Fancy yourself as the next Alfred Hitchcock? The good news is that in the online era, the mechanics of shooting a movie and even distributing it are far more feasible for the independent amateur than they were a couple of decades ago. Having said that, however, to do it properly is still going to cost more money than most of us have immediately available to us. Sure, you’re not going to need a million dollar budget, but the average cost works out between $500 and $1,000 per minute of completed film.
Even for a 20 minute short, that means you’ll need something in the order of $10,000 to $20,000. Here, we look at some of the most popular ways of finding the funds to make your dream a reality.
Not having $20,000 in your back pocket doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t find it without external investment. For example, did you know the Blair Witch Project cost $35,000 to make and creators Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez financed it all on their credit cards?
Of course, there’s no guarantee that your movie will go on to gross $250 million in the box office like. Blair Witch. But if you have the credit lines available, funding in this way means you are beholden to nobody else in terms of both the risk and the return.
With platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, you can reach out to potential investors across the globe. To attract interest beyond your immediate family and friends, you’ll need a good pitch and a compelling movie idea that captures the imagination.
That’s exactly what Oliver Spalding achieved in order to bring his award-winning short All In to fruition. Over the past five years or so, playing slots online has become massively popular, so the theme of real money gaming is one with which people immediately identified. Spalding also made good use of social media to generate interest in the project and get influencers spreading the word.
There are plenty of organisations out there that are willing to help budding filmmakers get their project off the ground. These include the likes of the British Film Institute and Creative England in the UK or the Jerome Hunt Foundation and Women in Netflix Film Finishing Fund in the USA, to name just a few.
Each has its own rules, eligibility criteria and requirements, so it is important that you carefully explore all options and make sure you read the small print before you sign anything.
Prepare to succeed
Benjamin Franklin said that when we fail to prepare, we prepare to fail. If you are seeking external funding, whether through grants, crowdfunding or even the famous Bank of Mum and Dad, treat the project as you would a business startup.
That means while a great story idea and a rough script are good, you also need a carefully documented plan that covers the more prosaic aspects. This will show you have thought through every aspect of the project, and also will help ensure that you are raising the amount that you really need.