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Article: Film Funding & Financing Guide

Film Funding & Financing Guide - Image of Man Holding Money

Film Funding & Financing Guide

The Film Funding & Financing Guide is an archive series of audio interviews with film industry experts, which were recorded for the Ink & Cinema podcast between 2013-2014.

Equity Financing for Indie Films with Slated (with Duncan Cork)

Listen to the interview on YouTube.

In this interview, Duncan shares...

  • The two investor fears your project must address to acquire financing.
  • How to demonstrate inevitability so your film can attract investors.
  • Understanding your entrepreneurial role as a producer.
  • How to ensure your film project garners momentum and financing interest.
  • How to use the Slated platform to gain exposure for your project, and connect with investors and industry professionals.
  • Why you must understand the market value of cast.
  • The biggest misconception equity investors have.
  • How producers can demonstrate ROI for financiers.
  • How Slated is helping (and how producers can help) educate investors that film is a viable asset class.

On January 28, 2014, as this episode was about to be released, Slated announced Duncan Cork was stepping down as CEO of the company and as a member of the Board of Directors, and would be staying on in an advisory role as the company introduces a new focus.

4 Steps to Successfully Finance a Film Project with Slated from Duncan Cork

1. Sign Up. Quick and easy free membership sign-up at:

2. Submit. Submit your film for approval and listing. Viable projects should have these qualifying elements:

  • Narrative film budget: $500k to $15+ million
  • Director attached
  • Marketable lead actor attached
  • Established producer and/or team
  • Sales agent attached (preferred)
  • 25% financing already acquired (preferred)

3. Demonstrate Viability. Reduce risk and negate fear in an investor’s mind by proving your film is an “inevitability”. Show your project has momentum and is moving forward. Encourage your cast, crew, and team to actively participate. Update the film profile on a consistent basis.

4. Network. Build your network and cultivate relationships. Connect with other members and respond to inbound inquiries from potential investors and companies.

Crowdfunding Essentials for Filmmakers (with John Trigonis)

Listen to the interview on YouTube.

In this interview, John shares...

  • 3 questions to ask to know if a crowdfunding campaign is right for you.
  • Which team members you need in place for a successful campaign.
  • The “formula” to determine the right funding amount.
  • The key elements you need to have in place to execute an effective campaign.
  • The perfect campaign length to increase your funding 400 times.
  • Unique ways to personalize the “perks” you offer to get people engaged in the campaign.
  • The ONE thing you MUST do in the first 3 days to have a successful launch.
  • How to get people to discover your campaign who are not already a part of your community so you can expand your audience.
  • How to keep people interested, excited, engaged, and contributing throughout the campaign.
  • What NOT to do in your campaign.

John Trigonis is a published poet, writer and storyteller, DIY filmmaker, freelance professor, and author of "Crowdfunding for Filmmakers: The Way to a Successful Film Campaign". He is also a cat lover, coffee aficionado, wine enthusiast, comic book geek, and previously was the Film and Video Campaign Specialist at IndieGoGo.

5 Essentials for a Successful Indie Film Crowdfunding Campaign from John Trigonis

1. Platform
Choose the right platform for you and your project. Consider the tools offered, social media integration, analytics, customer service, appearance, and whether you prefer the “All or Nothing” or “All or More” model (either walking away with some money or no money in the event of an unsuccessful campaign).

2. Pitch
First impressions are everything. Your invitation (pitch) is the single most important part of your campaign. It’s the one and only chance you have to sell yourself (and not necessarily your project). Invite your potential contributors to be a part of your project. Tell them about yourself, why you want to make this film, and why they should get involved and contribute.

3. Promotion
Crowdfunding is just another word for marketing. A successful campaign demands around-the-clock promotion, engagement, and community building. That translates to constant tweets, relentless Facebook status updates, and email blasts. You can keep your audience engaged with contests, giveaways, and compelling videos.

4. Perks
While there’s nothing wrong with offering standard definition (sd) perks (like social media shout outs, tee-shirts, DVD & Blu-ray copies, signed posters, and scripts), and more High Def (HD) perks (such as associate and executive producer credit, and dinner or a Skype call with the director), it’s much better to offer 3-D experiences: think outside the box and get creative and personal with your perks (like offering a customized acrostic poem of a contributor’s name or turning a contributor’s photo into a vintage album cover).

