How To Find Filmmakers To Help You Make Your Documentary

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Insiders Tip: How To Find Filmmakers

Do you have a great idea for a documentary and need help from an experienced filmmaking crew?

Are you in need of funding for your documentary and looking for experienced filmmakers to include in your fundraising proposal? (The more experienced your film crew, the better your chances for raising funds!)

Here are a few tips to find great filmmakers:

  • Search for documentaries that are similar to the subject matter of your documentary OR that has a style of filmmaking that you like. Look in the credits and see who produced it. 

  • Search film production job sites such as Mandy.com, ProductionHUB.com or Maslow Media where you can find crews by location. If you're looking for pro-bono or low-cost crews, try posting an ad on Craigslist.

  • Every state has a local film commission with a listing of local crew. Review credits and sample reels to find the best match for your project.

  • Employ the services of an agency like Crews Control or Crew Connection.  Explain to them what you're looking for and they will match you up with the exact crew for your needs. They make a commission by taking a cut from what the crew makes, not from you.  

  • Do a Google search for "video/film production companies" in your area. Read their company bio and see if they do documentaries. Be aware that these guys will probably not be interested in doing pro bono work unless: you have a really great idea that they feel could potentially make money down the line and/or bring them great publicity and/or they strongly believe in your cause. Even if they can't help you, they might be able to point you in the right direction to other filmmakers who might be a good fit for your project.

  • Call the film department at your local university. They might be able to make some recommendations.

  • Attend a local film festival and/or find the organization who organizes the festival and ask them to make recommendations on filmmakers who may be interested in your project.

  • Contact documentary filmmaking organizations such as the International Documentary Association or Center for Independent Documentary.

  • Often, the best film crew is the one with the most passion and interest in your project. So find organizations that deal with the subject of your documentary and find out if there are any video producers who are already making great films for that organization. For example, say your documentary is about cancer. Contact some local hospitals and find out if there are any film crews already working on videos relating to health care.

  • Hire a documentary mentor here on Desktop Documentaries.

  • Join a filmmakers chat room such as the D-Word, Creative Cow, DVXuser or a documentary filmmaker's LinkedIn group and pitch your project. (Be aware that you never know who’s going to respond, so make sure you fully explore their films, experience and references.)

Here’s the key thing to remember when approaching filmmakers. Since most experienced filmmakers won’t work for free (they have to make a living just like everyone else), here’s how you pitch the project to them. Ask them whether they would be willing to lend you their names and bios for the documentary fundraising proposal with the promise that you will hire them for the film if the funding comes through.

Understand that just about everyone has a "great idea for a documentary". And filmmakers usually have their own ideas that they want to make. So in order to get a filmmaker to work on YOUR project, there will need to be some major motivation to pull them off their own project to work on yours.

Check out all the documentary ideas submitted to this site.

Those are a few hints and tips to find filmmakers for your documentary project.

Want to take things into your own hands? Learn how to make a documentary with our 7-Day Documentary Crash Course.

What did you think of this article? Any additional ideas on how to find filmmakers? Leave comments below..

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