It always feels like you need just a little bit more cash and your film would be perfect. The budget for your film is one of, if not the, biggest issue when it comes to planning your shoot. With that being said, lets go through three proven methods that will help add a little bit of extra cash to your budget. If you are in pre-production for a film, remember that we have loads of useful resources for indie filmmakers like; local Cast List, Crew List, Gear Rentals, Production Rentals, Job Board, and Other Resources. Now let’s get started on getting you some film funding!
Crowdfunding is one of the most popular ways for an indie film to boost their budget. For those of you who don’t know what crowdfunding is, it allows the general public (mostly people you know) the opportunity to donate to your project for some type of incentive or perk that you choose. This allows people to help you with your project while also getting something in return; like a signed poster, tickets to the premiere, or a producer credit.
This method allows you to secure funding before starting on a project but you can also start campaigns for the sole purpose of covering post production work and distribution costs, it’s up to you! Of course, the downsides to crowdfunding are that you may not reach your goal, you might feel some stigma by asking for money (even though this is something most filmmakers have to do), and you now have extra responsibilities in communicating with donors and ensuring their expectations and incentives are handled properly.
Here are my personal favourite sources for crowdfunding:
Seed&Spark: This film-specific site, which boasts an 80% success rate for fundraisers (2x more than anyone else), operates as a streaming service, a film distributor, and a crowdfunding platform. You receive your funds if you reach 80% of your goal, with a 2% platform fee. They provide you with expert opinions on how to make your campaign a successful one and you receive tons of discounts from a variety of filmmaking resources. This is my personal favourite crowdfunding platform when it comes to filmmaking
Kickstarter: This creative-minded platform operates on an “all-or-nothing” model – you set the amount you’d like to raise and the time period for raising that amount; if you meet that goal, you receive the money (minus fees: 5% from the platform, plus a payment processing fee between 3-5%), but you receive nothing if you don’t reach the goal. This site is not film specific and does not offer any advantages to filmmakers.
Patreon: While not entirely crowdfunding, this subscription-based donation service allows supporters to make a monthly pledge in exchange for regular content or other exclusives. Instead of specific funding project, this platform allows creators a continuing income stream and helps them build a community that is committed to their success.
Once you choose which method you’d like to do, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- How much money do you hope to raise? Having a specific budget proposal or outline will help (and is necessary for Seed&Spark), and be realistic about the amount you actually need – the more reasonable your goal, the more likely you’ll be funded. People enjoy transparency when it comes to where their money is going and greatly help you gain more film funding.
- How long will you fundraise? Even if your platform doesn’t require it, it’s important to set an end date for reaching your fundraising goal. If you don’t, you risk running out of promotional steam and losing donor interest.
- What perks and incentives will you offer to your donors? Most crowdfunding campaigns offer some sort of perk, whether that’s exclusive content, sneak peeks, or some kind of tangible good. Be creative! This will be the final thing that convinces someone to give you money, make it interesting while also connecting it to your project. Finally, be sure they’re cost efficient – factor in shipping, platform, and credit card fees, as well as the time needed to fulfill each perk.
- How will you frame your project? Have your (very, very convincing) elevator pitch ready and remember to start strong. You need to be able to talk about your project in real, substantive terms before you begin asking for money. When you have your pitch ready, create a trailer or introductory video to get people interested. Make sure that you’re a part of this video – people want to back cool projects, but they also want to back the people behind them.
- How will you communicate with donors? Launching a campaign doesn’t mean sending out a one-time email or social media post – consistency in communication is key in getting the message out. It will probably take several reminders before even your closest friends and family members remember to donate! Be sure you have a plan for posting updates throughout the funding process, as well.
Want some free money? Apply for a grant!
If only it was that simple. Although it is more complicated than that, grants are still an excellent way to find funding for your film projects. Grants are typically conditions-based monetary gifts that often have a specific focus; whether that’s to fund films exploring a certain topic or genre, or to support emerging filmmakers, female-identifying persons, students, people from a certain geographic region, and so on. You’ll have to do some research to find a grant that fits well for your project.
While the grant application process can be lengthy and competitive, there are a lot of worthy opportunities and options out there if you’re willing to put in the work. Not sure where to start? Just Google “filmmaking grants.” There’ll be a wealth of options for you to pick and choose from. More specific methods include exploring opportunities presented by film festivals, universities, regional film societies, private corporations, and local film commissions.
Similar to using a crowdfunding platform as a source of film funding, it’s important to understand your project (and your pitch) before you apply to ensure you’re making the most compelling argument for receiving funding. And of course – read, re-read, and double-triple-check the application to ensure all materials are enclosed before sending it off.
The final option for film funding on this list, sponsors. Brands are constantly looking for new ways to get their products in the eyes of an audience. Not every filmmaker will be open to this, but if you are it might be worth reaching out to a few businesses to see if there’s any interest in sponsoring your film. While it used to be looked down on as “selling out,” the idea of partnering with a brand – while receiving funding, gear, logistical support, and a massive platform – is becoming more appealing to filmmakers. Depending on the brand’s needs and the partnership you build, there may be varying degrees of creative freedom involved, but quite often, brands just want to support amazing creators and stories that share an important point of view.
Other Methods of Film Funding
Have you ever funded a project with another type of method? Let us know how you got your film funding!