So you’ve got a solid script and an idea of how you want to shoot your film, but you still need to finance it. You’re in luck! It’s time for you to gain valuable information about how to fund your first (or next) film and get your work out there for the world to see. It won’t be an easy ride unless you have lots of wealthy friends and/or you hit the jackpot with your script. There are several options for financing a film as described below.
With your own money. Very few people can self-finance their first feature film. Professionals will usually tell you not to invest your own money
– but many filmmakers will end up self-financing their first feature film.
Through a loan. There are very few (if any) loans available specifically for a film, but you always have the option of getting a private loan. Typically these are rather small, so if you’re shooting a low budget film then this may be your best method. You can get a private loan at a bank or credit union and the interest rates are lower than most other banks – but it’s a long shot as you may need to have some collateral and/or an extremely good credit rating.
Selling or optioning your script. By selling your script, you’ll receive some cash (don’t expect to become rich; if you’re a WGA member you’ll get the published rates: www.wga.org). When selling your script, you completely hand your film over to a producer. If you option your script, you may get some money up front (can be very nominal), giving the producer x number of months to fund the production of the project. In general, you, as the scriptwriter, you’d get paid your negotiated fee at the start of principal photography.
Distribution advances. In some circumstances a distribution company will give you money up front for the rights to distribute your film in one or more sales territories upon its completion. Distribution advances have become very rare unless you have A List talent attached to your script.
Private equity investors. A fairly good option – and feasible for most first feature films – is to seek out private investors with the intent of giving them backend points and other perks. If this is a low budget film (generally anything under $1 million), then it’s best to find several investors who invest a small amount each (to spread the financial risk). It’s assumed that your primary goal isn’t to make a fortune with your first feature film, but merely to give your investors their money back (with luck you may even be able to give them a small interest premium).
Crowdfunding. If all else fails, try setting up a fundraiser on a popular site like www.IndieGoGo.com or www.kickstarter.com and offer perks to anyone that donates. Be sure to include a catchy video, a detailed outline of the project, its status, the passion behind the project, and why it’s important to you and everyone involved. You’ll need to have a solid social media following you and your project to attract Internet investors.
- Don’t just sell the script – sell yourself. Show people how passionate you are about the project and how much you believe in it. No one wants to fund a boring project, right?
- If your budget is set at $10,000, but you only manage to come up with $5,000 then rewrite the script to match your funding – but do not compromise on the quality of your film. It might be the only calling card you’ll need to pitch your next project(s). Remember our advice from the blogging series on indie filmmaking in Blog #1 – There are lots of filmmakers out there making feature films at $10,000. To differentiate yourself from the crowd, make sure your script is the most original and visionary you can make it.
- Attaching name actors or actresses to your script can be vital to finding funds for your feature film. Then, again, the odds are against you unless you already have a high quality calling card that demonstrates your talent as a filmmaker.
- Network with other filmmakers. Social media is a very powerful platform and you can find many people with the same goals and passions. Share, give-back, and leverage each other’s knowledge and expertise!
- Shoot a concept trailer. Treat the trailer as you would a short film; don’t skimp on development, pre-production, and post-production. This trailer will most likely become your calling card to pitch to talent agencies, distribution companies, investors, etc. Show others what your film can be and the talent you and your core team bring to the project.
Three Horizons Productions is a team of independent filmmakers who want to develop, acquire, and produce multi-media projects that showcase inspirational themes, compelling stories, and provocative characters to entertain or educate international audiences. Three Horizons Productions, located in Arizona, has a global outreach.