IndieFlix Going Global Delivering Film “Content with a Purpose”

IndieFlix plans to take films from single classroom screenings to over 10,000 screenings world-wide

by Carole Dean

Ronald W. Thomson is not resting on a successful legacy of experience in securing capital for companies in the global media entertainment and technology communities. As CEO of Liquid Media Group, he oversees a business solutions company, empowering independent IP creators.

Liquid Media Group’s end to end solution enables independent, professional video, film, and TV packaging, financing, delivery, and monetization. It empowers indie IP creators to take their professional content from inception through the entire process to monetization.

IndieFlix

His goal is to create an independent filmmaker’s studio. To accomplish that, Ron has acquired IndieFlix Group Inc., a B2C global, streaming, and B2B virtual community screening service that delivers content for a purpose to schools, and corporations.

I interviewed Ronald as well as co-founder of IndieFlix Scilla Andreen on my The Art of Film Funding Podcast on their future plans.

Passion and Need Created the Education Division

Scilla Andreen is an award-winning producer, director, and co-founder of IndieFlix. This screening service delivers content to schools and corporations. Sheila continues to grow the library, which is currently at 4,000 plus titles to represent diverse voices, marginalized communities, and women.

What led to founding IndieFlix was her getting involved with a documentary about bullying. She personally related to this issue. Growing up and being the only child of color in an all-white community, she experienced a lot of bullying. She helped complete the film and because of the content, she decided to screen this film to her child’s six grade class. It transformed that school.

This was the beginning of her IndieFlix education division. Screening for schools became a mission for Scilla to bring people together. And it grew. She did another film called, “The Empowerment Project” because schools were saying, what else have you got? She learned how to create companion materials. Today, Scilla creates discussion guides, tip sheets, marketing materials, and activity guides for their films.

“I knew that there were children dying by suicide and schools in desperate need of a tool,” Scilla told me about her growing involvement with supplying films for schools, “or some way to address mental health challenges of their students and educators and families.

“I took our first mental health film aboard and that film has gone on to do over 10,000 screenings in 90 countries.”

Getting Your Films to the Right Audience

Now, Scilla wants movies that can do not hundreds, but thousands of screenings a year. What she loves about IndieFlix’s acquisition by Liquid Media Group is that IndieFlix will have the resources to build and deliver hybrid products that are in-person and virtual, to meet the school’s needs.

IndieFlix

Ronald W. Thomson of Liquid Media Group and Scilla Andreen of iNDIEFLIX

Scilla said that their mental health film is being screened by large corporations like Microsoft, Liberty Mutual, HP, Starbucks, and Goldman Sachs.  She is working with Fortune 500 companies and not just doing a screening.  “We’re creating corporate programming,” she says, “that they can give to their employees for two years to watch with their families.”

“Learning to be a good listener will enable you to get informed, and you learn what people in communities need,” she tells me is one of her key rules for identifying content to provide.

Scilla is working hard to put together some white papers in schools that have shown her films.  With her help, they have evolved to creating clubs, groups, and parent forums to educate and address mental health and bullying from a host of different angles.

IndieFlix Group is Looking for Content with Global Topics!

Scilla is on the hunt to acquire more content to satisfy the demand for her films. This comes from her list of schools and corporations who watch her films and participate in the activities. She likes to think globally and is looking for films that have global universal topics. 

“We are looking for films that inform people so they can have more awareness and connection. Films that hold up a mirror and give you a picture of what’s happening in our world.

“I’m doing something that nobody quite understands because it’s not sexy. We can measure the eyeballs and the impact on people from our surveys. These surveys inform us how to create more products around an existing story to continue to give it that evergreen light.

“I want to teach other filmmakers to do that. You don’t want to risk everything on one movie and think you’ve got one box office weekend.”

Scilla’s Office Nickname is “Fortune Cookie”

Around IndieFlix, she is called “Fortune Cookie.”  She says she tends to, “look at the world and find opportunities and gifts in every situation.  That’s where we want to put our energy.”

Scilla believes the distribution of your film is a marathon.

“You can make a living creating these products because you believed in an issue which has that conversation. People can engage with it. You don’t just have a baby and walk away; you help raise it.

“And your kids are still your kids, even when they’re 40 and 50 years old. So, I advocate getting out of the ‘flashing-pan-disposable-art concept.’

“Let’s be more intentional with our films and savor it and let us monetize your film.”

Full information on IndieFlix is  https://www.indieflix.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 productionShe is also the author of  The Art of Film Funding, 2nd Edition: Alternative Financing Concepts.  See IMDB for producing credits.

Using the Mighty 990 to Fund Your Film

Before You Apply for a Grant, Take a Peek at Who Grantors Funded in Past

by Carole Dean

Where do you start? I read thousands of proposals a year for my Roy W. Dean film grants. I know what wins grants and what turns judges off quickly. Getting it right can be a piece of cake.

Documentary film funding starts with a well-written, organized proposal. It outlines your film’s story, background, and need. It also outlines the approach, structure and style in four to eight pages of dynamite passion.

It continues through finding the right grant for your film, by investigating a funding organization’s 990 as well as reaching out to the right person at that organization who can help you get funded. 

Getting started may be the hard part, when really, this is the best part

Just write page after page of your visions for the film. Don’t worry if you only need a 6 page proposal and you now have 25 pages, just keep putting down what you “see” happening in your film. Focus on your vision of the film.

I realize that you are not sure what your subjects may say in the interviews, but if you did your research thoroughly, you know the subject matter. So, tell it to us as a compelling story and any people you have secured for the film, tell us their story.

Your proposal needs to be a visual description of your film

It’s there somewhere in those 25 pages of written material so read them carefully and find the best visual sections to paste into your proposal. Now, read it over and create your first three dynamite paragraphs that tell me a compelling story.

Put time into this because it is my introduction to your film. You may have been working on it for over a year, but this is my first look. You need to condense the film to three paragraphs to engage me because the first paragraphs are the most important part of the application. It tells me you are a good writer and it shows me your vision of the film.

