The Beast That is Funding

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              I don’t think most people understand how much being a documentary filmmaker revolves around finding funding.  I suppose that before a few months ago, I didn’t even quite realize it myself.  Of course, I’d heard stories from filmmakers.  I’d been advised in school about how much time you’d have to spend finding money.  But, it seems that 90% of my time on my current film project is spent trying to get people to believe in me enough to give me stuff.

            The process of applying for grants is a scary one.  It’s a fear I’m sure that many of us have felt, both in and out of the film world.  Half of the time, foundations won’t even accept unsolicited applications.  Of those that do, there’s a long list of guidelines that you have to follow and categories you must fit into.  Next, there’s deadlines, of which there are only one or two a year.  Finally, there is the waiting, as there are often so many applicants that it takes months to find out if you’ve gotten anything.  In the end, it’s a year later and you still don’t have any money.

            For the young filmmaker, it’s not very practical.  Let’s not forget that often times, foundations are less willing to back new filmmakers, especially in an economy like this.  It can leave you feeling lost and downtrodden.  And so, understanding how easily I could fall in this trap, I’ve decided to steer clear of it as much as possible.  Instead, I’m trying my best to think outside the box.

           This initially led me to Indiegogo.  What a wonderful site that let’s anyone and everyone fund any amount of money for any cause!  Finally, we as filmmakers and artists and people can take our fate into our own hands.  I spent a week fine-tuning my campaign before finally letting it launch, marking the start of my journey to find money.  $5,000 in 45 days and many hours of work.

            Again, I don’t think most people understand how much time you have to put into an Indiegogo campaign.  Before it even launched, I spent hours researching what worked best, reading all the blogs and advice they had.  I worked and reworked on what I was presenting.  And after it launched, I spent countless hours trying to get it out in as many different ways as I could.  Some of the tactics were as followed:

  • Follow all of the advice from successful Indiegogo campaign, including a 3-minute personal video pitch, pictures, and consistent updates.
  • Make a Facebook page, a twitter page, and any other social media page that I didn’t yet have
  • Start low cost adverting with Project Wonderful
  • Research and contact related organizations, such as Thai community centers or recycling enthusiasts
  • Make flyers to hand out to people I talked to
  • Write emails to nearly all the people I knew who might be interested in supporting me
  • Research more people, always trying to find places to push the campaign
  • Make sure to continually update my Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and everything else I have

       It was a learning process, to say the least.  There were many times when I was afraid that I wasn't going to make the goal, but I didn't let it discourage me. I’m incredibly proud of the work I’ve put into it, and the money that I’ve earned.  I’m incredibly grateful to all of the people who contributed and supported in some way.  But, mostly, I’m excited about the future.  It was just the first step, and there’s so much more ahead of me. 



About the author


I am a young documentary filmmaker looking to use film as a tool to create understanding.

I am currently in Thailand working on a series of films about a network of communities fighting against poverty.

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