Funding Opportunities for Filmmakers

Obviously you were put here to make these art pieces for us. Always know that you are loved for that Carole Dean, From the Heart Productions, Oxnard, CA Creative filmmakers and documentary makers often rely on grants and other sources of funding for their projects. Many grants require nonprofit status. It is hard to survive as a nonprofit, so some production companies develop nonprofit subsidiaries in order to qualify for grants. For example, Leslie Kussman of Aquarius Productions in Medfield,...

The Importance of Shorts

Like other filmmakers in this book, such as Kerry Rock and Georgina Willis of Potoroo Films in Australia or Emma Farrell from Six Foot High Films in England, Ruba sees the value of tackling a number of shorts before attempting a feature. I've known filmmakers who have made one short, polished film that's been critically acclaimed in festivals, and they suddenly want to jump into a feature, says Ruba. I tell them it's crazy as they won't get taken seriously. I made twelve short films and two...

Jamey Brumfield and David Birdwell Your Plan B Chicago

Your Plan B was established in 1997 with the focus of helping clients build productive relationships with their audiences, using the Web and intranets as tools for exchange. Jamey and David believe that deepening relationships allows clients to accomplish a spectrum of age-old business goals, from brand awareness and collection of demographic information to building a system of interconnected revenue streams. Business goals vary, but they all begin with the audience. Their name, Your Plan B,...

Use Your Time Wisely

Larry concurs that remaining focused and planning the best use of your time is critical. You have to sit back and ask yourself, 'Where do I spend my energy How much time do I have available for the things I want to accomplish ' Time is the one thing you're selling and there's a limit to how much you have. You want to make sure you're allocating it well. And remember, you always have to hold something back for the future. While working on one project, you still have to devote time to networking...

Sideline Venture

Unlike most other filmmakers in this book, Les's production company is a part-time venture, not a full-time job. Thus, he doesn't have to worry about generating a substantial income from the company in order to make a living. This is certainly a viable way to start a company, especially if you have a lot of financial obligations. Like most other filmmakers in this book, he has branched into commercial and video production, which he offers under a subcompany to separate it from his creative...

Independent Distributors

As the chances of a studio distribution deal are slim, most filmmakers opt to launch their work through an independent distributor. Since these distributors may not be affiliated with a major studio, they cannot provide the same financial resources for promoting your project and rarely offer financing up front. The advantage of independent distributors is that you tend to get a better percentage and more personalized attention. Keep in mind that hundreds of distribution companies go in and out...

Movie Posters

Posters are used by filmmakers to promote their films and are often replicated on postcards and newspaper ads. With limited space, visuals and text need to be dramatic and powerful enough to entice an audience. If you end up getting distribution, the distributor may create new artwork for the project, depending on the promotional strategies the company uses. The poster for Boys Don't Cry shows what appears to be a teenage boy walking down a road, although the face is partially cut off. The text...

Diana Sole Motion Masters Charleston WV

Diana is a veteran of the communications industry. A Marshall University Graduate, she has been president of MotionMasters since 1988 and prior to that served as its vice president and executive producer. With more than twenty years in the industry, she has produced hundreds of videos and commercials used to educate, motivate, and persuade. Prior to joining MotionMasters in 1984, Diana worked as a public relations account executive at Charles Ryan Associates, as promotional public services...

Maxwell Street A Living Memory

Shuli's latest project through Eshel Productions is Maxwell Street A Living Memory. The half-hour documentary captures the essence of this once-famous Chicago market through the vivid memories of the children Eshel on location with Maxwell Street. Eshel on location with Maxwell Street. and grandchildren of the Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe, complemented by rare archival footage and still images. Memories include bargain shopping, the unforgettable aroma of kosher hot dogs and corned...

Short Film Opportunities

Filmmakers create thousands of shorts every year, knowing that there are few commercial opportunities. Prestigious international festivals and positive reviews can unfold some markets, especially outside of the United States, where screening venues may include TV, galleries, the Internet, planes, shops, clubs, cafes, bars, and mobile phones, although even these forms of exposure offer few financial benefits. It's very difficult with short films, Ruben acknowledges. However, if filmmakers make a...

The Pros and Cons of Starting a Film Production Company

Making a film is probably the bravest thing you'll ever do in your life Kerry Rock, Potoroo Films, Sydney, Australia What storyteller hasn't imagined seeing her creative vision on the big screen The appeal of movie-making as a visual narrative form has been the ambition of millions, as an increasing number of film festivals around the world attest. Filmmakers are compelled, heart and soul, to share their unique stories in a way that parallels human experience, whether through drama, comedy,...

