Sunday, 19 October 2014

Yr3 Week 2 (Wed 15 Oct - MDA3300 Film Research and Context - Financing)

(There will be a supplementary section after the main recap, as per the request of the tutor).

So in today's seminar, Elhum talked about the world of film financing and all the different types we as filmmakers and future producers can tap into to help our projects get off the ground and onto the screen. First, she went over the general categories that you're most likely to find:

  • Grants: Simply put, 'free money'. You don't have to pay it back, it's a 'gift' to the production, if you will.
  • Commissions: Exactly what it sounds like - you get hired to make a film, and the company/person/corporation gives you the money to make it.
  • Equity: The most common form, this is the 'scratch mine, scratch yours' type of investment. They, a company/person/other body, will give you the money in return for gaining it back when the film is released.
  • Tax credits: Another type of 'scratch mine, scratch yours' this one is from the government, usually gained by using local/national resources and crews, so in turn, you get back/save on certain costs.
  • Pre-Sales: Selling the film to potential clients, usually broadcasters and distributors, for what its future potential will be in return for the money now.
  • In Kind: Basically sponsoring, you get free resources if in return you promote/solely use the ones from that same particular company/brand i.e. ice cream movie with Ben and Jerry's.

Afterwards, we briefly touched on a few other key elements, like a Sales Agent (the middle man between you and the distributors, whose job it is to sell it out there and find the best market for it), deferred fees (cast/crew will put off payment till a later date, usually post release, to finish the film with what money there is), the net profit (the film's own profit after all the fees/payments are done) and the Finance plan (basically a big sheet that breakdowns what money comes from where, how much, the percentage relative to the total 100% and then the actual total. While you won't have everything right away, it is important to keep ahold of this for records and demonstrations to clients.

Once that was done, we then moved onto the question of 'How much does Money Cost?' This relates to the whole process: 'Cutting Rights' (who has final say), Profit Share, the time/paperwork put in and then the timeframes of the project, which like the Finance plan, is an integral component of planning out the whole project for fairly obvious reasons, Of course, all the worrying in the world isn't much good if you don't have a more direct body to push to, which is what Elhum covered next: the funding types. For most projects, there are a couple of options:
  • Foundation funding: a specific organization devoted to giving out money for projects. These are usually charitable/philanthropic bodies, and so the submitted projects must conform to their views/message i.e. submit a rainforest documentary to an Amazon Trust.
  • Film Fund: a regional/national organization devoted to supporting local arts, such as the now defunct UK Film Council, although smaller regional variants and offices do exist, so it's good to check up with councils on that matter.
  • Brand Funding: Similar to Foundation, but this time it's with corporate aid i.e. making a sports film with Nike or Addidas.
  • Crowdsourcing: an increasingly popular option with the rise of the internet and social media, now filmmakers can go directly to the audience to help bring the money in and get the film rolling. Sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo have risen in prominence because of this 'direct, fan-support' approach. One such big example in recent times was Internet comic/game reviewer James Rolfe using fan funds to create The Angry Video Game Nerd Movie.

And so that was all for today. While I had been aware of most of these (mainly crowdsourcing given again, the use of it by internet personalities), it's still surprising that are so many options and choices for people out there to turn to to help get their films made, especially given the somewhat less than stellar economy at the moment, and the demise of more iconic bodies like the Film Council in recent years.

And now, for the supplement:
So, Elhum also asked to research into a small production company, and just write a small bit about them. Mine was Screen South, so here we go:

Based in the South East of England, Screen South are an agency devoted to promoting and aiding budding filmmakers in the region. They offer Production, Developmental and Training services to those who wish to work in the media industry, and have even teamed with the BFI Academy, an offshoot of the BFI dedicated towards film education and training in children and teenagers ages 5-19. As for the accolades of Screen South themselves, some of the short films they've helped shepherd have gone onto to major success, including the likes of, according to their website : South by South West (USA), Edinburgh International Film Festival, the London Film Festival, Brigthon Cinecity Film Festival, Chichester International Film Festival, Palm Springs Short Film Festival (USA), Brief Encounters, the Chicago International Short Film Festival and the Toronto Worldwide Short Film Festival

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