Weekend of Film – Film Making and Film Funding discussion
As part of our Weekend of Film we invited people involved with film locally to discuss some of the issues faed by the film industry in Cumbria.
On Sunday 16th November we were joined by Mark Costello & Tony Brown (Cumbria Council for Voluntary Services) , Lyndsey Walker (Wright Walker Production Ltd), Abi Welch (World Film Collective) and Andrew Elliot (Penrith Lonsdale Cinema).
The group met up to discuss both the process of film making, with particular reference low budget films and film funding, focusing on non-traditional methods such as crowd funding.
Creativity formed a large part of the group’s discussions on successful film making. The discussion focused on fostering creativity and how external factors can diminish it. Abi explained how budgetary concerns had led to her struggle creatively, forcing her to seek paid work at the same time as trying to edit her film, splitting her focus. While Mark and Tony both explained that the degree of creativity film makers were given often depended greatly on the remit of the film, who is funding the project and often how many different agencies were involved; all agreeing that generally that the more people involved in the process the less scope for creativity there often is.
These discussions lead the group on to discussing the importance of sharing and collaborating; developing a good team while making a film, being responsive to feedback and fostering good relationships with local volunteers. It was suggested that film makers in Cumbria could benefit greatly from opportunities to meet and work together. Abi highlighted an example in Edinburgh where this happens on a monthly basis. Opportunities to form contacts and make connections with others could be particularly useful when making low budget films the group agreed.
Having talked quite a bit about the pressures of budgets and funding the group then moved their discussions to film funding and crowd funding in particular.
Crowd funding we found out is a method of funding projects by raising money from large numbers of people. Most often done via the internet, people put up their ‘pitch,’ usually in the form of a video and encourage people to support their ideas.
Abi shared her first hand experience of funding her own film ‘Maisha’ a documentary project made with children in Tanzania. Having struggled to find funding in traditional ways she then successfully turned to crowd funding to get her project off the ground.
The group then discussed the success of bigger budget films such as ‘Veronica Mars’ and ‘Enemy of Man’ who had turned to crowd funding rather than traditional Hollywood producers, keeping their creative freedom in the process and in effect guaranteeing themselves an audience of excited backers when the film was released.
See the trailer for Abi’s upcoming film ‘Maisha’ here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bFaoxdawiWA
Lyndsey explained that crowd funding is a proactive and interactive way of getting funding, yet it needs a lot of hard work to get people interested and then to keep them updated. A good story or hook is vital, Abi explained, something to capture people’s imaginations. Many people offer rewards for donations ranging from a simple thank you to personal videos from the film’s stars or tickets to the premier. But success is in no way guaranteed pointed out and many pitches fail to reach their fundraising goals, the group agreed that it is in no way a quick fix to film funding.
Overall the group felt that crowd funding has and exciting and important role to play in the future of film funding, in particular for first timer directors and people who have struggled to get traditional funding elsewhere, that it is a forum for passionate and creative people to promote their ideas and hopefully achieve success.