Over the years, filmmakers have developed certain golden rules for dealing with sponsors, rules that enable you to survive and make good films.
1. You must find out, right at the beginning, the main message that the sponsor wants to convey. If possible, have the sponsor give you a single sentence that expresses the one central idea that the film should leave with the viewer. If the sponsor can't tell you, then you're in trouble. But if he or she does, then make sure that you focus on that central idea throughout the film.
2. Confirm the elements that are absolutely vital to the film. If the sponsor argues for the catalogue or the big shots, try to dissuade him or her. Apart from that, listen carefully and weigh the sponsor's ideas for their worth.
3. Find one person who is willing to take total responsibility for the film and the script. This saves you from going to management and having to listen to a multitude of different voices, each arguing for something else.
4. Make sure your budgeting is realistic. If you have been given only seven thousand dollars to make a film, make sure that your sponsor doesn't expect the production values of a seventy-thousand-dollar film. You can't pay for a Beetle and expect a Cadillac. This is vital, as many sponsors haven't a clue concerning the true expenses of filming. If they can afford only a modest house, then tell them from the beginning that they cannot expect a mansion.
5. No sponsor is realistic about timing. They all want their films done yesterday. Make sure you give them a completion schedule that is based on actuality and not fantasy.
6. Find out from the sponsor how and where the film is going to be used. Will it play before big audiences or small audiences? Will any informational literature be given out at the time? Will a speaker accompany the film? All these points help you evaluate how you should tackle the film project.
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