Tips on Winning Grants from a Grantor!

Our Roy W. Dean Grants are now in their 30th year.  I’ve reviewed thousands of submissions and know what peaks a grantors interest and what turns them off

by Carole Dean

From the Heart Productions has been awarding grants since 1993 when we created our Roy W Dean Grants for unique films that make a contribution to society ( and I’ve been awarding them since 1992 before I founded From the Heart!).  Since then, 72 very different and excellent films have won our grants.  We are proud of the work that our filmmakers have done to achieve their goals and get their film funded, distributed, and seen by millions.

Winning Grants

Roy W. Dean Grant Winner Leslie Neale for Her Documentary “Unlike Friends” with Carole Dean

Grants are a wonderful way to fund your films as well build an audience.  For filmmakers, there are more opportunities than ever before (we now offer 4 grants each year with the recent addition of our grant exclusively for short films).  Winning a grant will give you film instant credibility with audiences, donors, and distributors.   You can use it to publicize your film in press releases and on social media.

From the Heart Productions wants to help you in winning grants by sharing important suggestions on applying for grants. Everything here applies to our Roy W. Dean Grant. I feel that you will find it also applies to the majority of grants available.

First and foremost, put some passion in your proposal

I want to get as excited about your film as you are. Let the passion for your film jump off the page.

Please, at the beginning of your grant application, put the grantors criteria of the grant in a sentence with why your film fits it… I like to see that because it means to me that you carefully read the web site.  And I want you to realize judges are usually reading a lot of grants at once so, remind them at the beginning exactly how your film fits the grantors criteria.

Use your creativity.  Make it interesting and intelligent.  Get out of the paragraph format if you can. Perhaps use bullet points, use color, use photos, use graphs, use pie charts.  Use anything to break up the monotonous written page.  Show me how artistic you are.  Do this for anyone who will allow it.  A picture is truly worth 1,000 words.

Share your outline for funding

Who else have you contacted for funding? Make a list of all grants you’ve applied for and those you intend to go after. I don’t care how long it is, the longer the better.  Include this to show that you are focused on grants and you know which ones are best for you. 

How much have you raised?  How much do you need?  Where will you get it?

List how you intend to get the money to make your film and include this information in the grant application.

If it is a $200K budget, give us an outline of where the funds will come from.

Example:

$50K from 2 crowdfunding campaigns

$100K from individuals

$50K from strategic partners.  Add how you will get them attached and how they will share our info with their mailing list.  Explain all of this.

Then we know you know you can get the funds.

If this is for a feature, tell me how you will meet the HNI (high-net-worth individuals). Where will you go to find them?

Are you offering a 5% referral fee? I would not tell other people, but I would put those people in a special list as friends of friends who have money. Put a dollar mark you think you can collect that way.

Things we want to know:

List every way you will raise money for your feature film.

Now, tell me how you will get this film sold.

Where do you think it will play?   Theatres or online? International?  What countries? Online VOD? Drive-ins?  Don’t discount this, they are very popular now.

Who do you think will buy it? How much money do you think they’ll pay you? If it is for distribution, what do you expect to get in return?

Does your film have international appeal? Have you found good international distribution? If so, you might want to mention this.

Are you going to the AFM (American Film Market)? Are you out meeting and entertaining HNI?

All of this we really need to know especially if you’re going after a grant from us for a feature. Many people think features are a risky investment and we need some security. That must come from you in how you are raising your funding.

Crow about your crew members with confidence!

One of the things we look for in grants is your crew members. How experienced are they? What have they worked on? This is a major part of decision-making. Be sure to include any awards your crew has.

We want to know in a feature or webisode that that you are fully supported. Especially if you are an emerging filmmaker or have very little experience yourself, we look to see that you are supporting yourself with highly skilled technicians.

Tons of money has been given to people who never finished films. The number one consideration we have and number one question we ask ourselves is will he or she finish this film? The experience and track record of the crew gives us some indication as to whether they can complete a film (as well as how it will turn out).  What is the number between one and 10, 10 being absolutely sure and one being not sure they will get funded?  We often asked judges to give us this number value as it is important.

People who give us proposals and letters that use a qualifier about raising funds like “hope too” or about getting the film made say “I have always wanted to make a film” or “I really would like to make a film” are the ones who go to the “absolutely no” pile.

We want to hear your confidence in your paperwork, I’m making this film with or without you. If you want to join me terrific but if not, I’ll see you at the Oscars. I want you to be that positive.

Tell us why you are making this film

One of the most important things that people often leave out is the answer to the most important question, why are you making this film? What is your connection to this film? Are you making a cancer film because your mother or loved one died of cancer?  If so, tell us, because that means to us that you are totally committed and your chances of finishing the film are high because you are personally connected to it.

If you are making this film to get into the film industry because that’s where you belong, bravo!  Tell us. We want to know and that’s a great valid reason to make a film.  We love and respect your tenacity and your dedication.

Are you making this film to send a message?   We like that too.  If that is reason, why are you so passionate about this information?  How has this information touched your own life and why do you want to devote five years to making the film?

Remember, we know that on average, documentaries take six years to make and two years to distribute. Think then of what the judges will say when you send us your proposal and you haven’t raised a penny.  Or you are not forthcoming with how you will raise the money or that you even know how to raise the money.  This proposal would not get far up the ladder for a grant.

Show your commitment and connection to material

Grants are highly competitive today. Remember people giving grants are mostly not filmmakers.  We highly respect you and we want to support you and we think you are the most creative people on earth. So, recognize the fact that we want to give you money.  It’s up to you to give us the right information in the strongest most self-confident assured way possible so that we can give you the grant.

Most grants have filmmakers for judges.  We do as well, but there are many people who read your material before it reaches the final judges.  Those people need to be totally impressed with your dedication, commitment, and your connection to the material.  This is a key for us.  What is your connection to the material?

I know this is a lot of information but judging grants is a very hard job. And I want to cover everything we are thinking and using to judge your film, so you know what’s it is like from the judge’s perspective.

Who is your audience?

My grant has marketing and I put a large percentage of decision-making on the marketing you state in the application. I want to know if you know who your audience is and to tell me succinctly.

Please, don’t say everyone, that’s ridiculous. Give me a composite of your audience. I want to know who they are, where they get their news, where they hang out online, what they want to see in your film and why. When I know that you know your audience, then you go to the top of the pile.

Use www.FromTheHeartProductions.com as a source of education on funding.

More resources for finding and winning grants

In my online class “How to Fund Your Film” and ebook, I explain how to find your audience, create a believable budget, and to to find as well as capture those High Net Worth investors or donors. 

My book,The Art of Film Funding, 2nd edition: Alternative Financing Concepts” was written for documentaries, shorts, and feature producers for funding via grants, individual investments/donations, online crowdfunding, and distribution through streaming video.

We’ve got lots of free information on our website. See the resource tab that’s a good place to start for information, look under the resource tab and research each of those links below as they are full of funding advice.  

Under the Resource tab, you will find a comprehensive list of film grants

Under my blogs you will tips on “How to Find Strategic Partners for Your Films”

And on our page “How to Apply for the Roy W. Dean Grant”, you will even find of video of me with advice on creating grant submissions for our grant

Guardian Angel Program

I find that the people that hire me to mentor them through my Guardian Angel Program and work with me on a weekly basis are the ones who have a clear concept of what they want to achieve and are most successful.

Normally at the beginning of the mentoring, we pick one thing that they want to achieve.  That could be a film or that could be a book or that could be becoming the chair of the film Department or whatever you want to achieve.  

We then create a plan on how to get there, we list what you need to do and create a to do list.  You then make a commitment for what you want to achieve over that coming week, and we meet again and keep moving forward.  If you don’t have the funds to pay someone to do this, do you have a friend who might do this for you?  Working with a mentor weekly will pay off for you.

 

Carole Dean is president and founder of From the Heart Productions; a 501(c)3 non-The Art of Film Funding Podcastprofit that offers the Roy W. Dean Film Grants and fiscal sponsorship for independent filmmakers. She hosts the weekly podcastThe Art of Film Fundinginterviewing those involved in all aspects of indie film productionHer new class “How to Fund Your Film” is available on Vimeo on Demand.  She is also the author of  The Art of Film Funding, 2nd Edition: Alternative Financing Concepts.  See IMDB for producing credits.

The Passionate Pitch

Tips from Authors and Scholars on How to Successfully Pitch Your Film Project to Land Donors and Investors

by Carole Dean

One of the best books for filmmakers seeking funding is Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill.  In his book, he explains how 500 men became wealthy by using the concepts he describes. 

Pitch Your Film

The key to selling your film to others is your faith. You need to have unwavering faith in yourself, in your film, and faith in your ability to pitch your film.

Many filmmakers want to become successful and rich.  They want knowledge and riches.  So why not use the material that made so many other successful people?

Film Pitch Advice…From Gandhi?

In a chapter on faith, Napoleon Hill shares the story of Mahatma Gandhi. Starting his career as a lawyer in India at the dawn of the 20th century, Gandhi eventually became a leader and inspiration for hundreds of  millions in India and around the world for civil rights and freedom.  

