Learning how to make movies is already tough, but learning how to fund said film can be even tougher and more daunting.

    As someone who loves writing sci-fi and fantasy, I often find myself hitting a wall in how to produce such expensive ventures. Maybe you’ve found yourself in the same position. Well, I’m here to tell you it is possible. There is hope!

    And in fact, there are several ways to fund your project.

    I want you to add the following to your vocabulary:

    • Crowdfunding
    • Crowdsourcing
    • Creative equity

    Before you even think about how to fund your film, there is one almighty question you need to ask yourself: Is my story worth being told?

    If you can answer ‘yes, absolutely’, good, because you are going to need the biggest amount of passion you’ve ever had for anything. Think of yourself as a cheerleader for your film, or your film’s biggest fan.

    The next question you need to ask yourself is: Will people be moved by my story?

    If the answer is no, you need to rework it, but if it’s another ‘yes, absolutely’ then start thinking how you can word the importance of your film, to get people to support it.

    CROWDSOURCING

    Welcome to the magical land for beginning filmmakers and actors. The easiest way to keep the cost of your film down is by crowdsourcing as much as possible.

    What does this mean?

    Remember the phrase I just asked you to add to your vocabulary ‘creative equity’? Yeah, you’re going to be using this a lot in your communication with potential crew and cast.

    Crowdsourcing is asking your crew and cast to work for free, but to make it sound better and more important, you’ll want to say they’ll be ‘donating their creative equity’ to your film.

    In other words, cast and crew will be taking your indie film on as a passion project.

    Honestly, I wish this is how all films were made. It’s actually a unique and special experience to work on an indie project where people are there because they WANT to be, versus the pay being good.

    But wait! It gets better! Crowdsourcing doesn’t stop with your cast and crew. You can crowdsource wardrobe, set dec, locations, etc.

    On the last feature I worked on, we had several amazing local businesses helping us with wardrobe and set dec. We even had an AWESOME coffee company supply all our coffee needs during production.

    You’d be surprised by how much people want to help. As long as you’re remaining professional and THANKFUL, you may just find your entire film is taken care of through creative crowdsourcing solutions.

    Side Bar: Crowdsourcing is hugely beneficial to the first-time filmmaker or for your first film. It becomes more difficult to secure crowdsourcing for a second time offender. Most people hope you’ve made some money on the first project, so you don’t have to do it again.

    CROWDFUNDING

    Crowdfunding is crowdsourcing’s awkward cousin, but it doesn’t have to be! If you’re like me, you LOVE asking people for money (please hear the large amounts of sarcasm in this statement).

    No one likes to ask for money.

    But as someone who has had to ask for money a lot through my life as a filmmaker, I’ve learned something vital. The more passion I have for the thing I’m trying to raise money for, the more others will catch that passion and want to be a part of the adventure too.

    Nowadays, there are many great sites for raising funds and what works best for one filmmaker may not be ideal for another.

    In my office, we prefer Indiegogo because it doesn’t take as much of a percentage out of the amount raised and there’s less pressure to raise the full amount (because you get to keep the funds regardless, unlike other platforms).

    You may find Kickstarter or Gofundme to be a better option for you. The important part here is for you to do some homework to see which one is best for you.

    Then comes the heavy work of coming up with great perks people will actually want, while still keeping the cost of those perks down for you.

    Side Bar: You’ll want to avoid perks you have to snail mail to people. You can still have some of these, but don’t start those until people are donating a higher amount.

    If you can, get yourself a team to help with crowdfunding. If you have a small film company, great, get every warm body activated in the crowdfunding. If you don’t, think about friends and family you can ask to help you spread the word.

    Crowdfunding tips:

    • be the first person who donates to the film. When people see you supporting your own project, they’re more likely to give.
    • Start with a ‘soft launch’, reach out (individually) to your closest friends and family and ask them to give a little $$ towards your project. Once they’ve had a chance to give, then make your campaign fully public and share the crummies out of it!
    • give inside info about your project which is fun and personable, people will feel more part of the team and be more willing to give

    The best thing for you to do is the research. Look at campaigns which are live right now and see what stands out to you.

    What are they doing that works? What doesn’t work? Who’s raising their goal amount and who’s not? What’s the difference between the two and how can you incorporate it into your own project?

    Ultimately, have fun with funding your film. Don’t be scared about doing the hard work. The first time I did this, I was terrified at the prospect, but now I kinda marvel at how much I was capable of – and not just me, but the team of people I work with. You may surprise yourself with your own tenacious ability for awesomeness, now get out there independent filmmakers, I wanna see what you’re made of!

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    • Charis Joy Jackson

      Producer, Director, Writer, Actress

      Charis Joy Jackson is a writer, director, producer and teacher working with The Initiative Production Company. During the day she makes movies and in her spare time is writing a novel. She's a self-proclaimed nerd who wishes she could live in Hobbiton. You can follow her on Instagram @charisjoyjackson

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