5. Personalization
People give to people, not projects. Personalize everything in your campaign. The spirit of your invitation, your perks, and your engagement should be you as a person. Give to your potential contributors a piece of you, and they’ll give you more than just a part of their paycheck. They’ll give you the power you need to really succeed!

Crowdfunding for Filmmakers book on Amazon
John Trigonis:

Raising More Money for Your Movie with IndieGoGo (with Adam Chapnick)

Listen to the interview on YouTube.

In this interview, Adam shares...

  • Surprising and revealing data and statistics filmmakers need to know to run a financially successful crowdfunding campaign.
  • The 2 essential perk price-points every campaign must offer.
  • The most important question a filmmaker needs to answer to inspire people to contribute to a crowdfunding campaign.
  • The #1 thing you must do to create momentum with your crowdfunding campaign.
  • Exactly how often producers should be sending updates and which types of updates are best.
  • Advice on how to produce a compelling invitation video that motivates people to fund your campaign.
  • Insights on the Jobs Act and using crowdfunding to acquire equity investors.
  • How to naturally and authentically use a powerful sales tactic to accelerate your funding results.
  • Unique perks that engage your audience, entice people to contribute, and ultimately increase the amount of money you raise.

Adam Chapnick previously oversaw Film and New Media at IndieGoGo, where he also served as CEO of the now-defunct, a flat-fee distribution service that placed independent films on digital sales platforms such as iTunes, Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and Cable VOD, while allowing filmmakers to keep 100% of their revenue. He was recently named one of “19 Brave Thinkers in Independent Film” by uber-producer Ted Hope’s Truly Free Film blog. Adam speaks regularly on cutting edge distribution, fundraising and audience engagement strategies at markets and festivals including Sundance, South By Southwest, Digital Hollywood, AFM, and more.

5 Data-Proven Strategies for Raising More Money for an Independent Film with a Crowdfunding Campaign from Adam Chapnick

1. The $25 Sweet Spot
Campaigns with a $25 perk raise 35% more than those without one

2. Bigger Team = Greater Funding
Campaigns with 4 people on the team bring in almost 250% additional funding compared to those with no team members

3. Link Up
Campaigns that have 4 or more external links raise 103% more money

4. Engage Your Audience – Frequently!
Campaigns with 31 to 50 updates raise 400% more money

5. Add Media
Campaigns with 10 project photos or videos generate 250% more funding interest 

Crowdfunding Platform:
Connect with Adam: | LinkedIn

3 Simple Ways to Find Names of Film Financiers (from Laura Cross)

1. Read the trades and the film industry blogs, such as Hollywood Reporter, The Wrap, Deadline, and IndieWire. They report financing deals. Every day there is an article or announcement that a project secured financing from XYZ investor or fund. Make a list. Keep track of what’s going on.

2. If you’re approaching an actor’s production company they often have connections or if you’re attaching an actor who is represented by one of the big agencies, they each have their own financing department and can help you secure money. 

3. Meet investors and financiers in person (or virtually) at the major festivals and markets: Sundance, SxSW, Tribeca, Cannes, Berlin, Toronto, Telluride, and AFM

The Art of Film Funding for Documentaries & Features (with Carole Dean)

Listen to the interview on YouTube.

In this interview, Carole shares...

  • Step-by-step how to create an exciting and engaging “sticky story” that’s easy for people to remember and share.
  • The #1 investor question you must answer to finance your film.
  • How to deliver a powerful pitch to motivate people to fund your film.
  • How to use a fiscal sponsor to save hundreds-of-thousands of dollars on your film.
  • What you need to know about who’s who when delivering your funding pitch.

Carole Dean is President of the nonprofit organization From the Heart Productions, Inc. She gives three grants a year to filmmakers, works as a fiscal sponsor, and educates filmmakers on raising money. Carole teaches film funding in her unique Intentional Filmmaking Class where filmmakers learn how to use their mind to help fund their films. She is also the author of The Art of Film Funding: Alternative Financing Concepts, which explains how to raise money for films, including crowdfunding campaigns, and one-on-one asks, and the host of a Blog Talk Radio Show of the same name.

