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Get the Funds for Your Film

Lesson 8 from: Producing An Independent Film From The Grassroots Up

Michael Gottwald

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Lesson Info

8. Get the Funds for Your Film

Next Lesson: Logline Critiques

Lesson Info

Get the Funds for Your Film

Budget is a great way to segue way to our next lesson, which is about getting the funds for your film. But, you know, one thing that I was just thinking of is like, um, I was listening to this in your interview with seth rogan and evan goldberg, who did you know they did? This is the end, and you know them from the right, you know, their writers of a super bad, but they also made the green hornet think and there's an interview with them on a podcast where they talk about how they were actually a problem with that film ended up being that they we're given too much money on dh, they said they were sort of butting up against studio heads and being like, why are you guys giving us all this when we know how to execute this at a much lower level and it's a very it was a very fascinating thing to see the way that hollywood works and and how they think that certain things need to be budgeted at him, sometimes higher levels, it has a sort of measure of self protection, but it can end up really ...

screwing them because that I don't think that movie did as well as they thought, but anyway, just a example of how going off of the feedback from from people at home budget can be a where there can be a disconnect you know budget can be when you're talking about executing something or or tastes you know if somebody wants to make a horror movie but they they want to make it a much higher budget that could affect like what kind of experience they want the audience to have so I don't just something to think about so now we're going to talk about raising raising money for your film and let's let's go this right here um be honest when you're talking to everybody about raising money be it grant er's or finance years or donors or whoever what success looks like for the film from the outset um if the film is not is more like an art film and just not inherently not commercial and success is not going to be financial like that should not be your rubric of success that's not why you're making this movie you're making this movie as a as a statement or to exist or not to as a as a prada right it's good to just keep that stuff in mind um uh you know something to think about where as we talk about this in generals be thinking internally like, what is your struggle with finding funds right now like what's the road block that you're heading one of the barriers um and now this as I said, I did a the whole fellowship research fellowship with my one of my partners, josh penn, about the overlaps between political campaigns and and film campaigns for lack of a better word and this is really fundraising is really where the two I have a lot in common um, you know, uh, as if you think about it just for a second, like constantly as a political candidate or a political campaign you are you're trying to raise you're trying to do two things, raise money and gather interest in and what you're doing right same thing when you're starting a grassroots film project, you want to gather an audience and you want to raise money at the same time these things these days are are kind of part and parcel to each other, it can be at least, um, think about we'll get into kickstarter in a bit. But just think about how many kickstarter campaigns that have been where the audience for the film, the very base audience begins with the people who gave money for that film they already are invested in the film same thing in a campaign there's all these different points in a political campaign where people are opting in you want to create moments of mo mentum, right? So when barack obama started his twenty twelve campaign, there was a moment that said we're said like the very first thing that he's and I think it was spread through social media was are you in right? It just meant like, are you going to do this with us or you're gonna get on board this campaign and all you do is sign up and say yes right then he's got a pool of people to cut through this again that's jeremy bird remember, this is where data comes into play you've opted in to say, yeah, I'm interested in this then the campaign has access to who you are and they can get you to the next level of engagement, so maybe four or five months rolled by and there's like all right, it's time to hit the ground running we need volunteers who we're going to have ah all national like volunteer day they're going to blast that to the list serve of people who opted in to be a part of the campaign you're going to get, you know, some response from those people and it's just another ladder of engagement kickstarter works the same way it's like I've got a film are you interested in it? Great click that okay off these people who are interested in it um, you know, I need to raise money great it's just like all these things over the course of a fundraising campaign or or ah leading to a film's development, you have to create both moments of momentum and also things that you're going to give to people to make them feel ownership over it I mean kick started the most basic one is that they give like that you're you're supposed to give prizes right or you're supposed to give, like here's a digital poster or here's a soundtrack from the film and that is had its basic level like a sense of ownership it's like you now own something from the film, you are a part of it, but the more the basic operating principles of grassroots stuff is, so you have that access to data and information you have access to an audience or to a voting bloc, right? Um and engaging with them