He writes that Gandhi wielded more potential power than any living man at that time despite the fact that he had none of the orthodox tools of power, such as money, battleships, soldiers or materials of warfare.

Gandhi, Hill writes, had no money, no home, no suit of clothes, but he had power. How did he come by that immense power?  He created it out of his understanding of the principle of faith and through his abilities to transplant that faith into the minds of 200 million people.

This is very similar to your job as a filmmaker, which is to create faith in your potential donors when you pitch your film.

You want people to believe in you and have the faith and believe that you can perform and deliver a successful film on time and on budget. They want to believe that you will successfully complete your film.

Have Unwavering Faith in Yourself

The key to selling your film to others is your faith. You need to have unwavering faith in yourself, in your film, and faith in your ability to pitch your film.

I have many filmmakers call me for questions and when we’re talking, I often say, “pitch me your film.” They say well I’m not good at pitching, but I will read you what I have, or I will try to give it to you.

This is not what it takes to fund your film.  People must hear your enthusiasm, your confidence.  You need to learn how to sell your film with your pitch. Don’t miss a good opportunity to pitch your film for any reason.

You want to have total faith in you and your film. If you do not have faith in yourself and in your film, people will feel unsure about you.

You’ve Got Just 30 to 60 Seconds

Your film pitch should be part of your DNA. You always need to carry it with you.  You need know in every fiber of your being, that you can successfully pitch the Queen of England or the homeless man on the street. That faith inside you will come through in your language, your eye contact, your posture.

You want to be excited about your film and let me hear that excitement in your voice. Your whole body should light up when you start to pitch because you are talking about your precious art.

Albert Mehrabian is a Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles, who researched the importance of verbal and nonverbal communication.  He says that people make decisions within 30 to 60 seconds of meeting you.

The first decision they make is whether they like you and trust you. That’s the most important decision they’re going to make.

You must get through that like-you-trust-you barrier in order for you to get a donation or a discount or the best DP for your film. Everything you want comes from the way you pitch your film.

People Give Money to People, Not to Films

Professor Mehrabian says that 55% of your potential donor’s decision is made by how you present yourself.

Do you have direct eye contact? Can you look someone right in the eye and pitch them without ever wavering and show total confidence and total belief in you and your film?

He says that your posture is important.  You must sit up straight be proud of yourself and carry yourself with dignity and confidence.

I know from pitching donors for the grant that you want to feel 100% confidence in yourself. You’re asking someone for their hard- earned money.

The point is that people give money to people not to films. That’s what they think.  They decide if they trust you and then they give the money to the film.

Keep in mind that you are the film. When you are pitching your film, it is part of you, and your goal is to make people feel they can trust you.

You may not realize that your body language gives off subliminal clues that your donor will pick up immediately. You need to be absolutely relaxed, confident, assured that you will be able to raise the money for the film. Any doubt that you have could be detected easily by donors.

Calm Down, Chill Out and Be Your True Self

While your physical actions represent a 55% chance of success or your audio, your voice represents 38% of the decision-making process to your donor.  This is based on what you say and most importantly how you say it.

You need to be excited and thrilled about your film. You need to be spreading this joy and happiness and success to the donor.  Make them want to be part of your film.

If you are the least bit depressed, sad, or not in a good mood, don’t go to a meeting and don’t get on the phone to pitch someone.  It may be the only opportunity you have with that person.  Don’t take a chance.

Just say this is not the day and then get yourself back in shape because you must be happy, successful, joyful, confident, and thrilled with the opportunity to share the information about your film. 

Your voice is an important decision maker for them. If you seem disinterested, slow down too much, or if you’re dragging your feet and pausing too much in your delivery, you will turn them off.  They will feel that you are not confident.

If you’re not excited about a project, how can they get excited?

You want your pitch to be so well delivered that you have no doubt that you can fund your film and that you can create a film that is even better than they can imagine.

To do this, you need to get across to the potential donor or investor that they can trust you. They need to like you and trust you.

Practice, Practice, and then, More Practice

Now the shocking part of Mehrabian’s information is the percentage given to the pitch. What percentage of persuasive power is in the words of the pitch? Only 7%. So, this is a very important number for you to realize. Your posture, your confidence, your belief in yourself are the key to funding your film.

The most important thing is to create faith for yourself and in your film through your posture, your appearance, your voice, your enthusiasm and finally through the words of your pitch. The best way to do this is practice and more practice. A good mantra for you to keep saying is “Practice makes perfect.”

Tom Malloy who has raised more than $25 million practices in front of the mirror. That’s right, he’s an actor, yes, but he’s also a writer, a film producer, and now he has directed his first film.  All of that is due to his belief in himself.

Tom knows that you must be excited and passionate when you pitch. Your passion really should help you be exploding with high energy.  You want to be able to answer any questions quickly, confidently, assuredly, and never say oh well that’s not my job that’s what the accountant does. 

Your job is to know everything about the film. You should know the budget inside and out and be prepared to defend every line item. You should know everything about your team members be very proud of them and the prior work they have created. Everything is a matter of faith in yourself and in your film.

Convince Your Subconscious That You are Living Your Dream

Author Neville Goddard was one of the pioneers of the concept of The Law: “imagining creates reality.” He says that to get your dreams to come true you must believe they already exist.  You need to pretend that you are living the life you want. 

Believe that you are the greatest film presenter in the world.  You are getting checks hand over fist.  Once you start visualizing this and “feeling” into this confidence and success then you want to imprint this on the subconscious. 

The importance being that the subconscious mind runs the show. It believes everything that the conscious mind tells it.  For a filmmaker that is wonderful. 

Just imagine a story where you are pitching to high network individuals and rich donors and getting large checks.  Take that believe and energy into bed with you at night.  Start playing a film of your successful pitch and see checks being handed to you.  Play this for the conscious mind while you are feeling like that is your current life.  The conscious takes this to the subconscious and you shore up your confidence from inside.

What would your life be like if you were having a wonderful time raising money, it’s easy for you, it’s a joyful experience?  Tapping into that energy and nightly giving it to the conscious mind as the current situation, you will get this imprinted in your subconscious and things will begin to happen for you.

Mantras for Your Mirror

Consider putting these mantras on the mirror so you see them every day.

I am perfect at pitching my film.

I love myself.

People know I am dedicated to my film.

People see me as a talented award-winning filmmaker

Put your faith in yourself and in your ability to make this film and achieve the aims that you have set out for yourself. 

Your future is waiting for you.

 

Carole Dean is president and founder of From the Heart Productions; a 501(c)3 non-The Art of Film Funding Podcastprofit that offers the Roy W. Dean Film Grants and fiscal sponsorship for independent filmmakers. She hosts the weekly podcastThe Art of Film Fundinginterviewing those involved in all aspects of indie film productionHer new class “How to Fund Your Film” is available on Vimeo on Demand.  She is also the author of  The Art of Film Funding, 2nd Edition: Alternative Financing Concepts.  See IMDB for producing credits.

Faith Funds Films

How to tap the greatest resource you have to raise money for your film…belief in yourself

By Carole Dean

Three years ago, we started a bi-monthly Film Funding Guidance Class for our fiscally sponsored filmmakers that evolved more ways than we expected. Together, as a group, we learned and now believe that we can use our minds to create our future. 

I love this class; it is one of the most exciting events at From the Heart Productions.  It is every other Saturday morning.  We all feel part of this incredible energy that moves us forward. 

Faith Funds Films

We have read and covered many books on the power of your mind in this class.  There is a wonderful understanding of how powerful we are and that together we just keep improving ourselves.  I want you to join us by reading this information from our recent class.

Faith Funds Films

There was a great Jim Carrey movie back in 2003 called Bruce Almighty.  This picture left me with images that I want to share with you.  When people prayed or intended for their dreams or for emergency needs, the prayers were shown as yellow Post-Its stickers.  Bruce Almighty was faced with thousands of Post-Its each day and he had to try and answer all these prayers.

Don’t you wonder why some prayers are answered and some don’t?  It’s amazing the things that I get and amazing the things I don’t get.

We teach filmmakers that they should be intending receipt of the funds they need to make their films.  Intentions are powerful and carry the same energy as prayers. Our belief is that your mind is your greatest asset in fund raising.  You should have faith in yourself and know in your mind that with your talent and determination, you will get your film funded.  Believing in that outcome and knowing you can make it happen, will make it happen.

They call you independent filmmakers because you need that independence to grab an idea and run with it.  You should not be required to get an approval from anyone but your potential audience.  You need faith in yourself to choose the right project and know you can do it.  Faith is the bottom line.

Listening to That Little Voice in Your Head

There is a lot of information on “manifesting” and “The Law of Attraction” available.  In our class we have read and studied Lynn McTaggart’s book The Field and two of Dean Raiden’s brilliant books, the Conscious Universe and Real Magic.

