Written by Victor van der Merwe
The one thing all filmmakers have in common is the problem of finding money for a project. Steven Spielberg has that problem, David Lynch has that problem and yes, first time filmmakers have that problem. The reason is because, unlike other art forms, this is a very expensive medium to work in. Of course, Spielberg and Lynch can point out projects that prove they can get the money back to investors. Sadly, your profit margins might not yet compare to theirs. This does not mean that you cannot raise the funds needed to make your masterpiece though. Here are five ways new filmmakers can get funding for their projects.
If you think you have the chops to complete a short film, then you can look into competitions for funding. Crazy 8s has been a part of the aspiring Vancouver filmmaker world for twenty years, funding six chosen films to produce their story in eight crazy production days. Storyhive is a new competition for up and coming filmmakers in a wide variety of formats. You can win distribution and production grants that can help make your dream project a reality. To be a good filmmaker you also need to learn to work under the gun, so the Run N Gun film competition in Vancouver can be just the place for you to see what you are made of with just two days of filming.
2. Government Grants
Do you like paperwork? Well, you better learn to because if you can fill out the forms required, there is money waiting for you in places like Creative BC, Canada Council of the Arts and of course, Telefilm. These programs are set up to help aspiring Canadian filmmakers get their projects off the ground. You can potentially get all your funding, or at least part of it, through these programs. There might be deadlines for some of these grants, so make sure to get your application in on time. The National Film Board has also been responsible for many a great Canadian film and you will be part of a great tradition if your project can find a home there.
3. Corporate Funding
Media companies like Shaw, Bell, Rogers and Telus will fund or partly fund a project. These will only choose films that they want associated with their brand. Shaw’s Rocket Fun will help you develop your project if it is children programing that you want to bring to the world. Bell’s The Harold Greenberg Fund has given grants to Canadian film since 1986 and the Rogers Group Funds can help you with financing depending on if your project fits their guidelines. The Telus Fund, will help you develop or produce content that helps promote health issues and wellness.
Yes, this is the new kid on the block as far as getting money for your project goes. There are sites set up just for you to collect money for your project Kickstarter and Indiegogo are two of the best known ones, but there are plenty more including Rockethub and FundRazr. What this means is you have to convince friends and family and strangers that your project is worth investing in. This is a good skill to learn for any filmmaker so the earlier you start the better. Recently, InFocus Film School student Nataly Pag crowdfunded some extra financing for her short-film ‘Violet Prevails,’ earning herself an extra $2,000 of cash-flow!
5. Self Funding
We all know how Robert Rodriguez funded his first film, El Mariachi, with money he made by participating in medical tests, or Kevin Smith, who maxed out all of his credit cards and sold his comic book collection to make his first movie, Clerks. These pioneers of independent film did this at a time before YouTube, affordable digital cameras and Final Cut Pro. If you believe strongly enough in your vision and you want to get on screen no matter what, you can always just go out and start shooting on weekends and days off with your friends and see what it looks like when you have it all cut together. If it was good enough for David Lynch, self funding is good enough for you.
Finding funding for your project is as important a skill to learn as knowing where to set up a camera. If you believe strongly enough in your project, then you will make it happen no matter what and with technology becoming more accessible it is easier now than ever before to share your vision with the world. Look into some of these ways to get funding and then go out and be creative.
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