and making them feel respected, empowered include that was our mantra when I worked on the on the obama campaign is respect, empower include them or you could include people and empower them the more everybody can get anything done. The reason that that campaign won is because there was a top down mentality to most political campaigns that just wasn't present there. They empowered volunteers at the local level, so if I and running a film campaign, if I've got a film that's about to come out for one night only in little rock, arkansas instead of be like rely on my traditional distributor to maybe put an ad in the little rock paper. If there is one energetic person in little rock, arkansas, who wants to get everybody to see my film? Yeah, he's gotta not be insane, but I would love. I mean, I'm more prone to trust him to do something rather than nothing. Right? And so that's. Just an example of how they can overlap fundamental belief that volunteers can change the outcome. So let's go to this next one. So this is that's, gloria. See that's, the short film that I've been talking about ben's short film that led to us are being able to work on beasts. It's, funny, gloria c and barack obama's campaign were sort of happening at the same time. Um, and, uh, one was well organized and, uh, led to, um it was well organized and like a really well oiled machine. The other was gloria. See? Um, so, uh, yeah, I mean, let's talk about so that this time, gloria, see, like I was talking about before what I did on that was basically hold a fundraiser. I mean, I went back to richmond, virginia. I got like, my uncle to cook louisiana kind of styled food. We showed a trailer from gloria c of the I mean, not the film had been completed yet, but we had enough to cut together a trailer, so we had something that was a fundraising tool, you know? And so he could say here's what the film could be here's, what we're trying to pull off there is a lot of interests in new orleans at the time and, you know, we pulled together enough money to get us through the next leg of production. It was not that different from a political fundraiser, I mean, that's a little bit crass to say, but it's sort of like barack obama would employ joe biden to come too wherever and stump and talk about what you know, maybe the ask and that point was I want to get all of you on this mailing list or I want all of you to sign up to volunteer today or whatever it's like it is the same it's, the same vocabulary you're using the same goals metrics and, um, that operates in a similar way, especially when you're operating the grassroots level. Um, when you get if you're in hollywood, you have studios whose whole thing is to just is to find these films and that's. It's a lot it's a completely different game but when you're operating at this level you have to do stuff like a stump speech I basically gave a stump speech for gloria to see when I was when I was at this fundraiser but I was just curious to hear from any of our students here as well as people in the chat room but we're talking about he's fundraising tools and I want to know how if any of you have felt that sort of barrier and felt overwhelmed by not having the funding has that gotten in the way of any projects that you guys have had in your mind it is something that that sort of speaks to you not having that was fun anyone have a story about how that's gotten in the way before definitely I know with just about all of my productions that I've been working on we would always come under the goal of fundraising but even then it would still move forward I would just get more creative about how we move forward and then uh I forgot where I was going with uh I have another question that I've been meaning to sort of ask so you've brought up quite a few times like being able to weed out the crazy between like I'm revealing a lot of my own personal problem I'm wondering like how you do that yourself like I don't know like as a producer as I knew as someone making a film and actually having to wear multiple hats, you know, someone who's not only the producer, but maybe the writer and the director where that seems so, look, lend itself more to maybe a dreamer crazy town. Oh, sure, the producer end of being, like, realistic. How do you balance since that liquor and what have you run into yourself? Yeah, I think you just have to spend a lot of time with people, I think. Look, I think grassroots film producing is not necessarily like a, well, it's usually not like a lucrative profession, so I would argue that people that if you're interested in this kind of film producing, you should have a side hustle where you make your own, where you make your own money, because sometimes the end goal, what success looks like for aggressor, its film production is just that film's existence and not it actually turning a profit, so but if that's your approach right, and you're like, ok, over here is the world in which I can like, you know, I'll get a commercial gay girl make this will be my side hustle and over here is my passion, if you know, ok, this is my passion that can automatically make you mohr picky and choosy about who you want to involve yourself with you know what I mean? Just just knowing that and flipping that switch and saying I have time for this I'm not in this for that you know you can kind of hold yourself to a standard but I say just spend a lot of time with them spend a lot of time before you necessarily know like I want to make a movie together you I don't know get drinks with them you spend time with them you maybe go toe a place that's important to them or for their creative process and you just feel the mouth I mean if so I mean somebody just rubs you the wrong way they do you know um I know that's not like uh the best or more most specific answer but I think it's really just