Don’t start by writing in your proposal how much this film is needed

With our Roy W Dean Grant, we fund stories about interesting characters and concepts. The biggest mistake is to tell us the history in the beginning or to tell us how much this film is needed or that you want to send a message.

Remember, Harry Warner said, “If you want to send a message, go to Western Union, if you want to make a picture, tell me a story!”

That’s just what we want, stories, keep telling us the story and let me see the film it as I read the story.

Who is your audience?

Now, take those 25 pages, cut and paste the information into the background, and keep that separate from the theme and separate from the approach, structure and style. We also want to know how you will market your film. Only 1 in 1000 docs gets a theatrical release and that does not always have a financial return.

Creative filmmakers are building audiences for their films on the web by organizing communities around the film’s issues and these people are donating to their films and waiting to pay for downloads. You should consider distributing it yourself to sell on your website.  Instead of a percentage of each download, you will make the full price.

What are your marketing plans? 

Outreach is a major key to socially oriented films; we want to know that the people who need the film will see it so put outreach in the budget. Did I lose you with that last word?

Well, you have to face the music and go to the left brain now and do a budget but never fear Maureen Ryan www.producertoproducer.com  is perfect for you.  Maureen is an award winner producer of many great documentaries including Dick Johnson is Dead

Her website has sample budgets on her website which is dedicated to supporting independent film producers by sharing helpful and essential information about practical film production.

Using 990’s to find grants that match your project

Finding grants that match your material is paramount to the funding process. Go to
www.grantsmart.org and search for granting organizations by key words.  Once you find them; go to https://candid.org/.

You want to find and check out the Corporations 990 form which is part of their income tax, and candid.org has a slick 990-PF that shows you exactly where the most important funding information is located.  You can find the most recent 990’s at https://www.guidestar.org/

I know is sounds sneaky, to look into some corporation’s income tax, but all is fair in love and doc financing. You can access info on over 200,000 U.S. private and community foundations for free and you will find how much an organization donated in contributions, gifts and grants for prior years.

Don’t enter grants you don’t think you can win

Find a potential funder that matches your film and find the name of the operations officer and, most importantly, find who won last years and prior year’s grants. Is your film a fit? The biggest complaint is that too many people apply for grants that do not fit. See if you can find the prior winner’s web sites, they might even be willing to give you tips on entering this grant.

Don’t enter grants you don’t think you can win. Your time is too valuable, it is best to find grants you think you have the best chance of winning and then write a few more paragraphs in your proposal to tailor it just for them.

I know when someone reads my grant web site information because they say, “My film is unique and makes a contribution to society.” That’s my mission statement and I like to see this because I know they read the guidelines.

While you read each potential funder’s site, keep looking for questions that are not answered, like how many apps did they have last year and what is the amount of money they are giving this year.

Don’t be shy

Now comes the best part of funding. Get the list of corporations or non-profits you think are the best ones to submit your film. Find your question that was not answered on their web site.  Then, search for the name of the granting officer and phone number because you are going to call them!

Don’t be shy. You would never enter a grant without first making contact with the grantor. This is your great opportunity to introduce yourself and make an important connection.

Place your call in “prime time” from 10 to 12 or 2 to 4 and ask to speak directly to the operations officer in charge of the grant. If they don’t answer, try again later or get information on the best time to reach them.

“Touch my heart and I reach for my pocket book.”

Your job is to touch them, remembering that we communicate through the heart chakra.
I say, “Touch my heart and I reach for my pocket book.” Keep this in mind when creating your short pitch. This connection puts energy to your application; it is the voice behind the film.

Now what will you say when you get them on the phone? Go back to your 25 pages and create two lines that bring your film to life and tell them this story as your pitch. Tell them the title of your film and give them this short pitch. Don’t over pitch, that’s the worst thing you can do. Just tell them enough of the story line for them to remember you and the pitch.

You read this person’s bio on the site and you know the films she/he funded in the past.  You want to compliment them on their past selections, for their on-going contributions, and support of filmmakers.  Ask your question that was not answered on the web site.

Be relaxed, have your check list of these things in front of you and make a good impression and keep this phone call under three minutes. Be sure to listen to what they say. Let them talk.

Don’t forget to write and never give up

Once you hang up the phone, write them a nice Hallmark card and mail it that day. Be sure to thank them for the information. Give them your short pitch again in the card. You now have two connections with this person and when they see your application they will remember you through the call and the card and the story of your film.

Realize that we want to fund you; we are looking for emerging and established filmmakers with engaging stories to tell.

We know you are talented, most of the people who give grants are not filmmakers, we are your admirers, and we are astonished at your talents.

The golden rule in applying for grants is “never give up.” Keep going back, I have funded 2 films that entered my grant 3 times, I love filmmaker’s tenacity.

 

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 

How Your Film Team Can Become a Mastermind Team

Take your film production team and turn it into a powerful “creative machine” to help you fund and finish your film  

by Carole Dean

I am sharing the book, Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, with our Film Funding Guidance Class. We have the class every two weeks for filmmakers who are fiscally sponsored by From the Heart Productions.

This book could have been written entirely for the film industry.

Mastermind Team

The Power of the Mastermind as The Driving Force for Success

“Power is essential for success in the accumulation of money” states Napoleon Hill. “Plans are inert and useless without sufficient power to translate them into action. Power may be defined as ‘organized and intelligently directed knowledge.’

“Power, as the term is used here, refers to organized effort, sufficient to enable an individual to transmute desire into its monetary equivalent. Organized effort is produced through the coordination of effort of two or more people, who work towards a definite end, in a spirit of harmony.”  

You could not identify a film production crew any better than that statement.

When the director, producers, and cinematographer work together as a unit with a vision they are the power of the mastermind, a driving force. Even if there are only a two of you on the project right now, the two of you together create a mastermind, the driving force to riches.

Economic vs Psychic Mastermind Group

Napoleon goes on to say that, “to better understand the potential power available to you through a properly chosen mastermind group, we want you to understand one of which is economic in nature and the other is psychic. 