5 Keys to a Perfect “Sticky Story” Pitch to Finance Your Film from Carole Dean

A “sticky story” pitch transforms all your knowledge about your film into a simple story that is enticing and motivates people to fund your film. It’s also easy for film investors and contributors to remember and share. 

1: Include an UNEXPECTED element to grab attention. This could be a question your film needs to answer, a point of interest, or a massive change in direction for the film. 

2: Include a CONCRETE element to create a foundation. This could be an interesting fact, or a specific character taking a specific action.

3: Include CREDIBLE information to create believability. Universal concepts and truthful core details resonate with financiers.

4: Include an EMOTIONAL element to create impact and connect at a deeper level. Share an emotional scene or a character’s development arc. 

5: Include VISUAL description to create an image in the mind. Use plenty of adjectives so the investor or contributor can imagine your completed film.

Connect with Carole: Facebook | Twitter

Bankroll Your Movie (with Tom Malloy)

Listen to the interview on YouTube.

In this interview, Tom shares...

  • Insights on increased opportunity for financing your films.
  • How to use the finders-fee method to find potential investors for your film.
  • How to use the vested-interest approach to acquire ideal financiers.
  • How to entice a financier to make the initial investment and get the first money into the project.
  • How to vet your potential investor and “Find out if your rich guy is real”.
  • The 3 rules of pitching investors.
  • The perfect pitch package to make your presentation.
  • Tips on implementing an effective follow-up system to close the deal.

In 1998, Tom Malloy was one of the lead actors in the film Gravesend produced by Oliver Stone. The film became an indie-cult favorite. When this film failed to make him into a household name, Tom decided to learn as many facets of the movie business as he could. He quickly realized that the single most important aspect to learn is raising the money necessary to shoot a film. The problem was, no person or book was available to show Tom how to do it. So, over the course of 8 years, he created his own method, and authored the book Bankroll: A New Approach To Financing Films, which features precise and practical details of how he raised more than $15 million in four years for a number of independent feature films. Tom has written and produced the thriller films "The Attic" and "The Alphabet Killer", and the documentary "High Roller: The Bob Perry Story". He has appeared in principal roles on Law & Order, Third Watch", Kidnapped, The Siege (with Denzel Washington), and Anger Management.

3 Rules of Pitching Film Investors from Tom Malloy

1. Maintain High Energy
Be excited and enthusiastic about your project. If you’re not passionate and have high expectations for the film, than neither will your potential investor.

2. Know the Investor
Understand what the investor wants to achieve, the level of investment he values, and the types of films he is interested in financing.

3. Present a Prepped Project
Pitching an un-prepped project is worse than not pitching at all. Take the time to create an irresistible package that has undeniable value.

Tom’s Actor Site: Tom Malloy
Tom’s Production Company: Trick Candle
Tom’s IMDb Profile
Connect with Tom: Twitter | Facebook

Package Your Filmmaking or Screenwriting Brand & Pitch Presentation (with Donna Loyd)

Listen to the interview on YouTube.

In this interview, Donna shares...

  • How to discover your personal brand as a filmmaker, producer or writer so you can package yourself for success.
  • How to effectively convey your personal brand in meetings & presentations.
  • What every filmmaker needs to know about pitching film projects.
  • The #1 thing you must do when submitting an initial pitch to a gatekeeper.
  • The 3 most common mistakes filmmakers, writers, and producers make in packaging, branding, and pitching their projects... and how you can avoid them.

Donna began her career as a producer before turning her sights to brand marketing and focusing on how the two work hand in hand in any aspect of the industry. As a producer or in development, Donna’s strength is in seeing the “big picture” and easily identifying the best way to market and “make some noise” about a project. Throughout her career, she has worked with such companies as Disney, E! Entertainment Television, Dial Corporation, Women in Film, Nordstrom, Hilton Hotels, Regent-Beverly Wilshire, Universal Studios, and Dick Clark Productions. Donna also helps independent filmmakers craft their personal brand package and compelling 2-minute pitch presentations. She is available to work in-person with clients in Los Angeles, as well as globally via Skype.

Connect with Donna via LinkedIn