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How do I get funding?


Adam Orton
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Oh Adam; I'm not questioning your dedication; rather just stating that simply going to film school doesn't prove that much. Nor do awards. C'mon, you need thick thick skin in this business. And I certainly meant no offense; if you took it that way, well then I'm sorry for that. You have to understand that the vast vast multitude of newcomers-- myself partially included therein-- are not serious. Of the people I knew in film school, and perhaps especially those with awards or the like, I can count the number who keep up with filmmaking on one hand. This would be of a class, in the beginning of 200. This isn't really an industry bout how good you can hit; and to quote a very nice line from Rocky Balboa, it's about "it's about how hard you can get hit and keep movin' forward."

 

No worries, man. I'm frustrated because I'm at some weird crossroad in my life where I'm realizing that all my previous ideas and assumptions are terribly wrong. Fun times. I thought getting into film school with more life experience (and debt) than my younger peers would mean that I'm something different than the stereotypical film student.... but lately, as with the last shoot I had, things didn't feel that way at all. But anywho, thanks for all the advice. It does mean a lot.

Edited by Adam Orton
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Hey; it happens. If we never reevaluate ourselves, question what we're doing and why, then how are we to go on? Any questions you get, post em up here and many of us on these forums have our personal e mails listed as well. I havn't run across anyone on here who isn't happy to help out.

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Get a producer.

 

I got a producer for a short I'm doing soon as writer/ director. She's trying to get me $40k from investors. Don't go to just one investor, look for multiple producers to give you smaller amounts.

 

If you say you can't do it, I'm a 20 year old second year college student. I didn't have a script, just a treatment for a script.

 

I guess I need clarification on what a producer is because I called a few people listed as producers under the oklahoma film commission (yeah i know its the best i have around here though) and they all acted like i was crazy because they only "supplied the equipment" etc. So I understand what you mean by producer and I understand what these folks are telling me but what's the difference and how to I find a producer like you are talking about rather than the alternative kind I have come into contact with?

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I guess I need clarification on what a producer is because I called a few people listed as producers under the oklahoma film commission (yeah i know its the best i have around here though) and they all acted like i was crazy because they only "supplied the equipment" etc. So I understand what you mean by producer and I understand what these folks are telling me but what's the difference and how to I find a producer like you are talking about rather than the alternative kind I have come into contact with?

 

There's a subtle difference between a producer and a production services company. It sounds like you're finding the latter.

 

A producer is the person who is responsible for all aspects of the production financially. If funding must be secured, it's a producer's job to do so. The producer is the one with the liability. The producer signs the checks (and therefore hires and fires the talent). When it comes time to do the physical production, a producer may very well hire a company like the ones you seem to have reached.

 

Someone in that company will likely have the title "producer" too, because they will be responsible for the financial aspects of their contract work. (The equivalent on a feature would be a line producer or a unit production manager.) From the point of view of the person doing this job, they did secure the financing, because they scored the client, but they're also keenly aware that they're not free to do whatever they want to with the money. They must produce the production that client wants. These producers don't typically come up with an idea for a feature and then raise funds to produce it; instead, they realize the vision that a client (with money) comes to them with.

 

If you hire one of these companies to do your production (be it a feature film or a video of your wedding), then you, as the client, are the really executive producer, because ultimately you're the one with the financial liability, and you're the one providing the money (whether your own or an investor's).

 

Of course, since you're trying to raise money for a project you want to do, you're not ready for a production services company yet, nor would one be particularly useful to you.

 

If you don't want to or can't raise funds yourself, then, yes, finding a producer who wants to do so is an approach you could take. However, that does mean surrendering some control, as the producer will be responsible for making sure your film can make its money back, and therefore (quite rightly) will have strong opinions about what you can and can't do. Producing it yourself is harder, but leaves you in control.

 

As for how to get a producer, that's not a trivial undertaking, especially in a small market, where it's quite possible that there aren't any. And even here in L.A., they're hard to find. I often joke that you can always spot a producer because he refuses to tell you what he does for a living. :)

 

With the caveat that fundraising is not my area of expertise (I'm much more of a "production services" type of producer), one crackpot idea you might want to try is to see if there's a local business school that you could network with. It's possible that someone there may want to take on the challenge of financing a film, either as a class project or just because they're entrepreneurial. A lot of the better business schools have regular haunts (typically a bar) where you might be able to meet people who are finance-minded. Similarly, getting involved in your local Chamber of Commerce might help, too. Most people there won't be interested in financing your feature, but you might be able to sell them on letting you do an industrial or commercial for their company (where you become a production services company and they become the client as above), which will help you build a reputation in the area, and make you attractive to venture capitalists.

