Getting funding for independent films tough but possible

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    I’ve been looking online re budgeting a documentary; also found info on ways to perhaps find funding – which is no minor issue!

    Among info found:

    On international documentary association website:

    Creating a detailed budget requires a lot of research. Every budget is different and you’ll need to call potential crew members, vendors, post facilities, hotels and airlines for guidance and bids, and to start negotiating rates. The budget shown here is merely a sample. Please don’t rely on the rates shown here; you’ll need to research rates for each individual project.

    Above the actual budget, it is common practice to list some basic assumptions about the project. The sample budget shows that the project will be shot on DV, the plan calls for two months of research, 35 shooting days will be spread across 12 weeks, etc.

    The sample budget includes a number of line items where no money is being spent. Normally, these “empty” or “zero amount accounts” would not be shown. But they are included here to make the sample budget more useful as a template, so that you don’t forget anything when you begin making your own budget.

    – there’s a more detailed breakdown after this:

    NY Times on how copyrights can prove costly:

    Securing rights to music has long been a serious challenge. Ten years ago, for instance, the filmmaker Steve James paid $5,000 to include the song “Happy Birthday” in “Hoop Dreams,” the 1994 documentary that followed two Chicago basketball players through high school. One memorable scene portrayed a young man’s 18th birthday, as the family sang “and his mom baked him a cake,” Mr. James said. “It was an important scene, there was some amazement that Arthur had made it to 18. Of course, we wanted that in.”

    Scrutiny by rights holders has increased, Mr. James said, as the profit potential in documentaries has risen. “When I was starting out, documentaries were under the umbrella of journalism,” he said. “Now, the more commercially successful documentaries have become and the more they’re in the public eye, the more they’re perceived as entertainment.”

    digital films blog by Oliver Peters has an article on film budgeting basics, which includes:


    I often work in the realm of indie features, which includes dramatic productions and documentaries. Each of these two categories tends to break into cost tiers like these:


    $0 – $30,000



    Over $1,500,000

    Interesting interview on Business Insider with Jennifer Readfern, maker of a documentary nominated for an Oscar, with these revealing comments:

    How did you overcome the financial challenges?

    I applied to every grant possible. I talked to people constantly. I was driven by this story, and driven by the need to finish it. We’ve learned all this, and met these incredibly kind people, and have been with them for six and a half weeks, and my biggest fear would be coming home and have nothing happening with this film. I couldn’t let that happen. I worked the phones, I went to every single event I could afford, or get into, and talked to everyone I knew. Abby Disney came on board as an executive producer, and helped our project enormously. We wouldn’t have made it this far without her help and support.

    Initially I got a lot of rejections, but then people slowly started to notice the project, and I slowly started getting grants. The first larger grant was from the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA), and it was a significant grant, and once we got that, I knew we were going to make it. It was just enough to get everything going.

    I also heard that you used the crowdfunding site, Kickstarter.

    So the NYSCA grant got us into the edit, and at that point, I was picking up more freelance work, so it was great. We were using the funds to help us finish the film. Chicken and Egg [a non-profit production company] got us further along in the edit, and then Kickstarter was our last push. We were pre-selling DVDs to finish the film, and we needed a certain amount to get to the finish line. I think we raised $14,000 on Kickstarter.

    An article on Videomaker makes the picture seem brighter as n when you get going:

    Funding gets easier as you build your body of work, assuming it is of decent quality or better. Individuals or organizations are more willing to part with, invest, or loan their cash if they have confidence that you can actually finish a documentary and get it seen. Start small. Enter and win a short film festival (there are some festivals that will only take a film that is one-minute or less).

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