“The economic feature is obvious. Economic advantages may be created by any person who surrounds himself with the advice, counsel and personal cooperation of a group who are willing to lend him wholeheartedly aid in a spirit of perfect harmony. 

“This form of cooperative alliance has been the basis of nearly every great fortune. Your understanding of this great truth may determine your financial status.”

No Two Minds Ever Come Together Without Creating a Third

The psychic phase of the mastermind principle is much more abstract, much more difficult to comprehend because it has reference to the spiritual forces.

“No two minds ever come together,” Napoleon writes, “without, thereby, creating a third, invisible, intangible force which may be likened to a third mind. Keep in mind the fact that there are only two known elements in the whole universe, energy and matter likewise they are units of energy.” (This book was written 100 years ago.)

“The human mind is a form of energy a part of it being spiritual in nature. When the minds of two people are coordinated in a spirit of harmony, the spiritual units of energy of each line form an affinity, which constitutes the psychic phase of the mastermind.

“The mastermind principle, or rather the economic feature of it was first called to my attention by Andrew Carnegie over 25 years ago. Discovery of this principle was responsible for the choice of my life’s work.”

The Wealthiest Men in America Made Use of This Concept

Mr Carnegie’s mastermind group consisted of a staff of approximately 50 men, with whom he surrounded himself, for the definite purpose of manufacturing and marketing steel. He attributed his entire fortune to the power he accumulated through this ‘master mind.’”

“Analyze the record of any man,” Carnegie claimed, “who has accumulated a great fortune, and many will show you that they have consciously or unconsciously employed the mastermind principle.”

Hollywood Was Built on the Mastermind Concept

This is how films were made in Hollywood in the twenties and the thirties. Studios had groups of writers in one room.  It was not just one writer but sometimes five or even eight men were sitting there coming up with ideas it was common to have these mastermind groups write scripts.

Look at the old films and you’ll see that in watching the dailies or the rough cut there’s always a group of people sitting in the screening room and they are all giving their input. Not just one person, but a group of them giving ideas and using this master mind power to improve the film.

The Warner Brothers knew about the mastermind concept.  They knew that, when two or more were gathered, to use their power to focus on a successful outcome, that this is when the third mind, this psychic mind, the God mind, would appear with brilliant ideas and powerful suggestions.

They knew that two minds together, working towards one goal brought out the God mind which held the secrets of the universe.

Napoleon Hill says, “Great power can be accumulated through no other principle!” 

Wow, that is quite a statement.

Masterminds Can Convert Energy into Matter with Brilliant Ideas

Napoleon goes to say “energy is nature’s universal set of building blocks, out of which she constructs every material thing in the universe, including man and every form of animal and vegetable life through a process which only nature completely understands, she transforms energy into matter.

“Nature’s building blocks are available to man in the energy involved in thinking! Man’s brain may be compared to an electric battery. It is a well-known fact that a group of electric batteries will provide more energy than a single battery.

“The brain functions in a similar fashion. This accounts for the fact that some brains are more efficient than others and leads to this significant statement — a group of brain coordinated (or connected) in a spirit of harmony will provide more thought energy then a single brain, just as a group of electric batteries will provide more energy than a single battery.

“Through this metaphor it becomes immediately obvious that the mastermind principle holds the secret of power wielded by men and women who surround themselves with other men and women of brains.”

Our Presidents Use this Mastermind Concept for Guidance

Our presidents do this, they have boards of wealthy successful businessmen who give them basic ideas and advice.

A friend of mine, Sonny Fassoulis, was on the president’s Advisory Board for his knowledge of the Far East.  He walked across China getting back to his squadron after he was shot down over the Himalayas during World War II.

He became friends with Chiang Kai-shek, a politician, revolutionary and military leader who served as the leader of the Republic of China. Sonny actually flew him around China and then at 23 he took over all the imports to China.

He knew China and the surrounding areas and was of much help to our Presidents.  Sonny would fly at his own expense to Washington monthly and join an advisory board which contained some of the top brains in the United States. 

Minds Working in Harmony

When a group of individual brains are coordinated and function in harmony, the increased energy created through that alliance becomes available to every individual brain in the group.

Men take on the nature and the habits and the power of thought of those with whom they associate in a spirit of sympathy and harmony.

The chief source from which power may be attained is infinite intelligence. When two or more people coordinate in a spirit of harmony, and work towards a definite objective, they place themselves in position, through that alliance, to absorb power directly from the great universal storehouse of infinite intelligence.

This is the greatest of all sources of power. It is a source to which the genius turns. It is the source to which every great leader turns.

What is paramount to success is to understand that, to achieve the greatest results, you need to stay on a positive track even though someone suggests an idea that is outrageous you do not negate it; you build on it.

You build on an idea to something even more outrageous.  And, before the night is over, you have some incredible new ideas. Edward de Bonor wrote about this in his book Lateral Thinking: Creativity Step by Step. It is very important that you keep negativity outside of these meetings. Let your imagination go free and have fun and once it is over you can find the jewels and implement them.

Wooing Money

Napoleon says something that’s very important for us and those of us who are in the throes of fund raising already know this very well.

“Money,” Napoleon comments, “is as shy and elusive as the old-time maiden. It must be wooed and won by methods not unlike those used by a determined lover, in pursuit of a girl of his choice.

“And coincidental as it is, the power used in the wooing of money is not greatly different from that used in wooing a maiden. That power when successfully used in the pursuit of money must be mixed with faith. It must be mixed with desire. It must be mixed with persistence.”

With that persistence, use your faith and desire to achieve your goal.  Never stop until it is achieved.

Money Goes to the Person, Not the Film

You really need to woo your potential donors. They need to know who you are because they need to like you and trust you.

This can take six months to a year maybe two years.  Tom Malloy, indie producer and co-instructor in my Intentional Filmmaking Class, talks about spending hours and sometimes even weekends with potential donors and finally getting the money.