 

All that said, for young people ("young" defined as not having a long C.V., not by physical age), I honestly suggest producing yourself. First of all, it lets you retain control, and since a big part of your early work is establishing what you can do well, having that control lets you stay focuses on doing just that. Secondly, without a track record, producers aren't going to be nearly as interested in taking a risk on your project. Thirdly, it's a hell of a learning experience.

 

Once you've gotten some stuff produced, and once people know you and your work, then producers will start finding you. Some producer will say, "Gee, I need to produce X... who's good at that? Oh, yeah, so-and-so..." and your phone will ring, and you won't believe your luck.

 

But, as I've said before, there's no right answer, and there's no one way...

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Thanks alot Jim. That seems to clarify it alot for me. I just wish i could dish off the fund raising. Asking people for money is not something I'm good at, especially people that probably won't understand the films i'm making. I'm guessing alot of people go through this though.

Edited by Scott Bryant
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  • 3 weeks later...

I would suggest working on your production package; script, storyboard (colored illustrations always convey your visual concept best), budget, shot list, locations, mock movie poster, still photography of attached talent, crew resumes etc. It's your responsibility to have all this before you even think of approaching potential investors. It will show them how dedicated and passionate you are about your project.

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I know how it goes; believe me, we've all been there in that realm of the budget. actors/actresses working for points happens; but I feel differently about crew; especially pro crew. I wouldn't want to hire a "free" gaffer, myself, or a free AC. Doesn't mean I'm against negotiating something that production can afford but, like i said, you get what you pay for, or to use a term I learned in my highschool accounting classes, TINSTAAFL-- There Is No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.

Actors/Actresses often benefit a lot more in terms of "resume/experience," from low-budget shoots than crew does [excluding DP]. The way I look at it, it's practice for them and you're often just using their raw talent. Same with a DP, who may be doing it free because it allows him to work in a new format, or for his own creative ways. The times this becomes a problem is for everyone else on the crew; from the grips to the makeup people all of whom really are working-- creatively of course-- but to pay the bills. just my thoughts on it. It's a prickly brier patch, often.

 

I second that. New directors and producers need to understand that the last thing you should do is underrate your crew. People make your movie not equipment. Keep in mind that the crew never get any residuals or points for working on low budget productions. As far as deferment payment I have never seen a dime from the earlier productions I've worked on. Make a fair offer to all professional crew 1/2 to 3/4 of their normal rate if its a low budget production.

 

A few months ago I worked as a 1st AD/UPM on a comedy show pilot. My normal rate for a non union job is around $350 to $400 a day and the director/producer and I negotiated a fair rate for myself, my dp and gaffer friend's. We reassured him that a professional crew would give him a higher production value. Last month his comedy pilot premiered at the Alamo Drafthouse with a full audience. At first he wanted to offer $100.00 a day rate which I politely replied that maybe he wasn't ready to produce the pilot and that he should raise a bit more money, which he did after a week.

 

New producers have to be reminded that not only is filmmaking our craft and passion but it is how we support our families and pay the bills. If you offer a grip $50.00 a day rate he has every right to hit you with a c-stand.

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  • 6 months later...
  • 1 year later...
  • 1 year later...

Hope away, my friend.

 

It is generally not possible to get anywhere in this business without presenting a completely unbroken facade of arrogant sophistry, regardless of the circumstances. This explains why the most successful people are, regrettably, mainly arrogant sophists.

 

P

 

That is such good advice and so eloquently put. Thank you! Going to hang that up on my wall.

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I second the kick starter idea. Get a solid fan following on YouTube from any of your short films you have made (or better yet create a blog and get an e-mail list of thousands of people) and then set-up a kick starter project.

 

This sounds simple, but I know a filmmaker who gets around a million individual website hits from his near-famous filmmaking blog and is well-known across the internet community who spent 1-2 years creating a following and acquired nearly 100,000 e-mail accounts before just barley raising his goal of $115,000 - he worked hard at this task every day (making hardly any money from the cause). Sorry for the run-on sentence, but this is all true: becoming a filmmaker isn't hard at all. Becoming a successful filmmaker is extremely hard (but without a slight doubt, incredibly possible).