about spending time on and you'll get a sense you know, um good may I add I love that you're talking about that um another thing is what what you've been talking about being a part of a community here's where conserve eo because you can hopefully find out like if that person's worked on something before and look at the credits maybe you know someone that worked with um and you can get referrals and if it's something within a community are already a part of you can also get you know, feedback like I have so many friends and collaborators now where it's like we really do protect each other you know someone will come in with you know, a script or some hotshot piece of equipment and then you find out like oh that person misogynist maybe I don't want to work with them are there you know a mess in other ways so that's I think another reason why being a part of a community is really invaluable you're like making sure you're aligning yourself with right that people a very good point you want to see I say like we'll spend a lot of one on one time with them but actually see them work with other people if they treat people like dirt, you don't want to work with them like and that you know, somebody could seem great in you know, at a bar or something, but it doesn't mean that like when you're actually working together on set that they're gonna be good good to work with so yeah, as much as you can tag along I don't know maybe them in another work environment and see you know um I'm wondering about uh kind of bridging the gap between soliciting funds from your friends and family and actually getting out to like the stranger category are sure getting other people involved I feel like that's kind of my hurdle similar questions in the chat about that cool look at your film and what kind of communities might be interested in it let's say your films about an art teacher all right go to every single high school art teacher and talk to them about it if they don't I mean it's not like teachers make a lot of money but maybe they know people who would be interested in make in telling that story you know what I mean? There's mean as kickstarter will tell you your friends and family circle is the most valuable they're going to want to give to you because they like you you know, they they're biased but beyond that then the next place to look is any communities that that would be interested in your film like let's go to chop it to us actually chop it to us is a documentary by a bill in turner ross who I worked with on a lot of films and it's about it's like one it's three kids spending the night in the french quarter um we follow them as they get on this ferry and go into the french quarter and they basically spend the whole night there and the camera takes you into all these bars and burlesque clubs in places that they can't go to but basically it's it's music like all the time, right? Like it's you're you're following the music is probably not a frame of the film in which music isn't playing um and so it really on the one hand it is a subjective experience of these kids but it also was supposed to be kind of like a musical postcard of city. Um when I did the kick starter for chopper tulis I knew that I wanted to hit up music blog's people who really love new orleans music I wanted to go too, doc nerds for lack of a better word people who just love documentaries and and the kind of rules you can play with in documentaries because this was sort of one that messed with the rules a little bit. Um, you know, I analyzed what who were the people who already or care about this film or would have a built in interest there's you know, a god jazz musician named freddie king in the movie like let's talk to his fan base um you know let's get it in let's do an interview with off beat magazine, which is a music music music magazine in new orleans. All of that sort of stuff is like you just got a take take stock of who your film could appeal to and go to all those people you know, if your films about like a exists completely in a world of like single moms are a single mom, right the goethe and it's about that it's honest portrayal of that go to group meetings with single moms or look at those blog's like there's plenty of blog's out there but that's what it's like these are all the pleat places you can tap into and you know it's not necessarily appropriate to ask them for money but maybe they know people who wouldn't would know people um good kind of just there a story you know, from personal experience we were working on this film a couple years ago and it was about silicon valley professionals that were immigrants in the country and trying to to, you know, figure out whether they should stay here and fight to get through the naturalization process or go back home to india and we're filming here in silicon valley o it's you know, it's the story of a lot of immigrants that are out here and those of the people we went to we went to the schools we went to the professionals this different startup companies we talked to them about them, they start telling their family members and their, you know, it's start building this this community of supporters before we even, you know, started with the film and kind of also to kowtow come to the defensive the crazy a little bit in the sense that your world working in this industry where we we are those crazy ones in that sense where we're going to take that leap we're going toe I say we have the audacity of hope that just by this idea that I dreamed up, we can go out and make it and maybe, you know, pace of people all along the way and find a way to survive people like that, those air, you know, there were those visionaries in that sense, where were the ones that want to start this, you know, a minute, your business every time we're going out on a project, whether it's