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

Tag Archives: documentary

Funder Feature: Gucci Tribeca Doc Fund

If you are starting to plan (or worry) about where you will apply for grants for your documentary this year, then take a look at the Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund.

Their website says that:

The Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund provides finishing funds to feature-length documentaries which highlight and humanize issues of social importance from around the world. Funded films are driven by thoughtful and indepth storytelling, bolstered by a compelling visual approach.

As mainstream media moves away from in-depth coverage of world affairs, domestic issues and social conflicts, the documentary has become an important and much needed tool to draw attention to the serious issues facing our world today. At the same time, the craft of the documentary is expanding in exciting directions, merging diverse points-of-view with new technologies and responding to the immediacy of the internet.

They are looking for films that cover issues ignored by the mainstream media and which humanize people who are ignored or ostracized. Show them something unique and compelling

This fund gives away about $100,000 per year in grants that range in size from $10,000 to $25,000. That’s probably not going to be enough to put your film to bed, but it would be a nice chunk of change to move it in that direction. Projects in development or production are not eligible — surprise! To be eligible, projects must be at least 70 minutes long.

This is a ferociously competitive fund, so make sure to look at the site and check out the types of films that have won grants in the past.

You can submit an application for the next round of grants starting in October 2010 and continuing through January 2012. You’ll submit online forms and also deliver materials to the Gucci Tribeca office. One of the required elements is a trailer at least 7 minutes long.

So start planning now if you want to apply — you don’t want to wait until December to start thinking about making that close of deadline in January.

In fundraising solidarity,
Holly Million

Film Fundraising Client Feature — Gravitas Docufilms

From time to time in this blog, I will shine a spotlight on my indie filmmaker clients.

Because I am producing three documentaries and one feature narrative, my bandwidth for directly raising money for films is pretty much used up. However, I am increasing my direct consulting with indie filmmakers in ways that will equip them with professional tools to use in fundraising and teach them how to present their case to potential funders.

My services include writing a business plan or fundraising plan, writing a proposal or treatment, and teaching filmmakers how to pitch.

I really enjoyed my recent work with Paul Mariano, Kurt Norton, and Barbara Grandvoinet of Gravitas Docufilms. Gravitas is producing a documentary called Lost Forever. Lost Forever asks you to imagine that your favorite movie no longer existed, that it was lost and gone forever. Imagine you could never watch it again,never relive those fond memories. Imagine that future generations would never even know it existed. Lost Forever shows how the National Film Registry is working to protect some of our greatest films and shares some amazing first-hand accounts of how film has touched people or even changed their lives.

I helped Gravitas write a fundraising plan that included a seed-money campaign, write a proposal to use with foundation and individual funders, and trained them how to pitch the film to potential funders.

We not only got a lot of work done together, we had a good time, too!

Thanks, guys!

The Victory Lap: It Came From Kuchar

I was talking to my good friend, Jennifer M. Kroot, about the string of film festivals she has been traveling to for the past couple weeks and will continue traveling to for a couple weeks to come. Jennifer is not a big fan of travel in general. But this time, it’s different. It’s her chance to bask in the afterglow of all the hard work she has done to take her documentary film, It Came From Kuchar, from a little twinkle in her eye to a great, big, feature-length documentary that is totally first rate.

I reminded Jennifer that these festivals are her “victory lap,” the payoff for the struggle, the Herculean efforts at fundraising we went through, the long, dark nights and days in the edit suite, and on and on.

We raised nearly $110,000 in grant monies for the film with the rest of the budget coming from individuals. The Creative Work Fund/span> deserves a rousing round of applause for providing the first big grant. I can tell you that the first grant is always crucial to get the fundraising skids greased up. I can also tell you that this was some of the hardest fundraising I have ever done, because when we started foundations were already turning away from film. Luckily, we finished our efforts before the latest economic meltdown.