 

If you want more information, PM me and I'll send you a number of links that if you follow closely will all, but guarantee success. (Keep in mind this strategy is for a low-budget independent project).

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  • 9 months later...

I had a friend who made a feature for $35,000 or so. Shot on miniDV (XL1), actually flew some people in from Los Angeles to shoot in OK for some reason. It wasn't bad. Very bare but decent production values, DP'd/directed/edited himself, etc. etc.

 

 

Anyway, he told me that to fund it, he threw a party, invited friends and family, and just hit everyone up for around $500 apiece.

 

Wow damn, I'm from a third world country an I have NO IDEA how this is humanly possible. We just keep all our money haha

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  • 1 year later...

I don't know about seed grants but you may find enterprise funding schemes that apply to all industries or the creative industries as a whole. These could cover the costs of going to film markets etc. Their availability will depend on what's available in region where you live. You may find foundations that fund aspects of the arts, but you may find that you need a track record and not making a commercial film. In the UK there are lottery funds for films, but these aren't a grant, they're actaully a loan and they get paid back from the profits (assuming there are any) and/or as stipulated in the contract. There's a lot of bureaucracy involved and you need to tick the boxes.

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In the UK there are lottery funds for films, but these aren't a grant, they're actually a loan and they get paid back from the profits (assuming there are any) and/or as stipulated in the contract. There's a lot of bureaucracy involved and you need to tick the boxes.

 

You make it sound like you just have to fill in some forms! :)

 

In practice you have to go about everything a certain prescriptive way. You need to make some shorts first that have some success and then you will be considered for a feature. You also need to have a known producer with a track record attached to the project. Your production company must be a UK registered limited company. You pitch for funding and then if you get anywhere you will be asked for a copy of the script after which they may consider giving you funding.

 

You assign a share of the rights in the movie to the BFI. The BFI gets a share of any net profits as you suggest. The BFI get to specify a due date for the completion of the movie.

 

You also give up final cut on the movie to the BFI.

 

The films selected usually seem to be quite boring to the point of being almost unwatchable. I'm not sure if this is because the BFI selects boring films, or only boring films are submitted perhaps because people think that is what gets funded. It's noticeable that the few movies made by people who aren't white middle class men tend to be more interesting. It could be that those people are submitting more interesting movies or it could be that they can choose from a lot of movies by white middle class men whereas if they want to have anyone who isn't a white middle class man then they have to go with something more interesting. It could be a bit of both.

 

This brings up another side of things, that you basically need to be pals with the right people in the first place which is probably why the people applying are so mono-cultural it's scary. As I've already implied, you also need to go down a certain kind of path, it's kind of its own little cliquey scene with its own rules about things.

 

That's a vague overview of it all. Theres a fair bit more to it all. There are advantages to going about things that way. For one thing you get to have a slow build up making work for a number of years with the backing from the right people so you can try and ramp up to the big event. Obviously the downside is you need to fit the template as much as possible.

 

Freya

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  • 4 months later...
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So I have a killer, feature length script that I believe can be done for a relatively low amount of money ($20-30k).

 

I plan on shooting in a state that isn't very familiar with the film business, and I want to do this as an cheap independent feature shot on digital with non-union crew and actors.

 

Obviously this would be treated as an investment opportunity, but most investors I'd be dealing with are more familiar with stocks and bonds...not movies. How do I convince them I can return a profit? How do I return a profit? (have fun answering that one)

 

Where do I find investors who are interested in independent film?

 

Most of the experience I've had has been financed through school, my relatives, or on my own, so I'm really in the dark about this.

 

I guess this post is more of a "how to break into the indie biz" question more than anything, but any advice you guys have to help would be great. (My problem is probably that I just need a really good producer. So how do I do that :-) )

I know this is six years old, but I see this question on every film board I've every gone to; "How do I get money?"

 

My best advice is one of the following; get born rich, get a full time job (even if you hate it) and dump your income into a project, or have rich friends who trust your talent with their money.

 

I've been slamming away option B for a few years now, but have had wrangles with San Mateo county and the state, which hopefully will come to an end in the next few days. But, it's been an uphill struggle, and I'm so far behind schedule that it's not even funny. Did I mention that I no longer have a working car?