Currently we are reading Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill (the over 100-year-old bestselling book that presaged The Secret and inspired Andrew Carnegie).  Napoleon Hill says that “when faith and love are blended, they have a way of ‘coloring’ the vibration of thought in such a way that it instantly reaches the subconscious mind, where it is changed into its spiritual equivalent, the only form that induces a response from Infinite Intelligence.” 

I love the use of the word coloring the vibration it’s just like the yellow post its in Bruce Almighty but they are now hot pink to alert him that this is very important.

The interesting thing is that all of the books we have read seem to point to several facts that we need to include in our lives to achieve our dreams.

The most important of which is that all of us were born with ESP.  Dean Raiden stated, after 30 years of parapsychological research, “We all have natural abilities of ESP or intuition, just believe it and accept it.” 

If we do accept that we have a sense of ESP, then that means, I believe, that we are listening to that little voice between our thoughts that is often right.  This is when we know something and there is no valid reason for it.  If we take Dean’s information and believe it, how can that hurt us? 

It’s worth accepting that we do have the ability to make excellent decision when we “feel” into the issue and listen to our inner voice.  This is a beginning step to a happier life.  And it is a good beginning to get on the fast track to funding.  If there are 10 grants to go after, which are the best ones for you? 

Why not ESP it?  Why not read up on each one and see what hits you as a definite yes. If yes, you must apply as this is perfect for you and your film.  Find the ones that clearly match you and your film and that you “feel” are perfect and put 120% of your efforts into those few.

Just Pretend Your Film Already Exists

From studying The Field, we learned information from physicists that the quantum field is the recorder of all things past, present, and future. The quantum field is a vast sea of energy through which we are all connected through our conscious and unconscious thoughts.  All our thoughts are recorded to that field. 

So, how do we create our future using this knowledge and remembering Jim Carry as Bruce Almighty with thousands of these requests? 

One way of creating our future is to focus on what we want intently and keep pretending that it already exists.  That causes things in our life to change and opportunities come to us that lead to the future we want.

Pay Yourself First

You must not forget yourself because you as an Independent filmmaker are our greatest asset. Without you we would not know what is happening in the world. Too many important issues are not covered by the news. You are our journalists; you are our Tom Brokaw’s our Edward R Morrow’s. 

Some of you are investigative reporters who dig into stories and show us the truth and let us make decisions. We need you and we know for you to survive; you need to make a living. We want you to have a successful career and be able to afford whatever you desire.

To achieve this, it starts with how you see your future and what you want in your future. It starts with how you visualize your new life and how easy it is in this new life to fund your film. Like visualizing how easy it will be to find the right team to support you. These things are truly up to each of us to imagine, to intend, to pray for, to visualize and create. 

Make a Movie about Making your Movie

To have the future we want requires time to see the future.  It means you need to be able to visualize it and feel it and know what it is like to live in the life you want.  

So, how do you do this?  You need the faith of Job. You must believe it to achieve it. Keep visualizing your future.  Perhaps creating a film with you and your partner as stars in the film. You are using this mental movie to manifest your movie.

In the movie, you are pitching people who are nodding and then writing and handing you a large check.  You are opening the mail and shouting with joy at the news of winning a grant.  You are busy on Facebook talking to your giant audience about your film.  You are connecting with your audience and your super fans who are funding your outreach.

Realize that you have the talent to do it so it is just a matter of creating a mental movie that you can see, experience, and feel the future you want. Include in your movie the emotions of joy, success, happiness, and freedom. 

Use Your Emotions When Visualizing Your Success

If we use emotions with our intentions, then we get results faster.  Perhaps our emotions can turn these yellow stickers into hot pink where they get immediate attention.  Perhaps emotions can benefit us when we create our future.  Emotions are strong feelings and putting those strong feelings with the emotions of faith, love and forgiveness can be very powerful. 

Neville Goddard taught us that the subconscious believes what the conscious mind tells it. So, it is our job particularly when we go to bed at night is to play the mental movie you created to make your movie!  Send this movie information to the subconscious via the conscious.

Then, through your faith in yourself and your confidence that you are living the life in your movie, the universe sends you the opportunities.

By pretending nightly that you are living your dream you can create your future. This is the secret on how to create what you want.  And your faith in yourself and your dream all become part of your DNA.

Do Not Feel Helpless, You Are in Control

Napoleon Hill says, “there are millions of people who believe themselves doomed to poverty and failure, because of some strange force over which they believe they have no control. They are the creators of their own misfortunes because of this negative belief which is picked up by the subconscious mind and translated into its physical equivalent.”  

So, you can become your greatest enemy when you say things that are opposite or detrimental do what you truly want.  Reverend Ike always said, “money has ears!”  He is 100% right.

Well, you might say, “Carole how do you handle things when you don’t have any money?” You put your faith and your belief ahead of reality. Know that you were destined to be a filmmaker. You have these extraordinary gifts and you intend to use them and since the majority of you intend to use them for the betterment of mankind, why would you not be able to do this?

Do you really believe the universe would put you on this earth with your many talents and then not support you? No, there definitely is an angel support team for you. You must have the faith to daily assure yourself how important you are to all of us. Your health and your wellbeing are of paramount importance to us.  Your faith and belief in yourself become a magnet to you for people, finances, and opportunities.  I think this quote is very important to remember.

“You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing that we call ‘failure’ is not the falling down, but the staying down”. Mary Pickford

 

Carole Dean is president and founder of From the Heart Productions; a 501(c)3 non-The Art of Film Funding Podcastprofit that offers the Roy W. Dean Film Grants and fiscal sponsorship for independent filmmakers. She hosts the weekly podcastThe Art of Film Fundinginterviewing those involved in all aspects of indie film productionHer new class “How to Fund Your Film” is available on Vimeo on Demand.  She is also the author of  The Art of Film Funding, 2nd Edition: Alternative Financing Concepts.  See IMDB for producing credits.

Trailer Tips

Bill Woolery, the editor behind the trailers for such films as “ET” and “The Usual Suspects”, was known as “The Trailer Specialist.” 

This blog was written for us by Bill when he was a donor to the Roy W. Dean Grant. In this, he offered his advice on documentary trailer editing drawn from his 25 years of experience. He also wrote a chapter in Carole Dean’s book, “The Art of Film Funding.”

by Bill Woolery – Guest Contributor

In the complex business of getting your documentary funded and distributed, having a dynamic, well-edited video promo has become a critical element in a successful strategy.  But often when the producer/editor turns his attention to creating this kind of trailer, the results can be less than satisfactory. 

Why?  Because long-format pieces and trailers are two completely separate video realities.  Each has its own rhythm and energy; each uses a different language to express the same emotions.  Editing a documentary benefits from a well-developed, logical Left Brain …while trailer editing is much more a Right Brain exercise.  Structurally existing in different worlds they nevertheless are both true and faithful to the concept and the heart of the overall project. 

Trailers for documentaries are used in two ways.  One format’s goal is to impress funding entities with the importance of the project and the value of contributing to it.  In this case, the editor takes whatever footage is available and attempts to recreate the theme and quality of “whole picture.”  The other trailer format is created from the completed documentary and is used to showcase it to potential distributors, broadcasters & home video releasing companies. 

RHYTHMN & PACING 

You’ve worked hard and are satisfied with the pace and rhythm you built into your doc. This is surely an asset that you want to preserve in the trailer, yes?  No!  Taking various chucks from your doc and assembling them into a promo without totally rethinking the editing will produce a clumsy, ineffective result.  Individual & overlapping arcs, the “build” in momentum, the emotional “gear changes” that characterize a great trailer have little in common with the corresponding elements in the full-length piece. 

Yes, the trailer will try to cover all the salient points and emotions it can, but the way that these play off each other and contribute to the whole requires a different construction.  True, the trailer may be 50 or more minutes shorter than the doc, but if it’s a great cut nothing will be “lost” from the integrity of the full piece.

VOICE OVER 

Few things will reduce the impact of a trailer more than the use of an amateur Voice Over

A RULE THAT NEVER FAILS  

LET THE MATERIAL LEAD YOU.

“We’re thinking it should be 3 minutes,” I sometimes hear. “Does that sound right to you?”  In theory, yes.  But, as the cut begins to hone down into a solid form, the intrinsic qualities of the material become the determining factor in these kinds of decisions. 

In the trailer mind-set, you’ll find that the material will “tell” when it’s been on the screen long enough.  It will tell you when you’ve revealed too much of it, or if you need to add a bit of setup so that it can “speak” more clearly.  It will tell you if the music cue is wrong.  I usually like to build a long sequence first and then allow the scenes to tell me which of them are superfluous and which should remain in the cut.

“BUT WE ALREADY PAID FOR THIS MUSIC” 

In scoring your doc you’ve probably made many choices using music sensitively and episodically.  But music in a trailer runs continuously -with rare exceptions for dramatic pauses.  It must have momentum, a pulse that propels the trailer (either strongly or gently) from top to bottom.  If your doc already has such a cue, you’re in luck.  If it doesn’t, there’s little alternative to finding a new cue.  You could also ask your composer to create faster tempo versions of the existing cues. 