a shorter and music video, and to kind of leverage those people that are willing to champion it and why one of the eleven from a school that had a great piece of advice is, you know, he had both this call car with a bunch of crabs on in singing fish it's kind of a ridiculous idea, and it did it when he was in school, and they asked him, why did you do this? And he said, well, just kind of this simple lack of common sense to think that I could get into this and finish it, you know? And I think that's something that we have that we can leverage and a lot of people have whenever they're starting a business or just on a new adventure, or trying to make something popular and get the word out is, you know, we're used that that kind of crazy motivation to go out there and show people that you're willing to kind of do whatever it takes to get the job done for them because of them that they were telling stories for other people and if it's not about them they're never going to listen so I wantto talk a little bit about kickstarter is such a crucial I mean, not crucial you don't have to use it, but it's taken over a lot of these this level of film production in a weird way and again it's one that overlaps a whole lot with like grassroots political operation, but I just want to go through some tips when you're doing fundraising campaign like like on kickstarter or like on indiegogo or go fund me or or seed in spark right? Asking for something specific is very important it be nice if that thing that is specific would prevent the film from otherwise getting made so you can basically presented to the audience is like this is something crucial the film it's it's like absolutely crucial to it and if we don't have it, then if we don't make this happen, then like this thing that I just introduced to you just won't happen right? They need to feel like, oh, well, my my my money is going to determine whether or not this thing actually comes to exist or not it's not like oh, these air these are people who are going to make it happen anyway they need to feel essential I think you should be strategic about timing too with chopper tulis we we need to see a raise I just said like I said the music was the key part right? But music rights posed a huge problem as it does that can you can you can really get into trouble of music rights and so I knew that we're going to raise money for music rights but I said like that's a key part of this film if we don't have that we don't have the film um and not lucky it was the film you know, if if if I couldn't we we we couldn't honestly release chopping tools without that music and it or we wouldn't be doing a service to the film um and timing wise we've time that we knew that we were going to premiere itself myself west so we started the films we launched it from true false film festival, which was a great documentary film festival in columbia, missouri that if you haven't heard of you should check out that's where the film was having a secret screening we launched the kickstarter from there and because we're premiering the next week, you know, you always get a little bit of momentum right out of the gate right? Because you're kicking it out and then we knew that self myself where I mean south by southwest and all the screens after wood keep giving it momentum then it would play another festival in that would give it another a little bump and eventually became like a snowball that just sort of built on itself and by the time it was like early april we had what we needed so yes oh that would be smart about timing like look att what events that are going to benefit your film when are they gonna happen and probably try and put them in the middle of when your window is for fundraising um and then honor your audience like make them feel part of it like the worst thing I don't like it when I give to a kickstarter campaign and then I get the most boring basic updates I try to be really weird and loose when I'm giving people updates or writing mass emails about a certain thing because it's like I know it's pain you know, I know everybody's inbox is full and I don't want to waste their time so make it fun make them feel like they're part of the process so now I want to go into if we can go to the kickstarter page uh for a second I'd love to show the video from the chopper to list kickstarter um you can see what our goal was and like I said when shop tools came out, these seven hundred twenty three backers already had an interest in seeing the movie right because they already back that they already had a vested interest in the film. Um so knowing what I just told you about the film and are kind of strategy, it should this this video should sort of, um you know, represent that I not only really have dreams all right, how we're gonna do this? Hey, folks, we made a movie with a lot of music in it and it's going to cost a lot of money, we don't make money goes give me give me give me some tips, they're give me give me a direct I would like you to be in old timey newspapers six years ago, my brother and I were abandoned by the major studios and forced to make independent felt I could show some of the dance moves I've been working on thirty five dollars to arts in america that's probably an official organization that we should not mention we really should get guys to help us with this. I don't know what it is people have to understand that costs music grass. How important is this music to jump tools? Chopper to us is a film that immerses itself into new orleans, where music is an ever present entity almost plays an equal role to the actual characters and locations in the film it would be impossible to extra kid that music from so it's costing a lot of money to uh to legalize the film so they could be seen in fears seeing on the internet seeing your home one dvd we ran