Winning Documentary Receives $3,500 Cash and Thousands More in Film Production Services
“The Love Bugs”, a warm and touching film about two renowned entomologists who, after 60 years of work, seek to pass on their knowledge and millions on insects, has been named the Roy W, Dean Grant Winner for Summer 2018.
Awarded 3 times each year by From the Heart Productions, the Roy W. Dean Grant goes to a film that is unique and makes a contribution to society. The 2nd grant awarded this year will help winning directors Allison Otto and Maria Clinton complete their project.
“The quality and passion behind the projects submitted by filmmakers around the world gave our judges a difficult task to choose a winner”, commented Carole Dean, president of From the Heart Productions. “We are very proud to have this film join our family of grant winners.”
“The Love Bugs” in the documentary are Lois and Charlie O’Brien. They are two of the foremost entomologists and pioneers in their field who have devoted their lives to science and to each other.
Over the course of 60 years, these two soulmates quietly amassed the world’s largest private collection of insects–a scientific game-changer with more than one million specimens and more than 1,000 undiscovered species. And now, after decades of research and the development of a parental bond with their collection, they’ve decided to give it away.
In addition to the $3,500 cash prize, the filmmakers of the Roy W. Dean Grant Winner for Summer 2018 will receive $500 in expendable, lighting or grip equipment from Filmtools, a hard drive from G-Technology, $600 in free closed captioning from Netcaptioning, $500.00 for a one-year Tier 1 subscription of Show Starter Scheduling & Budgeting Plus software, and more from heartfelt donors.
About the Filmmakers
Allison Otto – Director
Allison is an award-winning documentary filmmaker, cinematographer, producer, visual journalist and licensed drone photographer. Her clients have included National Geographic, BBC America, NBC, the Sierra Club, the American Alpine Club, Outside Television and Lonely Planet. Allison’s exclusive story of the discovery of a new invertebrate species was selected by National Geographic as one of their “Ten Best First-of-their-Kind” stories of 2016.
In 2013, Allison released her first film, Keeper of the Mountains, which was awarded a Telluride Mountainfilm Commitment Grant It won 15 awards, screened at over 30 film festivals around the world and was named “One of the Best Adventure Films of 2013” by Outside magazine.
Maria Clinton – Co-Director
Maria Clinton is a filmmaker, photographer and an Adjunct Film Professor based in New York. Her photography work has been featured in various exhibits. Maria’s clients have included NBC, CNN’s Great Big Story, About.com and nonprofit organizations. Her work focuses on complex characters, social constructs and the presence of diverse voices.
About the Roy W. Dean Grant
Now in its 26th year, the Roy W. Dean Grant has awarded over $2,000,000 in cash and donated film services to independent films. The grant goes to films budgeted under $500,000 that are unique and make a contribution to society. It has been an important lifeline for independent filmmakers needing help to continue working on their film and to get it completed. Without assistance from the grant, many excellent and important films may never have been made.
On the film fundraising platform offered by From the Heart Productions donors get tax deductions for donations. Filmmakers can have all their fees covered.
by Carole Dean
When you are accepted under the fiscal sponsorship program for From the Heart Productions, the benefits go beyond personal guidance and attention.
We give you a free web page for your project on our Network for Good (NFG) fundraising platform.
Maybe I’m prejudiced as I’m president of From the Heart Productions, but I think it’s one of the best film fundraising platforms available.
Short Film “Surrnder Heaven” Hit 119% of It’s Goal
For starters, NFG is a leader in non-profit fundraising. (They are the company Facebook uses to process donations). Created with the help of AOL and Yahoo, NFG designed their program with donor psychology in mind. They included behavioral economics, the concept around why people make certain decisions. To date, they’ve helped non-profits and their projects over $2 billion.
All of there features and technology aid you in raising funds for your film. As a filmmaker, without From the Heart Productions, NFG would charge you $60.00 a month for this same page. Its included when you are fiscally sponsored by From the Heart Productions.
Other great benefits of our NFG platform include:
Donors Can Pay Your Credit Card Fees
At the time of check out when someone makes a donation to your film, your donor is asked if they want to cover the filmmaker’s fees. This includes the credit card and fiscal sponsorship fees.
Over 70% of the donors are paying these fees for the filmmaker.