Company Distribution versus Self Distribution

Several filmmakers in this book self-distribute their projects, such as animator Bill Plympton and documentary maker Shuli Eshel. There are advantages and disadvantages to working with distributors, and every filmmaker should spend time exploring their options before making a distribution decision. You should never sign a deal without getting it checked, warns Kerry Rock of Potoroo Films. You can read something and have no idea what it really means, especially the first few times you look at a...

Marketing and Promoting Your Company

Marketing a company means branding an image and promoting products and services. Like the films you make, your company needs to be defined by visuals and words that should appear on everything you create, from business cards and letterhead to Web sites and promotional products. You want to pick a color that represents your company and use it on everything, suggests Jamey Brumfield of Your Plan B, a Web development and marketing company in Chicago. We use lime green and it's everywhere. We like...

Creating a Business Plan

A business plan is different than a specific film proposal targeted to investors, although it can be used in such cases to demonstrate the solidity and goals of your company. Following are items that are useful to include in a business plan Mission statement (what is the purpose of your company) Company structure and operations (who is running the show and how) Company goals and objectives (how many projects you intend to complete, how much revenue you expect to gain, etc.) Description of...

Marketing Strategies

It's like a domino effect someone gets your card and likes it, then they check out your Web site and that's consistent and still within what they're looking for, then they pick up the phone. The more all of these things mesh, the better. No company finds success without spreading the word about its products and services, directed to the right target audience. This holds true for film production company owners assuming you want to make a living at your craft as you need to get attention for your...

Making Contacts Networking and Cold Calling

It's amazing how so often contacts pay off years later, which is why networking needs to be an ongoing process. Joni Brander, Brander Broadcast Consulting, Chicago So as a new production company owner, how can you network yourself in your own community While it is easy to look up resources on the Internet, there is nothing like the value of face-to-face communication with people who can help support your career goals or put you in touch with others who can benefit you. In the who you know world...

The Importance of Planning

Everyone I know has worked for nothing for a great period of time. Eventually you realize your skills have come to a point where you can actually get paid Frey Hoffman, Freydesign Productions, Chicago I agreed to meet Frey Hoffman on a trip to Chicago after he had sent me a sample reel, as I needed a local shooter for a project. Unfortunately, the night before I had tripped over a garden hose at a friend's house and landed face down on concrete. By the time Frey and I gathered at Frey Hoffman,...

The Film Proposal

There are many books and Internet resources on creating proposals for film projects but a common mistake is to submit a final proposal carte blanche to a variety of funding sources without paying attention to application guidelines. Each funding source is looking for specific information they want to see addressed, so time must be given to alter and adhere your proposal to meet these guidelines. You'd be surprised how many people send me proposals and say 'I'm going to send this to fifty...

Cultural Diversity

After completing Women's Peace in the Middle East, Shuli parted ways with her husband and she moved from New York to Chicago. She remained true to her mission with her next documentary, Mudpeoples, about an African-American clay artist. I'm interested in the underdog, meaning people who don't get exposure in the media, to try to influence the social structure of where I am, and I realized that there were many black women in Chicago who did not get exposure. I met the president of the Chicago...

Touched By A Mentor

Producer Writer Sara Caldwell, Amphion Productions Synopsis For those brave enough to seek a better life and for those caring enough to give back, one common ground is Cabrini Connections, a nationally recognized youth program in Chicago. Here, nearly 100 inner-city teens find a new focus off the streets through one-on-one mentoring. Touched by a Mentor is a one-hour documentary that will profile student mentor pairs at Cabrini Connections to explore the power and importance of such...

Business Partnership Facts

. Your business is owned by two or more people who perform the day-to-day functions of operating the business. . Any partner has the authority to operate the business, spend money, and hire personnel. . All partners are personally liable for debts, losses, and taxes. . All partners share profits or losses. As stated before, a legal partnership agreement will help guide a partnership and can be referred to if disputes arise. At minimum, a partnership agreement should include . roles and...

The Business of Starting a Company

You can't lose track of quality of life issues. Did you decide to start your own company to work 24 7 or because you wanted a better life Since starting my own production company, I have come to appreciate a totally different brand of hero than we're accustomed to on the silver screen. While fictional heroes might save the universe from impending cataclysms, there is an underappreciated and often comically maligned underdog who deserves our trust and gratitude. Although never portrayed as a...