into legal issues glasses because we were not smart enough to do that. Now we have nerves on our team nerds like me produces produced to keep waiting for you to start my frozen again right here are some movies we made when we were kids said to popular music way actually legally clear all that music it would cost about one hundred fifty thousand dollars chopping tools, however, will be much, much less we best made the music clearance costs will be thirty eight thousand dollars without it you will never see the light of day if you'd like to see chopping to listen theaters or in your home and help us continue with our work please donate now great yeah just award winning really good and now here's a sneak peek of chopped tools down when you weigh wait, wait uh ironically, we didn't write that song. I like to show that because you can see it's like very much an intimate portrait of these two directors who have never really tried to raised money before I'm sort of pulling their teeth, trying to get them tow we're trying to work through it together but you know you can see that's why we used phrase you know, music will set us free like phrasing like that sort of says like unless we have this happen we're not like we're not gonna be able to show this movie to the world um so yeah, I hope that that helps us faras like some tips for when you do do it fundraising campaign now I had a whole section on grants and everything but pretty much I think you guys probably a lot of people have experience with grants and and what if I could go back to the slide presentation? Um you know what? Ah yeah, these are some of the sites that you can use to fundraise is, um online and uh I'll just do this pretty briefly grants or the life blood of a lot of films that this kind of budget level film society grants me try and meet with some one on one with somebody from the organization the filmmaker three sixty website is that is one of the san francisco film society's um it's their website and basically all grants are looking for the same thing when you apply it does help to make that personal connection and say here's what I'm doing here is what I want to do what do you think? What are my chances should look elsewhere, etcetera but they all want stuff that basically you're going to have to need you're going to need to generate later for the film anyhow, which is, uh, you know, a synopsis a or log line, a synopsis on artistic statement, you know, something from the director that says this is why were we want to do what we're doing? You know, it's all they probably want a budget or a photo or still to represent the film um, and all of this again is stuff that you would need for the film's life in the world later anyway, even if you don't get distribution and you just need to publish it it's like getting on top of this stuff early is good thes these air just some tips on some organizations that give out grants that I find that are really helpful. Um, something's documentary film fund is amazing. Um, they've they helped on some of bill in turner's work um uh, you know, guggenheim is more of an artist, they will fund whatever an artist is doing for a year that could mean ah film, that could mean an art, you know, like a, uh there's well, art of any kind, you know, rooftop films has been very good to us in the past there are new york based organization that that shows films on rooftops in new york or elsewhere. They actually helped us do our premiere of beasts of the southern wild in the actual area where we made the film somewhere in the middle of nowhere, and we had this community, jim, and they god came down there and put it on for us is amazing. Um, these are some my favorites let's talk about development earlier, so few people actually fund development. Um, all of these organizations dio that's why I love them. Well, that's one of the reasons catapult film fund is all about development. They're based in san francisco. There they their whole purpose is just to you you're at the very beginning stages, and they want to give you the chance to kind of lift off with your film center reaches the organization that was behind beast of the southern wild, our partners on the film they have granting and fellowship opportunities of all kinds. They're some of the smartest people working in film. And what I'll say about all three of these organizations is, to their credit, they don't think about social uh, they don't think about social issues in such a kind of like in the box way that a lot of granting organizations do, they're very good about thinking that to tell somebody's story is to illuminate their humanity and that is just a cz important as having a message with a capital m so they've filmed some of the best stuff that I mean not to toot our own horn here with senator because of beast, but beyond that, what they've gotten behind has been some of the best and most exciting dock work and fix in feature work that there is out there because they have good taste and they don't let themselves be founded by a strict definition of what social justice means or social or or a social issue. Um and you know, san francisco film society is way have fiscal sponsorship with them for the bill in turner's moving, meaning I don't mean that they are fiscally sponsoring us, but rather that they provide a vehicle through which we can receive donations. So if you set that up with them, you can have ah, or are a lot of these organizations? You can get donations to your film, it just goes through, uh, five twenty three very important because you want to make it as easy as possible for people to donate to your film investors. So, um so we talked about grants now let's talk about investors is all about again, it's all about being on the same page as far as the film's success there are there are investors, and especially a lot in