You Can Receive Monthly Donations
With this program you can create donation amounts with monthly payments that many more people can afford.
Let’s say that you have a gift on your page of a “Special Thank You Card” for anyone who donates $1,000.00. That may put the donation out of the reach for a high percentage of your crowdfunding list. With NFG you can allow them to donate $100.00 a month for 10 months and they can get that award.
Simple Process for Donor Sign Up
When we only had a Paypal button for donations to offer filmmakers, we would get phone calls daily asking us for help to complete the checkout. We’ve not received one call in 3 years working with NFG. Their sign up is much easier and especially for older donors.
Easy Set Up and Design
NFG has set up their platform with easy to use templates and great design tools. You can quickly create a wonderful looking and appealing page. You can add a trailer, productions shots, filmmaker bios, and pie charts.
I always say, “Touch my heart and I open my pocketbook.” NFG also knows that funding is all about telling a good story. NFG says that fund raising is about giving your donors visuals and a trailer with a heart-felt story that connects with another person.
Once you get that on your page, it will lead to stronger and higher donations.
Suggested Donation Amounts to Maximize Giving
NFG offers guidance some suggested giving amounts for you to consider. It’s important to set up amounts that are comfortable for your list of donors.
Everyone has a “comfort level” of giving. Think about this, when you get ready to donate to your favorite charity, I bet you give the same amount most of the time. That is your “comfort level.” Knowing that comfort level for your donors can benefit you when choosing these amounts.
People Can Leave Messages and Tributes After Donating
Potential donors when visting your page can see others who’ve donated along with the supporting messages they left. That makes future donors more likely to donate. This gets back to the behavioral economics. NFG incorporated this ability to leave a message because it can increase your donations.
From the Heart Productions assisted filmmakers in raising over $10 million for their films through fiscal sponsorship for over 10 years. We are always looking for new and better ways for filmmakers to increase their funding opportunities.
NFG is an exceptional fundraising platform. The best we’ve found to date.
If you are interested in fiscal sponsorship with From the Heart Productions. Please check out our Fiscal Sponsorship Page or email us at
Film Explores the Homeless Crisis in Los Angeles and Those Working to Transform it Through Compassionate Community Action
Oxnard, CA Sept 1st 2018 – From the Heart Productions, a non-profit dedicated to helping indie filmmakers get their films funded, has awarded the Roy W. Dean Grant for Spring to “The Advocates”. Awarded 3 times each year, the Roy W. Dean Grant goes to a film that is unique and makes a contribution to society. The filmmakers behind the winning project will receive $3,500 in cash and $30k in film production services to help complete their documentary.
“Watching ‘The Advocates’, you will be shocked to see how many people are living on the streets”, commented Carole Dean, president of From the Heart Production. “You can’t watch this film and not be moved by their plight and inspired by those working to make life better for them.”
Directed and produced by Remi Kessler, Roy W. Dean Grant Winner “The Advocates” goes behind debates and headlines about homelesness with real-life demonstrations of transformation from the trenches of the crisis. Sharing insights, skills and dedication, this emotive, revelatory film is driven by two unforgettable main characters.
Both are Los Angeles natives and Latinos who give tireless, highly skilled outreach and support to people experiencing homelessness. While experts analyze the underlying causes of the current Los Angeles homeless crisis amid a changing policy landscape, these two caseworkers win our hearts with their dedication and integrity.
President of KSA Productions, Rémi has produced shoots in locations throughout the globe. His expertise ranges from commercials to independent features to episodic television. He has produced and line produced countless commercials for clients such as Peugeot, Renault, Chrysler, Pontiac, Mercedes, Dior, and MTV.
He was a producer at Animatogrofo in Lisbon and Paris, one of the major European production service companies averaging 25 feature film and television productions per year. While at Atlantique Productions in Paris, Rémi line produced four television series over a period of three years and then went on to become a producer of Prime Time fiction at Protecrea, one of France’s major TV network (TF1) production companies.
About the Roy W. Dean Grant
Now in its 26th year, the Roy W. Dean Grant has awarded over $2,000,000 in cash and donated film services to films. Grant is awarded to films budgeted under $500,000 that are unique and make a contribution to society. It has been an important lifeline for independent filmmakers needing help to continue working on their film and to get it completed. Without assistance from the grant, many excellent and important films may never have been made.
