Film Funding by Amy Boulter

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Film Funding

Over the years, the ways in which films are funded has changed. Before the modern age, films were mostly funded through major studios or through the film makers themselves. There is more financial support than ever before, particularly with Indie films. With the internet being used by billions of people globally, it has impacted on the way that films are funded. Crowdfunding has become one way in which film makers can be supported for their projects.

There are two main websites in which crowdfunding is used, these are Kickstarter and Indiegogo[1]. Both platforms have become a popular way of funding independent projects. These sort of websites allow members of the public to donate money to those wanting to make films. When Kickstarter was first launched in 2009, the most popular genre taking up almost 43% of projects were documentaries according to Steven Follows Blog. [2] Since then, there has been a drop in the amount of documentaries but an increase in other genres such as drama’s and horror films. Film fans are able to invest in a project that they believe would become a success in the future. Looking through the projects that have been launched, aside from documentaries, there are web series, animations and short films, all of which appeal to different audiences.

Crowdfunding has come to have an impact on the film industry with many of these independent films being shown at various film festivals as a way of distribution. According to Crowdfund Insider[3], at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival, there have been plans to show 19 films that have been funded and made through Kickstarter. Most of these films are independently made documentaries, one of which is all about Star Trek. When it comes to these independent films, one of the best ways for them to be distributed is through film festivals. They are given what is known as a slow release and are aimed at a more mature audience. It is a good way for them to reach these audiences and they generally do fairly well. This goes to show one of the impacts that crowdfunding has had on the film industry. With independent and foreign films being more popular at film festivals, it is the perfect way to get started and is becoming popular. [4]

Although crowdfunding is becoming a more common way of funding films, there are also various other funds that are set up for this purpose. The BFI (British Film Institute) uses National Lottery Funds to support upcoming film makers in the UK. It is one of the most well-known funds out there for this sort of thing. [5] According to Stephen Follows, the BFI has awarded over a million pounds for short films in total, however the funding amount has gone down since 2011. This could be due to the increase in other methods of funding, such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo or maybe it is down to the financial times or the types of films being made. [6] The various funds they offer to film makers’ impacts on the British film industry greatly as it allows for smaller organisations and upcoming talent to showcase what they are made of. Films such as Fast Girls and Spike Island have been made through BFI funding. Alongside the BBC, the BFI have had a large influence on different films that have been made. According to more statistics, both of these companies funded more drama films between 2009 and 2013 than others. [7] These genres are generally very popular among UK audiences, which is possibly one of the reasons that they are funded by the BFI and the BBC.

There are also other local film funding companies that give smaller film makers a chance to get started on their film career. Creative England is an example of a company that funds smaller independent film makers. [8] Indie films have had many rises and falls over the years. Miramax is an example of a company that was known for producing independent and foreign films. It was years later that they were purchased by Disney to help with financial problems. Disney was only involved for seventeen years when the Weinstein brothers left and set up one of the biggest mini-major companies in the world. The Weinstein Company has produced hundreds of films and even some popular TV shows. Films such as Django Unchained have come out of it and have been highly popular. Their financial hardship however, shows the toll that an indie film can take on funds. Although they are usually budgeted, they can still cost quite a bit of money. Simon Follows broke down the costs of Papadopoulos & Sons, an independent film made by Marcus Markou.[9] This film was funded by the film maker himself who had a budget of £825,000. Films such as this one tend not to do so well in the box office, however with Video On Demand services, they are able to make money back and appeal to a wider audience. VOD has become a big way in which films can be distrusted and the money mad can be used to fund future projects.

Overall, film funding is quite a wide topic. It has changed drastically with there being an increase in independent releases. Investors, studios and even VOD services such as Netflix can be used to fund projects, however with the rise of the internet, crowdfunding has become a great way for film makers to gain the money they need. Is this the future? With the growth of the digital age and the interest in films varying with different genres, people are able to back projects through Kickstarter and Indiegogo that they are interested in. Actors are also using crowdfunding as a way of starting up their projects. If it continues to rise this way, major studios may look into buying the independent companies out. Budgets for smaller films may rise with their popularity and there may be even more funding available. Independent films are already winning more awards, so why not continue?

