Filmmaking: Tips, Sources & Tools — October 1, 2011 at 8:41 pm

5 ways to finance your own movie project

The discussion on this topic could go in several directions, but for now we’re going to concentrate on low-budget movie. So, you’ve decided to make a movie (a short film, a documentary) and you desperately need some funding. So, what are your choices here? Read on, and check out the ways you can find financing for your movie.

First things first. Decide what you want to do. Are you making a film just for fun? Any plans for submitting it to online portals? How about movie festivals? Will you have distribution? Until you sit down and write it all as a plan for your project, you will never be able to know exactly how much money you need. Even approximately.

CHOICE 1 – Make it yourself, for free. There was a great phrase, that I’ve read in one of the film books. It says “Poverty breeds Creativity”. You can in fact make a movie without any money. Yes, you can, it is possible. Assuming you do have some knowledge of film, you can think of a story, write down a script, find some people (friends and family) who would agree to participate in your project, and borrow a camera as well. The downside of this option is that the quality of your movie would…suck. But, hey, at least you didn’t spend any money, and you told your story.

CHOICE 2 – Simply chop some money off your monthly salary. Yeah, and depending on your project, in a couple of months, maybe, you’ll be able to make something happen. The downside here is that would you spend your hard earned money on something that only you care about?

CHOICE 3 – Lend some money from people you know. Why not? You can offer them to be a part of your film (and of course promising them to distribute the film online, and keep your promise later), ask them to work with you on your project (this way, you wouldn’t have to ask them for money, but you will have their knowledge or experience on things you might need in pre-production or post-production). This also includes borrowing the necessary film equipment from a college or a university if you’re a student there, or if you got connections. There are some places where connections cost more than money.

CHOICE 4 – search for answers yourself. You won’t believe how much of useful information you can find online, so simply make yourself sit, and start googling for answers on how to fund a project (not just film), and there might be a hidden treasure somewhere. It won’t make you any richer, but you will spend some time on finding a solution (and don’t pay attention to something that you find – even old articles have their value, and you will still get something useful out of them).

CHOICE 5 – Funding the project online. This method needs some explanation for those who have no idea what I am talking about. One of the ways to fund your project is Kickstarter. In case you don’t know what it is – Kickstarter is is an online threshold pledge system for funding creative projects.

Kickstarter has funded a diverse array of endeavors, ranging from indie film and music to journalism and food-related projects (right now, we’re going to concentrate on film).

The idea is that you prepare your project, and then post it on Kickstarter (what your film is about, why you decided to do it, how many people work on it and so on). You will also have to put up a total amount of money you need for this particular project to be fully funded (let’s say 5 000 USD). After that, Kickstarter checks your project, and approves it (or not). If you do get approved, then you can spread the word around for people to come check out your project, and decide whether they actually want to spend their money for your purpose.

It is required, that you offer some sort of a reward to those, who have decided to cash in (send them posters, list them as producers, free books, autographs, a “thank you” after the film, or something like that). You also set a deadline for the project funding, and when the time expires, it goes both ways: if your project is fully funded, then all those who have donated will pay (the donated amount of money will be charged from their cards through Amazon, which handles these issues for Kickstarter), if the project hasn’t been funded in time, then no one gets charged, and your project has failed.

Can Kickstarter be trusted? How do you know you aint being robbed? Well, from what I’ve read, since Amazon handles the financial issues for Kickstarter, that already says something (you do buy books and other stuff from Amazon, so it’s pretty much the same thing). Besides, there are tens of thousands (if not more) people using Kickstarter, so I suppose its safe. I’ve personally stumbled upon some of the actors and directors that fund their smaller projects through Kickstarter (in this case, its easier for them, because they got a name, and people buy that).

Any fees to pay, or is it all for free? Nothing in life is really for free. As a Kickstarter project creator, there are fees you have to consider. Kickstarter takes 5% off the top of each project. In addition to those 5%, Amazon also charges a credit card processing fee (up to 5%) on each transaction. Thus, if a project manager needs $6,000 to fund a project, approximately $1,000 may go straight to fees. You may set a goal for $7,000 simply to cover the fees and leave it with the money that are actually needed for the project funding.

Okay, but how do I know that if the project was successfully funded for 6 000 (for example), and the whole film only cost about 2 000…? Well, you don’t. It’s important to do some research before spending you money on a project. Check out others who have donated, study every piece of information that the project manager offers. Reportedly, Kickstarter does have a system for detecting possible fraud. Besides, it all depends on how much money you’re willing to give away, if its only 20 bucks, would you really care how much the project actually costs and how much money would really be spent?


Also, check out these links for more information on how to finance your movie project:

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