How to Finance your Film Project

How to Finance your Film Project


Forster BeachThis weekend has been a glorious weekend in Sydney. The weather has been unseasonably warm at 27C and the water in the ocean is at an incredible 24.5C. We are nearly at our short three month winter in Sydney.  Therefore,  I took the last chance of this Indian summer  and went to Forster Tuncurry, a holiday area on the mid north coast in NSW and I had a break for three days. On the break, one of my main focuses was the business plan for our feature film project “Absolute Freedom”.

Yes, I spent my time working on the  most challenging area of the Film World: Financing a Film. 

Most Film Makers are artistically slanted and therefore find the area of finance to be unattractive. Most of you may only be interested in financing the short film which is a lot easier than financing feature films. So this week, I will focus on Short Film Finance.

show-me-the-moneyWe teach on our 4 Month Film School the Prime Directive for financing micro budget film projects.

Every contribution, every favour, every person who works on your film voluntarily, every actor who acts in the film for show reel material ……. is finance for your film.

If you were in a fully financed film you would have to pay people to work on your film. You would have to pay actors, pay for your location fees and overtime.

Once you get this mindset, financing short films and micro budget feature films is a lot easier.  Make no mistake, raising finance for your film includes all of the freebies and contributions accrued on your film and can comprise 80% of your actual budget. In other words the cash budget is only about 20% of the actual budget.

There are always some areas that one has to pay cash money for including:

  • Catering
  • Film Equipment Hire and a really good DOP who should have some basic lighting.
  • Sound Hire
  • Post Production includes an expert editor, music and Sound Designer and Mixer.

imagesThese areas cost money and on the average 10 minute short film, this will cost you approximately  $5,000 – $7,000.  So the question is where can you find cash money to fund your short film?

Here are three suggestions:

  1. Many people save every dollar and finance the film themselves. The advantage of this is that you have full control over the timing and the person who is financing.
  2. Donations on crowd funding sites are also a great way to raise money. This is called crowdfunding. My two favourite are Indiegogo (an international site)  and Pozzible, an Australian crowd funding site. Crowdfunding works best if you  have a big network such as 500 friends on Facebook. You can hit up your friends for a donation and if 20% donate an average of $50 you will raise $5000. This is definitely worth considering.
  3. Event Funding. When I first started making films over 20 years ago, we shot on super 16mm film stock and our average short film would cost about $30,000 in 1992 money ($90,000 today).  We would have massive fundraiser parties whereby we would raise about $10,000 per night. It would take us three parties, but our budget would get there in the end. This form of financing works best for people who love to throw a great party and have a massive network. You make your money off the Door Charge and any other fundraising during the event. It is so important to throw a great party and give the punter value for money. Also, all costs for the event should be sponsored.

images-1The bigger your network, the more you will raise in finance.

If you would like to learn how to make a film and actually work on a film production and not have to worry about the finance process, enroll on our four month film school in Melbourne or our four month film School in Sydney . That way you will be guaranteed to work on a financed film production this year without any of the cost outside of your course fee.

Colm O’Murchu      Director


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