Freedom Chasers

I did a film last spring called Freedom Chasers',' says Leslie. I love the film. It's about the importance of independence for teens who have a physical or cognitive disability. I ski in a disabled skiing program and got to know all the kids in the program, and that's what inspired me to do the piece. You see people who are dealing with all of these challenges, but the challenges are not part of their life when they're out skiing. I wanted to bring that message out there, that other people who...

Mission Possible

I love documentaries more than feature films because it's real life. It's how you see the world through the filter of your heart and your eyes Shuli Eshel, Eshel Productions, Chicago I first encountered Shuli Eshel of Eshel Productions at a Women in Film meeting in Chicago. It was hard to miss Shuli with her curly red locks, thick Israeli accent, and effervescent buoyancy. Years later we discovered we shared a very dear mutual friend, production designer Katherine Bulovic, who reconnected us...

Chip Taylor Chip Taylor Communications Derry NH

In the early 1970s Chip Taylor was an elementary school teacher. He then spent ten years working for Journal Films, a pioneering educational film distributor of the day. After the company owner died, Chip began his own distribution company, Apropos Studios, officially changed to Chip Taylor Communications in 1985. Chip takes great pride in his company's slate of offerings and often says our company doesn't just sell DVD or video, we sell content. www.chiptaylor.com

Chocolate City

Despite a lack of experience, resources, and contacts, Florida A amp M students Rob Hardy and William Will Packer shattered the Hollywood myths to produce a feature film. In the early 1990s these students produced and directed Chocolate City, a story about the struggles of a young man trying to define himself at a historically Black college. The feature was made on a budget of 20,000 and released nationally to home video and distributed independently over the Internet. After completing their...

Emma Farrell Six Foot High Films Brighton England

Emma Farrell started Six Foot High Films, Ltd. in 1998 after graduating from Manchester University with a Masters Degree in Anthropology and Film. Since its creation, the company has produced three low-budget features, five short films, and numerous commercials, including the multi-award-winning Lost. In 2001 they ran the international script writing competition Six Foot Shorts and now actively work with new writers to improve their craft, currently through their script and treatment...

Robert Hardy Rainforest Films Marietta GA

In 1994 director Rob Hardy and producer William Packer created Rainforest Films on the eve of the success of their first film, Chocolate City. Rainforest Films grew into a full-service film and video production company that offers a wide range of quality services, concepts, and techniques, working within both the public and private sectors, entertainment and sporting events, music videos, corporate projects, and feature films. After Chocolate City, the partners produced their spellbinding film,...

Pros and Cons

A good place to begin when considering starting a company is to look at the advantages and disadvantages. There are many pros and cons, a few of which are listed below. If you find that the cons seem insurmountable, you may want to reevaluate the timing of your decision. However, there is never a perfect world in which to take such a risk, and you could end up waiting for a moment that never happens. Listen to your intuition as you read this list. Frey Hoffman, owner of Freydesign Productions...

Frey Hoffman Freydesign Productions Chicago

Freydesign Productions is a full-service production company based out of Chicago. They are committed to making motion pictures that have enduring aesthetic value and contribute meaningfully to the individuals, communities, organizations, and audiences for which they are created. Since their inception in 1997 the company has grown from working with local artists, entertainment, sports, business, nonprofit, and public interest organizations to national and international entities in the same...

Ruba Nadda Coldwater Films Toronto Canada

Ruba Nadda is a writer, director, and producer living in Toronto. She has written, produced, and directed twelve short films and two feature films. She is also a fiction writer, with many of her short stories published all over the world, in more than 400 journals such as Riversedge Journal, West Wind Review 18th Anthology, The Sounds of Poetry, Blood amp Aphorism, White Wall Review, Room of One's Own, and Wascana Review. Ruba was selected as a Trailblazer in film by the ReelWorld Film...

Types of Film Production Companies

Film production companies can be structured in a number of ways, mostly determined by financial circumstances. Many startups can't subside on their in-house creative projects alone, at least in the beginning, and depend on offering script, production, and post-production services to commercial and corporate clients. Information on various business structures are described in chapter 3. Following is a synopsis of the most typical film production company types This is how many filmmakers begin,...

Six Foot High Films

Freshly armed with a Master's Degree in documentary filmmaking, Emma formed Six Foot High Films a reflection of her height in 1998 and began production on her first feature film, Into the Light. I was actually inspired by a book called the Guerrilla Filmmaker's Handbook for people who decide they're going to make their feature on no budget whatsoever, recalls Emma. So I started down that road with a script and had to form a company to get it made. In the beginning there was no company...

