Without a doubt, one of the largest challenges of filmmaking has nothing to do with scriptwriting or putting a team together, it’s trying to establish how to finance your film.
There are countless wonderful scripts out there that remain unmade, purely because the writer/director/producer hasn’t been able to get the money together to actually go out and make the thing!
Fortunately for you, however, there are more routes than ever available to budding filmmakers when it comes to financing their projects. In this blog, we’ve listed some of the most common routes you can take to help get your film made, financially speaking.
‘Traditional Funding’ – Government Schemes & International Organisations
Traditionally, many filmmakers seeking funding have used Government schemes to help them to do so.
In the UK, for instance, the Government – through the BFI – channels many millions of pounds into the filmmaking industry each year, with schemes and initiatives aimed at both new and established filmmakers, alike.
Historically, this avenue has been rife with “it’s not what you know, it’s who” behaviours, however the BFI has sought to improve this reputation in recent times.
The UK government also provides a funding scheme called the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) that offers tax breaks to those who invest within your limited (Ltd) company, making the prospect much more enticing for those investors, and therefore more likely to bite the bullet and invest within your company or project.
A slight word of warning regarding the EIS, however; securing funding via this avenue is a bit of a bureaucratic minefield, with a complicated application process and no guarantee of success. Before you embark on this, it’s always worth speaking to a qualified accountant to ensure that you qualify first, to save any wasted man hours!
If you can handle the admin though, this could be a great option. Because if you do secure funding through this scheme, it’s a fantastic way to take your film forwards.
The prospect of Government funding isn’t just limited to UK shores, either. In Europe, for example, EU-led organisations such as Eurimages and MEDIA provide filmmakers with similar incentives, schemes and initiatives to promote the creation of exciting, new work – spanning many different genres.
Similar schemes can also be found in the US, and elsewhere throughout the world!
A ‘Multi-Pronged’ Attack!
Often referred to as the ‘studio’ model, this route revolves around approaching production companies with not one film, but with a whole raft of films (or at least partially developed film ideas) thereby adopting a more scattergun approach; in other words, all you need is one hit and you’re in.
From a studio’s perspective, this can be appealing because if they like one of your films, then they’ll be more willing to accommodate the other films as they know they’ll likely be able to exert their own creative influence and decisions on it, down the line.
This route is perhaps best suited for established filmmakers who already have those films (or plans) ready to go. In reality, people attempting to find funding this way sometimes approach the studios with half-baked ideas.
We would always argue it’s better (and more likely to get you funding) if you have one fully-realised film ready to approach companies or apply to schemes with, than five unpolished “could be great”s…
Undoubtedly one of the most popular funding methods of the past decade has been crowdfunding.
Platforms such as Kickstarter & Indiegogo have made raising funds easier than ever for aspiring filmmakers to get their projects off the ground.
In return for pledging money, filmmakers will offer rewards (such as an Executive Producer credit) making it an appealing prospect for the layperson and production companies, alike.
However, this popular space is now incredibly crowded, leaving filmmakers with a lot of work to do to get their projects noticed. But if you already have a committed fanbase, and know how to tap into it, then this could be a very useful route for some or all of your total budget.
If you’d like some more help here, you can get some useful crowdfunding tips in our LHS Pro Master Q&A video with Jes Bailey, the founder of the Crowdfunding consultants Crowdfund 360.
More Creative Routes!
Funding is a often a dry topic, but there’s no reason why the way in which you raise your funds should have to be equally bland.
In fact, many filmmakers today prefer the creative funding routes to more traditional alternatives, as the latter are so competitively fought between. Creative funding routes include (but aren’t limited to):
- Product placement. Now, this isn’t necessarily as common a funding route amongst indie filmmakers (but it’s not unheard of) – find a business whose product you’re willing to place in your film, in return for their commitment to partly funding your project!
- Music. Perhaps you’ve got a very talented musician on board to score the soundtrack for your film? The revenue that stems from this can prove a nice little after-earner once your film has been distributed; in terms of immediate cash flow, however, this is arguably a less beneficial route.
- NFTs. While this new technology might still be in its infancy (and perhaps to some, open to abuse), some new companies such as Moviecoin.com and FF3 are popping up to enable filmmakers and producers to raise money by selling digital certificates of ownership of unique pieces of their film’s artwork, property, memorabilia and more. As this area matures, we expect to see this become a popular alternative to traditional crowdfunding. Check out our LHS Pro Master Q&A with FF3 Founder Nick Sadler for a much deeper dive into this space!
How you fund your film (or attempt to) will very much depend on the film in question. If you’re a fresh-faced, indie filmmaker, then something like crowdfunding can be your best friend, whilst securing funds in the keenly contested arena of Government funding might well be more challenging.
On the other hand, if you already own a film company, then going down one of these more established avenues will likely yield better returns. There are certain other options, such as deferrals, for instance, but these tend to rely on goodwill and can go south, and do so very quickly, if things don’t go to plan.
As is so often the case, your perfect route to film funding will probably be a combination of 2 or 3 of these options, depending on what stage of your filmmaking journey you’re on.
But no matter where you are, I hope that you found some useful nuggets to take away from this.
Here at The London Horror Society, we’re passionate about bringing creators of all disciplines together, and doing whatever we can to make filmmaking and other creative pursuits as accessible to as many people as possible. From bringing people together and helping them collaborate at our online ‘Speed Pitching’ sessions, or screening the fruits of their labour at our Indie Film Showcases.
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Now, go forth and terrify!
Yours in horror,
The London Horror Society team.