If you use several cues in the trailer always start with the slowest tempo first and proceed with quicker and quicker ones.  This rule can be broken …but the only exceptions I’ve encountered were due to unusual circumstances, say when the trailer has to end on a tragic note that follows a more active and expositional middle section.  It’s not a particularly good idea to end a trailer tragically.  No need to devise a “happy” ending, but it’s a better choice to leave it open ended with a bit of mystery about the people and the outcome.

 MAKE SURE IT ENDS 

Avoid a slow music fade out at the end.  Yes, your doc may have a beautifully constructed, delicate ending that leaves the viewer in tears.  Your trailer can also invoke a similar poignancy …but it must have a definitive ending.  Why?  The viewer may leave your doc a changed person, pondering a new awareness. 

But when the trailer ends, he or she needs to be thinking, “Hmm, I really want to see that.”  That’s the “new awareness” you want to create here.  This need not be seen as a “selling out” or a commercializing of your project.  It’s just the way a trailer has to work.  A good trailer cut will not compromise the integrity to your project.

 AN EDIT ROOM SECRET 

Invite the clients to sit down the first time they view the trailer cut on the monitor.  A standing person can be uncomfortable and will perceive the cut to be longer than one who is sitting.  Whenever I hear, “It feels just a bit too long,” it’s always from the person standing. 

Roy W. Dean Grant Winner Helen Hall Awarded Puzzle Theory Grant

Filmmaker Will Have 3 Years Use of Innovative PR and Marketing Platform for her Documentary on Nikola Tesla

From the Heart Productions has awarded Helen Hall 3 years of use of Puzzle Theory which will assist her in building a marketing and PR campaign for her Roy W. Dean Grant winning film “Pictures of Infinity”.   Valued at $5,000, the Puzzle Theory Grant is made possible by a donation from Puzzle Theory and its creator Ina Sofia Kalo.   The award will not only help Helen create buzz for her in progress documentary on Nicola Tesla, it will provide an example to show other independent filmmakers how Puzzle Theory will revolutionize their marketing.

Puzzle Theory Grant“I am so grateful to receive this grant from Puzzle Theory, and excited to begin working with such an innovative and inspiring platform!” said director Helen Hall upon learning of her being chosen for the award. 

“Puzzle Theory is everything I could have hoped for, and have been missing, until now – a way to document films as they are being made, and a place to create a ‘behind the scenes’ story about the making of the film.  I have been doing this on different social media platforms, but in pieces.  This platform brings all those pieces together in one place, and there are still many more dimensions to explore. 

“Thank you Ina Sofia Kalo and Carole Dean, for this generous gift, and I look forward to sharing all that I learn from this experience.”

About Puzzle Theory

Developed by Ina over two years, Puzzle Theory is an exciting tool for independent filmmakers.  With it, Ina has created a way for filmmakers to attach to their audience while making their film. 

“You or your production company can register a film at any stage of production,” Ina explained on a recent The Art of Film Funding Podcast. “It can be any genre. Our categories are fiction, documentary, TV series or animation. You build your own page. It will have your unique URL and you can post the link anywhere.

“You have different modules that give information about you, you but basically you start curating your film using storyline. You combine original pictures and video or production shots and video with hand selected content from your existing social media accounts and pages.

“Using our proprietary technology, you can tag and extract any information from current content of your existing social media. We give you the tools to hand select only the most special pieces that you want to include with the making of your storyline.”

At this point Puzzle Theory is by invite only.  The company is curating their own platform with a lot of attention to detail, and though some films may contain some nudity and violence, the staff has to make sure that such content is not inappropriate.  She has a brilliant website and best of all she has a question-and-answer session monthly.  You can find that on her site and get to hear her personally. 

About “Pictures of Infinity”

Recipient of the Roy W. Dean Grant for Spring of 2013, “Pictures of Infinity” is a feature documentary about Nikola Tesla’s discovery the Earth produces an unlimited reservoir of natural electricity and the system he invented to harness it to provide an infinite, nontoxic and renewable resource for the shared benefit of all humankind.

More than 100 years ago the great scientist, engineer and visionary Nikola Tesla predicted the current environmental crisis and knew we would need a radical solution. He devoted the last part of his life to providing one, with his discovery that the earth produces an unlimited reservoir of natural electricity and his invention that harnesses it, based on an entirely new understanding of physics. Tesla’s ideas were so advanced for that time, and challenging to mainstream science, that all funding for his projects was withdrawn, his name seemed to disappear from the history books, and since then all of this visionary work has remained veiled in mystery.

What Nikola Tesla discovered is a natural form of electricity produced by the spinning earth, within stars, in the cosmic vacuum of space, and Tesla found a way to produce it with his invention known as a ‘Tesla coil’. The film follows the events in Tesla’s life, and reproduces the groundbreaking experiments that led to the discovery he called his ‘greatest achievement’. Independent scientists and engineers provide solid scientific evidence to confirm it. In the process Pictures of Infinity reveals the soul and spirit of a true scientist and humanitarian whose passionate quest for knowledge was always at the service of humanity.

About the Roy W. Dean Grant

Now in its 30th year, the Roy W. Dean Grant has awarded over $2,000,000 in cash and donated film services to independent films. The grant is awarded to films budgeted under $500,000 that are unique and that make a contribution to society.  It has been an important lifeline for independent filmmakers that help to get their projects started or finished.  Without assistance from the grant, many excellent and important films may never have been made. 

Past winners of the grant include the Emmy winning Mia: A Dancer’s Journey,  2019 Sundance Film Festival selection Raise Hell: The Life and Times of Molly Ivins, and the acclaimed documentary Kusama-Infinity which is now in distribution showing in theaters around the US and world.

About From the Heart Productions

From The Heart Productions is a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to helping filmmakers get their projects funded and made.  Besides providing funding through the grant, they offer film fiscal sponsorship to filmmakers.  This allows donations made to films they sponsor to be tax deductible.  From The Heart has helped independent filmmakers raise over $10 million through its fiscal sponsorship program.  President Carole Dean is the best-selling author of The Art of Film Funding: 2nd Edition, Alternative Financing Concepts 

Cinematographers to Directors: “Be Prepared”

When Jacqui Frost asked DP’s what they wanted out of their directors, they all had the same answer

by Carole Dean

In my ongoing search for educational information for filmmakers, I recently interviewed Jacqui Frost who is a full professor in the Department of Cinema and Television Arts at California State Fullerton. Jacqui has taught cinematography, documentary production, advanced motion picture production, the language of film and many other production courses. She’s been a producer and cinematographer for over 30 years.

cinematographers

Cinematographer, Professor, and Author Jacqui Frost

She is also the author of Cinematography for Directors: A Guide for Creative Collaboration.  She joined me on my The Art of Film Funding Podcast and I was impressed with her knowledge of filmmaking and cinematography.   While writing this book, she interviewed our top cinematographers.  She asked each one what they want their directors to bring them to understand the vision of their film.

It was amazing that all the cinematographers said the same answer, “they want their directors to be prepared.” Basically, the cinematographer wants to know what the director intends to say with this film and how they want to say it.

A Picture is Worth an Incredible Scene

She shared with me that Spike Lee would get prints of films and project them in a screening room. He would take the cinematographer to the theater and show the film while pointing out what he wanted in a visual style and a visual look.

Sometimes director’s use fine arts photography to communicate a particular look with the cinematographer.   She said that if you look at a Dorothea Lange photograph, you can find a still from the film Grapes of Wrath that will match. In fact, you would think they were stills from the same photographer.  Road to Perdition was photographed by Conrad Hall for Sam Mendes and he used the artist Edward Hopper as a reference.

John Seale worked with Peter Weir on Witness.  Before they began filming, Peter took his DP to the museum, and they looked at Vermeer paintings.  Peter told him, “I want the light to come from the left like that.” John said, “I can do that.”  Think back in your mind and see if you can remember the scene in the film where the boy is looking into a glass cabinet of pictures.  He then points out the killer who is a man pictured inside the glass cabinet in the police station. That’s a pivotal moment in the film and the lighting in the scene was just like the lighting in the Vermeer painting.

Some directors want high contrast in their images, so they go to Georges de La Tour, a French Baroque painter, for the candlelight low-key source. They also use Rembrandt who is often on the directors list. Some like Andrew Wyatt for a realistic look.

Matching the Director’s Vision

This is what cinematographers want their directors do, to clearly show them the look of the film. They want them to show them the color and the emotion they want to emit from the audience. They want directors to use things that they can visually connect with like movies or paintings or still photography.

Jackie says when a director of photography reads a script, they have a lot of notes for their first meeting with the director.  They want to impart to the director their vision for the film. Then, during discussions, the cinematographer will sit and listen to what the director says before he shares what he saw as the vision for the film.  Then the cinematographer knows if he’s got the vision right or not.

Secret of a Good Relationship

Most directors have a team. It’s not just the director of photography it’s usually the cameraman and the assistant cameraman.  These three usually work together.

