The Television Market

One way into filmmaking is to submit your idea to television. Knowing where to turn and to whom to submit your proposal then becomes crucial. In the United States, this entry route is not an easy path, but it can be done, particularly in public television. Occasionally, PBS decides to sponsor a documentary series with a marvelous-sounding name like Great Americans or The Living World or The Spirit of the Future. This means three thousand people apply for grants to make ten films. The odds aren't great, but occasionally a newcomer slips in. Proposals can also he made to independent PBS stations. In theory, each station has a planning department that evaluates proposals. They are supposed to see whether the proposal fits the station, whether it is unusual or innovative, and whether funds can be raised on the proposal. But little of this touches reality, and I know of hardly anyone who has made a film this way. And there is a further catch. Even if the station accepts your proposal, all this may mean is that they will screen the film after you have raised all the money. And if they do raise the money, they will take 21 percent of the budget as overheads.

The greatest problem for independent filmmakers till recently was that the main TV market was dominated by the commercial networks. Using various arcane arguments, the networks, on the whole, refused to show any documentaries except those made by themselves. That left PBS as the only available national showcase. Cable has now drastically altered the situation. Since the mid-1980s, new cable stations such as the Discovery Channel, A&E, TBS, Bravo, and HBO have started offering new possibilities both as documentary sponsors and as outlets for finished films.

In Europe, the situation is also improving. First, the European networks, particularly in Germany, are more open to accepting outside suggestions for productions and coproductions. Second, the English broadcast system is opening up to greater participation from independent filmmakers. Channel 4 has, of course, been available to the independent filmmaker since its inception and has either totally or partially funded a great number of documentaries.

Film Making

Film Making

If you have ever wanted the secrets to making your own film, here it is: Indy Film Insider Tips And Basics To Film Making. Have you ever wanted to make your own film? Is there a story you want to tell? You might even think that this is impossible. Studios make films, not the little guy. This is probably what you tell yourself. Do you watch films with more than a casual eye? You probably want to know how they were able to get perfect lighting in your favorite scene, or how to write a professional screenplay.

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment