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Adam Orton

How do I get funding?

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I would hope my prospective producer would choose a writer/director based on the script, director reel, and experience... not some comments on a forum.

 

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

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Going to film school doesn't prove you are serious about filmmaking. It's a good start, but, proof of your intent comes from, I would argue, years of being let down and still going into ever shoot without it effecting you too much. Proof of seriousness has to be witnessed through the struggle, because if it was easy to do anything, why the hell would it be worth it to do it well?

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Well my director could probably tell you a hundred more things than this, but just recently on our short film, we have had to shoot in blistering snow days and among other things, our lead actress goes and gets drunk on Halloween and punched in the face so we had to find another actress. That's just a couple of our easiest complications that we've had to endure. This is our life guys, on every film we have ever shot, we have been sooooo close to not being able to finish it because of something that went wrong that wasn't our falt. Our determination and love and "seriousness" as you call it has been what keeps us going. Cause quite frankly if I didn't love this art as much as I do, then I would've gave up, because sometimes it's crap to get it finished. But I could never just give up on it, cause this is my life! So we are most definitely "serious" about filmmaking, we are about as "serious" as it gets.

 

But this topic was NOT asking if you guys think we're "serious" or not. It was asking about how we go about getting ppl to fund our movie. So please give us helpful questions. It means, what things have helped you guys to get funding, how have YOU gone about getting funded.

 

One thing about this forum that I absolutely hate, is that ppl don't answer the questions straight foward. Please, DON'T treat this forum as if it were a court room. We're all learning from each other, and so we all need to give informative answers, and maybe you were, but it sounded critical, which is what I've been seeing plague this forum.

 

Thanks to those who have been helpful and have answered the question asked. And I know I'm not a moderator, but I'd really like to see more helpful comments instead of critical. And like I stated before, I'm sorry if I misunderstood anyone. Maybe you were truly trying to be helpful and instructive and if that was the case I would love to know, and thank you. :)

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Ha, wait till you get shot at while filming... that's always a fun initiation....

In truth though, there really is no "one way" to get funding. For a doco I'm doing the producer bought an investment property and rented it out to make money for the film over 3 years, after rehabbing it. Another guy I know sold cocaine to finance his film (not advocating this) but it got him the money to shoot; needless to say I passed on that gig. Back when I wanted to direct, I sold my CD collection, mowed lawns, shoveled snow, worked a regular job and then got money for it. Another director I'm working with has a connection through his day job to people who buy gas stations and some-how sold them on throwing him a few thousand. Other times money comes from grant writing. When I first started the cooking show I worked on got it's primary funding through sponsors in the neighborhood who also donated foodstuffs and cookware.

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Go to your local film offices and talk with some people there. That's where you're going to get the best advice for a small budgeted film. Also, it's much easier to get funding for a short than it is a feature, since it's a lot shorter of a time to be invested in and the final outcome will come sooner. That's what you need when you're building your career.

 

Another way, probably not as good, would be to post on Craigslist and see if there are any producers that are looking for projects. Get credits from them as well as previous employer contacts (basically a resume). You're probably going to get a lot of people who don't know what producing is but just want to "try" it or just want to screw you over (sad but true).

 

I got very lucky as my producer is a professor of mine for the class The Movie Business, which ironically is about being a producer for a feature film. I called her and asked if I could meet with her before class one day and show her a treatment for a script I was working on and we met and she loved the idea and saw that I was taking the right steps by myself so far and taking it in a professional manner, so she said that she'd produce it :) .

 

Being professional is the #1 thing you need to do. You don't have to go suit and tie to meetings, just dress nice. If you don't have real experience in the field, don't lie about it, it WILL come back to bite you in the ass.

 

Try to do a little pre-production before you meet with the prospective producer. Check out locations, check out rental houses, start contacting possible DPs and such. This is a lot of the work that the producer takes care of along with you, and if you already start some of it, they will see that you're serious about it and that some of their work is already done so they won't have as much to do.

 

Oh, finally... About all the legal stuff, your producer is the one to handle all of that (if I'm not mistaken), they will get you all your liability insurance and get everything for you (if you have a good producer). The kinds of legal matters you're going to be looking into is your contracts with staff, location releases, general liability insurance coverage, and others.

 

That's really all I can think of now. I'll definitely let you know if I think of anything else.

 

 

- Steve

Edited by Steve McBride

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Thanks Adrian! Yeah we haven't been shot at yet, thanks goodness. :)

 

But yeah thanks for the helpful advice. So far that's been kinda how we've paid for our films, just getting money anyway we can.

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That's mostly as it goes until you get established and become bankable, ya know? A few good shorts, fest wins (regional/national/international) and the money gets easier. It's just that first start off that seems to be a problem. Were this before the credit crunch, I'm sure some people would've funded their films as part of a home-equity loan (tack on an extra 10K to the bedroom extension so I can shoot "Evil Landlords from Hell part 5!") Btw. Evil Landlords from Hell part 5 is copyrighted by me ;)

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Hehe, nice, sounds like a good film, I'd like to see it. :)

 

Yeah our plan was to present at least a 1st draft, then concept art and location shots as well as show our other shorts and reels and awards that we've received. Oh and since I'm the DP, the director thought it would be good that I find out the cost of lighting and other expenses for the budget, which should be surprisingly low, cause I have own most of the bigger lights and grip I'll need that I have collected from the previous films I've shot. So that's our plan for now, and the director probably has other things he would like to prepare.

Edited by John Allen

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It's certainly a good plan. Also raffles, parties etc can raise money. On top of all of that, if there is any topical "issue" in the film then you can also try for grants. that may be a long shot for a narrative short; I don't know, I've only heard of grants --rumored like El Dorado -- from docs though.

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It's certainly a good plan. Also raffles, parties etc can raise money. On top of all of that, if there is any topical "issue" in the film then you can also try for grants. that may be a long shot for a narrative short; I don't know, I've only heard of grants --rumored like El Dorado -- from docs though.

 

 

Oh very cool. Thanks!

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Oh very cool. Thanks!

 

My DP and I are actually in the exact same position as the 2 of you. We've been working on a project for 6 months now, and we've been seriously looking for a producer for the last 4 or so. It's very difficult to find someone willing to step on board this early in the game. We have commitments from at least 8 people who love the project and will help once we have the funds secured. None of them seem to know that, if they help us secure the funds, they WILL be the producer on our project. Once we have money, we'll have the pick of the litter. If you can't tell, I'm getting a little anxious :unsure:

 

So the plan is to continue to move forward as much as possible with what we know how to do... we've shot listed, budgeted, and worked on the design... and it's all going into a website to help promote the project to producers and investors.

 

Check it out! www.lighthousenights.com Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

 

Finally, a question: How do I set up an LLC? Specifically, how do I set up the amount of "members"? I don't have any significant money to invest in my own project, and obviously I don't have any idea how many investors there may be total... so what number do I put there? I'm using legalzoom.com... is that cool? What kind of paperwork does it involve? As you can tell, I am completely lost when it comes to the business end of these things... that's why I need a producer!

 

Any advice would be great! Thanks for the great post!

 

Jake

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Ha, wait till you get shot at while filming... that's always a fun initiation....

 

I got hit by a bottle thrown from a moving car while under the darkcloth of my 8x10, does that count? :blink:

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

 

How do you feel about wearing a stocking over your head?

 

"Boy, you gotta' pantie on yor' head."

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Well that was pretty useless. . .

Also; in terms of hiring "film students." Well you get what you pay for. . .this should be a last result and in fact, not paying people in certain countries/states is illegal and most certainly immoral. Your crew is never there to finance your film; under and circumstances. they may do it for cheaper than they normally would; or if you're damned good friends, for free. Even then, I'd never ask any of my friends to work for free on a personal project for me.

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Yeah, so far we've had pretty low budgets, mostly coming from our pockets. So we've had to get actors/actresses who will do it for free, but we've always gave them a percentage in what ever profit we'll make. Sometimes you just can't pay them out of the budget, and if they're ok with not getting paid, then it's fine. But it would be nice to pay them, and that's what we want to do.

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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.

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Yeah definitely. Like you said, I(DP) don't really need pay a whole lot right now cause it helps me get jobs, or in my position maybe scholarships and jobs in the future. But I agree, I wouldn't want to make a grip or gaffer, etc work for free. Even if I had to pay them out of my pocket rather than the budget I would.

