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Independents Funding Films: Online Resources

October 28, 2010 | By | Add a Comment

Margaret Ann Stewart

If you are a filmmaker looking to fund your independent project, you may be frustrated by your online search for funding opportunities. Many of the online sites that are mentioned in blogs and on forums are outdated or no longer in existence. Moreover, many of the sites that filmmakers attempt to use to raise funds are scams. But, don’t let these issues stop you. There are a number of legitimate fundraising sites that will assist you with either raising money yourself, or in providing you with funding for your film.

IFP
The Independent Feature Project, (IFP) in Chicago offers a Fiscal Sponsorship Program online (http://www.ifpchicago.org/category/fiscalsponsorship/). To take part in the Fiscal Sponsorship Program filmmakers must be members of IFP. However, once you are a member you can apply to post your project for financial support through IFP’s tax exempt status (Internal Revenue Code 501 (c)(3)). Also, filmmakers must intend to produce a non-commercial project and sign a contact with IFP indicating that the funds received will be used for film production. IFP does charge an undisclosed fee for the service and the organization does monitor the progress of the project once it receives funding.

IFP also hosts the Production Fund Competition (http://www.ifpchicago.org/category/production-fund-competition/). Winners receive $100,000 of goods and services. These consist of Astro Lab Filmworkers film processing, a Fletcher camera and supplies, Kodak film, post-production services, and Black Cat editing services. The fund is specifically for the production of short films and filmmakers that are members of IFP. Applications must be made through the IFP website and all filmmakers are required to provide a film budget.

Indie GoGo

Indie GoGo

Indie GoGo (http://www.indiegogo.com/) is a website that allows filmmakers and other creative artists to post a project and collect money from supporters. Basically the filmmaker makes a pitch to his or her audience, including the amount he or she needs to complete it. People who visit the site then donate money toward the project; once the post has run its course on the site, the filmmaker is sent the money. Keep in mind that Indie GoGo does charge fees, which are subtracted from the money raised and it is suggested that filmmakers offer incentives to prospective donators, such as a free copy of the film on DVD, or tickets to an opening.

Women Make Movies

Women Make Movies (WMM) offers the Fiscal Sponsorship Program (http://www.wmm.com/filmmakers/fiscal_sponsorship.shtml). The program is solely focused on women filmmakers who are seeking non-profit status and those who are already working on raising funds for their movies. In addition, the filmmaker must be producing a project that focuses on the issues pertaining to women or women themselves, the director must be a woman, the film must be non-commercial, and only U.S. citizens are considered. Women Make Movies offers two types of funding: a general fiscal sponsorship (the filmmaker uses WMM for fiscal sponsorship of all movie projects) and a “pass-through” sponsorship (WMM serves as the fiscal sponsor for only one project).

Federal Resources

NAEA (National Art Education Association)

The National Film Preservation Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Art Education Foundation all provide grants and awards for creative film projects that specifically meet the organizations’ guidelines (http://www.filmpreservation.org/, http://www.arts.gov/grants/apply/index.html, http://www.naea-reston.org/grants/national-art-education-foundation).

The National Film Preservation Foundation offers grants to organizations or individuals who are seeking to preserve film that is significant to the culture of society. There are three types of grants: The Basic Preservation Grant, The Matching Grant and The Avant-Garde Masters Grant. The Matching Grant requires filmmakers and preservationists to match 1/5 of the funding provided by the foundation, while The Avant-Garde Grant requires filmmakers to work with films that are “significant to the avant-garde” in American society.

The National Endowment for the Arts offers grants for film, video and visual media that range from $5,000 to $250,000. The NEA has multiple grants for filmmakers, including Access to Artistic Excellence, Challenge America and Learning in the Arts for Children and Youth. Filmmakers should apply through the NEA and ensure that your project meets the specifications of the grant for which you are applying.

The National Art Education Foundation offers grants to individuals who focus on education, specifically in visual art. Teachers are their primary grant recipients, and they use these grants to acquire equipment for working with students to create visual arts projects.

Fundsnet Services

Fundsnet Services Online

For extensive listings of state, federal and private grant opportunities for filmmakers, visit http://www.fundsnetservices.com/searchresult.php?&sbcat_id=1&pg=4. Funding programs are listed alphabetically and each listing provides a link to the website of the funding source. While not all links are active, most are, and details about the grants offered –including the requirements for the grants– can be found through the link.

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