FUNDING FOR FILM PRODUCTIONS
The Funds for NGOs team have decades of experience of supporting organisation and individuals to raise funds for all kinds of projects from orphanages in Kenya through to arts projects in New York. We have compiled our years of experience to produce a guide for film makers, both aspiring and established, that will help them to access information, resources and funding that will enable them to create the film they have always dreamed of making.
We have broken the guide into four sections: 1) Traditional Funders 2) Scholarships 3) New Opportunities 4) New challenges. The guide will cover all areas of modern funding sources as well as information and advice on how to succeed in an increasingly competitive environment.
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences / Film Festival Grants
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Film Festival has awarded more than $3 million to film festivals since 1999. Grants totaling $450,000 were granted to 24 U.S. film festivals in 2009. While the grants are awarded for a variety of programs, film festivals are encouraged to submit proposals that make festival events more accessible to the general public, provide greater access to minority and less visible filmmakers, and help strengthen the connection between the filmmaker and the public.
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences / Institutional Grants Program
The Institutional Grants Program assists in fostering educational activities between the public and the film industry while encouraging the appreciation of motion pictures as both an art form and a vocation. In 2008 the program distributed $500,000 to 58 institutions.
Creative Capital Foundation
Creative Capital is a new, national organization supporting visual artists who are pursuing innovative approaches to form and/or content in the visual, performing, and media arts. Creative Capital will work closely with its funded artists to provide audience development, marketing and other forms of assistance tailored to individual projects. Artists will, in return, share a portion of their proceeds with Creative Capital, enabling the fund to support more artists in the future. Creative Capital funds artist projects in four disciplines: visual arts (includes installation art, painting, fiber art, mixed media works, public art, etc.), film/video arts, performing arts (includes music, dance, theater, puppetry, performance art, etc.), and emerging art fields (includes all forms of digital work, and experimental literature). Projects that transcend traditional discipline boundaries are highly encouraged. Creative Capital operates on a two-year grant cycle, funding alternative disciplines each year. The first year of each cycle, the Foundation issue grants in visual and film/video arts; the second year, performing and emerging arts.
Dean Film and Video Grants (Roy W.)
The Roy W. Dean Grants support film and video projects that are unique and benefit society. The grants primarily provide goods and services donated by companies in the film and video industry. These grants are available for shorts and low budget independents as well as documentary filmmakers.
Echo Lake Productions: Production Company and Film Fund for Independents
Founded in 1997, Echo Lake Productions develops, produces and finances commercially viable film and television projects with strong thematic content. The company also provides gap and equity investments through its own dedicated source of financing.
Financial Aid, Scholarships, Fellowships and Postdoctoral Awards in Media Communications
Covers financial support for Media professional for grants in Advertising, Communications, Film-making, Journalism, Marketing, Motion Pictures, Print, Radio, Television, Writing. A compilation of resources by Francisco Alberto Tomei Torres, Ph.D. Covers Advertising, Communications, Film-making, Journalism, Marketing, Motion Pictures, Print, Radio, Television, Writing.
Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund
Administered by the Tribeca Film Institute with funding from Gucci, the Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund provides finishing funds to feature-length documentaries that highlight and humanize issues of social importance from around the world. The fund is seeking feature-length documentaries in production or post-production with the intended premiere exhibition in late 2011 or 2012. Films should be commercially viable and resonate with a mainstream U.S. audience.
The fund seeks to support films that highlight and humanize issues of social importance from around the world through complete, thoughtful, and dynamic storytelling; films that focus on issues that may not be extensively covered by the mainstream media or well understood by the general public; and films that focus on people who are ignored, ostracized, or otherwise marginalized or people fighting for political or social justice. The fund does not support Short films or student projects; films that choose advocacy over story and craft; or films completed before January 1, 2011. Grant amounts range from $10,000 to $25,000.
Independent Television Service (ITVS)
Each year ITVS funds, distributes and promotes new programs produced by independent producers primarily for public television and beyond. ITVS is looking for proposals which increase diversity on public television and present a range of subjects, viewpoints and forms that complement and challenge existing public television offerings. All production funding requests must be submitted in accordance with ITVS guidelines.
Latino Public Broadcasting / Funding for Independent Producers
An open invitation to independent producers to submit proposals for a public television program or series on any subject that relates to or is representative of Latino Americans. LPB funding will average between $5,000 and $100,000 for programs of most genres, including drama, comedy, animation, documentary, or mixed genre. LPB will consider funding projects at any production stage. LPB Funding for each stage ranges as follows:
(1)Research and Development $5,000 – $20,000; (2) Production $25,000 – $100,000; (3) Post-Production $25,000 – $100,000; (4) Outreach $10,000-$25,000.
