A Grant does SO MUCH MORE than Financing Your Film

A Grant does SO MUCH MORE than Financing Your Film

Often times, there is a very noticeable trend with successful documentary films: they all get the same big grants. A combination of ITVS, Just Films, MacArthur Foundation, Cinereach, Fledgling, Chicken and Egg, and others. Not only are these films funded, but they are seen – at top tier film festivals, on television and sometimes in theaters. How does this happen?You need a great story, and a great pitch. None of these films would be successful if they weren’t telling an interesting or important story. The pitch for your film has to be ultimately engaging and well written, otherwise you don’t have a chance. You have to be able to be very clear about your story, your audience, and your goals. No one buys if it isn’t already sold. Once you get one of these large grants, it’s easier to get others because your project is now a known quantity. If Just Films is has enough confidence in you to fork over a large sum, it will probably instill confidence in other organizations. You also become part of the larger conversation about independent film. Your project is talked about, and you float to the top easier. Getting grants is challenging, but getting that first big grant is the hardest part. One door opens another which opens another. Consider that many of these large granting entities are very well connected and also be funding festivals and programming. For instance, both Cinereach and Ford Foundation support Sundance. “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” which was produced by Cinereach premiered at Sundance. “My Peristroika” also premiered there, and received funds from Just Films which...
Will other festivals follow True/False’s lead?

Will other festivals follow True/False’s lead?

Imagine knowing that if your film plays in 20 festivals, that you can gross an additional $10,000-20,000. How would that inform your filmmaking future?Great News! True/False Film Festival will now pay a $450 stipend to all filmmakers who come to the festival to exhibit their films. I love the transparency of this announcement as well as the motivation behind it. The fest organizers want to incentivize long term careers with this incentive, and hope to boost the stipend from $450 to $1000. ¬†Imagine knowing that if your film plays in 20 festivals, that you can gross an additional $10,000-20,000. How would that inform your filmmaking future? A filmmaker could pay back outstanding debt incurred by the film, or use the funds for developing a new film. What I can’t help but wonder is why some of the larger festivals haven’t come up with this first. What can we do to encourage other festivals to follow suit?...