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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

 

Ha! It seems I'll have a better chance than I thought! :-)

 

Going to film school doesn't prove you are serious about filmmaking. It's a good start, but, proof of your intent comes from, I would argue, years of being let down and still going into ever shoot without it effecting you too much. Proof of seriousness has to be witnessed through the struggle, because if it was easy to do anything, why the hell would it be worth it to do it well?

 

With my circumstances, I'd say it does. (Also, keep in mind a distinction: I'm not claiming to be the next Spielberg. If I do, please tear me apart. But it is rude to presume someone's level of devotion...especially when all they know of them are letters on a web page.)

 

Anywho, it's not really my intent to convince anyone here of my dedication...and for all I know this subjective, opinionated advice might be on to something. So I'll shut up.

 

But, like my pal Mr. Allen's comments go, it would be nice if people here could help educate me in regards to what my question actually pertains to without trying to make me feel dumb. If my question of how to obtain funding for a film is just downright offensive to any of you for any reason, then I am truly sorry.

 

Thanks to everyone who has contributed to my thread!

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Finally, a question: How do I set up an LLC? Specifically, how do I set up the amount of "members"? I don't have any significant money to invest in my own project, and obviously I don't have any idea how many investors there may be total... so what number do I put there? I'm using legalzoom.com... is that cool? What kind of paperwork does it involve? As you can tell, I am completely lost when it comes to the business end of these things... that's why I need a producer!

 

Search the internet for LLC Articles of Organization.

 

Simply put, they describe the general purpose of the company you are creating. This website will explain more: Article Information

 

Some websites offer to set it up for you...the downside is is that there is a fee: Start a Small Business LLC

 

Basically, you have to prepare a document that describes the purpose of your business. Then you have to register this with the government. The fee is around 50.00USD from what I know. Once the LLC is declared, you can open a bank account for it.

 

Obviously the specifics entail more time to explain than is possible on here.... But the process isn't as hard as one might think.

 

As far as adding owners, I'm not sure how the exact official process goes. A friend of mine who produced a $15,000 film gave everyone official certificates and signed a legal agreement with them establishing the percent of the company they owned as well as the amount they initially invested. He also supplies them statements, I believe.

 

This is where the lawyer comes in....you need someone to write a document that lists out all possible outcomes of failure with the company. (I.E. "Investor is giving money to this film with the full knowledge that the film may not return any profit and that he may lose his investment. He agrees to not hold Producer financially accountable...." I just made that up. It's probably not a good idea to copy and paste that clause into your document.) This is the document your investor will sign. It also protects him...if the film makes money, this document will assure him that you won't take his money and run. If you're risky (I wouldn't recommend this), you could buy a template document on the internet and alter it to meet your needs. Again, this is risky...

 

The gist of how it works is this (in case you didn't know): Four people contribute to the initial capital...lets say 1,000 dollars. Member A contributes 100, member B contributes 100, member C contributes 100, and member D contributes 700. If the company earns a profit of 10,000 dollars, member D suddenly owns 7,000 dollars of profit.

 

Here's a cool part, lets say the person who formed the LLC (a director/writer/producer) owns 50% of the company yet has never contributed a cent to the initial funds...he will magically be entitled to half of the profit. And he should...he's providing the creative direction to make the movie. As long as this is spelled out on the legal agreement and the investors fully understand it, it's completely legit. You don't have to contribute money to own a percentage. Favors, labor, creative advice, etc... all forms of contribution that can be done for partial ownership of the company.

 

For me, starting the LLC process isn't as intimidating as actually paying the investors back. I want their money to help me make my award-winning film, but I also know that I need to make something financially viable. The more likely I can do this, the more money I can get.

 

Another strategy is to target smaller contributions but on a larger level. If I need 50 grand for a film but my idea sucks (or, like me, you don't have very many bankable elements), it would be easier to convince a person to invest 250 dollars each...except you'd have to have 200 people who would invest this amount. And another problem here is that there are more people to find and keep track of :-)

 

Anyway, search the internet for information on the LLC stuff. Best of luck to you! (and myself, I guess) Feel free to message me with any other questions you might have. I'm glad to see someone else in our situation!

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Hey, thanks so much man. Really good stuff... you make it easier to understand than other websites.

 

We might actually have a producer attached as of today, so maybe she will be able to help with this stuff as well.

 

Keep in touch with your progress, and I'll do the same!

 

Jake

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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."

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