This can be done indirectly by, for example, an actor or director doing project for money and then turning around to put the money into an indie film he or she wanted to do. In this instance, however, the creators still have to deal with all the problems faced by indie film directors. The paycheck is rarely that huge, they have to find a distributor, and they have to hold casting calls.
The funding can also be done directly when, as part of a multi-film contract, a creator agrees to do a commercial project for a studio while the studio, in exchange, agrees to fund the creator's artistic project. This version ends up being far more convenient for the actor/director. First, the studio is frequently willing to fork over more money for this, as they stand to take a share of the box office cut, so even if the artistic film takes a minor loss they're not out that much. Second, with the power of a major studio behind them, the actor/director now has A-list stars on speed dial, and doesn't have to worry about finding a distributor.
Compare Paying Their Dues for when an artist needs to take smaller gigs before they hit the big time. Contrast with Only in It for the Money, in which the work made for making money clearly is not for personal projects. See also Auteur License. This trope is frequently used as a justification by non-American actors to travel across the Atlantic and/or Pacific, as they use the money from Hollywood to finance their ventures in theatre, independent films, and other lower budget yet artistically appealing projects in their native countries.
Can lead to Magnum Opus Dissonance if the project done only for the money is the one that takes flight while the project done for the art never gets off the ground.
- Brian Michael Bendis, Mark Millar, Matt Fraction and Warren Ellis are all writing or have written Marvel Comics titles to raise money for publishing their personal projects. The first three also use Marvel's creator-owned publishing line Icon, while Ellis publishes his personal titles through smaller companies, like Avatar Press.
- After alienating much of the comic-book industry with his embrace of Objectivism (and losing the rights to many of his most famous creations to DC when they acquired Charleston Comics), Steve Ditko spent the 80s taking low-prestige jobs like drawing for coloring books in order to fund his own Objectivist-themed comics.
Film - Animated
- Ralph Bakshi has admitted he's only done some projects for the money so he could do the animated projects he really wanted to make.
- Ross Bagdasarian, Jr. and Janice Karman used the money they had made off the Alvin and the Chipmunks franchise to finance The Chipmunk Adventure (because possible distributors wouldn't meet their proposed budget) - which they later admitted was a big mistake, citing that producers funding their own movies is the Hollywood equivalent of a lawyer representing himself.
- Richard Williams agreed to do Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure to get funding for his passion project, The Thief and the Cobbler.
- Disney co-directors John Musker and Ron Clements effectively had to do three films over 16 years to create their dream project, which would become Treasure Planet. During a pitch meeting following their moderate success in directing The Great Mouse Detective, they presented the ideas of "Treasure Island IN SPACE!" and an adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Mermaid", with Disney chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg much preferring the latter. Even following the monolithic, Disney Renaissance-kickstarting success of The Little Mermaid, as well as that of Aladdin which Musker and Clements were also brought in to direct, Katzenberg remained uninterested in the Treasure Island project, only greenlighting it if they made one more commercially viable film. It was only after they created Hercules (as well as Katzenberg's leaving of Disney) were they finally able to make Treasure Planet.
Film - Live Action
- Richard Attenborough agreed to direct A Bridge Too Far so that Gandhi could get made.
- Sean Connery agreed to do his last James Bond film for EON, Diamonds Are Forever, for a fee of £1.2 million, which he used to found the Scottish International Education Trust, an arts funding company for Scottish artists.
- Francis Ford Coppola apparently only directed The Godfather, Part II in order to do The Conversation and get funding for Apocalypse Now.
- John Cusack has gone on record as stating that he'll take just about any well-paying gig he's offered, because it lets him finance the small indie projects that are his true artistic love.
- Michael Douglas's Rotten Tomatoes page is very telling. He tends to alternate several "rotten" Hollywood films (You, Me and Dupree, for example, or The Sentinel) with highly rated indie films (Solitary Man, Wonder Boys). While there are obviously exceptions on both sides, it can be assumed he takes the Hollywood parts to pay for the independent ones.
- Christopher Eccleston has said in several interviews that he has no illusions about the artistic merit of any of the Hollywood movies he's been in (which include Gone in 60 Seconds, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, and Thor: The Dark World), and that he only does these jobs to be able to afford concentrating on the infrequent and not-too-generously-paid TV and theatre roles he really cares about.
- Emilio Estevez used his money from the third The Mighty Ducks movie to indirectly fund The War at Home.
- Whoopi Goldberg agreed to do Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit because Disney promised to bankroll a movie she wanted to make, an adaptation of the Broadway musical Sarafina!, in exchange for donning the habit again.
- Ewan McGregor has always been very up front about the fact that he takes roles in big-budget Hollywood movies so he can afford to be in the little Scottish indie films he loves doing but wouldn't otherwise be able to afford him. That isn't to say he disliked said big-budget films, merely that money was the main factor; he has stated that being part of the Star Wars prequels was cool, as he got his own lightsaber. Not to mention that he's has done some Japandering for an energy drink.