[1] Kickstarter, ‘Film and Video’ (2016) https://www.kickstarter.com/discover/categories/film%20&%20video?ref=discover_index accessed 29/04/16.

Indiegogo, (2016) https://www.indiegogo.com/#/picks_for_you accessed 29/04/16.

[2] Stephen Follows, ‘The Statistics Behind Film Crowdfunding: Part 1’ (17/11/2015) https://stephenfollows.com/film-crowdfunding-kickstarter-statistics/ accessed 29/04/16

[3] Crowdfund Insider, ’19 Kickstarter Funded Films to be Presented at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival’ (12/04/2016) http://www.crowdfundinsider.com/2016/04/84123-19-kickstarter-funded-films-to-be-presented-at-the-2016-tribeca-film-festival/ accessed 29/04/2016

[4] Tino Balio, Hollywood in the new millennium. (London:Palgrave Macmillan on behalf of the British Film Institute, 2013), pp.21-22.

[5] BFI (2016) ‘BFI Film Fun’ (2016): http://www.bfi.org.uk/supporting-uk-film/film-fund accessed 29/04/16

[6] Stephen Follows, ‘How Does the BFI Award its Film Funding?’ (17/11/2015) https://stephenfollows.com/bfi-award-short-film-funding/ accessed 29/04/16

[7] Stephen Follows, ‘Which film genres receive the most UK public funding?’ (17/11/2015) https://stephenfollows.com/film-genres-with-most-uk-public-funding/ accessed 29/04/16

[8] Creative England, (2016) http://www.creativeengland.co.uk/film accessed 29/04/16

[9] Stephen Follows, ‘Full Costs and Income of a £1m independent feature film’ (04/05/2015) https://stephenfollows.com/full-costs-and-income-of-1m-independent-feature-film/ accessed 29/04/2016)

Bibliography

Books

BALIO, T. (2013). Hollywood in the new millennium. London:Palgrave Macmillan on behalf of the British Film Institute.

 

Web Sources

BFI (2016) BFI Film Fun [Web Page] BFI. Available from: http://www.bfi.org.uk/supporting-uk-film/film-fund [Accessed: 29/04/16]

Creative England (2016) [Web page] Creative England. Available from: http://www.creativeengland.co.uk/film [Accessed: 29/04/16]

Indiegogo (2016) [Web Page] Indiegogo. Available from: https://www.indiegogo.com/#/picks_for_you [Accessed: 29/04/2016]

Kickstarter (2016) Film and Video [Web Page] Kickstarter. Available from: https://www.kickstarter.com/discover/categories/film%20&%20video?ref=discover_index [Accessed: 29/04/2016].

Samantha Hurst (12/04/16) 19 Kickstarter Funded Films to be Presented at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival. [Web page] Crowdfund Insider. Available from: http://www.crowdfundinsider.com/2016/04/84123-19-kickstarter-funded-films-to-be-presented-at-the-2016-tribeca-film-festival/ [Accessed: 29/04/2016]

Stephen Follows (17/11/16) The Statistics Behind Film Crowdfunding: Part 1 [Web Page] Steven Follows Blog Available from: https://stephenfollows.com/bfi-award-short-film-funding/ [Accessed: 29/04/16]

Stephen Follows (05/05/2015) How Does the BFI Award its Film Funding 1 [Web Page] Steven Follows Blog Available from: https://stephenfollows.com/bfi-award-short-film-funding/ [Accessed: 29/04/16]

Stephen Follows (06/04/2015) Which film genres receive the most UK public funding? https://stephenfollows.com/film-genres-with-most-uk-public-funding/ [Accessed 29/04/16]

Stephen Follows (04/05/2016) Full Costs and Income of a £1m independent feature film (04/05/2015) https://stephenfollows.com/full-costs-and-income-of-1m-independent-feature-film/ [Accessed: 29/04/2016]

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