You won’t have to look hard to find a film investor who whole-heartedly believes in the idea that “he who makes the gold, makes the rules” and the fact of the matter is that as you pitch your film to potential investors, you’ll receive some ridiculous offers and proposals among the ones that make sense. You should have the wits to say “no” to the ones who want the entire pie and are unwilling to negotiate. There are many ways to structure film financing, and if you’re working with an experienced Executive Producer, they should be able to guide you, but on many low-budget indie films the investors will ask to get a “first paid” clause (meaning their investment is paid out of the gross, and it’s the first thing that comes out of the film’s revenue), and they would also expect to have ownership of the film. If you want to learn about funding your own indie film check out my thoughts here.
In the indie world, most investors won't ask for creative control but could request the right to veto your final cut. You need to be able to say, “forget it” if the terms are not to your liking. It may sound like an obvious statement, but you’ll be surprised at how many filmmakers give away 95% of their share of the film’s profits for a chance to prove themselves, when in fact they don’t have to. They cling to the first deal that comes their way in fear of losing the money and become slaves to it. Don’t be one of those people – be willing to say “no” if the deal isn’t in your favor.
Silvester Stalone was completely broke but he knew that his script would be a hit and wouldn't sign off on his movie to be made unless he was the star. In the end, it paid off.