How our Fiscally Sponsored Filmmaker Got Help from a Kickstarter Expert for Her Crowdfunding Campaign and Hit Her Fundraising Goal
by Carole Dean
Our fiscally sponsored filmmaker, diane estelle Vicari, feared her fundraising campaign was set to fail. diane (both her first and middle names begin with lower case letters) is the founder of Dites-Moi and winner of the Pare Lorentz Grant for her film Sugihara, Conspiracy of Kindness.
“SHADOW MAN: The story of Sammy Nestico”
Her new film, Shadow Man: The Story of Sammy Nestico, needed to raise money to finish her edit. It had a great story. It is a feature-length documentary film that explores the music, art, humanity, impact, and life of Sammy Nestico. He helped mold the careers of many jazz greats. Sammy recently turned 94 years young. His most recent Grammy nomination came only a year ago, at the age of 93!
But, she only had 3,000 names on Facebook. You should only expect to get about 1% of your social media followers to donate. So, obviously, that was not going to get her to her goal. And, with Kickstarter, if you don’t reach your goal, you get zero.
Her non-profit fiscal sponsor From the Heart Productions came to her rescue. We hooked her up with our Kickstarter expert. Working with him as a team, she grew her social media followers, reached a larger audience, and surpassed her funding goal. She asked for $61,500 and got over $75,000!
diane had 3,000 names on Facebook and knew she needed help to reach her funding goal. She took the leap of faith to do a crowdfunding campaign with From the Heart Productions and our Kickstarter specialist.
After speaking with the expert, diane realized he was right for the task as “he knew money and how to get it.” To make this campaign work, she realized she was the artist and he was the money man.
She began to feed him stories every day about the film and introduced him to the subject in the film. He met Sammy and saw his loving, generous energy. After that, the Kickstarter expert was able to help diane build the Facebook numbers up to 6,000 followers by the end of the campaign.
Facebook to the Rescue
Once she got Sammy on Facebook with the heightened energy from the campaign it was a magical time. Sammy had never heard of Facebook. diane had to drive hours to his home and do the postings for him.
Getting him involved on social media attracted lots of followers. Sammy talked to people all over the world who love music and even some who had read his music books written for schools.
This participation was the key to their last days where they raised over $10,000.00. People are more likely to support you when they can chat with you online.
diane posted a video of Sammy watching his trailer on Kickstarter and seeing the funds come in on the campaign. People loved it. She thinks he was the oldest person on Kickstarter.
Choosing the Right Amount for the Goal…Even If It’s Less Than You Need
diane knew from her Kickstarter adviser that she could not raise the full amount she needed for her final edit with her data base. They set a goal they thought they could reach. She did not get enough for the full edit.
She thought she could get at least a few months of editing with these Kickstarter funds. But after consulting with D-Word’s Doug Block, she realized that was not a good idea. Hiring someone for 2 months and then terminating them to look for more money might mean you could not get that same editor again.
He suggested she view all of the footage for the last 16 years and hire an assistant editor. Then, raise the balance needed, hire the editor, and do the edit all at once.
However, now she has a successful campaign behind her. She has lots of new donors and followers on which to build her next campaign. Her trailer was the most watched on Kickstarter and a copy of it is on our crowdfunding page.
Sammy was the oldest person on Kickstarter and people loved him. There were featured by Kickstarter. diane had 511 rewards to fulfill and she had to handle all that herself.
After 44 days of working 10 hours a Day on Her Campaign, I Asked Her “Would You Do This Again…Is It Worth the Stress?”
Looking back over the ups and downs of the campaign, diane says “Yes, I will do this again, even with the craziness and the stress.”
“Look at the benefits we received. We found and connected to our audience with Kickstarter. We now have people all over the world who want to see this film made. They stayed with us to the very end to see we hit both of our goals. People are still finding us even weeks after the campaign and they want to donate.”
She and Sammy are dedicated to keeping their audience. They are continuing to work on Facebook. They are keeping their fans up-to-date on the progress of the film and Sammy is personally talking directly to his audience.
This experience took him into a new world. He is writing again. He has found how much people love and appreciate him.
I believe this magic of connecting with people personally will insure another successful campaign.
