When you’re merely seeking to go on an journey and movie your self or a pal, then there’s not a lot stopping you to get on the highway and go for it. However if you wish to create one thing greater, like a feature-length documentary, or a collection, you then’ll have to discover methods of funding your documentary.
In MZed’s latest course, Journey Filmmaking with Russ Malkin, long-time producer/director Russ gives a wealth of data from over 30 years of making journey documentaries for TV networks and streaming platforms. In a single lesson, “Methods to Discover the Cash,” Russ summarizes the method to funding an journey film, present, or internet collection.
Need to learn extra about this course? Right here’s our latest article about Journey Filmmaking with Russ Malkin.
Why are you making this present?
The very first thing Russ recommends is to assume lengthy and laborious about why you’re lifeless set on making a journey documentary. Say you’ve a pal who’s planning to interrupt a world report, and also you wish to come alongside and movie the journey. Do you really want to make it an enormous cope with a giant price range, or might you inform the story with none exterior funding?
If there’s a strategy to self-fund a journey manufacturing, even when it’s not as massive of a manufacturing as you prefer to, then actually there’s nothing stopping you. And by committing to a venture with out in search of exterior funding, you’re creating an expertise for your self and your expertise that could be the ticket to promoting an even bigger venture down the highway, one that can not be made with out funding.
However for those who actually consider in a giant thought, then it’s time to get severe about discovering the cash. First, you’ll have to resolve on the small print: how lengthy is the present, is it a function or a collection, what are you able to movie, what might you make out of it?
When you’ve by no means made one thing like this earlier than and for those who’re fully new to journey documentaries, then you’ll almost definitely wish to companion with a manufacturing firm that’s already skilled. That method a funder could be sure that the manufacturing is being made.
Plus, skilled manufacturing corporations will almost definitely have already got contacts to commissioning editors at streaming platforms or broadcast networks, which can improve the probability of your venture getting picked up within the first place.
One factor Russ emphasizes is that if a funder has ever declined a venture, it’s extremely unlikely they’ll ever rethink funding your documentary except one thing actually drastic has modified in your pitch. So give your self the most effective probability of securing a inexperienced gentle the primary time round.
Each TV community or world streaming platform has commissioning editors who’re ready for folks such as you to pitch your thought. Proper off the bat, they wish to see a single-page doc that states the title of your present, what you’re planning on doing, its length, the locations you’re going to go to and when, your expertise, some images, and an announcement of why you consider this present will probably be fascinating to look at.
Along with the single-page doc, you’ll wish to think about making a teaser tape. Think about it a dry run, a chance to experiment and form your thought, however most significantly a strategy to check out your expertise.
As Russ says, 90% of a present is commonly the character, and the way they react to folks and locations they’re touring to. The chemistry between folks is what ignites the viewer’s curiosity, and infrequently the unlikeliest of individuals work nice on digicam. The teaser tape permits you to see in case your expertise will work, and extra importantly, it’ll give the commissioning editor a style of the present’s potential.
In fact, a teaser tape will price cash to create, and for those who can’t self-fund this portion of the venture, you then’ll want to seek out somebody who can put money into your thought earlier than it even takes off. You’ll additionally want buy-in out of your expertise to get on board and make the teaser.
If all goes nicely, you’ll get a face-to-face assembly with the commissioning editor, and almost definitely your expertise will come alongside too. Come ready, because it’s important to have a solution to each attainable query. It’s not that the commissioning editors wish to say “no” – it’s that they must be reassured that they’ll get an excellent present that folks will wish to watch.
Your ardour for the venture could get you over the road and into the assembly, however to safe the funding and promote the venture to a commissioning editor, it’s a must to both have the expertise or rent a group that has the expertise.
As an alternative choice to commissioning editors, chances are you’ll wish to think about approaching a distribution firm. Traditionally, they might take your completed present and promote it around the globe. However in response to Russ, increasingly more distribution corporations want to get entangled firstly of a venture and accompany a documentary manufacturing all through the journey.
In fact, all of it depends upon the venture, in addition to the distribution firm’s monetary outlook, nevertheless it’s price giving it a shot.
There are lots of corporations on the market who could also be serious about supporting your venture if it aligns with their mission and enterprise pursuits. For instance, for those who’re producing a journey documentary collection that focuses on the setting, you would method corporations within the environmental area.
Now, discovering the cash with sponsors means you probably gained’t get a broadcast settlement in your present, however you’ll be able to nonetheless land an enormous viewers with internet distribution, streaming platforms, and even social media, particularly with the assist of a giant company sponsor.
There are far more corporations to method for funding than there are broadcasters or streaming platforms, so you’ve extra potential companions. And receiving monetary backing from a company model doesn’t imply they’ll get entangled within the route of your present. However take into account that their enterprise is just not video manufacturing, so you will have to do some extra hand-holding alongside the best way to reassure them that your journey movie goes as deliberate.
One other factor you’ll want to think about is that if a product or model integration interferes with the integrity of your present. In some instances, this could possibly be a deal breaker. However lately, with branded movies turning into the norm, audiences are accustomed to watching nice content material that they know is made partly with the assist of manufacturers, so seeing built-in merchandise is just not as a lot of an issue.
On the finish of the day, company sponsors are simply as serious about genuine, actual human tales simply as a lot as we’re, and for those who’re choosing a companion or product that’s your best option for the job, then it’ll make sense for everybody concerned. You’ll almost definitely find yourself speaking to a model supervisor or advertising group if you pitch your thought, so there will probably be a level of negotiating to keep up the integrity of your venture, nevertheless it’s very a lot a reliable strategy to get your journey funded.
Alternate options to funding a documentary
Within the lesson, Russ additionally discusses different methods of funding documentaries, akin to tourism authorities, philanthropists, and grants. In truth, the present “Excessive Frontiers with Charley Boorman” was partially funded by tourism authorities.
The important thing to any pitch is to be persistent, and assured, and as Russ emphasizes, solely pitch one thought at a time. It’s laborious for folks to get on board with an thought for those who’re not absolutely behind the concept your self.
What else do you get with MZed Professional?
As an MZed Professional member, you additionally get entry to over 300 hours of filmmaking training, together with Journey Filmmaking with Russ Malkin, plus we’re consistently including extra programs (a number of in manufacturing proper now).
For simply $30/month (billed yearly at $349), right here’s every part you’ll get:
- 40+ programs, over 600 high-quality classes spanning over 300 hours of studying.
- Extremely produced programs from educators who’ve many years of expertise and awards, together with a Pulitzer Prize and an Academy Award.
- Limitless entry to stream all of the content material through the 12 months.
- Offline obtain and viewing with the MZed iOS app.
- Reductions to ARRI Academy on-line programs, solely on MZed.
- Nearly all of our programs present an industry-recognized certificates upon completion.
- Buying the programs outright would price over $7,600.
- Course matters embody cinematography, directing, lighting, cameras, and lenses, producing, indie filmmaking, writing, enhancing, colour grading, audio, and even the best way to launch a YouTube channel.
- 7-day a reimbursement assure for those who resolve it’s not for you.
Full disclosure: MZed is owned by CineD