You’ve come up with the idea for your award-winning video, and you’re ready to shoot your film when you realize … this might cost some money.  You, like ourselves, will likely skip this step on most of you first films.  You’re motivated to make these films and you work extra jobs to get money for cameras, editing stations and a killer web site.  But there comes a day, when you need to make this hobby start paying for itself. 

Finding money to make films can easily be a full time job.  The sooner you start learning how to ask for and raise money, the better.  Not only will your friends and family appreciate not having to worry about your financial well-fell, but you’ll be able to make better films as money really helps in a production.

With that said, you can make great films with a limited budget, something we hope to express through this web-site.

When looking for funds to produce your video I recommend looking your end goals first.  Ask yourself the following questions.

  1. Who is the end audience of my film?
  2. Where will this film be shown?
  3. Is my film going to benefit anyone or any group in particular?
  4. Are there any groups I know that give money to projects like this?

Your options then become:

  1. Private individuals
  2. Private company
  3. Grants (Government or Nonprofit)
  4. Your own money

I hope you can see the practicality of these questions.  They should open your eyes to potential sponsors if your business mind is exercising its muscles.  If not, let me explain with an example of one of my first trips. 

In the Spring of 2004 I came up with the idea to cycle from Seattle to Anchorage Alaska, a trip of around 2,000 miles.  The goal was to document diversity along this wild stretch of land while raising money for a non-profit called seacology.  Here are the answers to my questions

  1. Audience: The audience of the film are middle-aged outdoorsy, tech types that like to live vicariously though our adventure.
  2. Delivery Method: The film would be shown as a series of web-casts (this was before podcasting, or I’d have been broadcasting through this vehicle).
  3. Beneficiaries: The film would clearly help a few groups.  A) Seacology, whom I was riding for b) the businesses whose bikes and trailers I road with along the way c) Alaskan and Canadian tourism agencies.
  4. Funding Agencies? My university arts and sciences granting agency.

I started by contacting friends and family to donate to the project.  I then contacted the companies who had the equipment I was going to be using.  I applied for the grant from the university.  Everyone was extremely interested.  Unfortunately for me, I started raising money 2 weeks before I left.  Short story was I used my credit card to get me to Alaska, which brings me to my first major suggestion: 

Raise money early

My second major suggestion is to forget your fear of being rejected and ASK. 

It never hurts to ask.

My last suggestion is to start to learn how to socialize.  If you don’t already have this skill, you’ll have to learn it.  I can’t tell you how many contacts you can get from chatting with someone at a party.  Often they have connections with people who can get you money.  Suggestion 3:

Learn to socialize.

Finally, many filmmakers will tell you to never spend your own money on a film.  Its probably a wise choice, but if you’re passionate about it, I encourage you to do it on your own. Eventually, your stellar work will be in great demand. Besides, filmmaking today can be fairly inexpensive.  Its just our time that limits us.  My last advice if all else fails.

Find a sugar daddy (or sugar mama)!


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