One day we will be out of the pandemic and live gatherings will once again be a possibility - and they will be profitable for filmmakers.
Believe it or not, there are people out there loathe to donate to your project via an online crowdfunding site. Lots of them actually. They don’t trust websites. They’re tired of creating an account with yet another user ID and password. They don’t do anything on the Internet at all. You may not realize it, but there was a time when there was no Internet and things still got done. Here’s a secret: a lot of things — maybe even most things — still get done off-line.
Photo: Sue Lange performing "I Want to be Evil" at the Dust Nuggets fundraising event, 2018. (photo by Jeff Stoltzfus)
You can tap people for funds out in the real world with a live fundraising event. I’ve done this successfully for a few of films (Traffic Opera , Dust Nuggets). It’s helpful to have some short or feature films under your belt for screening at the fund raiser, but it’s not necessary.
Here are ideas I’ve used for my events. Adapt as necessary.
Fundraising Tips to Finance Your Film
Find a venue that will give you space in exchange for a credit in the film. This can be anywhere that has enough room for seating, performing, screening, or whatever else you need to do. A theater during it’s down time, a friend’s basement, a basketball court, whatever. Someplace that already has seating so you don’t have to rent chairs is a plus.
Instead of hiring a caterer, have friends donate plates of snacks in exchange for a credit in the film. Or create them yourself. Contact local wineries, breweries to donate if at all possible. Or buy wine and beer and give it away, but leave a tip bucket for donations. This can get tricky. You can’t sell this stuff without a license (maybe the venue you use will have one) and you may be required to have an actual bartender serve it. Check local laws.
Invite a local band to perform in exchange for using their music in the soundtrack (and a credit in the film of course). Make sure you actually like their music. Have some Letters of Intent handy, so everyone feels they won’t get taken advantage of.
Invite your musical theater friends to perform. If they need music other than the band you’ve got, download backing tracks of popular songs from sites such as Karaoke-Version (https://www.karaoke-version.com). Don’t forget to bring something with speakers loud enough for the music to rise above the crowd. A microphone is a great plus for the MC.
Have friends donate items for a silent — or otherwise — auction in exchange for a credit in the film. Almost anything can be auctioned: whiskey, paintings from artist friends, used furniture, vintage vinyl. Even people: for a date, for a day of work, for a video session, for anything.
Screen scenes from your previous film(s). If you don’t have any, create some shorts just for this event. Sky’s the limit here. You’re making a film: show the audience your brilliance. Bring in a TV, or a projector. The bigger the screen, the better.
Publicize your fundraiser in local and social media.
The point is you can ask for help from anyone in exchange for credit in the film and exposure on your social media platforms. The event offers a great opportunity to get the word out about your film well before you even begin shooting. So not only will you raise development funds, you’ll also start building your fan base.
Due to the pandemic, I have not been able to take advantage of live fundraising for my current film, Le Bon Chef, so all of our development fundraising was done online. As soon as things open up, though, I’ll be putting something together for finishing funds or marketing money or who knows what. There’s always a need.
Good luck with your project and don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions: email@example.com.
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