Documentary Fundraising: Steps To Finding Money For Your Film
Documentary Funding, Documentary Film Grants, Fundraising Ideas
So you're in need offunding for your documentary? Are you wondering where to start? Wondering where to find money so that you can make or finish your film?
Here's the great news. Money is everywhere! You just need to know a few tricks and tips to learn how to find it and attract it to you.
you are baffled by the fundraising process, you're not alone.
Funding is something every independent filmmaker worldwide must deal
with at one time or another.
Believe it or not, documentary fundraising first begins with YOUR MIND.
you believe you are worthy of receiving gifts of money for your
project? Do you believe money is good or evil?
How you feel deep down in your soul about money will
ultimately determine your success at raising funds for your
As Carol Dean, author of The Art of Film Funding, tells
filmmakers, “get very clear on any confusion you have about
attracting or receiving money.” Your fundraising success depends
Your Mission Statement
next big item on your list is to create your MISSION STATEMENT. This
tip is from documentary fundraising guru Morrie Warshawski, author of
Shaking The Money Tree. He says it's absolutely essential that you
get very clear on exactly why you're doing what you're doing.
want to create both a personal mission statement and your
mission statement as a filmmaker. You can skip this step if
you want to, but if your values, beliefs and goals are not super
clear to you, then potential funders may not be clear either. You
and your project MUST be naturally aligned to trigger the flow of
fundraising is nothing without relationships. This is perhaps THE
biggest item to remember when you're raising money for your film.
Many filmmakers have the fantasy that one big check will come from
one big funder, perhaps a government grant, to cover the full cost
of their film. It rarely happens like that! Often times, funding
will come in smaller amounts from a variety of sources. So make it a
priority to build a network of friends and supporters.
Documentary Fundraising Tips
Your Fundraising Team – Make it a priority to put together a
team of 3-5 people who can help you strategize about fundraising.
Get some “gray hair” or business-minded individuals on your team
who have experience raising money and have an existing network of
friends and colleagues.
a Trailer -
Fundraising is tons easier if you can SHOW a sample of your
documentary idea. A trailer can be anywhere from 1-10 minutes. The
key is to make it professional and compelling.
Create a Documentary Proposal –
In addition to the trailer, you should have proposal that clearly
outlines your project. A proposal includes a documentary treatment,
synopsis, crew bios, production schedule, detailed budget and
fundraising strategy. Get a jump start with our Documentary Proposal Template and Documentary Budget Template Pack.
page and/or website –
Start building a community around your film as soon as possible.
Create a Facebook page for your film and keep people updated on your
progress. Tell stories, upload video snippets, etc. A website,
even just a one-page site, is an excellent place to post your
trailer and a donate button. Make sure the donate button is right
there next to your trailer because you want people to have a quick
easy way to donate while they're still in “the moment” after
watching your trailer.
– Search The Foundation Center (foundationcenter.org) for
documentary film grants. Get ready to spend a lot of time
Expect that you will get a lot of “no's”. This doesn't mean that
your idea isn't valid or important. People simply do not part with
money easily, especially if they're getting nothing tangible in
return. There must be a pre-existing emotional attachment (passion
for the cause, a strong belief in the mission, a belief that what
you're doing will make a difference in some way, someone who
believes in you personally, etc). As the saying goes, “every 'no'
you get is closer to a 'yes'!
There are so many
fantastic ideas and fundraising strategies!
If you are SERIOUS about raising money for your documentary, check out our collection of Fundraising Templates and Courses which includes: Documentary Fundraising 101 Course, Documentary Proposal Template and Documentary Budget Templates Pack.
I just wanted to say that I think your website is amazing. I am a beginner with an idea, and the info and articles on your website are easy to understand and answer many questions I have. I can't wait to start filming!
--Sarah (Sydney, Australia)
I am a professional filmmaker, and I applaud this site for detailing the ABC's of documentary filmmaking. It serves as my own checklist as I continue making my own films... Thanks!