- Christopher Nolan agreed to do The Dark Knight Rises if the studio would fund Inception.
- Likewise, Ben Affleck agreed to play Batman for the DC Extended Universe in exchange for Warner Bros. funding his directing stints.
- Edward Norton has taken roles in big-budget flicks to help bankroll projects like Spike Lee's 25th Hour.
- Michael Bay originally intended to make Pain and Gain before Transformers: Dark of the Moon. The studio agreed to foot the bill for P&G if he would wait and do T3 first.
- Christopher Reeve did Superman IV: The Quest for Peace so the studio would produce Street Smart.
- John Sayles wrote genre Hollywood scripts to finance his well-received independent films.
- Liev Schreiber appears in about two movies a year so he can afford to do classical theater in NYC, like Hamlet or A View from the Bridge.
- Stellan Skarsgård is blunt about his motives for starring in films. He's called several of his larger-budget Hollywood movies "utter crap" that pay well and allow him to do great films with lower budgets — during EPK interviews.
- The Wachowskis made Bound to prove they had the chops to handle The Matrix.
- Orson Welles spent much of his career doing this with money from projects like the animated Transformers movie and TV commercials for Paul Masson wine used to fund directorial ventures. The only reason he made The Lady from Shanghai was to finance a stage production of Around the World in 80 Days. Even his memorable role as Harry Lime in the classic film noir The Third Man came about so he could get the money for his production of The Tragedy of Othello. Welles used this strategy to good and bad effects on all the films he made abroad. In his interviews with Peter Bogdanovich, he justified this on the grounds of it being a Sadistic Choice between being a director-for-hire on stories he didn't care about and acting for others in roles beneath his talent, he chose the latter as he felt he couldn't devote interest and attention on a subject he'd rather not direct, becoming in the process one of the first independent film-makers.
- The late director Gary Winick did a number of cookie-cutter romantic comedies (13 Going On 30, Bride Wars, Letters to Juliet) and family films (the remake of Charlotte's Web) so that he could finance smaller independent projects that made use of digital cameras. It ended up working rather well as he produced a number of critically acclaimed films through his company Indigent.
- This practice was commonplace during the New Hollywood era of the 1970s with numerous directors agreeing to do studio pictures in order to get the funding for the more personal pictures that they wanted to make. However, the studio pictures, which were usually made under some level of overseeing by the studio (however minor), would often go on to be widely acclaimed as great films, whereas the director's more artistic pictures would bomb disastrously since they were often made without the studio interfering to keep the the director's ego (and the movie's budget) in check.
- Lampshaded in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back:
Ben Affleck: What've I been telling you? You gotta do the safe picture. Then you can do the art picture. But then sometimes you gotta do the payback picture because your friend says you owe him. [Aside Glance]
- Jeff Garlin has said he likes The Goldbergs and is very proud of the show, but that the major appeal of doing the series came from the fact that a mainstream sitcom on a major network gives him the financial security he needs to pursue riskier indie projects in his downtime.
- Famously inverted by David Bowie. After getting a raw deal on his contract, he spent the next several years producing experimental and highly acclaimed but not-very-commercial material. When his contract expired, he produced some more mainstream (but again, highly acclaimed) work for the money.
- Allegedly, the reason that Aliens: Colonial Marines ended up being such a terrible game was because Gearbox used the money that they were paid to make the game in order to fund their own properties, including Borderlands, Borderlands 2, and Duke Nukem Forever, and only started working on Colonial Marines in earnest after becoming in danger of violating their contract.
- Suda51 and his company, Grasshopper Studios, will occasionally make quick and cheap licensed games to get some extra money to fund the projects he's truly passionate about, as he knows most of his original work doesn't turn a profit.
- Treasure agreed to develop McDonald's Treasure Land Adventure for Sega only so that Sega would help them fund the development of Gunstar Heroes. Although Treasure Land Adventure finished development first, Treasure managed to complete Gunstar Heroes quickly enough to release a week ahead of the other game so they could claim Gunstar as their true debut game.
- The Chicken from Outer Space was supposed to be John R. Dilworth's next independent project, until he heard about Hanna-Barbera's What A Cartoon! Show initiative, and submitted it to them to receive funding. The Chicken From Outer Space would serve as a pilot short for Courage the Cowardly Dog.
- Inverted with Matt Groening. Originally, he had wanted to pitch his comic strip Life in Hell as an animated series. However, upon realizing that doing so would forfeit all of his rights to the comic over to Fox. Not wanting to give up such a personal project of his, Groening drew a certain yellow-skinned family that would ironically eclipse Life In Hell in popularity.