NYFA Source : A Directory for Artists
A database of some 6,000 grant,award, publication, and other opportunities for artists in all disciplines nationwide. These listings are supplemented by weekly jobs and opportunity listings that are part of NYFA Current. New postings appear every Sunday. NYFA’s grants and other programs for New York State residents are also described on the site.
Sundance Documentary Fund
A program of the Sundance Institute, the Sundance Documentary Fund awards a total of between $1 and $2 million a year in support of U.S. and international contemporary independent documentary film. In funding such work, the fund seeks to encourage the diverse exchange of ideas that is crucial to fostering an open society and public dialogue about contemporary issues. The documentary fund provides grants to filmmakers worldwide for projects that display artful and innovative storytelling, global relevance, engagement with contemporary social issues, and the potential for social engagement.
The fund accepts submissions twice a year for development grants of up to $20,000, production/post-production grants of up to $50,000, and audience engagement grants of up to $20,000. Audience engagement grants are only available to current Sundance grantees for the support of strategic audience and community engagement campaigns. The fund provides grants to about forty-five to fifty-five projects a year. For more information click here.
Women in Film Foundation
WIF’s purpose is to empower, promote, nurture, and mentor women in the industry through a network of valuable contacts, events, and programs including the Women In Film Mentor Program, the award-winning Public Service Announcement Production Program, and the Internship Program in association with the Fulfillment Fund. Additionally, we provide film finishing funds, scholarships, grants, advocacy, community outreach programs, monthly networking breakfasts, seminars, workshops, and a screening series with filmmakers.
Fellowships: Databazaar Scholarship Fund
A funding opportunity for undergraduate students in the fields of visual communication, broadcast journalism, filmmaking and photography. 2 annual grants of $2,500 each are available to support excellence in the visual fields and promote understanding between the USA and South Asia.
International Documentary Association / Fiscal Sponsorship Program
Fiscal sponsorship is a legal and financial arrangement which allows a 501(c )(3) tax-exempt nonprofit corporation, such as the International Documentary Association (IDA) to provide it’s nonprofit status and limited financial oversight to a project by an individual or organization that does not have nonprofit status. IDA can provide this service to a variety of projects if they meet the fiscal sponsorship admissions criteria and their project is in line with our mission statement. For more information click here.
Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA) / Media Scholarship
Offering one $1000 scholarship for currently enrolled graduate and undergraduate students interested in pursuing careers as filmmakers and in television production (not broadcast journalism). Formed in 1992, MANAA is the only organization solely dedicated to monitoring the media and advocating balanced, sensitive, and positive depiction and coverage of the Asian American community.
Worldstudio Foundation Scholarships
Worldstudio Foundation scholarships allow young people from minority and economically disadvantaged backgrounds not only to realize their artistic dreams, but also to give back to their communities. Areas of study include: architecture, cartooning, crafts, environmental graphics, fashion design, film/theater design (costume, set, lighting), film/video, fine arts, furniture design, graphic design, illustration, industrial/product design, interior design, landscape architecture, new media, photography, surface/Textile design, and urban planning. Also listed under Grants for Individuals — Arts, Film, Landscape Architecture, Photography, Minorities.
Online Funding Resources
Artist Services / Sundance Film Institute
Supports U.S. and international documentary films and videos focused on current and significant issues and movements in contemporary human rights,freedom of expression, social justice, and civil liberties.
Film Financing | The Independent
Articles with guidance on financing and fundraising for independent filmmakers, including funder FAQs and links to state-by-state resources.
There are a number of wonderfully written books on the subject of fundraising for film and media projects. Buy them online or request that your local library can stock them.
Crowdfunding for filmmakers: the way to a successful film campaign.
Crowdfunding for Filmmakers offers practical information, tips, and tactics for launching a successful film campaign by detailing traditional models of fundraising, utilizing today’s technological and social innovations, and augmenting each step with an added personal touch. The book examines various ways to meet and exceed one s crowdfunding goal through chapters on team building, audience outreach, and crowdfunder etiquette, along with a section containing case studies from successful film campaigns. You can purchase the book from Amazon.
The Filmmaker’s Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide for the Digital Age: 2013 Edition. The authoritative guide to producing, directing, shooting, editing, and distributing your video or film
Widely acknowledged as the “bible” of video and film production, and used in courses around the world, The Filmmaker’s Handbook is now updated with the latest advances in HD and new digital formats. For students and teachers, professionals and novices, this indispensable handbook covers all aspects of movie making. The book includes techniques for making dramatic features, documentaries, corporate, broadcast, and experimental videos and films; Shooting with DSLRs, video, film, and digital cinema cameras; Digital editing with the latest video editing systems; In-depth coverage of lenses, lighting, sound recording, and mixing; The business aspects of funding and producing your project; Getting your movie shown in theaters, on TV, and on the Web. You can purchase the book from Amazon.
