Funding Workshop Slides from Big Sky Film Festival Doc Shop


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Slide presentation to accompany a talk given at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival's Doc Shop in February 2012.

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Funding Workshop Slides from Big Sky Film Festival Doc Shop

  1. 1. Documentary Funding Big Sky Film Festival Reva @RevaGoldberg
  2. 2. My Goal:To empower you with the truth……so you can hope for the best AND plan for the worst.
  3. 3. Ugly Truth #1• Inexperienced filmmakers can expect low funder confidence in early project stages.• Prepare to go it alone through development and production.• As you near completion, the field evens out.
  4. 4. Filmmaker Experience & Funder ConfidenceProject Phases Development Established Early Production Emerging Late Production Unknown Early Post Late Post Distribution/Outreach 0 20 40 60 80 Funder Confidence
  5. 5. Ugly Truth #2Grants for film are not:• Statistically likely• Large (in many cases)Grant seeking is:• Mastered through practice• Competitive• Slow• Only one piece of the fundraising „pie‟
  6. 6. Ugly Truth #3Most people making independent docs don‟t fully support themselves that way unless they:• Are independently wealthy.• Have a track record, relationships with specific funders and broadcasters.• Hustle like CRAZY
  7. 7. Essential Existential Questions• Is this film the one?• Unique (access)? Compelling?• Right time for it and for me?• True passion?• Am I the one to tell it? Why?• Commitment to film life cycle?• Willing to ask and keep asking?• Willing to make personal sacrifices?
  8. 8. And…..GO!
  9. 9. Preparing to Fundraise• How much do I need, when?• Am I ready for grants, donations?• What kind of funds should I seek?
  10. 10. How Much $?Scope, Scale, Timeline• Is the story contained or open-ended?• Near me?• Can I do it myself?• Happening now?• Sprint vs. marathon?• Licensing? Footage? Music?• Legal concerns?• Feature or Short?
  11. 11. How Much $ ?(contin.)Existing Resources• Savings?• Time?• Equipment (especially camera, sound and edit gear)?• Skills (especially shoot and edit)?• Social capital?
  12. 12. How Much $ (contin.)Budgeting• Two scenarios – Best case: everyone gets paid; all is paid for. – Worst case: no one gets paid; only hard costs.• Change as needed, keep track of versions.• Article, sample budget: Robert Bahar. – pdf –• Add „actuals‟ and „income/deficit‟ column to track progress.
  13. 13. Preparing for $Fiscal Sponsors• Nonprofit surrogate• Donors write checks, or give via C.C.• Donors get proof of tax-deductible gift• Foundations can go through FS• 5% - 8% fee; check request turnaround; reporting requirements• Choosing a fiscal sponsor
  14. 14. Preparing to Receive $ (contin.)List Management• Email addresses of donors and targets• List of target foundations, grants, deadlines (sort by deadline date!), programs, forums.• List of broadcasters, contacts, etc.• Timeline for who to reach out to, and when.
  15. 15. Preparing to Receive $ (contin.)Web presence• Basic site (or area of existing site) w/ room to grow • Image • Blog • Store • Trailer • Community page • Laurels & funder logos • List sign-up • Social networks • Press kit • Short film e.g. : • Feature e.g. :
  16. 16. Preparing to Receive $ (contin.)Social Networks• Do NOT replace email or direct asks• Where does your audience hang out? Might be elsewhere?• Take time to grow; not direct funding source• Grow from authentic fan interest, useful content, not self-promotion• Examples:Facebook: A-Story-of-the-Earth-Liberation-Front/186553578028577Twitter: @gaslandmovie
  17. 17. Preparing to Receive $ (contin.)IRS:• Grants and donations are income!• Need accountant who knows film industry• Good bookkeeping, save receipts• Deductions for expenses• Establish DBA (at the least)• Business checking account • All project related expenses and income • Only pay income tax above $400• Certificate of Authority, avoid sales tax• Caution:
  18. 18. Preparing to Receive $ (contin.)Online tools for CC• Fastest, easiest way to collect• Can go through: • Fiscal sponsor‟s web site • Crowdsourcing site (Kickstarter, Indiegogo). • Other collection tools. • Your own web site.
  19. 19. Preparing to Receive $ (contin.)Relationships get complicated the second any $ comes in.Crew Agreements:• Who “owns” my film? Who decides what to pay when?• Deferred payment plans?• Clear expectations. Credits, contribution, etc.• Agreements in writing!Subjects• What if subjects want to help raise $$$? • NO!!!!!! – Expectations, roles, power – Integrity – Promotion vs. storytelling
  20. 20. Types of $ (or value) in order of likelihoodSELF!TeamFriends & FamilyGrantsBroadcastersInvestors (equity)
  21. 21. Self & TeamSelf• Time/energy/Determination/Continuity• Skills/Experience• Equipment, software• Contagious passion• Network• EnduranceTeam• Skills/Experience• Equipment, software• Networks• Endurance
