Funding For Film

Aside from winning the lottery, an elaborate Post Office heist or blackmailing rich celebrities with awkward photos, getting hold of money to finance your first film is a nightmarish minefield laden with disappointment. Just like a real minefield but you get to keep your life and limbs.

I intend to have a more complete portfolio of scripts and treatments in preparation for an MA in Filmmaking. From there, I’d like to have submitted a few scripts to funding bodies in an effort to subsidise or even wholly pay for the course. I have yet to find anyone else who has taken the same avenue, which is making it seem less and less likely that this is even possible. It doesn’t mean that this isn’t though, so until I lose a limb through it then I’m happy to plough on through.

Some funding bodies are more specific than others in terms of application requirements, others are more abstract and can even offer finance for entrepreneurial endeavours such as self-starter production companies etc. Creative England for example, offers various different types of funds from the same body, each serving different purposes and individuals or projects at different stages of their development so it is important to research the correct funding bodies to tap into for first time shooter/producers.

Film Funding Bodies

BFI – The British Film Institute offers £2,000,000 of funding to first time directors for an assortment of projects each quarter. It is likely that the less expensive projects would be more likely to attain funding as they do fund multiple productions each quarter. Their website has a handy link directly to their applications form that can also be found here (sign in required).

CTBF – The Charity of Film and Television Benevolent Fund primarily deals with those who have already been working within the Film and Television industries but who may have suffered an accident or illness. At the same time, they do offer something called the John Brabourne Award that is provided to budding filmmakers from low income backgrounds in an effort to help pay for training or equipment. Applications for funding this year has now closed but they are currently receiving applications for 2014. The independent website for this award can be found here.

Collabor8te – Working in partnership with numerous media institutions including the likes of Nokia, Dazed and Confused and Rankin Film Productions, the Collabor8te initiative supplies grants for up to £10,000 for emerging talent and provides links and networking into the related industries. They do not offer funding for documentary proposals. At the same time, the applications process is relatively simply, requiring your CV and 15 pages of script material along with a single page synopsis. They do not appear to be taking submissions just yet but you can find the online application form just here.

Creative England – Sourcing funds directly from The National Lottery, Creative England has lots of different money pots to pull from. Providing that you are entirely clear on the type of project that you want to apply for, Creative England probably has a grant specifically tailored for what you need. There are often setbacks though, such as the requirement that you will not have been part funded from any other funding body for any enterprise or creative project already. They are currently accepting applications for various grants so its best to have a look here.

EU Media Programme – This is huge. It really is massive. It is also likely to attract filmmakers from all over Europe so although the financial backing is stronger throughout their numerous specialised grant categories, you’re also much less likely to get onto it. At the same time, there does appear to be fewer restrictions and the industry networking potential is incredible. This particular funding entity does not look like it is going to run short of cash any time soon so it could very well be worth the trouble of applying and just seeing where you end up. Also, you’ll need to have the backing of a production company that has already produced commercially viable work for at least a year. It might be worth brokering a deal stating that you’re happy to do all the leg work if they’re happy to support you with their logo. How hard can it be? This is probably the type of grant you’d be looking for from them.

The Ideas Tap – Create a user account, sign in and you can apply for as many different grants as you can for whatever project you’re working on. They also provide start up funds for plenty of other media related projects from print, audio to stage and screen. On top of that, they have a handy archive of jobs, opportunities and a massive database of useful links and tutorials designed to help you get onto the right path with your creative projects. It’s all REALLY worth a look at all their other resources, but more specifically their funding page can be found here.

Microwave Film London – Is not exactly a funding body, but they do have a handy databank of how to get low budget films off the ground, along with strong links to the right people in the right places throughout London. This one would probably be handy to those already on a Filmmaking course within LDN. One day… one day…

Sponsume – It might be easier to cluster Kickstarter, Indiegogo and Sponsume all in the same category but this crowd sourcing website seems to be more film friendly than others that tend to lean onto a more entrepreneurial edge. Essentially it operates much in the same way as any other platform of its type so it’s fairly self-explanatory. It’s free to set up, just like the others, but in exactly the same way, the site takes a percentage off the money raised per project. Have a look at the project page just here.

