There are many sources of funding available to short filmmakers
- Funding Sources
- What to include in your Application
- Related Guides
- Help us Improve the Filmmaking Guide
Government funding for shorts comes largely through the UK Film Council*, but there are other sources if you are prepared to look hard and to work your film around their agendas. Many funding sources look to fund digital shorts rather than projects that want to shoot on film, based on the argument that new directors should cut their teeth on the cheaper medium.
*Please note it has recently been announced that the UKFC will cease operating in April 2012, when the BFI will assume the majority of its responsibilities. More information about this will be included here when it becomes available.
One valuable (print) guids to film funding is:
Film Finance Handbook - How To Fund Your Film, Global Edition
Published by filmmaking website Netribution, this is the updated version of Get Your Film Funded, containing details of over 1,000 funds and incentives and support in 50 countries, as well as in-depth info on copyright, cutting budgets, the internet, and independent finance structures. For more information and to download a free chapter, visit: www.fundyourfilm.info
UK Film Council/British Film Institute
Until recently the first place to look for funding on a national level was the UK Film Council, but since the UKFC is due to close with the BFI taking over the majority of its responsibilities, this is no longer the case. Until the BFI releases more information about future funding models, filmmakers are in a temporary limbo, but more information will be posted here and in our Related Links: Funding section.
National and Regional Screen Agencies
The UKFC model of nine independent regional film bodies has also been revised by the coalition government. In its place is Creative England, a new organisation composed of three regional hubs. Creative England is currently undergoing a strategic consultation and until that is complete, funding options for filmmakers are again uncertain. We will try to post any new on this page and in this section, when it is forthcoming: Related Links: Funding - UK Screen Agencies.
Local councils will often put money towards a short filmmaking initiative, especially if it deals with social exclusion or aids the local community in some way. You could visit your local council or county website to find out if their arts department will support a film project.
A number of charities fund short films (often though on an ad hoc basis). If you're interested in getting funding from a charity, think laterally about the type of film you are trying to make and don’t be afraid to contact organisations that are in some way linked to the topic/goal of your film. For example the Wellcome Trust (UK's largest medical research charity) has an Arts Award that funds projects (including short films) inspired by biomedical science.
Production Schemes & Competitions
From time to time, there are various schemes set up by broadcasters and other organisations that produce a series of shorts, such as the BBC New Music Shorts and Channel 4/UK Film Council's Cinema Extreme schemes. However, neither of these are running at the moment.
New schemes seem to arise all the time and thus can be very sporadic. So do keep an eye out for announcements about short film schemes in the news sections/bulletins of filmmaking communities (see our Related Links: Filmmaking Organisations & Communities). We have listed a number of production schemes and competitions in our Related Links: Competitions & Production Schemes
Just as it is difficult to fund a film from scratch, it can be equally as hard to find that last bit of funding for final stages of post-production. During the UK Film Council era, the New Cinema Fund ran a scheme, produced by Maya Vision International, called the Completion Fund that offered up to £50,000 to support filmmakers and production companies in securing vital funds for the completion of short film projects that have already been shot but lack the funds to finish. Whether this will continue to run in the post-UKFC era is yet to be clarified.
Help with festivals
Don’t forget that once your film is complete it can be a lengthy and costly process getting it seen. This is where the British Council can help. The British Council run a long-established and unique scheme whereby selected films are promoted to the list of 50-60 major international film festivals. There are also other perks, such as reduced entry fees, as well as possible travel grants.
What to include in your Application
Funders look at hundreds of film applications every round, so any application you make should be as detailed and as striking as possible. The success of your application will probably depend upon what elements you have in place e.g. the quality of your script, the director, the director of photography and acting talent that you have attached. It is important to maximise all these elements in order to make your application as enticing as possible.
The following could help make your application stand out:
- CVs: Including those of Producer, Director, Writer, Actors, Director of Photography, Production Designer
- Budgets & Schedules (see Filmmaking Guide: Budget & Schedule)
- A concise paragraph outlining your idea: From a creative and technical point of view (e.g. the director’s vision, the distribution plans for the film etc).
- Storyboards & Mood Boards: It's really important to illustrate your idea. Applications with storyboards or mood boards stand out far more than those without a visual element. Storyboards are graphic illustrations of the shots & scenes in your film. If you're not confident about drawing the storyboard yourself, why not seek out someone who is? e.g. a student artist, trainee storyboard artist etc Mood boards are like scrapbooks or collages that visually convey the mood, feel and look of your film e.g. photos, cuttings, drawings, influences etc.
- Make an impression: It sounds obvious but typed treatments/ideas/applications are far easier to read and provide a much neater overview then a hastily written piece of scrap paper. Check for spelling errors/typos, label everything, and make sure your application delivers a first (positive) impression that will help your work stand out from the rest.
- Showreel: Most funders will want to see examples of your work, so a well put together showreel is essential. If you haven't made a complete film, your showreel could include: graphic design, a photo gallery, ads, virals etc
See our Filmmaking Guide: Press and Publicity Materials for more information on assets.-->
Crowdfunding, or crowdsourcing, has been the source of much enthusiasm as a new model of funding in recent years, not just for films but for all cash-strapped enterprises. The idea is that by pooling the near-unlimited audiences of the internet for tiny amounts of money, one can bypass traditional funding models and their subsequent artistic restraints. But while the idea is sound in principle, convincing strangers to part with money can be extremely hard work, and trying to appeal to myriad benefactors can lead to its own artistic compromises.
The popularisation of the idea can be almost wholly traced back to the success of Spanner Film's award-winning environmental documentary The Age of Stupid, and there's a wealth of information on their website about their methods, such as this article. Since The Age of Stupid there have been few crowdsourced successes, and as such there's a body of opinion that crowdfunding is only really viable for documentary projects (the reasons for which are explored here). But although the jury is still out on whether it's a sustainable alternative to traditional methods, there are numerous websites where you can upload your project to the world, such as IndieGoGo and Buzzbnk. Or alternatively you could start up your own campaign independently and enlist A-list talent to your cause, like the enterprising types at BuyACredit.com.
For legal advice on funding, see our Legal Guide: Funding
For organisations which offer funding including funding schemes and screen agencies see our Related Links: Funding
For information on short film competitions, see our Related Links: Competitions & Production Schemes
Help us improve the Filmmaking Guide
If you've spotted a factual error or have a suggestion for an organisation or information that we should include, then please help us improve the filmmaking guide