How To Finance Your First Feature Film?
Money makes the world go round and whilst you could probably knock up a short film without completely breaking the bank, sometimes you need a bit of financial support in order to achieve the kind of quality that is going to get you noticed. You can go about this via crowd-funding, which I plan to investigate in another post soon, or you can explore some of the funding initiatives and programs that are available.
The Screen Australia Gender Matters initiative announced in December 2015 is made up of $5 Million dollars in funding that goes towards boosting women’s careers, getting women’s stories made into films, as well as pushing more funding into the marketing of films made by women. So far it’s provided a great hub for women in the industry as well attracting over 400 applicants in the last year. Films like The Dressmaker directed by Jocelyn Moorehouse being one of the programs stand out productions.
Over the 2017/2018 period the majority of feature film, documentary, television drama and online content that received production funding from Screen Australia, had women occupying at least half of the key creative roles. This is the first time since the initiatives inception that this had occurred, which is a positive step in the right direction and hopefully indicates a permanent shift towards viewing female crew and projects in a better light.
Whilst this funding initiative is only applicable to films that are 90% shot it is focused on supporting female directed projects get to that final cut, which can often be the most time consuming and expensive part of the whole process. The fund consists of four grants of up to $25,000 in funds and in-kind donations and general grants anywhere between $1,000 – $20,000. The next cycle will be held in Northern Hemisphere Spring 2020.
Despite being including on this list the SheDoc initiative does not provide any financial funding. Instead they offer a different kind of support, which I think can be just as effective in helping to kickstart someones career. According to their website “SheDoc will support travel, research, mentoring, residencies, skills development, seeding new work and the development of impact strategies using documentary.” The total of 3 grants are available for women who are residents of NSW and working in the documentary sector, at any stage of their career.
This exciting initiative from Screen NSW and SBS will give selected short film projects with at least one, but preferably two or more, Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders in a key creative position (Director/Writer/Producer) $30,000 worth of funding. It’s focused specifically on films between 5-15 minutes in length, which is perfect for anyone who may be just starting out in their film career. It is open to any gender but particularity I think this initiative could be a great way for female indigenous filmmakers to get funding for their projects and tell really unique and underrepresented stories.
Again if you are a documentary filmmaker than this program is something you should consider applying for. Not only does the program supply $35,000 in funding for your documentary feature but they also provide monthly mentor-ships with Chicken & Egg Pictures’ senior creative team, three creative retreats focused on building your career and creative development, industry meetings, and peer support. Applications have closed for 2020 but the deadline hits around June, which mean you’ve got a bit of time to think about it for 2021.
Some other great smaller initiatives I’ve stumbled across is Vimeo’s Share The Screen initiative. Starting in February 2016 it involves the staff picking 5 female projects to finance and then share across the video-streaming site. Also after receiving scrutinisation by Women In Film Los Angeles in their study of the festival between 2002-2014, The Sundance Institute has begun to implement a fellowship Program that supports 6 women in the industry for a year. Although this program is only for women who are already successful in the industry by pushing them into the next stage of their careers, it can filter down the line to women who are just starting out by changing perceptions of the kinds of jobs women can fill.
For some more Funding options check out this massive list of international programs we found on No Film School.com.