There are many ways to get your film funded. But all of them rely on believing in yourself, your talent, and having the faith in yourself that you can manifest it.
by Carole Dean
I love David Spangler’s excellent little book, The Laws of Manifestation. Discussing its lessons and how it applies to creating success in your work and career, is a regular part of what I teach filmmakers in my classes.
His explanation of manifesting and his explanation of the universal laws governing it make sense.
Levels of Manifestation
David says there are several levels of manifestation. “The mechanics of manifestation depend on a person’s level of consciousness. An understanding of this throws light on what is meant by laws of manifestation.
“The physical level is experienced by everyone and it represents our most obvious level of manifestation. On this level physical energy is expended through some form of labor. This is the means used to bring manifestation about. We call this working for a living. And we work obviously with these laws to accomplish our manifestation.
“They are natural, economic, religious, social laws and we do not consider them to be supernatural. This denotes a willingness to expand physical energy through the appropriate form of work and labor. There’s also a new dimension where the energies of the emotional realms are added. This might be the manifesting of good health when physical or medical attention is not available or it is ineffective, this could be faith healing.
“There is also the need for requests where you ask in prayer for what you want and release it to the universe with the faith that it will return to you. This factor is a manifestation of faith and the energy of devotion. Where there is faith there is trust, security, lack of tension or worry. Your work becomes a joy and one is more open to being guided into the kind of labor that is truly fulfilling.”
I see this a lot with filmmakers once they have gotten into the state of mind that their film will be funded. They trust that the money is available for the film and they know they will bring the film in on time and under budget.
She Willed it So and it Happened
Here is an example I can share with you. One of our fiscally sponsored filmmakers was making a film about the drugs in her small town and the film discussed how a large percentage of the population were on drugs. Her goal was to show the film to express the need that we work together to help heal these people from addiction and prevent more from falling into drugs.
She raised $180,000 and quite a bit of it was during the Covid-19 pandemic. She never stopped funding. For funding parties, she did everything she had planned as if Covid-19 would not prevent her and it didn’t.
She had the faith that people would support this film and she “willed it so” and applied for and won grants. I should have mentioned early on that she’s a first-time filmmaker. She just didn’t know that she couldn’t do it. Sometimes that’s the best place to be. Not to know you can’t do it.
Never did she have this fear and worry thinking that no one will give me money during a public international health crisis. Her thinking was of course they’ll fund this film. It’s urgent and we must solve this drug problem. This is the right attitude for raising money.
Please consider outlining the benefits of your film. Remember them daily and use these benefits to create your self-confidence and maintain it. You are greatly needed to bring us important information on documentaries and brilliant films to keep us entertained and enlightened.
I know this is a hard time for independent filmmakers but now is the time to have the faith of Job. You must know that your film will be funded, and it will be seen.
Don’t Get in a Spin Over Your Film
In his book, David Spangler brings up one of my favorite parts of the Bible. It’s from the sermon on the mountain, Matthew 6:28.
‘Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin and yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore if God so clothes the grass of the field which grows today and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you.’
When times are tough, you need to read this statement and “feel” into its meaning. If the plants do not work, they toil not, and they don’t get in a tizzy, “neither do they spin and yet I say unto you that even King Solomon in all his glory,” meaning how well he lives and dresses and his riches, that these lilies of the field are as beautiful as King Solomon in all his wealth.
Perhaps it’s because the lilies know how beautiful they are. They know that to us they are pieces of art. They know their job is to bring us beauty and they do that without any toil. This means that you with all your many talents can also bring us your art without so much toil. Your faith is what you need.
Once you lock onto the benefits of your film you know how important it is to get your story to the masses. The more you believe in yourself and your film, the easier it will be to fund it and find the right crew.
The Importance of Faith in Manifesting
This takes me to one of my favorite poems. It was written by Matsuo Basho who was the most famous poet of the 17th century Edo period in Japan. He is recognized as the greatest master of haiku.
His poem is:
Sitting silently, doing nothing, spring comes, and the grass grows by itself.
Your meditations can bring you money. That’s right. By taking your film to a silent place for a 20-minute meditation.
It is very simple. At the beginning, as you sit down and get comfortable, you make a request to the universe to help you do what is necessary to fund your film. Just make an ask of the universe and then let it go. Now you want to listen to the little voice inside you. When you hear the little voice say, call Sarah, and see how she is.
Then do it! You may find that Sarah just inherited some money and wants to help fund your film. You have asked so you can expect an answer. It will come to you.
I know that is a little far out, but all of this is to explain to you how important faith is in manifesting. It is the cornerstone of manifesting you really need to believe you can get what you want. You want to feel it, know it, and use your emotions to pretend it already exists.
Emotions like joy, confidence, and happiness, always work in your favor. When you are constantly sending up love and gratitude to the universe and thanking them for the small and important things you have in your life then you are living in faith.
Create Mantras to Pretend You Have What You Want
When you are going to bed at night, tell the subconscious that your film is fully funded. When you are visualizing that you’re sitting in the theater watching your film on the screen with a packed house, when you’re constantly sending out emotions of success, achievement, and joy, then these emotions help the universe to move the energies around so that what you need is brought to you. Pretend you have what you want.