Jackie said that not every director knows everything about cinematography. There are some cinematographers who would prefer a director to focus on their vision and deal with the actors. These directors often let the cinematographer choose the lenses.  Jacqui thinks directors should know what the different lenses are and what they can do.

The secret to a great relationship between the director of photography and the director of the film is good communication. These two should be collaborating to create the director’s vision.

Making a Connection

I asked Jacqui, “How do you choose a cinematographer?” Is there a list of questions you can give us?  How do you make the decision that this is the person you want to work with?

Jackie said first look at their reels.  If that reel speaks to you visually, you may want to talk to them.  Then you can determine if you believe you can connect with them as a person. She says the conversation should be, “I want to have this theme in the film. So, how can we create that visually and represent my vision on the screen through your cinematography?”

Jackie says that directors should know about lenses because they are a storytelling tool. You need to know what a long lens gives you versus what a wide angle gives you. You need to ask this question; do we want to focus on the actors or the actors and the scenery?

Creating a Mood with Color

I love to talk about the color palette of the film. This is one of the most powerful storytelling devices that the cinematographer has because humans are so emotionally affected by color. With color films, you can set a mood quickly with the right color. This is when your cinematographer becomes a genius with lighting. And of course, they get help from the color correction artist who comes in during post and your set director.

The director might say I see the color palette in this scene for this character to be slightly desaturated because their world is kind of grim. I might want a strong color and much more saturation when you go to the memory that he shares with another person.

You want to use that when you create your look book.  That gives the cinematographer an idea of what you want to do. Jackie says you may want your production designer in your conversation about color and what the color scheme will be. Perhaps it’s blue and orange like you see in Michael Mann’s films or very dark and soft lighting like you see in David Fincher. There are different ways you can go with creating a mood with your color.  You can see each character perhaps having a different color palette.

Jacqui Frost knows her films and her filmmaking.  I highly recommend this incredible book. It will certainly teach you how to communicate with your cinemaphotographer.  Please also check out her newest book Conversations with Contemporary Cinematographers: The Eye Behind the Lens now available on Amazon.

 

Carole Dean is president and founder of From the Heart Productions; a 501(c)3 non-The Art of Film Funding Podcastprofit that offers the Roy W. Dean Film Grants and fiscal sponsorship for independent filmmakers. She hosts the weekly podcastThe Art of Film Fundinginterviewing those involved in all aspects of indie film productionHer new class “How to Fund Your Film” is available on Vimeo on Demand.  She is also the author of  The Art of Film Funding, 2nd Edition: Alternative Financing Concepts.  See IMDB for producing credits.

Your Relentless Desire Will Bring Success!

“Many people desire riches, but desiring riches must include a state of mind that will not take no for an answer.” Napoleon Hill

by Carole Dean

It’s amazing how many people have cited that their success came from Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill.  This book was published in 1937, can you believe that?  It has been a bestseller for almost 100 years. I teach the still relevant advice it contains to the filmmakers in our Film Funding Guidance Class. 

That’s just what you need to make your film.  A true obsession.  You need to clearly see the finished product. Back your obsession with a plan. 

“This book conveys the experiences of more than 500 men of great wealth who began with nothing and became wealthy” Napoleon Hills tells us.  “All they had were ideas and clearly defined visions for what they wanted to achieve.”  Napoleon Hill informs us that they were successful once they understood, the “secret” that his book contains.

With this information, they were able to achieve their goals.  (For anyone who hasn’t set goals, I created an outline for goal setting on how to make the statements in the now as if it is already existing.)

Napoleon Hill says that “there are six definite, practical steps to achieve your goals.” Setting goals is crucial to fulfilling them and for the universe to understand that in your mind it is a fait accompli, it is finished.  I sincerely urge you to create one or two goals.  Perhaps one to take you till September and the second goal to take you until the beginning of 2022.

Your Desire Must Become an Obsession

Hill says that “many people desire riches, but desiring riches must include a state of mind that will not take no for an answer.  It must be an obsession.”  That’s just what you need to make your film.  A true obsession.  You need to clearly see the finished product. Back your obsession with a plan.  You want a definite list of things to do to take you to the goal. 

In our industry, flexibility can be your greatest asset. I see filmmakers who start out going one way and can make quick changes like a bird in flight.  They seem to change their mind and immediately change direction.  This is often what it takes for you to find the money. 

“First is the total dedication,” he writes, “then the belief that your desire is achievable. Don’t share your goals and desires with other people. They may not support you and that lack of support could pull you down. Keep these things inside you where the energy stays and grows and takes you with confidence to achieve your goals.”

The Universe Works Like a Shipping Clerk

Napoleon Hill’s first of six steps in achieving your goals is to “fix in your mind the exact amount of money you want to raise.”   

It’s important to recognize that the universe works like a shipping clerk. When it hears you say that you want six pair of pants size 12, then that’s what they ship you.  If you tell them you’d like some lovely pants that fit, you may never get what you want. You must be very specific outlining exactly what you want.  

Just saying you want to become a millionaire does not work.  We all want that.  The universe works on numbers and visions and beliefs.

Universe, Let’s Make a Deal

The second step is to determine exactly what you intend to give in return for the money.  I think that’s important to recognize that the universe wants you to have what you want when you are adamant about it.

Somehow, I got this concept as young girl.  I was always making deals with God and would promise to do certain things if God would do a very specific thing for me.  I knew when I had a deal.  In every bone in my body, I knew immediately that the universe had accepted my request.

I was always very clear with what I wanted and would clearly visualize exactly it. Example, if it was a diamond ring, I could see it, feel it and I would pretend I was wearing it.  If it was the bicycle, I wanted I could see the color, the basket. I could see every item on the bike and would not be shocked when it appeared at the next holiday.

I am sure you did the same thing when you were a child.  Most of us were manifesting all the time and this is how the universe works. You need a burning desire and you need to specifically outline what you want. AND most importantly what you will give in return. 

Perhaps you decide to give a percentage of the funds to your favorite charity or to someone in dire need.  Tell the universe what you will do.  You may want to give something up, like take sugar out of your diet or eat less meat, now is the time to promise that.  Or take a class that will help you in your career.  Promise to do that.

Make a Short Film in Your Mind

You might want to raise money for the film.  You might want to raise $30,000.  Before you settle on an amount and deadline, you want to feel into this amount and see what “feels” right. Pay attention to how your body reacts.  If you go into fear or feel a sick stomach, then reduce the amount or extend the time. 

You can find what your body and mind agree that you can do.  Perhaps you find the right number.  If you think you can do it by Thanksgiving, then see yourself at a Thanksgiving dinner sharing your success with your family. You need to visualize the entire meal.  Visualize who will be there and what they are wearing. Visualize all the food on the table. Even think about what the conversations are. 

Make a short film of it in your mind.  Then swell with pride when you announce how you achieved your goal.  They will be very supportive and so will the universe.  Believe me, the universe is listening to you daily.

You may offer to give your time to a nonprofit that supports the concepts of your proposed film project.  By donating time to a charity, you may be working next to wealthy people.  Often, they donate time to these organizations.  They surely go to the charity events and you can get into them too.  Put yourself where you can meet wealthy people and do good at the same time.

Deals with the Universe are Time Sensitive

Third, Hill says, “Establish a definite date when you intend to possess the money you desire.”  Yes, we must fully understand that to manifest, we must have a set end time.  We know that deals with the universe are time sensitive.

One of my best girlfriends always said, “when my ship comes in” we will do this and that. Well, her ship never came in because that was the future.  It was always planned to come in sometime in the future.  It never came in during her entire life.

It’s fun to set your goals and tie them to holidays. This can also be birthdays.  It should be times when you’ll be celebrating or be with family and friends who love you. This is the time two envision your goal as completed and you are announcing it.

Define Your Plan and Goal

“Fourth, create a definite plan,” he writes, “for carrying out your desire and began at once whether you are ready or not, to put this plan into action.”   

“Fifth, write out a clear concise statement of the amount of money you intend to acquire, name the time limit for its acquisition, state what you intend to give in return for the money and describe clearly the plan through which you intend to accumulate it.”

Now you need to make an outline of how you intend to get the funding.  You know the ways to raise money, so let’s cover them:

  • Family and friends.
  • Crowdfunding
  • Peer to peer funding via emails.
  • Letter writing to wealthy people to ask for guidance, not for money, yet.
  • One on one asks for funding from wealthy people.
  • Major production houses.
  • Nonprofits and organizations who are interested in your subject matter.
  • People you meet while you are donating your time to nonprofit organizations.

Choose one or more of these ways and get to work with a “To Do” list to achieve your goal.

Repeat Twice Daily

“Sixth: If your read your written statement aloud twice daily. Once just before retiring at night, and once after arising in the morning. As you read— see and feel and believe yourself already in possession of the money.”

See, feel, and believe.  All three are needed to bring this to fruition. This is very easy for filmmakers as we are all strongly connected to Neptune, which is imagination and illusion. Neptune is the planet that rules.