Kerry Rock and Georgina Willis Potoroo Films Sydney Australia

Georgina Willis is a young writer director who built an international reputation in photography before moving into film. Georgina has an Arts degree and a Masters degree from the University of Sydney. Writer producer Kerry Rock has produced a range of films, including most recently her first feature film, Watermark. With degrees in arts and commerce, Kerry also has extensive experience in writing, film editing, and marketing. www.potoroofilms.com

Joni Brander Brander Broadcast Communications Chicago

Joni Brander is a broadcast consultant based in Chicago and has worked in the broadcast industry since 1983. She coaches news talent, from the top ten to the smallest markets, as well as corporate executives, politicians, and students. Prior to founding BBC in 1992, Joni's experience included consulting for a major international consulting firm, stints with television stations, production crews, and host and talent for numerous productions. Joni served as the 1997-98 Visiting Professional at...

Les Szekely Secrets Out Productions Cleveland OH

Les Szekely is a film and video producer director writer editor, as well as an actor and music composer. He has worked in both Hollywood and Cleveland, and is the founder of Secret's Out Productions, an independent production company. Les was a segment producer director writer for such shows as America's Funniest Home Videos, America's Funniest People ABC , and On the Television Nickelodeon Network . He won a National ACE Award and an Emmy Award for writing directing co-producing, Yes, This Is...

Staying Focused

One piece of advice that many filmmakers shared Understand that it is going to be a very long process to get your company and independent film projects off the ground. Brad Sykes, a Los Angeles director of numerous horror and thriller features, recalls his naivety when he started out. I did a twenty-minute short in the no-budget Robert Rodriguez style of filmmaking. My friend and I were convinced that since I had the short and had some scripts, we were definitely going to get the financing for...

Lawrence P Lundin CPA Chicago

Lawrence Larry Lundin, CPA, has been handling the accounting needs of Chicago area business and individuals for nearly twenty-five years. He joined Gerald M. Schechter amp Company in 1979, becoming a partner in 1983 and remaining with the company until its dissolution in 1997. At that time he joined the ranks of small business owners and started his own firm, focusing on family owned businesses. Larry's clients range from construction and trade industries to retail and service ventures, with a...

Sara Caldwell Amphion Productions Santa Clarita CA

Since forming Amphion Productions in 1991, Sara has written and produced over two hundred film, television, documentary, Web site, and satellite teleconference projects for national and international clients, specializing in healthcare and education. She has also produced a number of her own documentaries on issues of disability, the importance of mentoring children, and the arts. Sara also teaches film production courses at the College of the Canyons in Valencia, California. She is a frequent...

Brad Sykes Nightfall Pictures Los Angeles

Brad Sykes made eight feature-length projects on video before attending Boston University's film program in 1993. By the time he graduated cum laude in 1997, he had already worked for both Paramount Pictures and Ridley Scott's Scott Free Productions. After moving to Los Angeles, Sykes continued to work in film in various capacities both here and abroad a brief stint at Castel Film, Romania before landing his first writing-directing job in 1998. By 2000, he was writing and directing full-time,...

Carole Dean From the Heart Productions Oxnard CA

Thirty years ago Carole Dean took a 20 bill and turned it into a 50 million a year industry when she reinvented the tape and short-end industry in Hollywood. As the president and CEO of From the Heart Productions, Carole has produced over 100 television programs, including the popular cable program HealthStyles, where she interviewed some of the biggest names in the industry, including Dr. Deepak Chopra, Dr. Weil, and Dr. Caroline Myss. In 1992 Carole created the Roy W. Dean Grant Foundation in...

Word of Mouth

Jerry Vasilatos uses a Web site as one tool for promoting Nitestar Productions. He also has a director's and an editor's reel on easy-to-ship DVD copies, as well as promotional flyers, which he regularly sends out to a production company list he has compiled over the years. Still, he finds that most opportunities come through word of mouth. When I first got my Avid system, I spent a lot of money on advertising in industry magazines, Jerry recalls. Frankly, it was a waste of money as, so far,...

Whats in It for the Investor

If you put yourself in the investor's shoes, what would you gain from supporting your particular film project, financially and personally When Rob Hardison of Rainforest Films needed money for his second feature, Trois, he approached the local African-American business community for help. He knew this was the best pool to support a film made by and starring African Americans, and he secured 100 percent of his financing from that community. After filmmaker Brad Sykes of Nightfall Pictures in Los...