You’ve got a killer idea for a movie or you have the script to hand, but how do you make this a reality without a secret stash of cash? It can be difficult for student filmmakers without the industry contacts to find funding for their first projects. How films are financed varies greatly depending on the niche, demographic and initial ideas for the film. With this in mind, we are offering some insight on how to fund your film from a variety of different sources, to turn your concept into a reality.
- Government Funding
When asking how films are financed, the first point of contact is to look to your government for currently available programs, grants and incentives. Although these are highly competitive, with a thorough business plan and an excellent idea you can apply to Europe’s MEDIA programmes in line with their regulations and policies. In British filmmaking there are also specific UK government funds that you can apply for which encourage British filmmaking each year, that are provided by the BFI.
Crowdfunding is growing in popularity with films being entirely crowdfunded if their subjects are popular or they can be used to show viability and be picked up by studios (or other financers) who want to see the project go ahead. It works by offering people to donate smaller, manageable amounts into your project and in return you have different tiers of reward system for incentive.
One of the best examples of successful crowdfunding is the Veronica Mars movie that came after the cancellation of the TV show, rose in popularity and ended up being completely funded (all $5.7million) by fans. Now, even bigger studios are using partial crowdfunding to help get interest and numbers up, the downside is there is a lot of competition so you need to stand out.
- Soundtrack Financing
Focus on the music by using well-known artists and fantastic original soundtracks to promote the movie, raise its profile and secure funding that way. Music artists have their own labels and followers which will jump on the bandwagon to see their favourites perform (particularly if they have a cameo as well.) The downside is that it can steer the project in different directions than you may had envisaged and your fans will be music, rather than film orientated, meaning you’ll need to appease them as well.
Although filmmakers try to avoid this financing option because it usually means working with a lower budget, or getting themselves in debt, self-financing is still viable and leads to many personal or powerful films that make an impact. The downside with self-funded projects is you don’t have the quality control of other parties involved to tell you whether the script is good enough or not because there is no developmental stage and this can be riskier.
It’s important to remember that regardless of the type of funding you choose, you need to be clear and confident in your project, message and business plan. How do you expect anyone to finance or back your film if you’re uncertain about what you are doing? So make sure you’re first convinced yourself that it’s worth it.