Financing Your Independent Film



 

Many filmmakers who begin their journey for financing their idea or script, don’t realize that you can film your project from just a few thousand dollars to several million.  Obviously, with films now budgeting out for well over 100 million, these amounts are but a pittance compared to what it could cost.

Several projects did extremely well at the box office as well as having smaller budgets. “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” at a budget of only 5 million was an independent film that was nominated for an Academy Award as well as 16 other wins and 23 nominations.  “The Blair Witch Project”, with 11 wins and 16 nominations cost only $60, 000 and was the most talked about film of that year. 

Even more amazing is the blockbuster 2008 film, “Paranormal Activity.”  This tiny $15,000 budget grossed over $100,000,000!  Of course, that was just in the American market.  The figures for worldwide sales have not been completely tabulated yet because it is still making money. 

Now that you are standing to your feet and leaping around excited to discover that is possible, what do you do next?  What are the steps toward challenging that film and grossing even a greater amount?

To even compete on any level and be very successful, there are two obstacles that every filmmaker has to overcome.  Obviously, you need to get financing for your film.  But also, you have to have a distributor in place in order for people to see or buy it.  Both can be tricky but where there’s a will, there’s a way.  So how does a film get financed?

First of all, if you are planning on spending just a few thousand dollars, then perhaps you can pay the bill yourself.  Or maybe you have friends and relatives who would like to take their chances on you and your idea.  But if those options are not open to you, then you have to obtain financing.  Remember, unlike a traditional loan, you do not have to make payments on moneys that are borrowed to make the film.  Films are financed with the hopes that the financial projections will be realized and the financier gets back his investment plus a nice, big piece of the net profits pie.  Therefore, the central focus of your presentation to anyone who is interested in investing is to convince them, in a presentation, how your film is going to make them money.

There is plenty of research that can be done and used to present to the investment firm during your proposal.  Make sure that you include research on past films that have made money and are a similar genre to yours.  Include as many examples of beneficial bottom lines as possible in helps of convincing them to take a chance with your film.

The final step in creating a presentation that will get your needed film financing is distribution.  Without this, your film will never be seen and no one will ever make a dime.  It’s important to include in your proposal a list of distributors that would be interested in your film.  Including this valuable research will give your prospective financier confidence that your film will do well and return his investment with a profit.  Put yourself in his shoes.  What would you want to hear?  Tell him that and you will secure your funding.