The Wellcome Trust – If you have a film idea related to biomedical or similar humanitarian subjects then you might be eligible to apply for funding from the Wellcome Trust. Yes, deliberately spelled with two ‘L’s. Previous films that they have invested in have been primarily documentary based but it’s always a good idea to keep your perspectives nice and broad! Their access to funding page can be found here.

This post is part of ongoing research, targeted at breaking into the film and television industry. Hard. This will be updated as hopeful progress ensues. 


Top 5 Ways To Avoid Paying Police Bribes On The Mongol Rally

Put yourself in these shoes; Instead of shoes, try uncomfortable boots that probably don’t fit. Add a ridiculously oversized hat, a 1930’s whistle with truncheon and an extremely repetitive job whereby you get much of the same thing everyday. Even waving around your gun that you’ll never actually use gets boring. This is the life of traffic police in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Russia, and even the Middle East. When a tiny battered up car rocks up, covered in stickers, crewed by drunk people in fancy dress, flashing a badge that says “I have more money than sense” in the form of a GB plate, one could be forgiven in assuming that your day might be made.

This sight even in the UK is intriguing and would spark even the dullest bobbie to ‘have a gander,’ so whilst being harassed by foreign police might be annoying, you should look at it as part of the fun.

Even so, some police in distant lands have not had the luxury of a well-rounded education and might not take too kindly to a bunch of 20 somethings dressed as pirates trying on official hats, being shot at with cap guns or being offered a swig of cheap rum and coke from a water bottle. The latter would be most unwise if other police, particularly ones with bigger hats are near by. By rule of thumb, the bigger the hat, the more important (they might think) they are. So to avoid paying through your nose, wallet or other appendages, try to stick to these guidelines.

1. Travel In Convoy.

The car at the front of the convoy will be spotted a mile off and then waved down. Police then generally expect just one car to follow this instruction. If all of a sudden over five GB plated cars pulling over with everyone hopping out to stretch their legs with all eyes on the authoritative figure, one might be hastily expected to move along. In fear of being completely out manned and out gunned with witnesses, an officer usually decrees that this particular unwashed, smelly Westerner isn’t worth the hassle.

2. Be Grateful

Immediately shake their hand, show them your map and indicate how hopelessly lost you may or may not be. Police do have a sense of duty and care. Make sure you indicate that you need their help, reinforce their sense of pride and authority. After all, it can’t hurt to confirm with someone that you are heading the right way. You might even scrounge some local knowledge like the distance to the next petrol station of if any roads are closed ahead.

3. Keep Calm And Do The Dance.

For a start, you might actually have missed a stop sign or gone over the speed limit. There’s likely to be a reason for them to have picked that particular spot to flag you down so be aware of what you are being accused of. You can politely request them to show you what you have done and if the lack of any evidence arises then you can afford to be a little more lighthearted. If you are asked for an on the spot fine, point out that you are in search for a cash machine after doing the ‘pocket dance’ (Otherwise known as the ‘Keys Please shuffle’) yielding nothing but a broken lighter, a Nokia 3310, some change from the last country you were in and a load of suspicious looking lint.

4. Say Hello And Offer A Souvenir.

Actually start the conversation. Smiling helps. Indicate that you are a tourist, not someone working for a high rolling oil firm. It is a brilliant idea to take trinkets such as novelty Union Jack sunglasses, Big Ben snow globes or a box full of flags sporting the red, white and blue. These will be much cheaper than having to disperse $20 bills left right and centre and can sometimes be used as currency with certain mechanics. Particularly for tyres.

5. Be Charming.

In Kazakhstan, if you are caught throwing a cigarette butt out of your car window you can face up to five days in prison (with questionable human rights issues). Now you know. If you didn’t, you need to make sure that you are ‘frightfully sorry,’ and ‘it certainly will not happen again sir,’ after deliberately misunderstanding the accusation, immediately offering a cigarette.* Laws are different everywhere and police do not expect foreigners to know all the local customs, but you are expected to be respectful of them. This also includes finishing the bottle of Vodka once it has been opened…


*NB; If you didn’t smoke before the rally, you should. It is recommended that you stock up on cigarettes from Romania since they are the cheapest ones that you could pass off as being from ‘back home.’ This is because the further East you travel, the alphabets change and language becomes increasingly exotic but people are still keen to sample Western tobacco wares.