Hollywood and most filmmakers are strongly influenced by this wonderful energy to imagine.

 

Carole Dean is president and founder of From the Heart Productions; a 501(c)3 non-The Art of Film Funding Podcastprofit that offers the Roy W. Dean Film Grants and fiscal sponsorship for independent filmmakers. She hosts the weekly podcastThe Art of Film Fundinginterviewing those involved in all aspects of indie film productionHer new class “How to Fund Your Film” is available on Vimeo on Demand.  She is also the author of  The Art of Film Funding, 2nd Edition: Alternative Financing Concepts.  See IMDB for producing credits.

“26 Seconds” Wins Britt Penrod Award

Documentary Reveals that One Child Every 26 Seconds is Trafficked Globally

From the Heart Productions announces that “26 Seconds” has been named the winner of the inaugural Britt Penrod Award.  Made possible by a generous grant by the award’s namesake, it is bestowed on an entrant for the Roy W. Dean Film Grant that is unique and that makes an exceptional contribution to society.   Director Kelly Galindo will receive $500 from the award to allow her to continue work on her documentary exposing child sex trafficking around the world.

Britt Penrod Award“Our Roy W. Dean Film Grants have for 30 years gone to films that are unique and that make a contribution to society.  ‘26 Seconds’ exemplifies that theme and goes beyond by making a monumental contribution to society in its documenting the underage sex slave industry from the United States to Asia and Africa.” said Carole Dean, President of From the Heart Productions.

“26 Seconds” is a two-stage film project that reveals the global epidemic of child sex trafficking. The first stage is a two-hour feature documentary that is currently in post-production. The second stage is a dramatic documentary miniseries. Through a captivating journey across the world, Galindo reveals the ubiquity of the problem and the gravity of the damage sustained by this evil, destructive trade.

In intimate interviews, the audience gets a raw, often shocking glimpse into the lives of children and women in various cultures and regions. The interviews include vivid details of how each victim was captured or lured into the sex trade, the horrors of their captivity, and the commitment of each individual, non-profit organization, crisis intervention team, and law enforcement in the fight to eradicate global sex trafficking.

Director Kelly Galindo’s vision is to spread awareness and create a call to action by educating audiences and giving a voice to those who have been silenced. Human trafficking is the fastest-growing illegal industry in the world. There are more slaves today than any time in history.

For the past four years, she has produced and directed 26 Seconds​; her mission of exposing these atrocities has taken her around the world. Kelly highlights the nonprofit organizations that have actively stepped forward to do something about it.

The 26 Seconds team is currently editing the feature documentary with three-time Emmy award winner, Mark Wilcken, as lead editor. The production will be making a strong push for top-tier film festivals, along with a PR campaign for the Academy Awards. Sid Ganis, the supervising producer for 26 Seconds, was the past president of the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts, and Sciences; he also served as chairman of the Academy’s International Outreach Committee up to 2017. Prior to this, Ganis has been on the board of directors at Marvel Entertainment until its sale to Disney. His film career in marketing and publicity includes working at 20th Century Fox, Lucasfilm, Columbia Pictures, Warner Brothers, and Paramount Pictures.

Recognition for 26 Seconds

Kelly Galindo, award-winning director, writer, and producer of 26 Seconds, has won the prestigious Award of Merit Best Shorts Competition for Women Filmmakers; The Award of Merit for Liberation-Social Justice-&-Protest; Award of Merit for Women Filmmakers for the Accolade Global Film Competition; Outstanding Excellence of Social Issues for Docs Without Borders Film Festival; Award of Merit for Best Documentary Short for Women Filmmakers for the IndieFEST Film Awards; Best Short Cause-for-Change for AIFA Fest; Best Director for the International Independent Film Awards; Special Mention for Impact Doc Awards; and Special Mention for Global Shorts, One-Reeler Short Film Festival Competition and winner of Excellence for WRPN Women’s International Film Festival.

The 26 Seconds documentary short has also been officially selected for That Film Festival – Cannes, Dances with Films Festival, See It-End It Film and Arts Festival and Film-Com Packaging Financing & Distribution Market. Galindo’s vision is to spread awareness and create a call to action by educating audiences and giving a voice to those who have been silenced. Human trafficking is the fastest-growing illegal industry in the world. There are more slaves today than any time in history. Best Shorts Competition, the Accolade Global Film Competition,

The Impact Doc Awards, IndieFEST Film Awards and Docs Without Boarders Film Festival recognizes film, television, and new media professionals who demonstrate exceptional achievement in craft and creativity, and those who produce standout entertainment or contribute to profound social change. Entries are judged by highly qualified professionals in the film and television industry.

In winning these film festivals, 26 Seconds joins the ranks of other high-profile winners of these internationally respected awards. Entries are received from around the world from powerhouse companies to remarkable new talent, who demonstrate exceptional achievement in craft and creativity. And those who produce standout entertainment or contribute to profound social change and help set the standard as power catalysts for global change.

Best Shorts Competition Award winners have included Disney Interactive for “Vinylmation: A Love Story” and Oscar-winning production “Mr. Hublot” from Laurent Witz from Luxembourg.

Accolade Global Film Competition winners have included the Oscar winning production of The Lady in Number Six by Malcolm Clarke, the very talented Dave Bossert of Disney for his short documentary, The Tunes Behind The Toons, Hollywood industry veteran Ron Howard for When You Find Me and Highwire Films Australia for their popular ABC TV series twentysomething.

The Impact Doc Award winners include many Oscar-winning directors including Louie Psihiyos for his 2016 Best of Show–Racing Extinction, Oscar-winner Yael Melamede for (Dis)Honesty–The Truth About Lies, and Emmy-award winner Gerald Rafshoon for Endless, Corridors, narrated by Oscar winner Jeremy Irons.

The IndieFEST Film Award winners have included internationally respected Liam Neeson as the narrator of Love Thy Nature, A Path Appears Documentary featuring George Clooney and Blake Lively, Radical Grace executive produced by Susan Sarandon, a searing expose Davids and Goliath by Peabody winner Leon Lee, and Touched with Fire starring Katie Holmes.

About the Filmmaker

Britt Penrod AwardKelly Galindo is an American actress, director, and producer. Her work has spanned decades in television, theater, and film. She is currently in post-production for her first directorial feature documentary 26 Seconds, which is based on the horrific sex trade.

In addition, Kelly balances her directing and acting careers while passing her craft onto future generations of students as a professor at Dodge College of Film and Media Arts of Chapman University.

She has also taught at UCLA’s School of Theater, Film, and Television and at Orange County School of the Arts. Kelly is also a proud lifetime member of the Actors Studio.

About the Britt Penrod Award

The Britt Penrod Award was made possible by a donation from longtime friend of From the Heart Productions and the Roy W. Dean Grants, Britt Penrod.  The $500 award will be presented to a finalist for the upcoming 2021 Roy W. Dean Grants whose film is unique and makes an exceptional contribution to society.  Results of the award have no bearing on the eventual winner of any of the Roy W. Dean Grants.

Britt is president of Giant Entertainment & Management Inc. (G.E.M.) is a Los Angeles based Film & Television Studio design and development company with in depth experience in the United States, Europe and Asia.

G.E.M. delivers knowledgeable business foundations to Studio development projects that include; Market Analysis, Site Planning, Operating Financial Evaluation, Construction, MEP & Value Engineering, Start-up of Operations and ongoing Management Services for stage-based entertainment properties.

About the Roy W. Dean Grant

Now in its 30th year, the Roy W. Dean Grant has awarded over $2,000,000 in cash and donated film services to independent films. The grant is awarded to films budgeted under $500,000 that are unique and that make a contribution to society.  It has been an important lifeline for independent filmmakers that help to get their projects started or finished.  Without assistance from the grant, many excellent and important films may never have been made. 

Past winners of the grant include the Emmy winning Mia: A Dancer’s Journey,  2019 Sundance Film Festival selection Raise Hell: The Life and Times of Molly Ivins, and the acclaimed documentary Kusama-Infinity which is now in distribution showing in theaters around the US and world.

About From the Heart Productions

From The Heart Productions is a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to helping filmmakers get their projects funded and made.  Besides providing funding through the grant, they offer film fiscal sponsorship to filmmakers.  This allows donations made to films they sponsor to be tax deductible.  From The Heart has helped independent filmmakers raise over $10 million through its fiscal sponsorship program.  President Carole Dean is the best-selling author of The Art of Film Funding: 2nd Edition, Alternative Financing Concepts

 

Puzzle Theory: A New Way to Attach and Connect with Your Audience

By Carole Dean

A technologist, a linguist, and a cognitive psychologist. Ina Sofia Kalo is also the creator of Puzzle Theory (PT) for independent filmmakers.  Developed by Ina over two years, Puzzle Theory is an exciting tool for independent filmmakers.  With it, Ina has created a way for filmmakers to attach to their audience while making their film.   As you know, finding and engaging your audience early is important because many of them will fund your film. 