An Award Winning Filmmaker Decided to Write a Book. Here is What She Learned and Her Outside-the-Box Way of Getting a Great Deal to Write the Screenplay
by Carole Dean
Many filmmakers tell me they want to write a book to go with their film. And they want to know if the book should be published first. I decided the right person to ask is Alexis Krasilovsky.
Alexis won the Roy Dean Film Grant for her global documentary feature: Women Behind the Camera, which won four “Best Documentary” awards. She also directed a second global documentary, “Let Them Eat Cake” (2014), She is a member of the Writers Guild of America West.
Written under her “nom de plume” Alexis Rafael, her most recent book is “Sex and the Cyborg Goddess”. Set in 1969, it tells the story of Ana who arrives at Yale just as it’s going co-ed. It tackles sexual liberation and sexual assault on campus, as well as sexual harassment in the film industry.
I interviewed her on The Art of Film Funding Podcast about filmmakers writing books. How important is it for your film? Here are some tips from this podcast.
What Advice Do You Have for Going from Filmmaker to Author?
“It’s often a good idea to write a book first,” suggested Alexis. “It not only helps you to solidify your ideas, but by getting a book published first, your readership becomes your potential audience for the movie.”
“If it’s a women’s topic, that can be especially significant. Women comprise 75% of the readership of novels. Even though the film industry is still very male-dominated in terms of who decides what gets produced and what doesn’t, they are finally recognizing that it can be very good business to produce a film based on a book written by and for women.”
Did You Base “Sex and the Cyborg Goddess” on Your Own Experiences?
“Sex and the Cyborg Goddess” is a work of fiction, set against the backdrop of the sexual liberation era, anti-Vietnam protests and Black Panther demonstrations. It’s a portrait of a filmmaker, Ana, as a young woman who won’t let sexual harassment stop her.”
But I am not Ana. Unlike the Ana of this novel, I did let sexual harassment stop me. I retreated into academia instead of going to bed with the last producer I worked for in Hollywood. The books which I wrote while a professor became a kind of R&D – research and development – for creating the character of Ana as she moves forward through the 1970s and 1980s in L.A. and N.Y.”
But some of what Ana experiences did come from my own life. Like Ana, the Yale student, I protested against the war in Vietnam in Washington, although the real me didn’t drop acid.”
What Do You Want People to Take Away From the Book?
“I want readers to find affirmation in their right to pursue consensual sex, as well as their right to live without sexual violence.
For those readers who are part of the “#MeToo” movement, I want my book to provide healing by furthering the discussion about Ana, a relatively isolated character, and young women today, who belong to a Sisterhood.”
What is the Unique Strategy You Are Using to Get a Deal to Write the Screenplay?
“Before embarking on the screenplay, I took time off – including a research fellowship and a sabbatical – to write a nonfiction book entitled “Great Adaptations: Screenwriting and Global Storytelling.” It was published by Routledge in NY and London last fall.”
As a member of the Writers Guild, I thought that by establishing myself as an international expert in screenplay adaptation, I’d get a better deal on the screenplay for “Sex and the Cyborg Goddess.” I’ve been speaking about adaptation at CBS Studios and on panels around the L.A. area. In January, I’ll be giving a screenplay adaptation workshop at the International Academy of Film and Media in Bangladesh.”
I hope that strategy pays off. After teaching screenplay adaptation as a screenwriting professor for over two decades, you can imagine what a thrill it is to sit down at the computer, open up Final Draft, and finally, finally, go to work on my own screenplay.”
I just sit there and laugh and laugh – not all of “Sex and the Cyborg Goddess” is tragic.”
Author Alexis Krasilovsky Explains When it’s Been Right to Move Adaptations Beyond the Original Material
by Carole Dean
Are you thinking of making a film or documentary by adapting a book, magazine article or TV show? You’re not alone as many academy award winning films, Emmy winning movies, and series began as adaptations.
There’s a ton of pitfalls. Some, of course, are legal that could stop you before you start. Or, you could get tied up in lawsuits after you’ve invested time and money. Other traps are creative. How far should you or can you go in changing any aspect of the original?
“A good student will memorize the storyline and analyze the characters and some of the things they say – whether it’s a graphic novel, a short story, a play or a novel” noted Alexis. “But a great student — or a professional screenwriter — needs to honor the spirit of the work without just regurgitating its storyline and dialogue.”
