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
- Ben Affleck agreed to play Batman for the DC Extended Universe in exchange for Warner Bros. funding his directing stints.
- Sean Astin couldn't be lured into making Encino Man just by offers of money. Then he was offered a chance to direct at least one short film, when he really wanted a directing career. He describes his response to that as "Sold!"
- Richard Attenborough agreed to direct A Bridge Too Far so that Gandhi could get made.
- 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.
- Luc Besson planned The Professional as filler. At the time, he had already started working on The Fifth Element, but production was delayed due to Bruce Willis' schedule. Rather than dismiss the production team and lose his creative momentum, Besson wrote The Professional It took him only 30 days to write the script, and the shoot lasted only 90 days.
- Marlon Brando said that the only reason he continued to make movies was in order to raise the money to produce what he said would be the "definitive" film about Native Americans. The film was never made.
- Richard Burton agreed to star in Exorcist II: The Heretic so that Warner Bros. would finance Equus.
- Steve Buscemi took part in Escape from L.A. to help fund his directorial debut, Trees Lounge.
- 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.
- Dino De Laurentiis agreed to produce Raw Deal because he needed quick cash for his long gestating project Total Recall (1990). At that time, he owned the rights to the film. The film's failure to make adequate money (only $16 million) resulted in De Laurentiis' bankruptcy and Total Recall's sale of rights to Carolco.
- Michael Douglas' 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.
- The last Dirty Harry film, The Dead Pool, came about when Warner Bros. greenlit and financed Clint Eastwood's pet project, Bird. Eastwood, returning the favor to the studio, agreed to make a film for them that would be commercial and carry box-office weight. Warner Bros. suggested another Dirty Harry movie.
- 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.
- John Ford made Rio Grande purely to get The Quiet Man made. Ford wanted to make the latter first, but Republic Pictures studio president Herbert Yates didn't think the script was very good and wanted Rio Grande to be released first to pay for The Quiet Man. To Yates's surprise, The Quiet Man, on its eventual release in 1952, would become Republic's number one film in terms of box office receipts.
- 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.
- As part of Ernst Lubitsch's deal for directing Ninotchka, MGM agreed to make The Shop Around the Corner for him afterwards.
- Patrick McGoohan used his salary from Ice Station Zebra to get The Prisoner (1967) made.
- 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.
- Adam McKay agreed to direct Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues so that Paramount would let him make The Big Short.
- Bill Murray agreed to star in Ghostbusters (1984) so that Columbia Pictures would finance The Razor's Edge.
- Christopher Nolan agreed to do The Dark Knight Rises if the studio would fund Inception.
- Edward Norton has taken roles in big-budget flicks to help bankroll projects like Spike Lee's 25th Hour.
- Sean Penn agreed to be in Carlito's Way in order to fund his second directorial effort The Crossing Guard.
- 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.
- Martin Scorsese made The Color of Money in order to get The Last Temptation of Christ made.
- Steven Seagal agreed to star in Under Siege 2: Dark Territory so that Warner Bros. would let him make On Deadly Ground.
- Peter Sellers agreed to star in three more The Pink Panther films in the 1970s in order to get Being There made.
- Both stars of Speed 2: Cruise Control - Jason Patric used his entire salary to finance his film Your Friends & Neighbors, while Sandra Bullock did the movie to get the financing for Hope Floats.
- 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.
- After getting the boot as director of Alien³, Vincent Ward used his pay off to finance Map Of The Human Heart.
- 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.
- Rob Zombie originally stated he would never do a sequel to Halloween (2007), until the studio decided to make it. Then he signed on to write and direct Halloween II (2009), because he didn't want someone to ruin his vision. He also agreed to make the film in exchange for being allowed to make The Lords of Salem.
- 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.