“Less than one percent of films reach a distributor via film festivals.” Ina shared with me in a recent interview on my The Art of Film Funding Podcast.  “However, let’s say you get a distributor, their goal is to spend lots of money for PR and marketing, recoup their expenses, make some profit and then quickly move to the next film because you’re already an old product.  I think the entire system has become completely unsustainable.

“I wanted to build a humane technological system, which allows for real deep, meaningful human engagement, the way humans truly engage over time with ups and downs, with multiple points of connection, with inspiration and curiosity.”

How Puzzle Theory Works

“You or your production company can register a film at any stage of production,” Ina explained. “It can be any genre. Our categories are fiction, documentary, TV series or animation. You build your own page. It will have your unique URL and you can post the link anywhere.

“You have different modules that give information about you, you but basically you start curating your film using storyline. You combine original pictures and video or production shots and video with hand selected content from your existing social media accounts and pages.

“Using our proprietary technology, you can tag and extract any information from current content of your existing social media. We give you the tools to hand select only the most special pieces that you want to include with the making of your storyline.”

Build it Like a Puzzle

Perhaps you start with a shot of your first day of shooting. Then, you have that one Facebook post that you selected because this post is the one that people love and you had the most response.  Or include what everyone thought was very funny, put that in. Then you have let’s say some video that you produced, put that in. You have Instagram that you want to post, perhaps something on your lead actress.

What you are doing is putting different social media views about your production, and information on your crew and your storyline in one place in a timeline. This can be your most valuable promotional asset. It will be one coherent narrative that can be accessed at any time, and even after the film is completed it can stay online for a small $38.00 fee per year.

How Puzzle Theory Can Benefit Filmmakers

Ina told me a story about a Swedish filmmaker who entered a Film Festival. When the festival asked him to send his materials, they expected to get a one sheet, a bio, etc. Instead, he sent them his Puzzle Theory that he’d created.

The organizers of the Film Festival were shocked. They called to talk to him about what he was doing because he had over 75,000 people who were watching the making of his film and they were in 12 different countries! The Film Festival was impressed and excited because he knew his audience and he was in constant contact with them. This gives you an idea of what you can do with Puzzle Theory.

Connecting and Finding an Audience When You Start Developing Your Film

Ina says people connect to ups and downs, to blood, sweat and tears, to real human moments way more than a packaged product. So, they are getting a look at the backstory of the film that brought you to where you are now.  They feel connected and if they like the subject materials in your film, they are even more connected to you.

You can share the link to your film page with anyone over the world or people can search for your film on Puzzle Theory. You can also keep your film page private and share only a private link. This is up to you.

People may find you from being on PT where they can search by genera and find your film.  PT is used by distributors to see what is being made.  People share this link all over the world and you may have people find you from around the world.  You can keep it private until you want to open it up to the world.  This is up to you.

By posting often people can see your movement with the film.  They can log on to PT day or night.  Since we know the average time to make a documentary is six years and a feature is from 3 to 8 years you will have an interesting story history for your audience to connect with you.

You can link your PT information to your crowdfunding page.  This way people can see the entire story of making the film and the inside information long after donating.

How to Get Puzzle Theory

At this point Puzzle Theory is by invite only.  Ina is checking content and does not want violent films or nudity.   She has a brilliant website and best of all she has a question and answer session monthly.  You can find that on her site and get to hear her personally. 

She is most enthusiastic about this brainchild of hers and rightfully so.  This can be a major asset for you in your Public Relations, Marketing and Distribution.  This is a place that you can proudly sit back and look at what you have achieved.

You can hear the entire interview here and get more specific information and costs. https://www.blogtalkradio.com/the-art-of-film-funding/2021/03/10/puzzle-theory-is-the-answer-to-marketing-distribution-for-indie-filmmakers

Contact for Ina and PT is contact@puzzletheory.com

 

Carole Dean is president and founder of From the Heart Productions; a 501(c)3 non-The Art of Film Funding Podcastprofit that offers the Roy W. Dean Film Grants and fiscal sponsorship for independent filmmakers. She hosts the weekly podcastThe Art of Film Fundinginterviewing those involved in all aspects of indie film productionHer new class “How to Fund Your Film” is available on Vimeo on Demand.  She is also the author of  The Art of Film Funding, 2nd Edition: Alternative Financing Concepts.  See IMDB for producing credits.

Using Your Mind to Fund Your Film

Nearly a century ago, a brilliant author spurred by a self-made millionaire, provided a path that others have followed to build great businesses and obtain their dreams…including me

 by Carole Dean

“The scientists of today think deeply instead of clearly. One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane.” ― Nikola Tesla

This is a great statement for funding films.  Clarity of thought and purpose are paramount to success in any venture. Especially in the film industry.

I was invited to Portland Oregon to teach my book, The Art of Film Funding, and after the event I stayed to talk to filmmakers.  Everyone wanted to pitch me, and I love this part of filmmaking.

manifesting success

Creating Your Future Means Living as if You Have Achieved Your Goal

One couple told me that they were raising funds to go to Australia and create a film on the mating habits of leaches. I immediately started laughing, thinking they were joking.  I thought they were saying to me, how can anyone pitch this film?  However, I soon realized they were serious. In fact, very serious, and so I gave them my card and asked to please let me know how their funding worked for them.

It was about six months and I got a post card from Australia saying they raised the funds and were there shooting!  So, look at how easy it is to pitch your film compared to raising money for a film on leaches.  If they can find the money for that film, you can certainly find it for yours.

Filmmakers are Entrepreneurs. They are Business Owners.

In our bi-monthly Film Funding Class we are reviewing the book, Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. It’s amazing how many people have cited their business success came from Napoleon Hill’s information.  This book was published in 1937, can you believe that? It has been selling for almost 100 years.

This book conveys the experiences of more than 500 men of great wealth who began with nothing and became wealthy.  All they had were ideas and clearly defined visions for what they wanted to achieve.  Napoleon Hill tells us how they were successful once they understood, the “secret” that his book contains.  With this information they were able to achieve their goals. 

Let’s see how this can help with film funding.

In the beginning of the book, the author, Napoleon Hill, reminds us that riches cannot always be measured in money.  Money is wonderful and gives you the power to help those in need but some of the greatest riches can be in terms of lasting friendships, harmonious family relations and understanding between business associates.

I totally agree because I relish my relationships with people in the film industry.  To me, this is one of the greatest joys life has to offer, having good associates in business with a loving family surrounding you and long-term friendships which you will find in our film industry.  Just know that the people you meet in the industry will be here with you and as you grow in achievement so will they.  You are always connected to them.

For example, I took filmmaker Jahangir Golestan to independent film distribution guru Peter Broderick back in 2005 with his documentary on the earthquake in Bam, Iran.  I have been friends with Peter since then. 

Keep everyone’s card.  Always keep up with the new people you meet in the industry.  They are friends and you want to stay in touch even if you only see them once a year.  This is the business of film.  Always remember, this is a business and they are your business associates.

Andrew Carnegie Commissioned Napoleon Hill to Teach his “Secret” to Those Who had a Vision

In the beginning of Think and Grow Rich, the author, Napoleon Hill, relates a conversation with Andrew Carnegie who he calls, “the lovable old Scotchman.” In the early days of the 20th century, Carnegie famously overcame his poor beginnings to become one of the richest men on earth.  When Carnegie realized that Hill quickly grasped Carnegie’s secrets to wealth, he asked Hill if he would be willing to spend 20 years preparing himself to share the secrets to the world.

Carnegie wanted this information placed within reach of people who do not have the time to investigate how men make money.  He believed the formula should be taught in all public schools and colleges. Carnegie came to this decision after hiring many young men with little schooling and coaching them in the use of this formula which allows them to develop excellent leadership qualities.  His experience with a young Charles Schwab and other ambitious men convinced Carnegie that much of what is taught in schools is of no value whatsoever in connection with the business of earning a living or accumulating riches.

His coaching made fortunes for everyone who followed his instructions.  He does say that the secret cannot be had without a price.  It cannot be given away it cannot be purchased for money.  Mainly because it comes in two parts and one part is already in possession of those who are ready for it.  I believe that is a burning desire to achieve something which all of us have. This secret equally serves those who are ready for it.   

Just How Committed are You to Your Vision?

I know this to be true.  When I was married and raising a child at home, I could see that there was a market for those little old short ends of film left over from production.  I knew there was a business buying and selling them.  Once I started that business and got it moving, two engineers came to me to be partners and finance them in the business of buying and selling used video tape.  I agreed that this could be a good business. I could see how it would be easy to sell and knew I could do it. 

We were already selling used 16mm film stock to TV stations and now we would have another product for my existing customers.  I thought it would be easy and sometimes that’s the best way to think.  If I had known how difficult this expansion was, I would never have done it.  I think that’s how the universe tricks us sometimes, we don’t know how much there is to do to achieve our visions and that’s why a true dedication to your vision is needed.

Another reason I jumped for this idea is that I had no failure history. I had no one telling me I could not do this.  Those things help.  So, I said yes, I will go into business with you.  I had an office in Studio City and one in NYC.  They wanted to put in time and their knowledge of video tape as cash to buy into the business and I was to cover all expenses. 