 

Still, I strive to build a portfolio of shorts. I'll probably never succede in this endeavor, but I'm trying.

 

Getting a producer is a must. This magicians can herd cats if they have the right combination of financial and people skills. And, if they're good enough, they won't have to spend much because they'll be cashing in favors for favors, and bartering favors for things like production facilities, equipment, props and on screen talent. Of course, if you're shooting a serious feature, then no amount of cajoling will help. It's all about dead presidents on cotton blended paper.

 

All the best to anyone who keeps hammering away at this question time and again.

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  • 3 years later...

From my own experience, no one will give you a dime until you've actually made something----for your first films, come up with it somehow; sell off your possessions, whatever. I mean, maybe they'll fund you if you wait for years and perform enough professional fellatio, but who has time for that? I made that mistake, then got sick of it and did it myself. Made a film with a cast of three, a cameraman and assistant. Dubbed the sound later. Packages are abominable, and storyboards I'd never touch. The thing about filmmaking is, that 80 percent of the stuff the professionals say that you need, you don't. All you NEED is to stage action in front of a camera, and have it guided by a look and instinct. It sickens me to see these productions with fifteen giant trucks doing nothing---we drove to the location every morning with the cast and crew and all our gear in one five-seater car. Let me guess...the film you have in mind is bigger scope than that? That can come. At first, just make something. Anything.

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(PS: Didn't realize how old the original post was. Oh well, my advice still applies)

 

Honestly, you're going to run into problems with investments. First, in every US state, there are 'blue sky' laws, that prevent you from selling the sky to investors. For starters, if you want to go the investment route, there are several ways you can go. All of them required you from a corporate structure, create investment documents, etc. You'll NEED a lawyer for this because one out of place line and you are on the line for federal criminal charges that can see you sitting in prison for 20 or more years, rather you meant to or not.

 

You can look into 'Regulation D' investments, which are the old fashioned way of getting film investments. You can go 'all out' with 'Regulation A' filings as well, but that is really overkill.

 

Probably the only area of bright light in the investment world for a film is the crowdfunding under the JOBS act. This allows companies to setup 'exchanges' similar to Kickstarter, where people can post investment proposals for public viewing. It's by far the easiest way to make this work, but this something you'll have to do an investigation on your own. Go to google, type in 'Crowdfunding Jobs Act' and do your research.

 

However, back to reality: Getting investments in a film is going to be nearly impossible. The only way I can see it working is by collecting a large number of tiny investments through a crowdfunding exchange as mentioned above, and even that is still untested.

 

The reality is: To fund your movie, you can certainly throw a party and make people pay to attend. DO NOT, however, make it appear as an investment for the film - this will get you in trouble for securities fraud. Anyone is free to throw a party, charge an entrance fee, and then use that fee however they want. Everyone is not free to say 'your admission to my party is an investment in my movie'. Technically, even accepting 'investments' from parents is, legally, well, illegal.

 

Another way is to consider a crowd funding campaign. This is probably the easiest of the methods, but you need a rather large network of supporters already in place to make this happen.

 

Bottom line: Getting $30k to film a movie is not easy. At all. In fact, you're probably better off trying to make a bigger film and get 'investments' or studios in on that. The problem with the $30k film is that it has no market. A marketable film requires some kind of asset, like a name property or a name star. The days when you could make a small indie film with no names attached, and see it succeed are over. More than likely, your $30k film will end up being distributed directed by you on sites like Netflix, Hulu, TubiTV, Amazon, etc. These movies will not see much a profit, and might, in fact, have a hard time making back their $30k budget. At least with a $500,000 film, you can get some stars attached that can actually get you a meeting to get a film made.

 

Don't mean to be a Debbie-downer here, but I have spent a lot of years trying different ways to raise money for movies... It's not that easy.

Edited by Landon D. Parks
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Not sure how to help Americans Landon? Ya'll have so little state funding for film. Canada, Europe, Australia, all have access to public funds for filmmaking. The US is only good if you're going to make 150 million dollar blockbusters. Small 1M-2M indies, very very tough.

 

R,

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If there's public funding for filmmaking here - beyond tax rebates which apply to massive, presumably almost exclusively American movies - you may paint me chartreuse and call me Mary Poppins.

 

I do wonder if that's why the recent Mummy movie chose such an Anglocentric locale. Good grief, that's a bad movie.

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