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Tips: (Film Financing) How to Get Your Project Off the Ground | Features | LIVING LIFE FEARLESS

Tips: (Film Financing) How to Get Your Project Off the Ground

In the film industry, money makes the world go round. Whether it’s a student, independent, or studio-produced film, having the proper kind of funding is crucial in bringing the project to fruition. Oftentimes, a project takes years to get produced simply because of the time-consuming 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 getting the trust of investors is more difficult and challenging because it takes time to build a proven track record of achieving success in the entertainment industry. So, let’s examine some of the effective ways and viable options you can look into when trying to secure funds for your film project.

When Money Talks

When investing in anything in life, whether it’s time, money, energy, or people, you must be prepared to accept the risk of losing whatever you have invested. While the same principle technically applies to business, the slight difference is that most businesses already assess and calculate the financial risks through conducting thorough research and analyses. By doing so, investors are able to understand all factors involved and make informed decisions.

In the case of financing films, producers and sales agents are responsible for finding financial resources in the development stage. If you’re a veteran producer, you would usually have the backing of a studio. These studio films are the top-tier, high-budget spectacles with A-list actors attached that we go head over heels for. As millions of dollars are involved, the studio producing the film reaches out to top investors to get their support.

Most indie filmmakers who are just starting out usually do micro-budget films

These investors look into factors such as the studio or filmmaker’s achievements or accolades, quality of the script and story, the actors attached, the audience following, past successful films in the same genre, box office projections, and strategic marketing and distribution plans. The investors’ overall concern is whether the film will perform well commercially and hit the right numbers to get their projected return of investment.

On the other hand, any project that falls outside the studio system is called an independent film. Most indie filmmakers who are just starting out usually do micro-budget films, but this doesn’t imply that the process of securing funds is easier. In fact, despite its low-cost nature, it’s more challenging to acquire funds because investors will not easily give their money to someone who doesn’t have enough credentials. While it is completely normal for projects to take years to get off the ground, some are fast-tracked because the filmmakers knew the appropriate channels or resources to reach out to. So, below are some of the various ways or methods that could help fund your projects.

Crowdfunding

The most basic of all is something that all student filmmakers know all too well – crowdfunding. In simple terms, it is the process of funding a project by raising money with the help of family, friends, and the public. Nowadays, crowdfunding has transitioned to the internet as popularized by sites such as GoFundMe, Indiegogo, Seed&Spark, and Kickstarter. One of the best success stories of crowdfunding was raised through Kickstarter for the recently-released Amazon series entitled Legend of Vox Machina (2022). It was dubbed as the most funded Kickstarter animation project raising over 11 million dollars from 88,887 backers who believed in the idea of the filmmakers.

Grants & Fellowships

Grants and fellowships are another go-to financing resource for independent filmmakers. These grants are funding provided by non-profit organizations, competitions, festivals, and the government. Although, it’s worth noting that applying for these grants and fellowships entails going through a rigorous selection process. Oftentimes, these are highly specialized and require that you fall under a certain category such as women filmmakers, emerging diverse filmmakers, documentary narratives, or a project that is based in a specific location.

Private Investors

Private investors are common resources for getting funds for a film. These investors could range from businesses, film enthusiasts, philanthropists, entrepreneurs, or wealthy people. While getting funding from private investors could greatly help, it’s not always enough to fully fund a high-budget film.

Pre-sales

Another viable route is doing pre-sales. It is the process of selling the distribution rights of intellectual properties to various territories for a specific period of time before the film is even completed. Local and international distributors will make a commitment or provide cash advances based on the agreement made. These commitments are used as proof to get loan approval from the bank and show the ability of the filmmakers to pay it back. Having multiple distributors attached to your project from the initial stages is important for other investors because it already shows that the project could be sold and made available in as many locations as possible.

Advertising

When you see different brands highlighted in films, you can bet that it is an indication of product placement. This is also a widely used method of acquiring money or sponsorships from small and big brands because it serves as a way to promote their services or products. There are some prop houses in Los Angeles that provide free product placements from known brands in the food, automotive, and fashion industries as long as you represent their brands in a positive light.

Local Incentives

If you’re filming in the US or Canada, you have the option to get some tax incentives, deductions, rebates, or grants 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 benefit is that filmmakers do not have to pay the money back, but it will only become available when the film production has been completed.

Making films is not at all an easy endeavor that some people might believe so. There are a lot of factors that go into the process and the bulk of it begins with securing financing. While it’s an overwhelming undertaking, emerging filmmakers should know that there are numerous available resources that are designed to help bring their film projects to life. It’s also worth remembering that focusing on getting the essence of the story and its characters right must be the number one priority of filmmakers because when those elements are in place, the right investors will effortlessly come and make the work easier for you.

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