If you would like to see the fruits of our labors, come see It Came From Kuchar on Sunday, June 21 at 6:30 PM at the Castro Theatre when the film screens in the Frameline LGBT Film Festival. Both Kuchar brothers, George and Mike, will be on hand to receive a lifetime achievement award from Frameline.

Oh, yes, and I’ll be there, too, along with my husband, Chris Million, the DP of the film, to answer any questions you may have about that fundraising highway to hell that we survived. Glad to swap war stories anytime!

In fundraising solidarity,
Holly Million

The Doctor Is In! One-on-One Consulting

I often get asked if I am available to produce independent films. Right now, my hands are full directly producing three documentaries and one feature narrative. But that doesn’t mean I can’t help you. I’ve been consulting one-on-one with independent filmmakers for many years, and I’ve found a way to support projects that is cost effective and really useful for filmmakers, too.

Currently, I provide four main services: 1) writing a fundraising plan for your film that outlines where the money is coming from and how you will raise it; 2) writing a treatment, proposal, or business plan that can be used to secure grants or present to individual donors or investors; 3) teaching you how to pitch your film in a face-to-face meeting with investors or donors; and 4) providing ongoing coaching and support throughout the making of the film at an affordable cost.

If you think these services would help you launch your film fundraising effort today, send me an email at You can visit my fundraising consulting website at

Hope to see you soon!

Howdy, filmmakers! How’d you get those funds?

I’m blogging from the SXSW Film Festival in Austin Texas, where It Came From Kuchar, directed by Jennifer M. Kroot, is premiering tonight at 5 PM. Jennifer called me back in October 2005 to ask me if I would be interested in producing her film. Being familiar with Jennifer’s work on her narrative feature, Sirens of the 23rd Century, I said yes. Sirens of the 23rd Century screened at Frameline, Sci-Fi London and Anthology Film Archives. It won Best Narrative Feature at The New Orleans LGBT festival. Jennifer takes on ambitious projects and sees them through to successful completion. I knew her documentary would finish just as strong.

It Came From Kuchar is a hilarious and touching documentary about the legendary, underground filmmaking twins, the Kuchar brothers. As kids in the 1950s, George and Mike Kuchar began making no-budget epics in their Bronx neighborhood starring friends and family with their 8mm camera. In the 1960s the Kuchars became part of Warhol’s New York, underground film scene. The Kuchar brother’s films have inspired many prominent filmmakers, including John Waters, Buck Henry, Atom Egoyan, Guy Maddin and Wayne Wang (all interviewed in this film). It Came From Kuchar interweaves the brother’s lives, their admirers, a history of underground film and a ‘greatest hits’ of Kuchar clips into a hilarious and touching stream-of-consciousness tale.

As a producer on the film, I raised a substantial portion of the budget from grants from foundations. The rest of the funds came from individual donors. Getting the grants was a little like going to the dentist for a root canal. I would not like to repeat the experience. Our first big opportunity to get a significant grant came just two weeks after Jennifer hired me, when the deadline for a letter of intent to the Creative Work Fund came due on November 3, 2005. The Creative Work Fund is a special arts fund made possible by a consortium of arts foundations in San Francisco. They fund a different field of art in rotating years. At that time, film was funded every three years. Now, it’s every FOUR years. The trick to getting this grant is to have a working relationship between an artist and a nonprofit organization. The problem for us was, we did not have that partnership and the letter was due in two weeks. After barking up the wrong tree, we retrained our focus on the Legion of Graduate Students at the San Francisco Art Institute, the art school where George Kuchar has taught for over 30 years. The students, who love George like their beloved crazy uncle, were all too willing to help! With their involvement, we were able to secure a $35,000 grant for the film. That early money is like yeast! Once we had that grant and the imprimatur of the Creative Work Fund, we entered a different realm of fundraising, where people sat up and listened when we spoke and didn’t immediately slam the door in our faces. It was not a picnic from there, but it sure beat the wandering in the wilderness where the grantless walk.

I’ll be posting more about our premiere and interviewing Jennifer Kroot, George Kuchar, and others from SXSW.