He tells the story of a time when he had been wooing a potential donor for many months.  When, on a Saturday night, he was all comfortable at home with his family and the phone rang.  The potential investors said, “come over I want to talk to you.”

Tom got up from his comfortable couch, got dressed, and drove over to the investors home.  He spent the evening with him and guess what? He received an investment of $100,000 that night.

Think about it.  You’re not going to jump at an offer when you meet someone. I don’t care if it is the best offer you ever heard. You are giving your money to that person not to that film.  So, you want to know who is this person? Have they made films before? Are they trustworthy?

Think of a Donor or Investor as a Potential Soulmate

A good investor would want to spend time with that person before they wrote a large check.

You can’t just walk up to someone, show them your trailer, ask for a large donation and expect to walk away with it. You need to think of the ways that you woo potential partners and apply those to wooing your donors. 

For women, think of what you would do if you met someone that you thought might be your soulmate. What would you do? That’s exactly how you want to treat a donor or an investor.

Napoleon says, “When money comes in quantities known as ‘big money,’ it flows to the one who accumulates it, as easily as water flows downhill.”

You see that when someone does a good film, and they get a three-picture deal.

Getting Into the Flow of a River Going Downstream Brings Financing.

According to Napoleon Hill, there exists a great unseen stream of power.  It is like a river.  One side flows in one direction carrying all those onward and upward to wealth.  On the other side of the river, flowing in the opposite direction, are those unfortunate enough to get into it and not be able to extricate themselves from it.  This side flows downward to misery and poverty.

I am sure you have met some of those people. 

Remember in the film, Star Wars, where Han Solo, before leaving Yavin 4, said to Luke Skywalker “May the Force be with you.

This is the same thing Napoleon Hill is saying, get in the river that flows carrying all upward and onward to wealth.

 

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 

In Film Funding, Pleasant Persistence Pays Off!

Persistence is willpower and a good habit that will lead to success

by Carole Dean

Persistence is the habit of concentrating one’s thoughts upon building plans for the attainment of a definite purpose.   Persistence is a direct result of habit. Your mind absorbs and becomes a part of the daily experiences upon which it feeds.

Persistance

Using persistence to raise money and create your film takes a lot of courage. I see it all the time in the filmmakers we fiscally sponsor at From the Heart Productions and who apply for our Roy W. Dean Grant.

You want to believe in your heart that people really want to hear from you.  You want to believe that you are inviting them to join you in making your film. That you’re inviting them to join you in your distribution. 

If you are contacting them again for the second or third time consider this email to be a reminder, a gentle reminder, because persistence pays off. Persistence is the trait of any top salesperson.

Here’s how to develop persistence.

Go Until No

Producer Tom Malloy, who has raised millions for his films, his own saying that describes his belief in the power of persistence.  Go until no.  You want to keep asking until someone says, “absolutely no!  I will not fund your film.”

Then Tom says OK, I understand you won’t fund this film, but can I contact you when I start my next film? And always they say yes!  That is true persistence.

What is your motivation to contact people the third or fourth time?  To reach your goal.  Always work with your intention in mind.  Why do you need to send this email?  What is the benefit for you?  What is the benefit for the donor?  They need to be equal. 

You need to offer them something. Like putting their name on your website or listing their name in a rolling credit on the film or posting on social media the fact that they gave you money.  Find something to give to them.

Creating the Habit of Persistence

There are four simple steps which lead to the habit of persistence. They call for no great amount of intelligence, no particular amount of education, and little time or effort.

They are:

  1. A definite purpose backed by burning desire for its fulfillment. What is the amount of money you intend to raise at this time?  That is your burning desire, to hit that goal.
  2. A definite plan expressed in continuous action. Yes, you have a list of people to contact that you know like you and trust you and could contribute to your film.  Your plan is to get a large percentage of them to donate.  The normal rate is 5% of your data base.  You might set a goal of 30% of your data base will donate.  That is part of your plan.  Your persistence now is based on a plan to get 30% of your email base to donate.
  3. A mind closed tightly against all negative and discouraging influences, including negative suggestions of relatives, friends, and acquaintances. Definitely don’t discuss your goals with others, keep them to yourself.  People can’t understand how you can raise over $100K to make a film.  Set goals that you believe you can hit.  Because each time you hit a goal it empowers you.
  4. A friendly alliance with one or more person who will encourage one to follow through with both plan and purpose. This could be your producer, your social networking person, your best friend. Many times, producers will take on a mentor even if they only talk to them once a month so that producers can empower through these conversations to feel comfortable to continue asking for money. Use someone who give you good feedback and someone that you enjoy talking to and always feel better after you talk to them.

Napoleon Hill, is his masterwork Think and Grow Rich that has guided thousands to success over nearly 100 years, says these four steps are essential for success in all walks of life. The entire purpose is to be able to take these four steps as a matter of habit. These are the steps by which one may control one’s economic destiny.

They are the steps that lead to freedom and independence of thought.

They are the steps that lead to riches, in small or great amounts.

They lead the way to power, fame, and worldly recognition.

They are the four steps which guarantee favorable breaks.

They lead to the mastery of fear, discouragement, indifference.

“There is a magnificent reward for all,” Napoleon Hill writes, “who learn to take these four steps. It is the privilege of writing one’s own ticket and making life yield whatever price is asked.” 

Why You Need Sticky Story

When you are sending out emails asking for donations, you need to be persistent.  People are all in a hurry, often over caffeinated so you want to make it very easy to send the money and make your “ask” emotional. 

Tell me a sticky story that the person can remember.  Dan and Chip Heath wrote a brilliant book, called Made to Stick.  After reading their book I created, with their approval, what I call a sticky story which has the elements mentioned in their book and I wrote it for filmmakers.

In a “sticky story”, you take all the knowledge you have on your film and transform it into a simple story that is easy to remember. The first rule is to keep it simple, find the core of the idea. You may have volumes of fascinating information but keep taking things away until you can’t take anything else out or you lose the essence.

