Struggling to find funding? Here is how to best finance your short film
Sadly, there is no easy way to best finance your short film. Short films are not seen as a good investment, so investors are often reluctant to part with the cash. This can make getting hold of the funds that you need to complete your project very difficult.
Without this money, filmmakers will be unable to get hold of the right equipment, pay the cast, and organize shooting privileges. The average cost of a short film typically runs into the tens of thousands of dollars. Some of the more costly short films actually end up costing in excess of $100,000, though this is generally rare.
There are some things that filmmakers can do to keep costs down. However, all films still require a certain amount of money to ensure they become an honest representation of their director’s dream. The good news is that there are still many avenues open to filmmakers where they can get funding.
To help all you aspiring filmmakers out there to find funding, here is a list of ways on how to best finance your next short film.
Before you begin – The script and the pitch
The best and most established way to approach potential investors to get financing for your film is by showing them your script. Before you pick up a phone, send an email or do anything, make sure you have a really great script. Your script should really shine so that when an investor reads it they will fall in love with it.
Remember that not all investors are only interested in getting the best return for their money. Most short film investors or sponsors are at heart, film lovers who want to see passionate filmmakers get to make their dreams come true.
Reread your script over and over to make sure that it the best you can possibly make it. You will need to make sure that you are ready to give a passionate pitch of your film should the time come that investors become interested in it. Remember that short film sponsors receive thousands of film scripts each year, so you have to make sure that yours stands out.
It is a great idea to take some time to come up with a budget. You should create a reasonably accurate breakdown of expected production costs. Don’t underestimate these for fear of producing a figure that investors will not be happy to finance. If you do this then it will only leave you with financial problems towards the end of the shoot.
On the other hand, don’t overestimate costs and end up with a massive budget that will have the same effect. Try to give as accurate costings as possible. If necessary, you will always be able to go back to the investors to raise more money should the need arise. Remember that many films have gone over budget in the past and have still managed to get more financing. Just think of Hollywood films like Cleopatra and Heaven’s Gate.
These days, social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter are essential elements for helping to get funding for a film. These sites allow potential investors to find additional information about your project and its progression online. They also create a professional image regarding your project that also helps to reinforce investor confidence.
Where to get financing:
1. Head to the studios the old-fashioned way.
Draw up a list of studios and production companies that have made similar short films in the past and contact them. You will need to send them your script at some point for them to read. This will give them the chance to see if it interests them.
Hopefully, it will, and you will then be required to do a ‘pitch’ or an interview to convince them to finance it. Having a good way to pitch your film so that you can help them to visualize it is really important.
2. Government funds for the arts
All developed countries have some kind of government body whose purpose is to fund the arts. While getting funding in certain countries is easier than others, government funds are always worth applying for. The main benefit with this kind of fund is that it is provided by the government and so offers your project a great amount of support. When non-government investors hear that you have government funding, they will certainly be much more willing to invest.
Crowdfunding is a great way for filmmakers to raise money for their films. Since its inception, Kickstarter has helped scores of filmmakers throughout the United States and abroad raise the money they need. Filmmaker Charlie Kaufman recently raised more than $400,000 for his film Anomalisa.
Though it is certainly not easy to raise that kind of money without a big name attached to your project, it is still possible with a really good and original idea. You should spend the time to work out an attention-grabbing marketing strategy. Another great way to boost your crowdfunding campaign is to offer some really great ‘perks’ for those people who pledge money. In the past, filmmakers have offered everything from free tickets to film memorabilia to entice people into giving money.
4. Hold fundraising events
Anyone who has ever seen Ed Wood will know the value of a good fundraiser. Though you might have to cough up a little cash for a venue, if you can fill it with investors, there is a big chance you will get all the money you need. Again, you should think creatively and do all the right things to show off your film.
Getting people to lend their time and equipment can go a long way to getting a film made. Payment deferrals can end up being a real nightmare if you don’t have a good contract, however. For this reason, payment deferrals should only be used as a last resort for filmmakers who just can’t stretch their budgets far enough.