the bay area who, you know, have made their money elsewhere, and really what they want to do is just see a film that they believe in exist in the world and that's great like they're not necessarily looking for, uh ah for the film to take off for them to make loads of money on that they just want to see the film exist, and if they don't invest, it won't, um, sometimes that that interest is related to a cause that the film is taking on. Um, think about it yourself. If you had a lot of money, what would you want to get behind? You know? I mean, like, what kind of wood you wantto invest in film or what films would you want to see exist in the world? Um, yeah, just meet with them, see what their goals are don't it's like so many people come out of the gate in the film world wanting to push something on somebody, but you underestimate the power of listening to what they want. You gonna listen to them first and what they're in it for? Why? Why? They have started to invest in films? Um, yeah, I'm glad you talked about five, one two, three, because that was a big thing that helped us what other film was just being having making it impossible for people to give us money and deduct it from them taxes same along some uh sending with investors is there used to be section one eighty one two I was just part of our federal system which allowed investments in films to be deducted from their their taxes that expired at the end of two thousand thirteen um are there other alternatives are there are other ways to allow and people to invest in films and essentially make those completely tax deductible or um concern lee service a loss on your on your taxes like if you invest in the film and you lose money on it that can did you ever use that the section when anyone now I've never used that one before I tend to use um well, you know what? I'll get into it in this in this next section we're talking about bill in turner's movie and this sort of financial trajectory of them because four five three, six, five was their first film I did not know them then I came on board um I came on board their project or I started to work with him because I really, really like there first film I saw and I got I was just like man no one makes documentaries like this this is awesome the financial structure that film was complete chaos, you know, they didn't have any producers, they didn't know what they were doing, so it was just like credit card debt and struggling to get by. We got involved in the post production of chopped tulis, and we said, ok, let's, make this a little bit more financially soluble let's raise money for they had actually gotten in trouble for the first film, they couldn't legally get it out to the world because it had something some music that they hadn't cleared. So we said, as producers, our goal is to actually come out, you know, above board here, let's, let's, let's, make this film release a bill to the world. We did it, and then I'd say because of the kickstarter and a lot of the attention we got from it, um, we were able to find ah, and because it had a great and a launch itself myself less, and people responded to it, we got a distributor, did we make money now? But we've got a distributor for the film for that weird film that such that it played in, like twenty five places in the country, which for that kind of movie is big. Um, there were a couple grand center each gave a grant for chopping tools as well, so we started getting into that game and it was no longer credit card debt it was like let's do a kickstarter let's have center each and let's finish this film their head above water and find a distributor and then now this is where we are this just premiered at sundance we got sundance stock fund contributed to the film we got a couple of donors or um just kind hearted contributors who gave some of their money to it we also got a on equity investment in the film so you can see that hopefully the trajectory and this one premiered at sundance as opposed to south by southwest where the other one said so financially khun see that things can snowball upon themselves and in fact one of the guys who contributed to the kick starter for chopper tulis only gave like six thousand dollars which is a lot for that kick started but he ended up being a riel serious financial partner on ping pong summer so I started that relationship with him because he was just a guy who got interested in our kickstarter kickstarter video and then we kept talking and then he was a partner of mine on ping pong summer in a serious way so that's how these things can sort of all attention is well, not all attention is good attention but um how this kind of these fundraising campaigns can snowball upon themselves and build momentum so that you can don't have to live in credit card debt um so this is sort of the sum up of all right ok so what about investors? I walked you through the trajectory of them with them the standard kind of investment vehicle I guess looks a little bit like the you know let's say like I want to get an investor in the film the standard memo or whatever you wanna call it contract looks like they put money in and they will see their money back until the film recoups then they'll probably see a premium anywhere from zero to twenty percent and then you split all revenue with them fifty fifty um you can play with these mechanisms you can create a gross corridor where people start sharing in the profits earlier or whatever some producers or some some financiers want to be or sometimes big level talent want to be on the producer side of things when I say split fifty fifty I'm talking about splitting between financial ah the financial partners and the filmmaking pool and when we talk about having points on a film that means that I'm the director I get you know twenty five points twenty five percent