How To Create Your “Sticky Story”

Find the Core

Think of journalists who create lead copy for articles, and you get the story in a few words, they prioritize. So, can you.

Something Unexpected

This simple story needs something unexpected; this is to be sure you get their attention.

You might ask a question that the film needs to answer. It can be a surprise like a shocking fact or a point of interest they will remember or a massive change in direction for the film.

Something Concrete

You need specific people doing specific things or give them some facts. Concrete ideas are easy for people to remember and they create a foundation.

Credible Information

This is what makes people believe your story. This can be a place for truthful core details and please make them as vivid as possible. We need to see your film from the words you use.

Find the Emotional Heart

I say, “touch my heart and I reach for my pocketbook.” We communicate through the heart chakra, so touch me with your story.  You can do this through one of your characters, let me feel them.

When you pitch me your “sticky story,” I want to walk away with your film in my mind forever. Then I can tell my friends that I invested/donated to your film and brag about it on my social media.

Remember, you have carried this film for several years and your audience is just hearing about it. That’s why brevity and a sticky story are needed to transmit your knowledge.

Don’t Forget to Write

First write down your story.  Next, begin to say it, so that you can put these elements into your own words.  That should give you a good pitch, an outline for a written “ask” for emails or letters.   I get letters all the time from organizations I donate to.  Letter writing is still appreciated. 

I understand that wealthy people always open a hand addressed envelope first.  Use good stationary, find paper with texture.  I like to think about people being in three categories.

Audible, you can hear this in their conversations, I heard, He said, did you listen to….

Visual people say I see what you mean, they visualize everything…

Kinesthetic people are the “feelers.”  For them you want textured paper.  It’s the feel of something that they use to judge you by.    That’s why I always pay a bit more for textured paper with our stationary.

You may also want to put a special stamp on the envelope.  The post office normally has stamps for the Arts that are beautiful and will really set your envelope aside from all other mail.  You might get some of artistic looking stamps to use for any correspondence.

Do You Really Deserve This Money? 

Now, it is up to you.  Are you open to receive?  Do you deserve $100K to fund your film?  Why should people give you money? 

You want to be totally open to receive.  You may have to convince yourself that YES, you are worthy, yes you will be honest and use the money to the benefit of all concerned and produce an excellent film.

Remember, fear is the worst of all enemies and can be effectively cured by forced repetition of acts of courage. I agree it is an act of courage to ask someone for money for your film.

I’ve never met a filmmaker who wasn’t a self-starter.  it’s your persistence and your willpower that creates your success with funding and finishing your film. 

 

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 

Sammy’s Love Note

by Diane Estelle Vicari

2001 is a year to remember. My first co-directed and produced independent feature film opened theatrically. SUGIHARA: Conspiracy of Kindness is the story of Japanese Consul General Chiune Sempo Sugihara, who during World War II saved the lives of thousands against his government’s orders. I was finally going to share this inspiring story of how “one man can make a difference” with a live audience. That is, until I received an invitation from scoring and recording mixer Tommy Vicari.

 

 

Tommy invited me to visit the famous Hollywood Capitol Records recording studios and to document a five-day recording session. I would “bear witness,” he said, “to history in the making.”

Being a one-woman band with a scheduling conflict on the same week of my Première, I kindly declined the offer. Tommy kept insisting — which was so uncharacteristic of him — until he eventually broke down my resistance. I agreed to hire a crew of four camera operators, direct them on the first day, and then leave them to continue filming, so that I could attend my special date with my audience.

As long as I live, I will never forget witnessing through my viewfinder, as this Geppetto-like figure walked up to his podium. The energy of the room immediately shifted. I watched the musicians straightening themselves in their chairs, as if a four-star general had entered the room. Then, Maestro Sammy Nestico gave the down beat.

Sammy Nestico and Me

I had been around music since I was a child, playing the piano for seven years, attending weekly rehearsals and performances of my Grand-Maman Estelle’s choir at church, being always a step behind the fanfare during parades, and of course having been married to a recording and scoring engineer for nearly twenty-five years. None of it prepared me for the moment when Sammy Nestico’s music began to play.

I was awestruck and overcome with a sense of pure joy and wonderment at this humble man, who was yet a force to be reckoned with. This tangible magic continued to fill the  studio for days and I was moved to keep filming.

What I experienced during these five days; the world had to see. I missed my own opening night in order to capture the enchantment.

On that day, our twenty years journey together began.  I entered his world and committed to making a documentary film about his life story but mostly to share his message to: “Never Let anyone steal your dreams.”

Sammy passed away January of this year, one month short of his 97th birthday, As his wife Shirley entered the painful process of letting go, she invited me to come to their home to see if there was any items I may need for the film. At one point, I noticed his ties collection, which she had prepared for a donation. 

At the age of 16, this first-born son of Italian immigrant began wearing ties so that he could be considered a “serious” musician.  He began his collection of ties, and that tradition continued throughout his life. He often wore them only once, and purchased another for a new occasion!  I asked Shirley if I could keep this collection.

For Sammy’s 86 Birthday and his 4th Grammy nomination, jewelry designer Pepi© exclusively created “Sammy’s Love Note©.”  

After sharing this story with her, she suggested we bring back his “Love Note” pin and offer it with a collectible tie.

For a $179.00 donation towards the completion of the film, you will receive “Sammy’s Love Note©” and choose one of Sammy’s collectible tie. 

Please click on this link that follows to make a selection. 

https://www.sammynesticofilm.com/rewards/1dof5en3ox3gt3sebg1h97pbe6d8cb

I am privileged to be the messenger of this world-renowned musical legacy and one of our National Treasure, Maestro Sammy Nestico. 

 

Benefits of Hybrid Distribution and Virtual Screenings

How to use hybrid distribution and virtual screenings to be more effective at raising funds, selling your film, and generating revenue

by Carole Dean

Keith Ochwat is the founder of the Show&Tell virtual screening platform which also offers educational courses for filmmakers.  After producing his own documentaries for 12 years, he’s advised hundreds of filmmakers on their distribution fundraising strategy.

