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

Tag Archives: deadlines

With You, Case One: Sky’s the Limit? Scoping the Campaign

Once we secured our lead gift of $22,000 for “With You,” our next job became scoping the fundraising campaign. To succeed with any fundraising campaign, you need to answer three questions: 1) How much money do I need to raise?, 2) Why do I need this money?, and 3) By when do I need this money? Having specific answers to these questions allows you to create a compelling, urgent, actionable case for potential donors. Sounds simple, right? Yes, and yet, it is so powerful. For the “With You” campaign, to answer question one, we decided $50,000 was the right goal. $50,000 would give us enough to complete the rough-cut of the film and support doing invited sneak-preview screenings at Frameline and Outfest. This seemed like a good goal to me, not only because it served our real needs, but also because it had some flash, some bling. It was a big, hairy, audacious goal, the kind that gets you noticed. But it was also not so big a goal that I feared falling short. In other words, it was achievable. Plus, we already had $22K to kick off the campaign, meaning we just needed to raise another measly $28K to reach the goal. Very good! To answer the second question, we had a simple response. We needed $50K in order to complete a full-length cut of the film. Awesome! Concrete need, grand in scope, but totally achievable. Inherent in that goal was a reward for potential donors — they would help the film reach a significant milestone, and there was the chance they could participate by getting to view that feature-length cut. Boffo! As far as the third question went, I did some mental calculations about the timing. First, we would be able to sustain the excitement level so long as we completed the campaign BEFORE the Frameline screening. We had received word that “With You” would screen on a Thursday evening at San Francisco’s famous Castro Theatre. Definitely prime time. Once that moment passed, so would the impetus for people to donate. So we had to be done before then. To be safe, I set the goal for June 1, a couple weeks ahead of the screening. That meant that we had about eight weeks total to finish the campaign. This was a good target, because it was a fairly quick campaign (which would keep the sense of urgency up), but not so short that we would run out of time to put the messaging and tools of the campaign in place. Next time: I’ll describe what tools we needed to run the campaign. In fundraising solidarity, Holly Million

Upcoming Film Funding Deadlines

Finding foundations that fund film is about as hard as finding a dinosaur egg. Actually, given the economy, it’s getting harder to find ANY foundations that are funding anything. Seriously. Thank God there are 70,000 foundations around the country. Somebody must have some money for your film! Okay, here are two dedicated film-loving foundations that you should take a look at.

Pacific Pioneer Fund
August 15 is the next deadline for emerging documentary filmmakers to apply for grants between $1K and $10K. Visit their website for more information. What do they mean by “emerging?’ Somebody who has made at least one feature documentary before but who has not been a working filmmaker for more than 10 years. However, there are always exceptions, and this foundation is no exception.

The San Francisco Foundation
The Fund for Artists Matching Commissions has a new deadline of June 19, 2009. Visit their website for more information. The San Francisco Foundation is a relative newcomer to funding films, but their arts program officer is a working filmmaker who deeply appreciates all the struggle that raising money for a film represents, and he has been a true-blue champion of creating funding opportunities for filmmakers. Bravo!