Let’s be real. Fundraising is tough. No matter how good or bad the economy, no matter how wealthy the individual or how big the documentary funding pool for grants, individuals, foundations and organizations do not part with their money easily.
So how do you inspire people to give up their cold hard cash? Ah, the million dollar question!
Here’s the secret that inspires giving and gets people to take action.
Ask for the amount you need, state when you need it.. and create urgency!
Filmmakers often have the fantasy that one big wealthy donor or a big foundation will write one big fat check to cover the full budget of the film. Don’t get me wrong. It can happen. And it certainly doesn’t hurt to ask, however here’s the strategy that will most likely work best for you, especially if you are a new filmmaker.Ask for small, specific amounts of money from a lot of different people and set deadlines for when the money is needed. Even if your documentary funding budget is $ 250,000, don’t ask for that full amount all at once. It’s a daunting number that will intimidate most people.
Raise money in manageable chunks based on how much you need at that particular moment and how much you think your donor can give. Say you need $ 5,000 in documentary funding at the very beginning to film your first 10 interviews. Tell people that’s what you’re doing and that you are raising money for that particular purpose.
Build trust and confidence. This is KEY to fundraising. Make sure to report back to your donors when you’ve raised the money and done what you said you were going to do. They may be willing to give again or at the very least be willing to fundraise on your behalf!
Use crowd funding. If you are a first time filmmaker with no track record, you are going to need to embark on a grassroots fundraising campaign among people you know. A great place to start is with online fundraising hubs such as KickStarter or IndyGoGo.
It is absolutely essential when fundraising for a documentary to create the best trailer possible. People need to see what you’re trying to accomplish and they need to feel inspired to help you. You must convince people you have the passion and the determination to pull off your project.
Remember that success follows success. If you can raise the first $ 5,000 – $ 10,000, it gives you more credibility (especially with larger donors) when asking for the next $ 10,000, $ 20,000 or $ 50,000.
There is no substitute for picking up the phone, pitching your idea and making the ask for a specific amount of money for a specific purpose. Filling out forms for a grant can take days, sometimes weeks and you are competing with who knows how many other projects. A passionate 10-minute personal plea to an individual who is already pre-sold on your documentary idea will often yield better and faster results.
As a general rule, cold calling does not work with fundraising. For a brand new contact, where there is no prior relationship or credibility established, send a letter of introduction first (hopefully along with your trailer) and THEN call and follow-up as needed.
Do your research and approach people at their level. Before asking someone for money, make sure your project is a natural fit for them and that you have a general idea of what they might be capable of giving. Your college buddy might be able to pitch in $ 20 whereas your businessman uncle might be able to pitch in $ 1,000.
Last but definitely not least, communicate excitement and urgency. Making a genuine person-to-person ask is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do, but it’s one of the most powerful and effective ways to get documentary funding.
Faith Fuller is an Emmy-winning documentary filmmaker and author of Desktop-Documentaries.com, an online resource guide for documentary filmmakers. For more documentary tips and articles, visit http://www.desktop-documentaries.com.
Griffin reports on Zack Finfrock’s Kickstarter success, DakaKin’s DIY helmet camera, the Indie Machines’ latest behind-the-scenes video, the 48-hour Guerrilla Film Challenge, and a bunch of documentary filmmaking tips: Rule of Thirds, and how to shoot good interviews, b-roll, and nat sound breaks. VIDEO LINKS DakaKin’s DIY helmet camera: www.youtube.com The Indie Machine’s Avengers behind-the-scenes: www.youtube.com 48-hour Guerrilla Film Challenge: www.youtube.com Last week’s Indy News (iPhone videography): www.youtube.com Last week’s Friday 101: www.youtube.com OTHER LINKS “Fallout: Nuka Break” on Kickstarter: www.kickstarter.com Film Fights: filmfights.com
Question by Meridius: Help for an essay entitled The Changing Face of Documentary?
For an essay on documentray filmaking I have to write about The history of the relationship between technology and documentary filmmaking.
Any idea where I start?
Answer by Moll Cutpurse
Your essay should probably be related to the content taught in the class you’re attending (related as in: be based on it and developing it rather than just reproducing it), but here are some things that come to my mind:
Light digital cameras make it possible to make documentaries in extreme and varying weather conditions, and these cameras also allow filming in otherwise difficult circumstances where traditional cameras would be bothersome to take (mountain areas etc.). Because some of them are very small, they also allow using them in a less conspicuous way, which makes it possible to film without being noticed (which however in some situations may be ethically questionable).
Digital filming more generally allows manipulating the filmed material more easily. This can just mean using different kinds of graphics features in your film and so on (from adding titles and other written type to much more complex things), but it also might mean improving the sound (getting rid of unwanted background noise, adjusting colors that don’t come out right etc.) While this may all be seen in a positive light, such manipulations also compromise the authenticity of the film, and they can be used to easily edit out things that could otherwise be seen in the frame.
Then of course lots of documentaries focus on filming technology itself. Just look at Dziga Vertov’s famous “Man with a Camera” (in Russian: Chelovek s kinoapparatom), which includes imagery of cinema technology as well as images from running trains and so on (if I remember correctly). Early documentaries were in part fascinated by being able to film what a human eye could never see: a camera on the tracks over which a train would run (a human looking from that position would be killed by the train).
What do you think? Answer below!