The original work needs to come alive in a new medium. Alexis says an adaptations calls for a close relationship with the original author. But, you don’t want to be slavishly married to the book.
“It may mean divorcing yourself from the material you’re adapting in order to discover your own voice in the process,” she explains. “That fresh perspective can be the key towards involving your audience so that they’re excited by the story and what you do with its characters, setting, and time frame.”
How Important Is It to Stay with the Original Setting of the Story?
“Moonlight”, based on Tarell Alvin McCraney’s play “In the Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue” was shot in Liberty City, Florida. It’s the Miami suburb where both director Barry Jenkins and author grew up. But, Alexis mentions, before filmming began, there was talk about setting a in Chicago!
For some stories, like “Moonlight”, the original location is an integral part of the story and should not be altered. Likewise, it’s hard to imagine Trainspotting taking place somewhere other than Edinburgh, “The Milk of Sorry” in any place other than Peru, or “Wuthering Heights” outside of England (although Luis Bunuel’s “Wuthering Heights”, renamed “Abismos de Pasion”, takes place in Mexico).
But many times, the creativity of changing a setting is what makes a film a winner. One is example is Nobel Laureate Naguib Mafouz’s novel, “Midaq Alley” The original story takes place in a run-down alleyway in poverty-stricken Cairo, Egypt.
Mexican Filmmaker Jorge Fons reset the location in his film “Midaq Alley” (El Callejon de los Milagros). His film explores the parallel lives of characters in a run-down alleyway in Mexico City. The film won 11 Ariel Awards in Mexico – the equivalent of our Oscars, and dozens of other international awards and nominations.
It’s a great example of a story without borders: It’s a story that resonates with poverty issues in both Egypt and Mexico but is also universal.
Adding to Original Material
Akira Kurosawa was famous for his many adaptations. Alexis told a story contained in his cleverly named autobiography, “Something Like an Autobiography” in which talked about how he combined different original stories to create a classic.
“As I cast about for what to film,” Kurosawa recalled, “I suddenly remembered a script based on the short story “In a Grove” by Ryunosuke Akutagawa. .. written by Hashimoto Shinobu. It was a very well-written piece, but not long enough to make into a feature film”
Later the memory of it jumped out of one of those creases in my brain and told me to give it a chance. At the same time, I recalled that “In a Grove” is made up of three stories. I realized that if I added one more, the whole would be just the right length for a feature film.”
Then, I remembered the Akutagawa story “Rashomon.” Like “In a Grove,” it was set in the Heian period…The film Rashomon took shape in my mind.”
Kurosawa felt, that in order to write scripts, “you must first study the great novels and dramas of the world. You must consider why they are great.”
“I’ve tried to do just that in while writing my book, “Great Adaptations: Screenwriting and Global Storytelling,” said Alexis “I hope it will be helpful to others.”
Bonus – Alexis Krasilovsky Negotiator’s Legal Checklist for Film Adaptations
There are six basic questions that negotiators can discuss and check off when working on film adaptations:
Is the basic story under copyright?
Who owns the rights?
Have the rights been previously granted to a third party?
If in public domain, have other versions been previously made and released.
Monetary negotiation with owner or agent of copyrighted version. 6. Non-monetary negotiations (such as territory, script approval, sequel rights, credits, etc.).
Attorneys can be very expensive and therefore doing one’s homework prior to your consultation can be a worthwhile investment. The answers are discussed in detail in “Great Adaptations,” in the second chapter.
Hoʻoponopono, the Hawaiian prayer of forgiveness and reconciliation, can release your creativity
by Carole Dean
Forgiveness is a higher vibration than love
“My enemy has come to ask me for forgiveness.”
I was in the hospital with my father who had just had a stroke. We did not know if he would live. Dad was staring at the door to his room when he said those words.
I said Dad, you have to forgive him and let him go. “Darling”, he said, “I forgave him long ago. He must forgive himself.”
That was one of the most important moments in my life. Since then, I have learned that forgiveness is a higher vibration than love. It is the vibration that we all want to reach while we are on this planet.
Then, I found a wonderful Hawaiian prayer. It has been an important tool for healing myself and forgiving others. It brought balance in my life and I owe much of my success to its lessons.