Keith recently joined me on my The Art of Film Funding Podcast.  His information is most important for documentary filmmakers who want to reach their target audience.  Here are some highlights of my interview with Keith on implementing a hybrid distribution strategy for your film.

What is a hybrid strategy?

I would define a hybrid strategy as one the most effective ways to think about getting your film into the world and to fundraise. I think distribution and fundraising are really hand in glove working together. And I think if you’re successful at this new approach to distribution, we’ll be talking about today, you’ll be more effective at raising funds, selling your film, and generating revenue.

Hybrid strategy the way Peter Broderick and I always talk about distribution. Someone who is great at theatrical release, is not going to be that good at securing you a television deal. If they’re good at television in the United States, they are probably not going to be that great at securing television deals in Finland, in Brazil, which can be most lucrative for filmmakers as it has been for me and many other filmmakers.

If you make a deal with a single distributor, then you are not taking a hybrid approach. Rather you are   placing all your faith in the belief that one company can maximize your audience and your revenue in all of these windows of distribution.

What we advocate is a hybrid approach where you split your rights.  I define a hybrid strategy, big picture, as splitting rights and retaining control. There are some organizations like the Film Collaborative that helps filmmakers make the most of festivals if they’re willing to work with you. But they’re probably not going to want to make a consumer release deal for you.

Or if you’re working with Richard Abramowitz for your theatrical, you’re probably not going to want to work with him making your international deals. We advocate splitting your rights and using organizations who are expert at certain windows so you can make the most of every window of distribution.

Tell us more about the benefits of hybrid distribution.

We call it hybrid because you do distribution with some of the old ways and some of the new ways. I did the old way with some of my films and when I embraced a hybrid strategy for my latter films, they were much more successful.

We made much more money, and we reached a larger audience. Fundamentally, it was more rewarding to go through that process with a hybrid strategy. We got our film broadcasted on PBS nationally. We made a streaming deal with Netflix.

With my last film, we also prioritized a new or less traditional approach to distribution and fundraising. We worked with non-profit and corporate partners that believed in the message of our film. AARP was the biggest one. They ended up putting up over $250,000 to support a, a series of live events, virtual events, and they sponsored our PBS broadcast.

You may have heard sponsors on PBS where they say this program was brought to you by, and it was AARP and a few other companies that sponsored our film.

How has the expansion of the virtual world has created a new window for documentary filmmakers?

The rise of Netflix is because there’s been a rise in this virtual streaming world, especially for documentaries. Audiences expect to be able to stream films from the comfort of their home. Less and less documentary fans, even in this golden age of documentary are going to theaters to see documentaries they’re streaming at home.

And I think another way you should think about a hybrid strategy is harnessing the best of the old world, which is reawakening and the best of the virtual world.

Tell us about your new company Show&Tell

We help filmmakers execute the strategies for a hybrid funding and distribution. It’s about making the most of live events, but also virtual events. We have a virtual screening platform, and we help filmmakers do virtual events when they’re in distribution and virtual fundraisers when they’re in pre-production and production and post.

I do a lot of teaching. I love to teach. If I had another life, I’d probably be a professor. And I love sharing what I know so that you don’t have to make the same mistakes I made.

We have an educational community. I coach filmmakers on their distribution and fundraising. I also have an online course which has over 50 lessons and we have a private Facebook group. We have a webinar three times a month, on Thursday at 1:00 PM. It’s a free webinar about different topics.

Example, the month of July was dedicated to fundraising and in traditional ways and I had the pleasure of doing a webinar with Carole on July 15th. You can go to our website ShowAndTell.film, click on coaching, and you’ll see our calendar of events.  There you can sign up for a free webinar and learn more about what we do.

My motivation with ShowAndTell.film is to help filmmakers avoid mistakes and help you generate revenue for your film plus help you build your audience.

If you’re at picture lock or interested in a virtual event, if you’re in distribution, you can use our services. With our services, you can ask for paid tickets or you could ask for donations or do both, which is my recommendation.

What is best way to monetize a virtual event?

We teach you how to approach partners and ask for virtual events. You can recognize your partner with a hyperlink or put their logo on your event page. You can even put a short commercial message that plays before your film. There’s a lot you can do with our platform.

You can totally customize your event.  You can set the dates, change the dates, add tickets, lower the ticket price, change donations amounts. A store is available for you. We make it easy with simple tools.

The thing I’m most proud of is we provide knowledge and knowledge is so important. Knowledge is going to give you strength and it’s going to give you options.

And I think that the knowledge that I’m providing is unique. What we do is really encouraging filmmakers to embrace the hybrid approach, make the deal with Netflix when you’re in your consumer release stage, get on PBS for your TV release. We’ll show you how to do this. You should also prioritize conferences, partnerships, and fuel that success through understanding with clarity, your target audience.

In our online course there are over 50 lessons in our private Facebook group, we help filmmakers understand strategies and tactics related to target audience identification, pitching partners, identifying partners, providing templates and tools for you to make money with distribution.

 

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 

Accelerate Your Video Editing with a New Program for Indie Filmmakers

Cquence for Adobe Premiere helps you create your first cut in minutes, not hours.

by Carole Dean

Larry Rosenzweig is a filmmaker who dreaded the first draft, rough cut video editing process.  He knew how much it took emotionally and physically to create it.  So, he decided to do something about shortening the time involved. 

Partnering with two other technically trained people who all saw the need to short cut the first edit, they began raising funds to support themselves while they built a brilliant program to solve their problem. 

Video Editing

Cquence

Now ready, Cquence is a rough-cut video editing platform that dramatically accelerates the video editing workflow.  Larry says, “they currently have a seamless one-click integration with Adobe Premier. Eventually we’ll be rolling out integrations with Final Cut 10 and DaVinci resolve.”

I interviewed Larry on my recent The Art of Film Funding Podcast and he shared more about how this program works and what’s in it for filmmakers.

Larry, what does Cquence do?

