How to Raise Money for Your Movie
While I'm a big believer in the no-budget film, there may come a time when you'll need to raise money. You may be able to wrangle free gear and cast and crew for a short film, but once you decide to move into the feature realm, you'll need deeper pockets. It's unfair to people helping you out to continue to use them with no compensation. Plus, you may want some professional gear that you can only get from a rental house. After using a real dolly with solid steel track, I'm not sure I ever want to use anything else.
The latest issue of Microfilmmaker is out, and they have an good article on raising money for a smaller budget movie. Reprinted from the book Digital Filmmaking 101, it covers most ways a low budget producer can get some coin. Some of the points are common sense (don't use credit cards) while others are just plain silly (found money). It is still worth reading, and you may discover an avenue you had not considered before to get your production off of the ground.
One method outlined is grant money, which is "free" cash to fund your project. The trick is finding the grant that supports your type of film, then sticking religiously to the application requirements. Here is a good starting point for information on this type of fundraising.
If you are considering moving into six-figure budgets, give a listen to the recent "This Conference is Being Recorded" on Lance Weiler's Workbook Project. In this episode Lance interviews fundraising specialist Stu Pollard. Stu gives the lowdown on getting the dough and all the legal crap that goes with it. I think I'll stick with the low end, thank you very much.
He also points out an interesting concept that Civilian Pictures is trying. They allow investors to buy shares in various film projects. The bigger the budget needed, the more cost per share. While it's obvious how to become an investor, I'm not sure how to submit a film yet, but it bears investigating.
Whatever method you use, take Stu's advice and make sure your money (no matter how much) is in place before you start shooting. There's nothing worse than having to shut down your movie because the well has gone dry.