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The Art of the Fund

We know times are drastically different in the world of film financing when suddenly fiction filmmakers are creating and mastering a new nifty little form: the fundraising video. For years in documentary, one first shot some footage and then crafted a “trailer,” used really as a funding pitch reel for both grant and private equity opportunities. In fiction, of course, this was never needed (“Let’s wait for the studio to cut a trailer once we sell this thing for a MAJOR profit!”), but times they have a-changed. Some of those studios don’t even … exist anymore.

With micro-budget films on the rise and the DSLR revolution at hand (the fact that a freaking STILL camera is the hot have-to-have-it item for filmmakers), the desperate class (of which I count myself as a member) is utilizing online crowdfunding sites to raise amounts formerly sneezed at — $5k, $10k, $20k. With the Obama-style strategy at hand, the idea is that strangers who love ideas will give you a small donation in exchange for some little tasty treat – a copy of the DVD, lunch with the director, the director’s first born child. Kickstarter.com provides big stakes (you lose the money if you don’t meet your funding goal by your deadline) and indiegogo.com, which gives you more time, feels earnest and true. They are both amazing sites that this filmmaker could not even have dreamed of five years ago.

Fiction funding videos come in a few flavors. There’s the “hey, I’m the director, let me tell you about my movie and then you can fund my dream” genre, which is fairly straightforward but excels when urbane (see FOUR, already successfully funded on Kickstarter — proving famous names still help even if you only want a few grand), or genre-based (see THE FEED, a horror film whose funding video features bloody popcorn), and then the truly sublime and artful, such as this little gem. I love this little funding movie, by recent NYU MFA in Art grad Terence Nance. It’s got score, it’s got animation … and believe me I’ve been thinking this form through, as, full disclosure, the Annie and Lisa of this blog have their own Kickstarter campaign up (find us!). These little videos are a version of the calling card that the short used to be – a new version, with a new mission. Welcome to the new world.

– AH