You wrote your script and you budget your production. It’s time to shoot! The only problem is, you don’t have funding. A lot of Hollywood movies are funded by production companies with millions of dollars. But, what if you don’t have a connection to one of these companies? What are you supposed to do? You don’t necessarily need a connection with a big production company to fund a movie. Check out this guide to learn how to get funding for a movie.
1. Apply for a Short Film Grant
If you don’t have a feature film fleshed out yet, or if you could parse your movie down to a short film, then consider applying for a short film grant.
The great thing about short film grants is that you don’t have to worry about satisfying investors with a big return on your film. When searching for grants, it’s important to look for ones that align with the genre of your film as well as your values. Here are some tips to follow when applying for a short film grant:
- Make sure you understand the process of grant writing and the correct formatting
- Consider attending workshops on grant writing
- Every time you watch an indie film, study the credits to see how the film received their funding
- Make sure to outline specific ways as to how the grant will help you
- Include letters of support if possible
- Get feedback before sending in your grant application
Additionally, here’s a list of short film grants you may want to consider applying to:
- EAVE Producers Workshop
- The Austin Film Society
- The Independent Filmmaker Project
- SHIFT Creative Short Film Grant
- Nordic Panorama Market
- The Manuel Rivera-Ortiz Foundation for Documentary Photography and Film
- The Green Room Filmmaker Fund
- Oppenheimer New Filmmaker Grant Program
Don’t just apply to every grant opportunity you come across. As we mentioned, it’s important to research the grant program to make sure it aligns with your project.
2. Enter a Screenplay or Screenwriting Contest
While winning a screenplay or screenwriting contest can be a long shot, it’s definitely worth applying to them. Oftentimes, contest entries are free or low-cost, so there’s no harm in trying.
However, make sure you understand the rules and regulations of the screenplay contest before you apply. With some of these contests, winning does not result in a cash prize. Other times, winning doesn’t mean that you get to direct or have control over your film.
3. Apply for a Fellowship
Another great way to secure funding for your film is through a fellowship.
Just like grants, there are many different categories for film fellowships. However, unlike grants, fellowships typically offer more hands-on support to filmmakers. If you’re new to making films, this can be a huge bonus. Fellowships are also a great way to grab the attention of industry leaders, particularly producers, talent agents, and showrunners.
Oftentimes, these fellowships are sponsored by large organizations like Sundance or HBO. During your fellowship period, you’ll be able to focus 100 percent of your attention on making your film.
Here are some fellowships that you might want to consider applying for:
- The Ford Foundation: Just Films
- Sundance Documentary Film Fund
- Open Meadows Foundation
- Digital Bolex Grant for Women Cinematographers
- Women, Peace, and Security Fellowship
- New American Producers Fellowship
- The McBaine Fiscal Sponsorship Program
- The Celine Cousteau Film Fellowship
- Film Society of Lincoln Center
- Squeaky Wheel Film and Media Arts
The amount of money you receive, the length of the fellowship, and qualifications vary greatly for each fellowship, so make sure to look into these before applying.
4. Pitch to Investors
Pitching to investors is another great way to secure funding for your film. In order to pitch your film to investors, you need to take your artist hat off and but your business hat on. Here are some things you need to know about pitching to investors:
Create a Business Plan
A great script is enough to catch the attention of investors, but it’s not enough to get them to agree to invest in your film. Remember, investors see your film as a business opportunity. Therefore, it’s not enough to say you deserve funding for a film because you “really want to tell your story”.
It sounds harsh, but investors don’t really care about you getting to tell your story. They want to know that your film is going to make them money.
In order to outline how serious you are about making money for your investors, you need to create a business plan. Your business plan should illustrate the idea behind your film, and it should give evidence as to how your film is going to make your investors money.
Know Where to Find Investors
You also need to know where to find investors for your film. Here are some contact points for finding film investors:
- State commissioners
- Entertainment lawyers
- Startup investors (can be found at entrepreneurial meetups and conferences)
- Local philanthropists
As you can see, there are a lot of places where you can find film investors.
Crowdfunding is another great way to get funding for your movie. To do this, you’ll need to sign up for a crowdfunding platform, such as GoFundMe, Indiegogo, or Kickstarter.
Then, you’ll need to write a campaign explaining what you’re raising money for and what your goal amount is. Once you’ve created your campaign, you need to launch it on the crowdfunding website and then market it across multiple channels.
The great thing about crowdfunding is that people only contribute what they’re comfortable giving. This means that your film could be funded by a few big donations, or it could be funded by lots of little donations.
How to Get Funding for a Movie: Time to Make Movie Magic
Now that you know how to get funding for a movie, it’s time to put these tips into action. Before you know it, you’ll have your funds gathered and you’ll be ready to make the magic.
Of course, once you receive funding for your film, you’re still going to need to stick to a budget. To keep track of your spending, you’re going to need the right budgeting tools. Like Wizardy Budgets!
Leave your email with me and I will send you a free Google Sheet Film budgeting template that will help you track your movie expenses.