How to finance your documentary |

How to finance your documentary

If your dream is make your own documentary, you’re probably wondering how you are going to finance this venture. You may not even know where this process would begin or where you can unearth some investors who will help you to pay for all of the details that you’ll encounter when you are trying to make your film. Well, fret not – there is money everywhere and you just need to know how to find it to get it into your project and move forward. Not everyone is an expert fundraiser and some people do it full time for a living. Don’t worry – you don’t need to give up your movie career to become one. But you do need to know a thing or two if you want to pursue this career long term because no one makes a movie without financing.

One of the first tools that you’ll need in your bag of tricks is attitude. That’s right. Like everything else, it all starts with how you present your project. You’ll need to really believe in what you’re doing and feel that it is a worthwhile venture for those who will be viewing it. Perhaps, it will have a far reaching impact on people and help to improve lives. Even if it won’t, you will have to clearly feel that your project deserves to be made and that you are worthy of receiving the money required to do that. If you have a psychological block about taking people’s money you’re going to need to find a way to get over that.

Now create your pitch. Start with something of a mission statement, outlining what your project means and the kind of impact you expect it to have. This has to have a broader appeal than living out your artistic dream so make sure you think about what you’re producing, who your audience might be and what they will get from viewing it. You can also create a personal mission statement to help you get clear on what your goals are and put you in the right frame of mind. Yes, we’re back to that. If your “mission” is not super solid in your mind, you’ll struggle to sell it.

Networking is one of the most important pieces of fundraising. Everyone within your inner circle may not have the money available to help you but they may know someone that knows someone and ….well, you know how it goes. It is rare that you’ll actually meet anyone that can hand you a single cheque to cover everything so you’ll need to collect much smaller donations toward the total requirement. When you are seeking those contributions, make sure that you solicit the help of your own network to help you to hear of potential opportunities. Put together a team of people willing to support you and meet regularly to discuss the progress.

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To assist in the process, you’ll need to put together some supporting pieces for your pitch. A presentation with a storyboard will be helpful as well as a trailer if it’s possible to gather some kind of footage to show an example of your work. Try to make it as compelling as possible so that funders not only want to help you but actually want to see the project come to fruition.
Start to build a marketing buzz with as little investment as possible. Start with some online resources such as creating a Facebook page and a website. You can also get your project out on some of the crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter or Indiegogo. These sites have proved to be immensely successful for all sizes of ventures. Check them out and create a marketing plan and then engage. Social media and the internet do not just run themselves so you’ll have to post, share, tweet and invite before you gather up enough attention to make a difference.

Look into the potential grants that exist for the arts – there are plenty! Some are run by organizations focused on furthering creative projects, some are run by every level of government and then there are foundations and educational institutions that also assist in funding artistic endeavours. Google around and make some calls and you’ll find out what needs to be done to apply to these.

Stay strong and be resilient – you’ll get far more no’s than you get yes’s so be prepared to take it on the chin and keep shooting for the stars!

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