Money Makes Your Film Go Round

Money Makes Your Film Go Round

Warning: This is only my opinion….I am NOT a fundraising expert….just a grantwriter who has finally figured out a way to get $$ for her film

I will dedicate this blog to fundraising. I don’t want to bore you and I don’t want to scare you. But let’s be honest. This is probably one of the most difficult tasks that any filmmaker will face. I think it comes down to trust. How do you convince a funder to give you money….especially when they are being approached by hundreds of filmmakers asking them for money. Funders will only give to filmmakers who they think will actually make a film at the end of the day–and not drag out the process for years. As a result, we have found out that it is easier to raise funds a) after you’ve done another project and b) after one other funder has given you funds for your project. The problem is how do you get that first funder? This is something we’ve had to figure out over the last four years.

It was only after becoming WGBH Filmmakers in Residence that we finally discovered all of the film funds out there—from ITVS, the Gucci/Tribeca Fund, and the LEF Foundation. We also realized we needed to have a strong work-in-progress to show funders.

Much of my time here at WGBH is figuring out how to raise the money as we approach the various phases–from post to marketing and distribution. I spend a great deal of time networking with funders. I want them to know about my project in advance of me submitting an application. I want them to be just as excited about our film as we are. This is all something I’ve had to learn the hard way. It’s not just about following the grant requirements online but also writing something compelling that will make a funder want to scream “YES–I WILL FUND YOU”. It’s about having a really strong fundraising trailer to submit that the funder can say–yes I see where this story is going and I want to know what will happen next.

We have a few pending grant applications out there now and who knows what will happen. But both Aron and I have spent a great deal of time working on each application because we want to make sure whatever a funder sees, it is something we are very proud of.

There is one foundation that I want to point out –if you are in CA or New England. It’s the LEF Foundation. LEF is supporting us as WGBH Filmmakers in Residence. They are very supportive of filmmakers. Kathryn, the program coordinator there, has spent the past few years working with us on our applications and has seen our film evolve–and us mature as filmmakers. Foundations, like LEF, want filmmakers to submit the strongest material and the only way to do that is to talk with them and see what they are looking for. Now, not all foundations are like this, but I think that is what makes LEF special and also a safe place for filmmakers looking for ways to get a strong proposal out there.

We also learned that we have to work early on the grant application so that our film advisers have time to review them. They have been CRUCIAL in the grantwriting process because they have done this before and have been so successful. Our film advisers have given us tremendous feedback that have made our proposals much stronger. I think it is important to share your proposals with people you trust and get their advice before you submit. It will make the difference between getting funds and getting rejected.

To all my fellow grantwriters out there–GOOD LUCK! Remember, it’s all worth it, once you get that YES!!


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