Let the Public Finance Your Film

All independent filmmakers will struggle with finding financing for their projects. We all have that same jealous dream when we hear what the big studio productions spend and what we would be able to produce with just a fraction of their multi-million dollar budgets. Last week, I had those thoughts when I saw the amount of equipment, trucks, crew, etc. that encompassed east midtown Manhattan during the production of Adam Sandler’s latest film. According to the MPAA, in 2006 “the average cost to make and market a major MPAA member company film was $100.3 million.”

What if the funding process was democratized, allowing the public to vote on what they want to see by supporting it financially? Now, more than ever, indie producers are taking their projects to the public for financing. Here are a few endeavors worth noting:

+ Fund-A-Frame was the name and method that produced the “first ever frame-by-frame funded film,” titled, The Study Of Bunkers & Mounds In A Temperate Climate (Relatively Speaking). Director Sebastian Michael literally sold single frames of his film. Investors received a high-resolution (HD) jpeg file with their name and the time code printed on it. For an additional cost, the frames can be printed on quality photographic paper, encased in a wooden frame and signed. The film premiered at The 60th edition of the Locarno International Film Festival earlier this month.

+ The 1 Second Film is the “worlds biggest shortest film.” Contributors receive different levels of producer’s credit based on their donations. This non-profit film will be one-second of animation (made of 12 large paintings), followed by 90-minutes of credits (which include an open-source feature-length documentary). Anyone can help “produce” the film by donating as little as $1. The contributing “producers” include several celebrities (Kiefer Sutherland, Kevin Bacon, Stephen Colbert, and others). All profits raised by the finished film will be donated to the Global Fund for Women.

+ Autumn – Canadian production company, Renegade Motion Pictures acquired the rights to author David Moody‘s zombie novel, Autumn and then decided to sell 25% of the movie to the fans with investments starting at $20 (CAD). The project also gives the audience an opportunity to contribute their opinions to how the book is adapted to the screen on their official blog, The Making of Autumn.

+ A Swarm of Angels – I blogged about this project in my previous post “Open Source Filmmaking.” It’s a new media experiment that utilizes an exclusive community (50,000 participants) which will fund (£1 million ($1.8) budget) and help make a film. The participants will freely download, share and remix the feature film. They have an ambitious target budget and like the Autumn project, its followers will be allowed to give feedback into the production.

+ Foureyedmonsters – This is another film I blogged about in a previous post (“Video Podcasts: Promoting Your Film During Production”). The film blurs the line of fiction and reality with its semi-autobiographical depiction of filmmakers Arin Crumley and Susan Buice’s relationship. These filmmakers have been in the forefront of creative avenues of distribution and publicity. They self-financed this film with their credit cards, accumulating $100,000 in debt. Their major quandary has been that their critical success and impressive audience exposure (over 800,000 views on YouTube since June) has not translated into the financial front – until now. They struck a deal with Spout.com – a new community based film review website. Spout will give the filmmakers $1 for every new member that joins their free service. To date, they’ve made more than $44,000.

Other Related Projects:


The Tyrant Movie

Avant-Garde Films


“Billy Dead” (article)