In the film industry, money makes the world go round. Whether it’s a student, independent, or studio-produced film, having the right kind of funding is essential to bring the project to fruition. Often a project takes years to produce simply because of the long process of finding financiers who are willing to invest in your vision.
If you’re an emerging filmmaker, this could be a daunting undertaking. Securing funds and gaining investor confidence is more challenging and challenging, as it takes time to build a proven track record of success in the entertainment industry. So let’s look at some of the effective ways and viable options you can consider when trying to get funding for your film project.
when money talks
When you invest in anything in life, be it time, money, energy or people, you must be prepared to accept the risk of losing everything you have invested. While the same principle technically applies to businesses, the slight difference is that most businesses already assess and calculate financial risk through extensive research and analysis. By doing so, investors are able to understand all the factors involved and make informed decisions.
In the case of film financing, producers and sales agents are responsible for finding financial resources at the development stage. If you are a seasoned producer, you will usually have the support of a studio. These studio movies are the big-budget top-tier shows with top-tier actors attached that we’re crazy about. As millions of dollars are involved, the studio producing the film is reaching out to top investors for support.
Most independent filmmakers starting out usually make low-budget films
These investors look at factors such as the achievements or accolades of the studio or filmmaker, quality of script and story, actors attached, audience following, past blockbuster films in the same genre, screenings at box office and strategic marketing and distribution plans. The overall concern for investors is whether the film will do well commercially and hit the right numbers to get the expected return on investment.
On the other hand, any project that does not fall under the studio system is called an independent film. Most independent filmmakers starting out usually make micro-budget films, but that doesn’t mean the process of getting funding is any easier. In fact, despite its low-cost nature, it is more difficult to acquire funds because investors will not easily give their money to someone who does not have enough credentials. While it’s completely normal for projects to take years to get started, some are fast-tracked because the filmmakers knew the proper channels or resources to contact. Here are some of the different ways or methods that could help you finance your projects.
Most basic of all is something all student filmmakers know all too well: crowdfunding. In simple terms, it is the process of financing a project by raising funds with the help of family, friends and the public. These days, crowdfunding has moved to the internet, popularized by sites like GoFundMe, Indiegogo, Seed&Spark, and Kickstarter. One of the best crowdfunding success stories came up via Kickstarter for the recently released Amazon series titled Legend of Vox Machina (2022). It was dubbed the most funded Kickstarter animation project, raising over $11 million from 88,887 backers who believed in the filmmakers’ idea.
Grants and scholarships
Grants and fellowships are another go-to funding resource for independent filmmakers. These grants are funding provided by non-profit organizations, competitions, festivals and the government. However, it should be noted that applying for these grants and scholarships involves going through a rigorous selection process. Often these are highly specialized and require you to fall into a certain category, such as female filmmakers, diverse emerging filmmakers, documentary storytelling, or a project based in a specific location.
Private investors are common resources for obtaining funds for a film. These investors can be businesses, moviegoers, philanthropists, entrepreneurs or wealthy individuals. While getting funding from private investors can go a long way, it’s not always enough to fully finance a big-budget movie.
Another viable avenue is to do pre-sales. It is the process of selling the rights to distribute the intellectual properties to various territories for a specific period of time even before the movie is finished. Local and international distributors will commit or provide cash advances depending on the agreement reached. These commitments serve as proof to obtain the approval of the loan by the bank and show the capacity of the filmmakers to repay it. Having several distributors attached to your project from the early stages is important for other investors because it already shows that the project could be sold and made available in as many places as possible.
When you see different brands featured in movies, you can bet it’s a product placement clue. It is also a widely used method to acquire money or sponsorships from small and big brands as it serves as a way to promote their services or products. Some accessory houses in Los Angeles offer free product placements of well-known brands in the food, automotive, and fashion industries, as long as you represent their brands in a positive light.
If you are filming in the United States or Canada, you have the possibility of obtaining tax incentives, deductions, rebates or subsidies from a particular state. This is provided to encourage filmmakers to choose their state as a filming location, which could help promote tourism and other businesses. A huge plus is that the filmmakers don’t have to pay the money back, but it won’t be available until the film’s production is complete.
Making movies is not at all an easy business as some people might think. There are many factors that go into the process and the main thing starts with securing funding. While this is an overwhelming undertaking, emerging filmmakers should be aware that there are many resources available designed to help bring their film projects to life. It’s also worth remembering that focusing on the essence of the story and its characters should be the number one priority for filmmakers, because when those elements are in place, the right investors will come in effortlessly and make your job easier.