All of this was agreed on as I would house them in my office but when we came to the final contract they said no, we want to do this in our office north of LA.  I said no, I can’t get there often, it’s too far.  They withdrew their agreement.   

I was left with a machine to repack 2” video tape called a Recortec that at that time cost more than a Mercedes 450SL.  I called the company to return the machine and they said sure, but you will pay a 20% restocking fee.  Woah!! That was a hefty fee on top of my lawyer’s fee and the time I put into this expansion.

So, I had a talk with myself.  If I believed in this business before why do I not believe it now?  I know I can do this.  Now the doubts came up.  You don’t know tape.  You will have to learn the technical qualities, the language and only heaven knows what else, I thought.  This is not easy.  Then I caught myself and said, I can do this!  So up to the home office of Recortec I went to learn about the machine and how it worked.

They picked me up from the airport and we were in their office at about 10am.  When the salesman started talking, I thought I had just arrived in some foreign country!  I did not understand a word he said.  So, I began stopping him asking what is a relay?  What is a diode? 

Needless to say, they took me to lunch at 11am!  Then put me on an early plane home.  The owner called me to say that if he had known I was a woman they would not have sold me the machine.  Being from Texas and growing up in the “good old boys world” I always signed my letters as C.L. Dean, so most people thought I was a man.  Sorry guys, but this helped me to meet a lot of people and learn much more.

What Do You Do When You Don’t Know What to Do?

I decided that I should get this machine out of LA and take it to NYC where I could put it in my rented brownstone and work on it, night and day as Cole Porter would say.  I did just that and I hired a woman with engineering knowledge who had worked for NBC.  She and I began to figure what this machine could do.  We ran tests, if you clean tape once you get this percentage of drop outs.  If you clean it twice you get less.  So, some of the tapes we cleaned 10 times.  Eventually we found that twice was good enough. 

We were all celebrating after we made a break-through sale of tapes to a top Ad Agency in NYC.  They loved the tapes at first, then called to say that they played them back once and then there was no signal.  They said it’s like someone took off all the oxide.  I think I know who that someone was.

To learn more about tape, I took myself to Montreux, Switzerland to go to a video tape convention.  On the first morning, I had my yellow pad and pens and went to this lovely hotel, walked into this room with about 150 engineers, and I was stunned.  They were all dressed in black, with white shirts, most had black horn-rim glasses and plastic pen holders in their pockets next to their slide rulers.  There was not another woman in the room.

I was so shocked that I just asked the universe for guidance and I went to a row and walked over a dozen people and sat by a man in black with the plastic pen holder.  I began to listen to the speaker, and I took notes.  The speaker said CCD more than anything else, so I asked this man next to me what is a CCD?  He said, “a charged coupling device.”  I said, “what is a charged coupling devise?” and his face lit up with a big smile. 

He said, take lots of notes and I will explain everything.  I had found my engineering angel.  With his education, guidance, and my determination to get my money’s worth from that machine, my company became the largest recycler of video tape in the US in 5 years.

So, this is the first part of the secret.  You have a vision, you have a strong desire with a clearly defined goal, once you have this then you are ready for Napoleon Hill to give you “the secret.”

Once You have an Idea, a Vision, and are Confident You can Do It, What’s Next?

Now back to Think and Grow Rich.  We can learn from the success of these normal men who became wealthy and successful.  Knowing what they did and how they did it can only aid us in producing our art and achieving financial success.

“Education has nothing to do with it,” Napoleon Hill says. The secret had found its way into the possession of Thomas A. Edison and he used it so intelligently that he became the world’s leading inventor although he had but three months of schooling. This secret was passed on to a business associate of Mr. Edison and he used it so effectively that although he was there making $12,000 a year, he accumulated a great fortune and retired from active business while still a young man.

Many of the men that Napoleon hill researched had very little high school let alone college. Henry Ford never reached high school. Hill says as a final word of preparation before you begin the first chapter, “may I offer one brief suggestion which may provide a clue by which the Carnegie secret may be recognized? It is this – – all achievement, all earned riches, have their beginning in an idea! If you are ready for the secret, you already possess one half of it, therefore, you will readily recognize the other half the moment it reaches your mind.”

Now you want to fund your film or documentary, so you have half, you have an idea that you want to achieve, i.e., the production of your film.  Now, it is only a matter of finding how this works.

Having the Conviction to ask for What You Want and Expect to Receive It

This is our first clue. Thoughts are things and powerful things when mixed with persistent purpose and a burning desire to transfer these thoughts into riches or material objects. We want to remember how powerful our thoughts are.

Thoughts are energy. Today science can read your thoughts with a machine that doesn’t attach in any way to your body.  A machine near your body can pick up your thoughts they are electric they are alive.  They can bring you want you want or don’t want, it’s up to you.

The introduction of Hill’s book covers the story of Edwin Barnes, “the man who thought his way into partnership with Thomas A. Edison.” Hill says that we must learn “that thoughts are things.” And powerful things when they are mixed with definitiveness of purpose, persistence, and a burning desire for their translation into riches or other material objects.”

Edwin Barnes wanted to work with Edison not for him. This is another part of the secret, clarity of thought; know exactly what you want. 

Young Mr. Barnes had two difficulties, one he did not know Mr. Edison and two, he did not have enough money to pay his railroad fare to Orange, New Jersey.  However, Barnes was so determined that he traveled on a freight train and presented himself at Mr. Edison’s laboratory and announced he had come to go into business with the inventor.

Years later, when Mr. Edison talked about their first meeting, he said Barnes looked like an ordinary tramp.  But there was something about the expression on his face which conveyed the impression that he was determined to get what he came for.

Edison was a smart man and he saw that “special something” in Barnes.  He thought this man was willing to do anything to get what he wanted and Edison was open to receive

So, let me ask you, are you open to receive what the universe has to offer you?  Think about this and get open to receive.  It comes disguised sometimes.

Though Barnes was disheveled and poorly dressed, it was his intent and his strong desire that caught the attention of Edison.  Because of the young man’s traits and total determination, Edison gave Barnes a chance.

I guess that’s what my engineering angel, Eugene Leonard, the inventor of the Chyron, saw in me; determination, and a will to learn.  Whatever it was, he knew I could create this video business.  He saw something in me that allowed him to put in an enormous amount of time teaching me.

Creating Your Future Means Living as if You Have Achieved Your Goal

Napoleon Hill said the most important thing was what Barnes thought.  He believed that he could become a partner with Edison.  His intent was so strong that it overrode his financial condition at the time. Desire wins above all else.

Barnes did not get a partnership with Edison at first but he did get a chance to work in the Edison offices for a nominal wage and this gave Barnes an opportunity to display his “merchandise“ where his intended partner could see it. Every day Barnes continued his thought of being Edison ‘s partner. He did not give up his vision and daily saw himself as his partner.

An opportunity came but it was not what Barnes was expecting. Edison had perfected the Edison Dictating Machine and his salesman were not enthusiastic over this machine because they didn’t believe it could be sold.

However, Barnes knew he could sell it, so he suggested Edison give him a chance and he did. Barnes was so successful in selling these dictating machines that Edison gave him a contract to distribute and market all over the US. During this time a sales statement was created that said: “made by Edison and installed by Barnes.” This business alliance lasted more than 30 years and Barnes became very rich.  Hill said Barnes proves that one can think and grow rich.

To recap: Barnes had a clearly formed idea.  He knew exactly what he wanted. He had the purpose and determination to get to Edison’ office and let Edison see his commitment to his genius. Edison took advantage of this by hiring Barnes and it brought them both a consider amount money.

The secret here is that Barnes would never give up his belief that he could be an associate of Edison’s.  He kept that believe even though he was not sure how it would work out.  This is where we can use our knowledge of current quantum physics and understand that there are literally millions of ways that things can happen. You and I can’t think of them we can only think of a few ways, but the universe has a broader scale on everything.  The fact is his determination, his desire and his clearly defined future are what brought Barnes success.  He knew he wanted to be a partner with Edison and he made it happen.

What do you want with all of your heart?  Find that.  Write it out so you have a clearly defined goal.  Begin to live as if it has already happened. Know that thoughts are energy and your thought are all positive, your thoughts coincide with your goals.  You are confidence you can do this. 

Do what you need to do to achieve your goal on a daily basis.  Keep the universe thinking you already have this in your life. Then pay attention to what the universe sends you and be ready to receive. 

 

Carole Dean is president and founder of From the Heart Productions; a 501(c)3 non-The Art of Film Funding Podcastprofit that offers the Roy W. Dean Film Grants and fiscal sponsorship for independent filmmakers. She hosts the weekly podcastThe Art of Film Fundinginterviewing those involved in all aspects of indie film productionHer new class “How to Fund Your Film” is available on Vimeo on Demand.  She is also the author of  The Art of Film Funding, 2nd Edition: Alternative Financing Concepts.  See IMDB for producing credits.