  22. 22. Friends & Family• Most likely, early source.• Non-industry folks are less jaded.• Make explicit, multiple, direct asks (VERY HARD!)• Create sense of community, ownership, novelty.• Update, don‟t overload.• Approaches: - Large amounts from small number - Small amounts from large number - Both together
  23. 23. Friends & Family (contin)Crowdfunding• Indiegogo, Kickstarter• Tools not miracles• Does not replace email• Requires strategy, endurance• Compelling reason, evangelism• Impending, clear deadlines• Study successful campaigns• Strategize to reach beyondexisting network.
  24. 24. GrantsTypes• Private foundations• Larger organizations• City, state, federal resourcesRange• Size• Specificity of focus• CompetitivenessAppropriate targets• Research• List by deadline• Non-Film grants, too!
  25. 25. GrantsSpecific Guidelines, priorities• Figure out what your film is first!• The more naturally aligned a fund is, the more likely you‟ll get it.Content Guidelines: • Topics, issue areas • Filmmaking styles (advocacy, artistic, both). • Type: fiction, nonfiction, hybrid, experimental, interactive • Length • Hint: look at RECENT previously supported films and talk to filmmakers
  26. 26. GrantsOther Guidelines • Phase of project: r&d, production, post, outreach, exhib., distrib. • Filmmaker Experience: emerging, established • Demographics/Geography • Budget size, percent raised • Intended Audience: broadcast, theatrical, educational, issue oriented outreach • Timeline of grant vs. your timeline of need
  27. 27. Grant MaterialsWritten content – Log line – Synopses of different lengths – Dir. Statement – Script/treatment – Team bios – Social context – Audience/Distribution/Outreach plansMaterials – Budget (income and expense) – Secured and Potential Funding Sources – Still imagery (evocative, representative, high quality) – Sample footage (trailer, scenes, rough cut, previous work). Only submit material that reflects very well on the filmmaker and project.
  28. 28. BroadcastersEnter at late stages (usually)Co-Productions, Pre-Sales (intl.), Acquisitions US Broadcasters/Cablers • HBO, POV, Independent Lens, A&E, OWN, Showtime, The Documentary Channel… • Commissioned works for other networks (in house) International Broadcasters • Europe, Asia, Beyond…Reaching them• Quality work comes first; be ready!• Authentic relationships developed over time• Film Fests, markets, pitching forums
  29. 29. Investors (Equity)• Lawyer needed!• Business Plan• Hard to mix equity w/grants & donationsReaching them• Existing, authentic relationships• Film Fests, Markets and pitching forums• Don‟t call us, we‟ll call you.
  30. 30. Grant-Hunting Tips• Spreadsheet, sorted by date• Don‟t forget non-film grants!• Check funder web sites regularly. Deadlines change, programs change. Beware of dead links, old applications, or info about a funder on another site (don‟t update frequently enough).• Use other funders‟ sites as a resource – Join mailing lists (they know e/o and announce deadlines for e/o) – See resource pages, but always check actual site to apply• Communities, email lists that notify of deadlines: – IFP, DCTV, D-Word, Shooting People
  31. 31. Proposal/Pitch Writing Tips• Read & Research – Guidelines, Priorities, FAQs, Instructions – Deadlines – (you will wait until the last minute, but PLEASE DON‟T)! – Don‟t call with questions without doing your research first. – Look at other films. Talk to supported filmmakers. – Be aware of similar films in production or release and address differences.• Grab me – Person and situation – NOT ISSUE – first. – Sample work is critical. Must reflect project/filmmakers well. Must be properly contextualized. – Visual language – Striking images – What is unique about how I will tell this story? How it looks? Sounds? – Clear, concise writing demonstrates good storytelling, professionalism, clarity – Passion, purpose, inevitability.• Authenticity – Do not try to impress with flowery or indirect language – Don‟t squeeze into guidelines.
  32. 32. Important Names in Doc GrantingGrantmakers• Sundance Doc Fund• ITVS• Cinereach• NEH, NEA• Creative Capital• Ford Foundation, JustFilms Initiative• Tribeca Film Institute• Fledgling Fund• Chicken & Egg (women)• Jerome Foundation• Women in Film Finishing Fund
  33. 33. Big Names in Doc Granting (contin.)• POV (Diverse Voices Project)• State and local arts councils (e.g. NYSCA, Brooklyn Arts Council, etc.)• Catapult (development)• Channel 4 Brit Doc• San Francisco Film Society• International Documentary Association• National Black Programming ConsortiumOther Ideas• The Good Pitch (traveling)• Independent Filmmaker Project• Film Independent
  34. 34. Some Further ReadingReva‟s IFP articles on doc fundraising (more coming): Robinson: Financial health: crisis.php Holtzberg nts/pages/currentstate.pdfPaul Devlin playing-pre-sale-co-production-game
  35. 35. Ask me about• Fundraising parties• Approaching funders effectively in social settings• How much to “spin” a grant app to fit afunder‟s tastes?