It’s allowed them to be heard, be creative, and get funded.
‘I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you’.
Those are the few and powerful words of the Ho’oponopono prayer. The literal translation of the prayer from Hawaiian is ‘to put to right; to put in order or shape, correct, revise, make orderly or neat.”
Many people believe Hoʻoponopono to be a mantra of mental and spiritual cleaning that could be compared to Buddhist techniques for clearing karma. According to the Hawaiian worldview, “errors of thought” are the origin of problems in the physical world. The prayer begins the process of cleansing them.
When we forgive others, we are really forgiving ourselves.
Money Has Ears
Ok, how can this help you fund your film? If you feel like you have a strained relationship with money, you can use this powerful meditation to break through personal blocks. Creative differences, funding falling through, or family issues distracting you from reaching your goals? This prayer can help get all of that behind you.
With Hoʻoponopono, you take total responsibility for your own actions and everybody else’s too. You must let go of your ego when using this prayer. Connection, clearing, and forgiveness are much more important than ego concerns about who is right and who is wrong.
This will move you out of any feeling that you have been victimized. It will release anger that is blocking you from moving forward.
Rejection is a Daily Occurrence for Filmmakers
Each of you has to deal with rejection on a daily basis. Healing and forgiving are partners in this Hawaiian prayer. When you have been rejected by a donor or a grant, this can help you accept it and move on.
There is power in release of trauma, power in release of anger, power in the release of frustration. All of this power you have is now being used to handle, to keep in place, all of these emotions.
You can heal yourself and remove any unpleasant situations, rejections or loss, with Hoʻoponopono. This is asking a lot from a prayer and I believe it works.
Bring up a rejection of a donation to your film or bring up a confrontation with someone. Then, say this prayer daily for a week or until you feel you are in balance with this person or issue.
You will begin to heal that hurt and soon you can say their name without any hurt feelings. That is when you know you’ve forgiven them.
Give it a Two Month Try Out
Those of you who want to try this, please join me and let’s do it for the months of August and September. This would give us lots of prayers to forgive people including ourselves.
You might use a memory trick to tie new things to some habit. For example, like when you brush your teeth, remember your Ho’oponopono prayer!
Give yourself time to start saying it before the day comes on you or when you go to bed. Pick someone, some event, that you want to heal and begin your forgiveness prayer. Say it at least 5 times for one person.
I will do it with you. This opens up our creative forces.
Look Online for a Guided Ho’oponopono Meditation
There are prayers on line from 7 minutes to over an hour that you can use. I suggest you find one that works for you.
I am a long-time meditator. I put myself into a quiet place or I do this when I go to bed. In my mind, I bring up the person or event. Then I say Ho’oponopono, their name, and then I slowly and sincerely repeat these words:
I am sorry, please forgive me, I love you, I thank you.
I suggest you do this 3 to 5 times for each person. I send them forgiveness with each prayer, even when I think I am the wronged person! It does not matter, I know I must forgive them and I must forgive myself.
Forgiveness is the highest vibration on the planet and that’s where creatives want to live, where we are vibrating with the resonance higher than love.
Hidden in New Tax Law are Incentives For Film Donors and Investors That Could Help Finance Your Entire Film
by Carole Dean
Did you know that when President Trump signed into law the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in January, 2018, new incentives for film investors were created that could help get your film funded? I didn’t and I’m pretty sure most filmmakers we work with at From the Heart Productions did not know either (and since many in Congress had not even read the new law before it was enacted, they may be clueless as well).
Corky Kessler, Esq. is one of the top film attorneys in the US and he knows better than anyone how filmmakers can take advantage of tax laws. When I interviewed Corky on The Art of Film Funding Podcast, he brought this incentive to my attention and revealed you can use it to get your film funded.
The part of the new law that relates to film, television and theater and is called “bonus depreciation, section 168.” Bonus depreciation means when a film is first shown, at the end of that year, the investors get a 100% depreciation.
As a result, that means the investor can take a loss of 100% for the amount invested. For example, say your donor invests in 2017 and in 2018 you have your first screening. At the end of 2018, your investor can get his 100% depreciation for the total amount of his investment.
What a great way to attract major donors or investors to your project by giving them a massive tax deduction.