of the one hundred percent of the filmmaking pool that that one hundred percent is only fifty percent of the total anyway so we talk about this for a long time but I'm not that good at it and you know uh there's a lot of ways that you can play with this sort of stuff but that's what a standard investment looks like sometimes you happen upon ones where they just going to want to make their money back and then after that you split fifty fifty and there's no premium that's that's great because it means that it's sort of like a loan and then they just want a share in the success with you and then there's all this stuff about first person in and who has optimal position in the waterfall and everything but I don't really want to get into that if you're making a grassroots film you're probably not operating in that sort of language anyway um all right, so so think about this as we've talked about fundraise and given a particular project on your mind where would where do you know that you could go to raise money right now there is one there was an answer that all of you have they sort of told you before but think about that um everybody at home think about that to um and can you between now and let's say in the next month research five funding options it sound really appealing to you or the project that you're working on um and write down who you're going to go to and what I spent every single day of that kickstarter campaign thinking about who I needed to email and when it was kind of fun I mean I sort of like this sort of stuff in a weird way but I came up with a plan of like all right today I'm going to email all the music blog's in new orleans tomorrow I'm going to email all these documentary film nerd blog's the next day I'm going to re email my immediate family and ask them for money the next day I'm going to you know, email all my friends the next day I'm going to email five of my friends and get really personal with them you know it's like thiss stuff is a full time job when you're doing it but it can be just make it fun may personal so um everyone here is there a particular place that you know that you could go to raise money right now? Speaking of you know, the kind of just finding people within the local community there's you're just using the online resources there is something called the film angels which is an investment community out here in san francisco um I just happen to meet someone from there you know, at one point just random happenstance but I would feel open going to them even if I had never met anyone just because I'm from this community and that in its senses already a step in the door is just to go to people around you and say, hey, I'm from the same area this is what I want to do on dh that's where I would go, you know, I would just I would go to the previous investors on the other film and say, I know you already put money in this one, but, you know, do you know of anyone else that might be willing to put it into this this new project on dh, then also, just like you said cold calling, just hitting up people in showing them how passionate I am about what I'm doing and that's going to be my biggest selling point? I think everybody has friends and family, and I know that sounds horrible, but if you kicks, if I was a representative kickstarter, I'd tell you that I don't know the percentage is but a vast majority of your money that if you're doing a kickstarter campaign will come in from friends and family, they again, they're biased, they like you, they want a family is with the chat room is saying short cinema says that they've done that in the past, reaching out to friends and family global sunrise projects as we supported our indiegogo campaigns by issuing press releases, which also helped raise awareness, generate some additional funds on then short cinema says that if they were to do it again, they would build an audience around the film's subject matter before attempting and that is that money. Exactly. So, like I was saying, think about what audiences your film is connected to inherently.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Michael Gottwald - Keynote Part 1.pdf
Michael Gottwald - Keynote Part 2.pdf
Michael Gottwald - Keynote Part 3.pdf
Michael Gottwald - Keynote Part 4.pdf
Michael Gottwald - Call Sheet - Filled Out.xls
Michael Gottwald - Sample Low Budget Documentary Excel Budget Total Budget.pdf
Michael Gottwald - Sample Low Budget Documentary Excel Budget.xls

Ratings and Reviews

a Creativelive Student

A top-notch presentation on indie film making. I learned a lot from this course which I hope to soon put into practice as I'm about to embark on my first indie film - as a screen writer for the first time out, but eventually I hope to write, direct, and produce my own film. Very easy to follow the presentations in this course, and the handouts I received when I purchased the course are quite useful.


Such a great course! Being an indie "Grassroots" filmmaker in the middle of three projects, I found what Michael shared to be very valuable. The way that he described the different aspects of producing and illustrated with examples was very clear and fresh. The course really opens you up to examine your own processes, what works / what doesn't and stirs up some new ideas on how to move forward. Thanks CreativeLive team for making the class happen!


This is a tremendous introduction to grassroots filmmaking. Michael takes you step by step through the various elements of film production and offers those so inclined a cursory understanding of what is required. Because filmmaking is a creative pursuit, the direction the individual filmmaker takes from there is entirely up to each. I would highly recommend this course to any one starting out in filmmaking. Well worth the cost. David W. King, Michigan Movie Magazine

Student Work