film funding guerilla tactics…

I had the pleasure of attending ‘How to Fund a Film’ workshop by Producer Ivan Clements and Director-Producer Chris Jones.

Chris is the inspirational filmmaker who’s short film ‘Gone Fishing’ was Oscar Shortlisted in 2009 and author of the Guerilla Filmmakers Handbook.

Ivan is a multi award winning Producer (winner ‘BEST FILM’ Producers Guild of America 2009 for ‘Gone Fishing’) with a long and proven track record in raising film finance, cashflow and tax credit structuring.

Film financing is a complex field and there are a plethora of resources online to pool information. Not all these sites are catered to filmmaker’s creative backgrounds. Indeed the last time I spent an afternoon on the HMRC website to consult UK Film Tax laws, my desire to commit Internet Hari-kari was overwhelming (and I have spent 13 years in Finance)!!

Ivan and Chris have managed to inject a much needed dose of ‘fun’ into Film FUNding (confession, I have stolen borrowed that from Chris 🙂. Their combined experience and expertise makes this a fantastic workshop where audience engagement and networking is actively encouraged.

The pool of creative talent out there surely surpasses the elusive pool of funding for films. I.e. filmmaking is an expensive business and most projects struggle to raise the finance required to bring their projects to completion. Ivan outlines a realistic funding structure for independent filmmakers:

Making a movie in 2013 on a lower budget will mean you need to get funding from a number of key sources. No one source will be enough: “

• Some of your own cash, friends and family (say 10% cash budget)
• Some ‘in kind’ stuff, getting freebies etc (real money saved)
• Some crowdfunding (say 20% of cash budget)
• UK film tax credit at 20% (we show you how to do it, though it wont be 20% of your budget, more like 15% of cash budget)
• Grants and sponsorship (forget it unless you know someone)
• Pre-sales and MG with a sales agent (possible but project and team dependent)
• Private investment, protected by SEIS / EIS (the balance of your outstanding budget, usually around 50% to 60%)

At the workshop, Ivan showed us how to set up SEIS and EIS schemes through a detailed 27 step process and also how to apply for Film Tax Credit. The complexities of the content are handled with due care and enthusiasm, taking plenty of time for questions and fun ‘memgem’ breaks! All sample materials and links are made available online to the delegates.

Chris gave a presentation on crowd funding and how that is changing the landscape for Independent / Micro Budget filmmaking. Noting that crowd funding has been around much longer than Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Their hugely successful short film, Gone Fishing, was crowd sourced. He notes the importance of constantly engaging your audience and giving them creative incentives to participate. That crowd funding should be treated as a project in itself, separate to and before Principal Photography. The success of Veronica Mars Kickstarter campaign (raising over $5 million!) shows the power of an existing fan base. And the increased awareness of these platforms can help new filmmakers raise funds outside the studio system.

The Veronica Mars Movie Project on Kickstarter

The workshop drew a very diverse set of delegates and the hosts insistence of moving seats after breaks was a great idea. I met some wonderful Producers, Directors and Actors and was great to hear about their stories, projects and their experiences in the industry.

Delegates at the workshop (held at Regents College Film School).

The (encouraged) networking element is a fantastic feature of this and future events. The after drinks session gave me time to have a chat with Ivan, fellow delegates (and Chris though far too briefly since I had to leave early. Looking forward to the Filmmaker Master Class in a few weeks!). Ivan has just made his directorial debut on a short, written and acted by his daughter. He said that it was a lot more fun being on the creative side of the line.

I would like to thank both Chris and Ivan again for hosting this fantastic event, sharing their knowledge and inspiring a new generation of filmmakers! And would strongly recommend any of their future events. Also a thank you to all the delegates I met for giving me your time and sharing your stories. It would be a pleasure to write future posts about your projects so please don’t hesitate to contact me!

What do you think?


  1. Chris Jones says:

    Tnaks for the write up, even my head was spinning by the end of the day. Talk about process and procedure!

  2. Avatar photo ALI-ANS says:

    You are welcome! There was definitely a huge amount of content covered and the after sessions drinks was the perfect way to wind the noggin down 🙂

  3. Mark Wong says:

    Hey Ali,

    Really good day (had by me and everyone I spoke to), forced networking (actually a great idea when a room full of passionate people quickly get into deep conversations and forget to move on!) and my picture on your blog for a bonus!

    Great to meet you and can’t wait for the Guerilla Filmakers Masterclass!

    • Avatar photo admin says:

      Was great to meet you Mark. And intrigued by your 60 second film success. Don’t know many folks who can get an f15 hired for a shoot… Nice ! See you at the master class !

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