Being a film producer is no easy job. The amount of work that needs to be done will baffle any layman. The worst thing about being a producer is that no one actually knows all the work that you put into a project. Producing is an around the clock job. You’ll spend endless hours in front of a computer screen, location scouting, making phone calls, casting, going to meetings, going to events, and that’s just some of it. Not to mention the hours spent on set. Nobody notices when you do something right, only when you do something wrong. As Dustin Hoffman’s character in “Wag the Dog” put it: “Yea, it's like a plumber: do your job right and nobody should notice. But when you f*ck it up, everything gets full of sh*t.”
One of the hardest parts of producing is without a doubt fundraising. Fundraising is the one thing that every independent filmmaker dreads. It is a long painful and overwhelming process. It takes a while to do it. And you’re never guaranteed to reach your goal. And as a producer, everyone is expecting you to raise that money. The weight of the world is on your shoulders.
Fundraising is not simple. You can’t just do one thing. There are many strategies that all work together in order to fundraise for your film. Another thing about fundraising is that it’s always changing. Things are different than they were 10 years ago, and in a few years, everything may change again. Here are several current methods to raise money for your film.
This method has been around forever, and it’s not going anywhere. Like many other methods, this one requires a lot of creativity. You need to give people a reason to show up to your event. You can’t just rent out a bar, and expect everyone in the city to show up. There are so many different types of events you can hold that may or may not be effective. Some filmmakers rent out a bar, get a DJ, and set up a Beer Pong tournament. Others will do a horror movie marathon with local indie shorts. Some would do a beef and beer. You can even do a live event if you have performers willing to help you out for free. There are tons of ideas you can go with, just make sure that they are fun and creative. Also, be sure to have a raffle. That way you can collect what you make at the door, and also make extra money from the raffle.
This is one of the most popular methods. It’s also very tricky. There are so many sites and different types of campaigns. The most popular sites are Kickstarter, GoFundMe, and Indiegogo. Kickstarter is an all or nothing campaign, meaning if you don’t meet your goal, you get nothing. GoFundMe lets you keep whatever you get. And Indiegogo gives you an option of the two. These sites also charge a fee. It’s important to let people know what they’re investing in, so you’re going to need some promo pictures and videos. You can shoot a promo, a teaser, a mock trailer, a pitch video, or even the opening scene. It’s great to have posters, on set photos, promo photos, and banners. You need to give them a taste of what you’re pushing. You also need to do your research. Research all the sites to find out which one is right for you. Look at other campaigns too. Look at the successful ones to see what they did right, and also look at the unsuccessful ones to see what they did wrong. And don’t forget to share the link every day!
This is very important, and very much overlooked. You don’t have to break the bank on hats and T-shirts to sell merchandise. There are lots of options that can make you some money. You can get 8x10 posters made, and maybe even autograph them. That will cost you a little over a dollar a poster at Staples. Staples also has a 10 dollar border board for sale that has a cool glossy look and a stand. You can sell those, or even raffle them off. You can even get a custom-made action figure and raffle it off. There’s also shops online that let you design merchandise without charging you. You just get a percentage of the profits. The only problem is that the merchandise is priced very high since the online shop is taking a cut. Wear some of the shirts and hats yourself, and become a walking billboard!
There are other ways to fundraising without selling and raffling things. Another way is just making appearances. Go on podcasts and radio shows. Make appearances on people’s YouTube channels. The more you spread the word the better. You can even get a table or panel at a convention. And that gives you another opportunity to sell your merchandise. You also want to get as much press coverage as possible. Send your promo videos and posters to local newspapers. Or just call them up asking for coverage. You need to get a buzz going.
This is an old school method, but it still works. You can make flyers for your fundraisers or crowdfunding campaigns and post them at libraries and colleges. You can put them anywhere that has a bulletin board. You don’t need to be a graphic designer to make decent flyers. You can simply make them on Powerpoint or Microsoft Publisher and print them at your house.
This is one of the most crucial methods. Many of the other methods can fall into this one. When it comes to fundraisers, you want to make sure you talk to the people who come to support you. Be sure to go to networking events. It’s also a great way to find people with podcasts and radio shows and press connections. You want to go to other people’s fundraisers and events too. You can spread the word, and support other filmmakers. Because if you support them, they might support you. Also, it is very important to have business cards made. They are very cheap and easy to design on Vistaprint. Keep in mind too, if you can meet people who are popular or talented at these events, they can give your film more value if they join your cast and crew.
7. Social Media
This is the single most important method of them all. The reason this one is posted last is because all of the other methods fall into this one. Social media is one of the ways you’ll promote your fundraisers. You can create an event page on Facebook and Google+, and have your entire cast and crew invite all their friends. This is also a way to promote your crowdfunding campaign. You can post the event page and the crowdfunding link to tons of local networking groups for filmmakers. Social media is also a way to tell everyone to tune in to the radio show or podcast you’re appearing on. You can event post the link to the podcast on your Facebook or Twitter. You can also post the articles written about your film all over social media. You can take screenshots of the article, and put them on Instagram. If you can’t afford a website, you can make a Facebook page and Twitter page for your film. Then on your flyers, you can put a link or “Find us on Facebook!” And there is tons of networking possibilities on social media. There’s groups specifically made for networking. Everything comes back to social media. Most marketing is done through Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Instagram, and all the others. You can also use SnapChat to post updates and behind the scenes footage of shoots and events. Most social media outlets all have live streaming now too. Make sure you post regularly! You can’t be successful anymore without Facebook.
None of these methods are guaranteed. There is no guaranteed method. But these work. Especially when you do them together. Don’t just rely on fundraisers or crowdfunding. You need to attack this from all fronts. Also, don’t forget to push your crew to promote and help. This is a team effort. If everyone wants this movie made, then everyone will help. Everything about being a filmmaker is only as good as the team you have.