You want to be saying, “my film is winning awards, people love it, and I am successful.” Now the universe is very clear on what it is that you want. They can easily send more opportunities to you. It’s up to you to be looking for them.
It’s just as if someone in a tennis game hits a serve, a really great serve. You know your job is to return it, so you must be there and be present. You must be prepared to return it. You must be on your toes and moving in whatever direction is needed to successfully return that ball. That’s what you want, to be in a position where someone is interested in you and asks about your film. Now, you have what you want, an opportunity to pitch your brilliant film and engage someone.
When a friend calls and says I’m attending a zoom party tonight, do you want to join me? Before you say I’m too tired or I don’t know I had a bad day, say who will be there? Are there any people that might fund my film? Find out if the universe is behind this request and if so, please attend.
In most film groups, there’s always someone that you can talk to about your film. Remember when people ask what you are doing, you want to say I’m raising money for my film. I’m looking to raise $40,000 on my documentary, we’re in the production stage, and I need funding to shoot. Or I’m in the post-production stage and I need $40,000 for my archival footage. Let them know your passion, you might say, “I’ve already put in two years of work and my brilliant film is coming together quickly.”
People want to work with filmmakers who are talented. Remember you need to realize how talented you are and never let on how much hard work is involved in filmmaking. Maintain the idea that it’s all glamour and glitz and bring people in by your enthusiasm and your love of the film industry.
Let them know of your many talents. Staying positive is the key to funding your film. No matter what’s going on in your life this is where your faith comes in. This is paramount to funding, your faith in yourself and your abilities, your faith in your script or your documentary. These feelings and beliefs must be part of your DNA. You must have the faith of Job, be full of confidence and exude success.
Faith vs. Hope
Faith is quite different from hope. Faith is a powerful energy to put in your proposal and your deck. The faith you need to have is that the money is there, and you will finish the film. Hope means your wishing this will happen. There is a lot of power in your proposal and your speech when you use the word faith. We know that you will do the work and feel confident thank you can achieve the end result, i.e., completing and funding your film.
Hope means to me (and a lot of other grantors and funders), that you’re not sure. It’s a lack of belief. You hope something will happen or hope you can make the film. What we want to hear in your proposal is confidence and faith in yourself and your project.
Never put hope in a proposal or an outline or anything you give to anyone. Always keep very positive statements in your paperwork. You want to say we’re shooting on this date, we are doing post on this date, and we are releasing the film on this date. There is no hope about this, it is a fata accompli.
I can honestly say that I have seen people that willed things to happen. Their faith and belief were so powerful that they saw what they wanted and they did what they had to do to achieve it. They firmly believed daily that the funding was there, and they made the film. They willed it to happen.
We as human beings have that potential, we can will something into being and that is part of manifesting. This is truly your faith in action. There is nothing more beautiful than someone who says I know I can do it those are the people you want to work with.
Making this Film With, or Without You
When I ran my film business, I had a dear friend named Frank Smith who worked at Kodak. In my opinion, he was the best dressed man in Hollywood! He always looked sharp. Frank was a lovely man, and he was the person that people had to pitch when they wanted free film.
I asked Frank one day “how in the world do you make a decision on who gets it and who doesn’t?” And we were good friends, so he was honest with me. He said that when a filmmaker called him and started to pitch the film, he would lean back in his chair, get comfortable, put his feet on the desk, and be ready for 10 minutes of information. That is exactly what happens when people pitch me. I’m used to it. We just relax and listen to what you have to say because we’re listening to every word believe it or not.
While we are listening, we are thinking, will this person finish the film? How powerful is their belief in themselves and the film? We’re not thinking, hey this guy has never made a feature, he has only made three shorts, and he wants to do a feature? That might be a minor part of it but the real thought is how convinced is he or she?
Frank said, “I listen closely and when they get to the point where they say or infer, I’m doing this with or without you, I pay attention.”
Frank said that was when, “the feet come off the desk and I sit up and I say OK now wait a minute. Let’s talk about this.” Then he starts asking questions like who is the director, who is your DP and what is your plan for attachments? Because his job is to find the up-and-coming filmmakers. He could not miss one and let them go to my company where we would sell them short ends or, heaven forbid, they go to Fuji film.
He knew that if we saw their potential, we might give them a great deal on new and short ends. And he could not lose a filmmaker to anyone. He had to be very discerning on who he chose and when they said I hope to raise the money, or I should be able to raise the money and especially, I HOPE TO FIND THE MONEY, that’s when he said my allotment for the year is gone or some other excuse.
Please recognize the fact that if you’re not 100% positive it comes through in your words and your slightest lack of faith in any area will be picked up immediately.
You must be up, enthusiastic, happy. Stay up and in that place of absolute knowing that I am making this film with or without you.
Carole Dean is president and founder of From the Heart Productions; a 501(c)3 non-profit that offers the Roy W. Dean Film Grants and fiscal sponsorship for independent filmmakers. She hosts the weekly podcast, The Art of Film Funding, interviewing those involved in all aspects of indie film production. Her 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.