Take Advantage Before They Put Restrictions on This New Law
Before there was bonus depreciation, there was Section 181 of the tax code. Enacted in 2004, Section 181 allowed you to eliminate your investor’s tax bill by what they’ve invested in your film.
Corky says that, when section 181 was introduced, it had no rules or regulations until February 2007. Those first years were wonderful. It was like the wild, wild west with lots of opportunities to help film investors.
This new law replaces Section 181. And, just like the early days of that law, there are no rules and regulations for the new law. So, the field of how to interpret things is wide open. This is good for filmmakers.
Putting Your Film “In Service”
Your film needs to be “put in service” to get the depreciation. But, right now, there is no definition of what that exactly means. We know it has to be shown somewhere. The law just isn’t clear on where that somewhere needs to be. A festival could qualify. You could rent a theater, charge people a dollar, and the film is “in service.”
But, wait. The law does not say if it has to be shown in a theater. It does not even say how long the film has to be shown.
Corky says it could also be shown on YouTube or social media. The law is triggered when the film is “put into service” meaning the time that a film is first shown. For television, it is the year it is first aired, for theater it is the year of the opening night of the theater.
The Sky is the Limit
Under Section 181, said you could expense up to 15 or $20 million. This new law has no limit. It could be $100 million. Better yet, the law is retroactive and begins in 2017. The law ends on Dec 31, 2020.
The New Law is Excellent for International Co-Productions
One carryover of Section 181 is that 75% of your service wages of the film have to be performed in the United States. 25% can be in any country you want.
So, in theory, let’s say we have a $10 million movie. You could spend $2,500,000 in service wages in Canada or England and take advantage of their excellent tax incentives for filmmakers. Plus, you could shoot in France with their 25% incentive or the Dominican Republic with a 25% incentive.
We can go any place that we want and spend the 25% and still qualify for the US incentive.
Part of the new tax law is Section 199A. It gives you a 20% deduction on taxable income for money coming back to you. If I return a dollar to you, you pay tax on only $.80. So, you make 20% on the incoming funds. I believe you can write off a maximum of $350,000.
Get a Good Accountant and Lawyer
There are limitations on what you can do under this. So, please make sure to talk to your accountant to understand them.
A good lawyer to guide you through this is advisable as well. Corky Kessler works at Rubenstein Business Law with his partner David Rubenstein. He can be contacted at From the Heart highly recommends him and his services for filmmakers.
He’s been in the business for many years and he is intelligent, creative and a lot of fun to work with.
20 Filmmakers Take Next Step Toward Winning Grant Valued at $30,000
From over 300 submissions from around the world, 20 films have been named finalists for Spring 2018 Roy W. Dean Grant. The grant, which is offered by non-profit From The Heart Productions, seeks unique films that contribute to society.
The Roy W. Dean Grant winner will receive $30,000 in a combination of cash and donated from film industry professionals and companies which support independent filmmakers.
“We are truly blessed right now having so many talented, creative filmmakers with passion for their projects shining a light on the social, environmental, and human rights issues facing our world.” said Carole Dean, President of From the Heart Productions.
Submissions included documentaries, features, short films and web series. While most films came from U.S., projects were received from filmmakers in Canada, Australia, United Kingdom, Nigeria, Belgium, Chile, Spain, and Portugal.
Out of these Roy W. Dean Grant Finalists for Spring 2018, the grant judges will select a final five from which they will choose the winner. Announcement of the winner will be made in September.
Awarded 3 times each year, the Roy W. Dean Grant seeks films that are unique and make a contribution to society. There is a Spring, Summer and Fall Grant. The Fall Grant is now accepting entries and closes September 30th. Films submitted to the grant can be short films, documentaries or features from early stages of pre-production to those needing help in post.
Recent past winners of the grant include the award winning “Heist: Who Stole the American Dream”, “The Brainwashing of My Dad”, and Emmy winner “Mia: A Dancer’s Journey”.
About From The Heart Productions
The 501(c)3 non-profit was founded by Carole Dean when she saw how many filmmakers with important, new, and often controversial stories were having trouble getting financing for their films. From The Heart offers fiscal sponsorship for films which allows donors to get a tax deduction for their donations. Their Intentional Filmmaking Classes which teaches filmmakers the tactics on how to get funded is now open for enrollment. Classes start in September.