The Art of Film Funding: Alternative Financing Concepts
This book is your reference guide for creating the perfect pitch, inspiring your winning application, finding and connecting with funding organizations, making a successful “ask,” and landing the money to make your film.
Written by Carole Dean, a woman who took a $20 bill and turned it into a $50 million a year industry when she created the “short end” film industry in Hollywood which she ran for 33 years. Carole produced over 100 television programs, including the popular cable programs, HealthStyles and Filmmakers. You can’t get more insider info and practical advice on how to fund your film project than this book, You can purchase the book from Amazonhere.
Technology has made film making more accessible than ever before. Today, even in developing countries you can purchase an inexpensive digital video recorder relatively cheaply. Attach your camera to a computer and using software that ranges from free to prohibitively expensive you can create your own edited films faster than ever before. These changes have put film making into the hands of community groups and >grassrootsorganisation’s for the first time and heralds a new paradigm in movie making from documentaries to TV.
The internet has simultaneously opened up new funding, distribution and promotional opportunities for film makers without access to massive advertising budgets. Previously, funding for films came from a very narrow group of investors and organisation’s with fierce competitition for financial support.
In 2013, we are we in the midst of a grassroots led funding revolution across all arts funding with sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo providing opportunities for film makers to work directly with their audience to raise funds. Essentially, these tools have helped to shift funding opportunities from the realm of a few to the crowd of potentially millions of people. Access to these new forms of funding have created a revival in independent film making with seasoned professionals through to real amateurs having the chance to have their dream become a reality.
Just take a look at some of the films that have been funded purely through contributions on Kickstarter.
One of the biggest problems that many aspiring film makers would face after completing their film’s are the challenges that come with trying to secure distribution agreements. You can make the best film ever made but nobody will know unless you can secure distribution for your film to be in a convenient, accessible and affordable locations. Distribution contracts, like film funding contracts, have long been based on the film’s potential to create a return on investment. Whilst reasonable, this has also meant that only the most commercially viable films end up being made and distributed whilst more challenging films, documentaries and films about obscure topics were typically rejected.
The internet has changed all of that. We have moved from a tightly controlled distribution system that is managed by a select few people to the creation of a truly perfect market. By distributing your film online rather than through a traditional vendor you can remove substantial distribution fees, retain control over your film’s rights,charge whatever price you like to watch the film and reach a market of over one billion people online.
Popular sites that film makers around the world are using to host their films online include YouTube and Vimeo.
Promotional budget for Hollywood blockbusters remain huge, often running into tens of millions of dollars for advertising on TV, print, billboards, online and at cinemas. These options are well out of the range of most film makers, which until the past decade was a significant problem that meant many great films were sadly forgotten. But with the rise of the internet and in particular social media, promotion and advertising have never been more affordable or more effective.
No longer are film makers beholden to investors, distributors and promoters, because truly the tools to reach an audience effectively have never been greater. The costs of creating films have dropped sharply and rapidly meaning that serious film making is no longer in the hands of a select few but all of of us.
With new opportunities come new challenges. Advances in technology have made the world far more accessible than before but this presents its own problems for film makers. Previously, making films was restricted to just a small minority of people due to the expense of equipment, time needed to learn the craft and expensive and arduous editing processes. Now most anyone can make a film, and quickly too. Before you know it you can be online and promoting your new show across social media, but with thousands of people across the world all now able to make, promote and distribute films extremely cheaply, there is now more competition than ever before.
Another aspect of this renewed competition is that traditional funders of films from investors, film boards and foundation’s have all experienced a significant rise in the number of formal funding applications they receive. Some have even decided to tighten their eligibility criteria to just experienced film makers only in an attempt to reduce the number of applications they receive.
Another new challenge that this new dawn in technology has created is that film makers are increasingly required to work in other areas to support their film. Previously, if a film maker could secure funding, promotion and distribution rights, which in itself is a difficult task, then they could sit back and concentrate on making the very best film they could make.
Today, film makers have to effectively run a fully fledged business built around their film including from budgets and human resources to negotiating rights and media liaison. Establishing the right balance between creating a film and managing your business is the new challenge of film makers around the world today. The new reality is that most film makers now spend more time on fundraising than film making itself. A common industry estimate for independent film makers suggest that 80% of their time will be spent on business activities, leaving just twenty percent of their time to concentrate on making a great film.
The world of media production has been revolutionised over the past twenty years and in the past five years film funding has followed the same path. The demands on film makers are greater than ever but at the same time the opportunities have never been so abundant. Good luck with your endeavors from everyone at the FundsforNGOs team.