A filmmaker or a video editor uses Cquence to hold your film and enable you to search for the things that you need and then very easily edit the best moments from your footage within your rough-cut editor. Cquence can be used for shorts, features, documentaries, webisodes, and may other people can find benefits by using this for large amounts of information, example, teachers can use this.

You will be able to use our platform to search for specific quotes, specific interviews, and people. You could search for a word that you remembered from an interview. And visually we also offer you the capability to search for a specific object or a location.

Example, if you want to search for all the coffee cup shots, all the mountain range shots, you will be able to find all those relevant clips from a visual perspective.  And once you find the moments that you want, you’re able to seamlessly drag and drop that over to our rough-cut timeline inside of Cquence.

Normally what people do is they import hours of footage into Cquence.

Who benefits from Cquence?

Cquence is most valuable for filmmakers, video editors, video producers, and this could be used for doing scripted or unscripted work.

At the end of the day Cquence accelerates the video editing workflow. What does this mean?  It enables filmmakers and video editors to focus on higher order thinking and creativity. Not only do you save significant time using Cquence, but you can increase your revenue by having more time to focus on bringing in clients, to fundraise, and to create more projects.

It makes it easy to repurpose and repackage your footage into a social promo and trailer content for you to share across your social channels. Think of Cquence as a searchable archive for every project that you have because we make it easy to use footage even from a previous project.

Another benefit is if a filmmaker and a video editor want to collaborate, they are able to replace the traditional act of having to mail a hard drive or upload terabytes of footage to a cloud storage because Cquence essentially replaces that workflow.

Now that you can save 30 to 50% of your time in editing and what are your plans for the future?

We have a big vision. Our goal is to save 90% of the time it takes to create a first draft.

We have spoken with hundreds of filmmakers and video editors at this point and Cquence is available for both Mac and PC.  As of today, we have an integration with Adobe, so you can download the creative cloud plugin as well, and you can easily export your rough cut from Cquence, which is on your desktop, into Adobe Premier, which is also on your desktop to continue editing, and then finish your film in your existing workflow as you have always done previously.

Can you give us another example of editing with Cquence?

I was using Cquence to edit a documentary web series and had 40 hours of footage and I felt overwhelmed to start editing. I imported all of it into Cquence. The import is simple. You can take a whole folder on your computer and drag and drop it into Cquence and then walk away, let it run over night. You don’t have to sit there while it’s running. This took 10 hours to import and analyze everything overnight.

Tell us about the pricing.

You can go to cquence.app and you can start using Cquence for free up to 10 hours of footage imported. And we also have a standard plan for $24 a month and a pro plan for $48 a month. Both of these plans give you a lot more footage and a lot more export options like automatically generating subtitles.

We’re giving your entire audience a discount, Carole. Your audience can use the discount code SUMMER21 on checkout, and that discount expires at the end of the summer.  Basically, the discount is you get first three months free on any of the plans.

You should be able to follow the steps on our website once you sign up.  Your listeners can reach me at Larry@cquence.app.

 

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 Subconscious to Create Your Future

If you can imagine and believe that you are already a successful filmmaker, you have taken the first step of being a successful filmmaker

by Carole Dean

One thing that nearly every filmmaker has is an abundance of creative imagination.   If you are seeking to prosper as a director, producer, or screenwriter, this is the resource which you need to tap.  And I don’t mean just using it to create a great story for a great film, but using it to create the reality in your mind that you are in the midst of a great career as a filmmaker.

 

 

As my fiscally sponsored filmmakers and readers know, Napoleon Hill is one my favorite authors.  I teach lessons from his monumental best-selling book Think and Grow Rich in our Film Funding Guidance Class every two weeks.

Through his work and others, we’ve learned that by using your imagination, you can create your desired reality in your subconscious.  By making it real to yourself there, it will become real in your life as well.

Using auto suggestion from the conscious to the subconscious

In Napoleon Hill’s chapter on auto suggestion, he goes into detail to explain that material cannot get into the subconscious mind without coming through the conscious mind. The reason you want to get information into the subconscious is because this is how you create your future.

Nature, he writes, has so built man that he has absolute control over the material which reaches his subconscious mind through his five senses. But the fact he does not exercise it explains why so many people go through life in poverty.

I impress upon our filmmakers the importance of writing out your desire and to read it aloud twice daily.

By following these instructions, you communicate the object of your desire directly to your subconscious mind in a spirit of absolute faith. Through repetition of this procedure you voluntarily create thought habits which are favorable to your efforts to transmute desire into its monetary equivalent.

Here is how Napoleon Hill suggests that you create your future:

FIRST: Fix in your mind the exact amount of money you desire. You do not want to say I want plenty of money, you must be definite. Pick a number and state that number. Personally, I like to say a number, but I say over that number so I’m not putting any limits on what I can receive.  You must have a number; it is very important.

SECOND: Determine exactly what you intend to give in return for the money you desire. This might be you want to raise over $20,000 for your film. Next you have to promise that you’re going to work on your film so many hours a week in order to achieve that goal so promise 15 or 20 hours a week as a minimum promise because you need to put the work in to create the funds.

THIRD: Establish a definite date when you intend to possess the money you desire. Believe me, the universe is time sensitive so you need a month and a year when you want your return.

FOURTH: Create a definite plan for carrying out your desire and begin at once whether you’re ready or not to put this plan into action.  I call this the “To Do” list.  Write down what you need to do to get that funding.  Like: expand your data base, create emails to “ask for money”, etc.

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.

SIXTH: Read your written statement aloud twice daily once before retiring at night, and once after arising in the morning. As you read it, see, feel, and believe yourself already in possession of the money.

You need to believe what you want so much that it happens

Napoleon explains that you must believe it when you say it. You must feel that it already exists and know this in your body and in your mind. This is a fact of such importance as to warrant repetition in every chapter of his book. And here he is absolutely right.   Repetition is important as this is a key to achieving your goal.

