from third countries are allowed. Producers must contribute at most 20% to the production budget, including the subsidy. Maximum production budget support of EUR750,000.
20% Cash rebate on expenses for local goods, services, and resident labor. Minimum spend of EUR300,000.00 to make feature films, TV series, and TV series; EUR150,000.00 to produce animated films, audio, and/or visual postproduction of audiovisual works; EUR100,000.00 special-purpose films/TV commercials; EUR50,000.00 Documentary films. Minimum spend: EUR0.
20% of qualified production expenditure, plus 2.5% qualified post-production spending of less than R1.5 million. (5% if postproduction spends exceeds R3 million). R50 million is the project cap. Minimum spend: R12 million for production, R1.5 million for post-production.
15% tax deduction (35% for the Canary Islands) on eligible foreign productions. Minimum spend EUR1,000,000.
20% tax deduction for the first EUR1 million of eligible expenditures, and 18% for expenditures above EUR1 million (40% and 38% respectively in the Canary Islands). Local productions and co-productions. Spanish citizenship must be obtained and passed a production test. Capacity to pay 40% of the production budget.
Tax deduction refers to a tax credit that is deducted from the producer’s corporate income tax.
Trinidad & Tobago
Cash rebates up to 35% on qualifying production expenditure (12.5% US$100,000 – US$499999; 15% US$800,000. – US$999.999; 35% US$1 Million – US$8Million; 35% US$1,000,000 – US$8Million); 20% on residents above- and below-the-line labor. Project limit: US$3,760,000. The minimum spend is US$100,000.
United Arab Emirates
30% cash rebate for qualified production expenditures on goods and services, and resident or non-resident below-the-line labor. Must shoot at least one (1) day of principal photography in Abu Dhabi. US$5,000,000 for feature films, US$250,000 for post-production, US$150,000 for TV programs or series, US$500,000 for commercials, and US$150,000 for post-production. The minimum spend is US$70,000 to make feature films, US$15,000 to produce television series or programs, and US$10,000 to buy commercials.
UK Film Tax Relief – Up to 25% cash rebate on qualifying expenditures You must pass a cultural exam or be eligible to become an official coproduction under the UK’s coproduction treaties. Cap on eligible expenditure: 80%. Minimum spend 10% of the qualifying production expenditure.
National Funding: International producers have access to national funding incentives through the BBC Films, BFI Production & Development Funding, and Film4 as well as Pinewood Pictures.
Regional funding: The following regional incentives are available:
(1) The Yorkshire Content Fund (will invest up to 10% of the total production budget, or up to PS500,000);
(2) Ffilm Cymru Wales Production Funding (provides grants up to PS300,000. For writers, directors, and producers born in Wales, working in English or Welsh).
(3) Creative Scotland Screen Funding (provides one-project development funding of PS3,000 to PS50,000, Slate Funding of PS50,000 to PS100,000, Production funding of PS50,000 to PS500,000, distribution funding of PS5,000-PS15,000, and production funding of PS50,000 – PS500,000).
(4) Northern Ireland Production Funding up to PS800,000.00 for television production and PS500,000 per year for interactive content production. This is subject to a cap of 25% of the total project budget. The funding is available in the form of a recoupable loan, with profit participation, or in limited circumstances, a grant. Productions that have more than 65% funding are eligible.
The state level is where most of the U.S. movie subsidies and soft-money sources are located. In my previous article, I discussed the best film incentives available in the United States. Section 181 of The Internal Revenue Code was enacted at the federal level. This provides a tax incentive to domestic film and television productions. Get in touch to learn more.
5.6 Do not be afraid to take risks
The flip side of incentives is that it’s important for investors to acknowledge the potential risks associated with film investment. Legally, this protects you. Film is not a guarantee for major financial investments.
The financial success of a film is dependent on many factors that are beyond anyone’s control. Sometimes the weather can affect a film’s weekend box-office performance. Sometimes, a big film opens against you. Sometimes, a global event acts against the film industry. It is difficult to know.
Although you don’t need to make too much of the risk language in your prospectus it is important that it is there. It acknowledges uncertainties and shows investors that you aren’t naive.
5.7. Research comparable films
Do your homework. Learn the histories of at least three films that are similar in tone, story, scope, and genre to yours. What was their production process? Who made them? How did they obtain funding? How did they do? You can learn from their successes and replicate them. Did each of their premiere at a festival of high repute? They all had a well-known actor?
Once you have identified the films that are similar, create a prospectus to tell their stories. You should clearly explain their relationship to your project, and highlight their successes in a way that inspires confidence. Investors want to see examples of similar films to your film. You should explain why your narrative is different, and show that it is structurally sound.
5.8 Get some hard numbers
Once you have your comparable films organized, it’s time to convert them into revenue models. You can find the film’s performance on The Numbers (https://www.the-numbers.com) or Box Office Mojo (https://www.boxofficemojo.com). Each film should have a screen count, weekly box office, and a number of weeks. You can put some or all this information into tables for investors to see.
Next, use your comparable films and some guesstimation to create the same table for your film. Estimate your revenue based on the predicted number of screens and weeks. This should be done three times to generate low, medium and high estimates. These are your revenue projections.
You know, and your investors will also know from your risk language, that it is impossible to predict how much a film would make. However, your revenue projections will help to create context and manage expectations. Your estimates and models will be crucial for explaining your business strategy.
5.9 Design with the intention
Now it’s time for design. A professionally designed prospectus will show that you are able to brand your production. However, don’t get too creative, it is still a business document. You can save most of your creative brand-building for your pitch deck.
A perfect balance of professional-yet-aesthetic can be found using reference images, relevant fonts, and a matching color palette. These assets should be identified and implemented by a designer. Your branding style must be grounded in your story. Think about your film’s world and genre. Look how other similar films (including your comparable films) approached their promotional campaigns in the past. Perhaps spend some time on Pinterest.
The design that you choose should convey the tone and genre of your film. This will demonstrate to your investors that you are a strong director, which is a crucial component in gaining their trust.