Nuts, bolts, hot tips, and road-tested information from Holly Million for indie filmmakers raising money

Tag Archives: Book

Follow Me to the SXSW Film Festival

I produced the documentary film, It Came From Kuchar, directed by Jennifer Kroot, which is having its world premiere at the SXSW Film Festival in March. While at the festival, I am going to be blogging for, the film website and blogs of the San Francisco Film Society, where I write a column called “Fear Free Fundraising.” My husband, DP Chris Million, who shot It Came From Kuchar is also attending the festival and working on assignment as a vlogger for Chris is directing his own documentary, Jack London: Twentieth Century Man, which has received grant funding from the California Council for the Humanities.

Chris and I plan to post content from our festival explorations on, but also on this blog. Stay tuned for interviews with Jennifer Kroot, George Kuchar, and other luminaries from SXSW. I hope to run into Kari Nevil, Jennifer Steinman, and Erin Essenmacher, three Bay Area filmmakers I know who are also having films premiere at the festival.

Since I am writing a new book, A Helluva Guide to Indie Film Fundraising, I will also be on the prowl for interviews with filmmakers who are willing to share their tales from the trenches on how they secured money for their indie films. If you are an indie filmmaker who plans to attend SXSW, please drop me a line. You may end up in my blog posts, Chris’s video diaries, or in my book, where your exalted tales of fundraising victory will inspire generations of filmmakers to come!

What You Have in Common with David Lynch

Sometimes you may feel alone as a filmmaker pursuing your dream, making your dark but brilliant narrative short or shooting your social-issue documentary or developing your comic-genius narrative feature. Then take some comfort in knowing you are not alone. You may especially feel alone when faced with your budget and the daunting task of raising the funds to make your sweetest vision come true. That computer screen looks like the frozen tundra when you sit down to write your grant proposal or donor appeal letter. And the only person calling on the phone is your mother, wondering if you are still pursuing that “film thing” or if you have found a real job yet. Sigh. It is lonely.

Don’t get down. All filmmakers feel this way, even the ones with the big names, the accolades, the credits. Even somebody like writer and director David Lynch, the creator of Mulholland Drive, Wild at Heart, and Blue Velvet. If you want to draw some inspiration and some comfort from a man whose films may be outre or chilling but who has a very real and warm heart, then check out his book, Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity. David Lynch is one of my film heroes and role models. His film, Eraserhead, touched my life in a remarkable, therapeutic way just when I needed that kind of life-preserver tossed my way. So I was surprised to read in his book his admission that “When I was making Eraserhead, which took five years to complete, I thought I was dead…I told myself, ‘Here I am, locked in this thing. I can’t finish it. The world is leaving me behind….At one time, I actually thought of building a small figure of the character Henry…and just stop-motioning him through and finishing it. That was the only way I could figure doing it, because I didn’t have any money.” Just think. David Lynch in despair about finishing his film because he had no money.

He continues, “Then, one night, my younger brother and my father sat me down in a kind of dark living room. My brother is very responsible, as is my father. They had a little chat with me. It almost broke my heart, because they said I should get a job and forget Eraserhead. I had a little girl, and I should be responsible and get a job.”

Thank God he didn’t do the responsible thing. Instead, he found a way to complete Eraserhead, and his career was launched. Thank God he finished that film, because Eraserhead saved my life.

Don’t ever forget that in the dark times when you’re not sure where the money is coming from. Just focus on the film and have faith that you will find a way.

A Helluva Guide to Indie Film Fundraising Is on Its Way!

I’m pleased as punch to announce that I have begun work on a new fundraising book entitled A Helluva Guide to Indie Film Fundraising. In this book, I draw a detailed road map of film-fundraising Hell, noting the hazards and marking escape routes. Traditional fundraising tactics no longer cut it, especially in this hyper-competitive digital age where abundant, cheap technology has made it impossible to swing a dead cat without hitting another new filmmaker. A Helluva Guide to Indie Film Fundraising covers the universe of fundraising sources, from individuals to foundations to corporations to government funders. It also gives an in-depth look at all the tools in a filmmaker’s arsenal, from letters to the Internet to viral marketing to written proposals to kick-ass events. A Helluva Guide is a fun, straightforward, practical, yet radical guide to indie film fundraising geared to both up-and-coming filmmakers as well as veterans who are finding that their old bag of tricks is no longer producing results.

A Helluva Guide features several components that make it user-friendly and engaging. First, A Helluva Guide to Indie Film Fundraising is sprinkled throughout with “Hella Hot Tips,” useful tidbits of information that give advice in tight “sound bites” that readers can put to use immediately. Second, throughout the book are real examples of appeal letters, grant proposals, event fliers, and other useful road-tested tools that give readers a model to follow. Third, each chapter includes one “Baptized by Fire” interview with a successful filmmaker who has proven fundraising advice to share. In other words, A Helluva Guide to Indie Film Fundraising is fully loaded and ready to drive out of the showroom and directly onto the fundraising freeway.

Stay tuned for more information about A Helluva Guide to Indie Film Fundraising. The expected publication date is Fall 2009.