Author Neville Goddard, teaches us that you have to pretend like you have it.  I tell our filmmakers to go to bed at night with a “movie” of you in a new life and send that from the conscious to the unconscious. This is how we reach the unconscious which is a very important aspect of creating your future.

Napoleon says that man may be the master of his own earthly status and especially his financial status when he becomes able to influence his own subconscious. That is the most important thing we have to get across to ourselves today that the subconscious is running the show. Our job is to get the subconscious to believe we have what we want.

Creative imagination is a talent filmmakers have

Imagination is a key to your success. 

Napoleon says there are two forms of imagination.  One is synthetic imagination. This is arranging old concepts, ideas, or plans into a new combination. This creates nothing, it works with the material of experience, education and observation. It is most used by the inventor with the exception of the genius who draws upon the creative imagination when he cannot solve his problem through synthetic imagination.

The other is creative imagination This is the faculty through which hunches and inspiration are received. It is by this faculty that all basic and new ideas are handed over to man.  It is through this that thought vibrations from the minds of others are received. It is through this that one individual may “tune in” or communicate with the subconscious minds of other men.

Wow, that’s quite a statement from 100 years ago.   

Your brain is not just for storage 

In Lynne McTaggart’s The Field, we learned that the brain may be considered a sending and receiving unit rather than a storage facility. The brain receives information and sends it back out. From what we understand information comes from the quantum field.  Meaning that the quantum field has stored the knowledge since the beginning of time.  And, when we are using our true imagination, we can ask for guidance, or for a solution from this massive database.

This information will eventually come to you.  I’ll say it has been my experience that this comes to me in various ways.  Sometimes I get the though in my head, sometimes I hear the answer in a movie, or someone tells me the answer in a nonrelated conversation.  Just know when you ask, you will receive.               

What you want to look for is a strong desire that comes over you. It may be stimulated by what someone said or through a series of events, but it is so powerful that it has overtaken you.

The overwhelming desire is your creative imagination at work

This overwhelming desire is what you want to pay attention to. When I started my business of buying and selling motion picture raw film stock in the 1970’s, I just was overwhelmed with the knowledge that I could make a living buying short ends leftover from the studios and selling it to emerging independent filmmakers. No one could talk me out of it. And the fact that I didn’t have any money didn’t stop me because I was so determined that I knew in every bone in my body that I would be successful. 

People said you’ll never sell any film that doesn’t come direct from Kodak. And I had to totally ignore them. They said, “You don’t know raw stock, you don’t understand ASAs.”  They were right. I began researching and   I found a book from Kodak with the film stocks and just used that book.  It was simple.  The most important thing I learned from this is that your inner knowing is right.  Follow that “feeling.”

When you get an overwhelming feeling, you may want to put your mind to it and say OK this is what I want to do.  Say this is what I intend to do, so, now how do I do it?  And those are the questions that you take to the quantum field in your meditations, on your daily walks, when you are swimming, whatever you do where you can be completely open to ask and receive. 

Give yourself meditation or thinking time during the day.  Time you are all alone with no interruptions because sometimes the information comes like a flash out of the blue. This quiet time lets you receive. Through this you can get the guidance that you need to turn those strong desires into reality.

Use your creative imagination that you use for the film into your creation of your future

Napoleon Hill says the great leaders of business industry, finance, the great artists, musicians, and writers became great because they developed the faculty of creative imagination.

I think independent film makers were born with a creative imagination that tops the charts. You all are the most creative people that I have ever met in my life.  All of you just explode with creativity when you open yourself and receive it. You were born with this great gift of imagination.

Ideas are the beginning point of all fortunes. Ideas are products of the imagination.  

The story of Frank Gunsaulus                       

Napoleon Hill shares a story of a doctor, Frank Gunsaulus. This man was a preacher in the stockyard region of Chicago.  While he was going through school, he observed many defects in our educational system which he believed he could correct.

At this time his deepest desire was to become the directing head of an educational institution in which young men and women would be taught to learn by doing. He made up his mind to organize a new college in which he could carry out his ideas. He realized he needed $1,000,000 to put the project together.

Every time he thought about where he could find $1,000,000 he stopped right there.  And every night he took that thought to bed with him, that he needed $1,000,000, and he got up in the morning and he thought about it all day.  But then he recognized the only limitation is that which one sets up in one’s mind.

The only way to make something happen is to take an action on your dream!

He said finally I have a great idea, but I can’t do anything with it because I can never procure the necessary millions.

But one Saturday afternoon in his room, thinking of ways and means of raising the money, he said to himself “I’ve been thinking about this for two years, but I have done nothing. The time for action has come!”

He made up his mind that he would get the $1,000,000 within a week.  After he made this decision, he called the newspaper.  He announced that he would preach a sermon the following Monday morning entitled, “what I would do if I had $1,000,000.”

He wrote and rewrote his sermon and had it in perfect shape for the church. Next morning, he got up, he prayed, and he felt assured that the money would be forthcoming.  In his excitement, he didn’t recognize that he’d forgotten the sermon at home until he got to the church.  He couldn’t go back home for it was too late.  He had to just talk from the top of his head and from his heart.

“Reverend I liked your sermon.”

He delivered a wonderful sermon and quietly went to sit down on the front row.  At that time a man from the back of the church came down towards the pulpit an extended his hand and said, “Reverend I liked your sermon. I believe you can do everything you said if you had $1,000,000 to prove that I do believe in you, if you come to my office tomorrow morning I’ll give you the $1,000,000. My name is Phillip D Armor.” 

The pastor went to the office, got the check, and he founded the Armor Institute of Technology.  Mr Gunsaulus stopped dreaming about it and he finally took an action on his dream. That’s when it happens.  When you do something to make your dreams a reality.

So, what action do you have to take to get your film moving? Are you worried about crowd funding because you don’t have a large enough database?

My How to Fund Your Film class has nearly 3 hours of lessons, advice, and tips that I’ve used to help filmmakers raise over $30 million for their films.  If you have watched this class and have any questions, please email me at caroleleedean@gmail.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

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 “Unlikely 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.