No Other Crowdfunding Platform, Not Kickstarter or Indiegogo, Can Claim This. What is The Secret to Seed&Spark’s Success?
by Carole Dean
Web Series “One True Loves”
The films that get fiscal sponsorship at From the Heart Productions have consistently received the “green light” on Seed&Spark. This means they hit their crowdfunding goal and get the funding they raised. This occurs more often at Seed&Spark than other crowdfunding platforms.
Recently, I welcomed Gerry Maravilla, Head of Crowdfunding at Seed&Spark, to my The Art of Film Funding Podcast. He revealed the advice they give to filmmakers on how to have a successful crowdfunding campaign.
Goal Setting on Seed&Spark
This is a crucial part of the entire crowdfunding campaign. Getting this right is a one of the keys to success.
It begins with a surprising statistic and comes down to simple math.
“There’s traditionally a 1% conversion rate from social media share to a donation.”Gerry states. This means, if you have 1,000 Facebook followers, you can expect only 1% of them to donate!
He says that you can get 20 to 30% from your email lists. This must be a personal email to each person, not an email blast that would bring you much less. Personalization is the key to getting the highest percentage rate from your list.
Gerry suggests you ask your crew for their email lists. Ask your family too for any names they will let you use to crowdfund. Put all your names together.
So, how much can you can raise? The most popular donation amount is $25.00. So, consider that 30% of the list will give you $25.00 each. Multiply the number of names on your list by 30% and then by $25.00. This is a goal you know you can hit.
“But this is nowhere near my budget,” you say? Yes, but setting a goal at $100,000 when you can only expect to raise $1,000 will result in a failed campaign and no money.
Take what you can get from this campaign. Use the money move forward with the film and begin expanding your email list for your second campaign.
Don’t Be Afraid to Make an “Ask.”
Seed & Spark recommends that you reach out early to your list long before you start crowdfunding. Let them know that you are planning a campaign to fund your film and give them the start date. Say you need them to commit to make a donation for you in the first few days as that is the critical time.
“Once you hit that 30% in the first week you can easily hit 60% in the second week,” Gerry says.
Get your list excited and committed. Ask them, “Can I count on your support?” Let them know how much you need them.
Be sure that each email you send is full of gratitude. Gratitude is a key word in crowdfunding. Donors appreciate this and the energy in that email will be totally different with your heart on the page.
Creating interesting emails is key to keeping people motivate. Even if they have donated, you want them to be involved and you want them to read every email because you want them to donate again. Use creative titles in your subject line, that will get you a higher opening rate.
Our Fiscally Sponsored Film “Two Weeks” Hit Their Goal and Were Able to Start Filmming
Campaign Preproduction is a Key to Success
Sounds crazy? Right? Yes, you have to treat a crowdfunding campaign just like a film. Gerry believes this preproduction work is another important key to their 80% success rate.
You need to prepare by building your email list and putting it on a mailing platform. (We like Constant Contact at From the Heart Productions, but there are other good ones as well).
Find the “uniqueness” about your film. What makes it special? Start marketing it with that in mind. Send links to the film or your campaign video to your list. Let them know you will be crowdfunding soon and ask if they can share this on social media to support you.
Contact Seed&Spark early and discuss your film with them. They’ve got great instructional videos on their website. Learn how to build your audience. Get your social networks and your email list ready for your campaign.
Give yourself several months. Study successful campaigns and learn from other filmmakers. Don’t rush into this, plan the campaign and it will bring you a greater return.
Give Your Donors an Immediate Tax Write-Off with From the Heart Productions
Our non-profit works closely with Seed&Spark. We are a partner with them and offer the lowest fees of any fiscal sponsor when using their platform. Having fiscal sponsorship allows donors to the campaign to get tax deductions for their donations. That creates a powerful incentive to donate.
Gerry says you want to be sure to mention your nonprofit name on your page. This shows your donor that a nonprofit has reviewed your film and accepted it.
Many donors like the fact that a nonprofit is involved to see that you use the funds for the film. They feel that you will finish the film. We believe that sponsorship gives you more credibility with donors.
Gerry Maravilla is available for more information at . Anyone wanting information on crowdfunding can email