Cross Platforms And Funding

“It is such an inspiring time to be a storyteller and it would be crazy not to tap into the powerful tools that cross-platforms have in social media,” said Ingrid Kopp, speaking during “A Road Map for Financing and Getting Your Cross-Platform Documentary Made” panel discussion at the Sheffield Documentary Film Festival.

film blog


Kopp – Director of Digital Initiatives at the Tribeca Film Institute – is a frequent speaker on the intersection between storytelling, technology, design and social change.

“Get excited about the possibilities and what the tools can do.”

Filmmakers have an extensive list of platforms to use in order to help them build a community for their film and to obtain a greater understanding of their audience such as Indiegogo, Seed and Spark, Yekra, Kickstarter and Crowdfunder.

Liz Nord, a documentary filmmaker and multiplatform producer, recommends using cross-platform tools that already exist in order to create a fan base for your work.

“There are ways to make them look unique without wasting any money.”

If the project is a documentary that is due to begin shortly and you want to avoid wasting time and money then WordPress can come in handy and the use of templates can give personality to a project.

James Mullighan, CEO of Transmedia Next and COO of VODO, gave an insight into how a project can be successful by understanding the target market and knowing how much time to invest in each platform.

It is important to decipher which platforms a certain target market and age bracket use, Do they tweet? Do they use Vine? Do they blog?

“Once you start working on your audience, make sure they’ll engage with your work through the platforms.” – Says Jordan McGarry, Vimeo’s lead curator.

One of the most important messages for filmmakers demonstrated through the panel discussion was to be as bold as possible and to develop a financial plan, a plan that is honest to the needs of the project.

“Really sit down, break things down and be strategic about the financial budget you need, really be honest about it. Have you thought about the options?” stated Kopp.

“Don’t just come up with how much money your film is going to be. Do the right finance budget for your film and only ask for really what you need.” – Mullighan added.

Filmmakers should look for as many options as they can before drawing up a financial budget by exploring sponsorship and investment opportunities from organisations that could possibly take an interest in the project.

“You can find foundations for pretty much anything. That’s how most U.S documentaries get funded. It’s very interesting not only because of the money you raise but the audience you get.” Said Kopp.

It is important for the production team to know what their impact goal is by asking themselves whether they will make a meaningful impact on the community

It helps to know that the filmmaker not only has the passion for their project, but also has an understanding of the various funding streams available to them.

“People fund to outreach projects and its media rather than the documentary film itself.” said Liz Nord.

Kopp recommended Crowdfunding as a website tool that aids filmmakers in the funding process and is essential in the search for supporters, donors and sponsors.

“Crowdfunding websites, like Indiegogo and Kickstaters, are valuable tools to start testing your audience and to discover marketing options, but it is also important to look for other opportunities with regards to where to get the money.”

A wealth of opinion emerged from the discussion featuring some of the figureheads of film and a consensus was met on four key elements in the planning of a project.

Know your audience, be strict on finances, explore every funding avenue and use every platform you can, only then can you provide yourself with the greatest chance of success.

See Film Futures student Yossuana interview Ingrid Kopp at the “A Road Map for Financing” event.


Words, Pictures and Video by Yossuana Aguilar

Classes Vs Masses

Dubbed as “The New Voice of Indian Cinema”, Abhay Deol is bucking the Bollywood trend with his offbeat movies that he claims demonstrate Hindi cinema with “A ‘real’ element”.

Famous for his roles in Dev.D, Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!, Shanghai and Six Feet Under, among others, Deol is part of a new generation of Bollywood actors and actresses who are keen to portray a true message within a contemporary style that doesn’t fit the traditional Bollywood mold, often tackling edgy subjects that others tend to avoid.

photoThe Nephew of Hindi Cinema legend Dharmendra, Abhay has this week been in Birmingham to take in the Bollywood 100, a month-long festival that is celebrating 100 years of Indian Cinema. We were lucky enough to catch up with him at a screening of Dev.D at Millennium Point.




”Media was a part of life, I was exposed to it younger but it wasn’t until later in my life where I decided upon to make it a career.”




The offbeat nature of Deol’s films can sometimes be of detriment to their overall commercial success. He was keen to speak of the importance of distribution and marketing of films in order for them to be enjoyed and appreciated by the target market, whether it be for the classes or for the masses, terminology Deol was eager to explain.

“You need to work with the right people, one that knows if they are making a film for the classes or for the masses. You should be clear as to who your audience is, in India you classify it as ‘is it a mass movie or a class movie?’ that’s the lingo I hear back at home, if it has songs, dances and is happy it’s for the masses, in a movie for the classes the actors and actresses are unlikely to sing.”

Deol stressed the importance of working with the right directors and producers when taking on a role and feels that it is important for the film to have a clear direction.

“An important part of the game is to know how to distribute and market your film, when producers cannot distribute nor market it right, then it doesn’t matter how good your film is, it really kills it.”

An important rule before making a film is to have an understanding of who the audience is. Sometimes it takes years after the film is completed to realise who the real audience is and therefore the wrong kind of target audience means the marketing and distribution lack direction.

Deol also spoke of the difficulties new unproven producers face when selling their film to a studio and the problems they can face with regards to control and freedom. When they do not yet have a proven track record in the industry, they are open to being exploited and dominated by studios who are reluctant to give up control of a film.

“When you are new producer working on a new subject, I’m not sure if you can have any control or say in what the studio wishes to do with your film. Sometimes a studio can bully a producer because the producer is new. You don’t want to be stuck with that.”

The Bollywood 100 in Birmingham continues throughout June and will capture the glitz, glamour, music, dance, drama and style of one of the biggest film industries in the world through screenings, events and workshops.


Words, pictures and video by Film Futures student Yossuana Aguilar

Making Your Film Successful: Distribution & Exhibition

So you’ve made your film, and unlike most of the stuff on the internet, it’s not 11 minutes of beautiful HD footage of your cat sleeping on the sofa which film distributors don’t really want. How do you go about finding an audience for your film and raising your profile?

Will Massa, Tom Vaughan, and Philip Ilson give the lowdown at the Virgin Media Shorts Sessions.

Ideally you should know before you go into production if your film is going to go online or if it’s doing the festival route. As discussed our earlier blog post, Putting Your Short Online, let content decide which way your film is going.

If you’re aiming for festivals, there are some things you need to do before you start pushing it. It’s very important to have an online presence during production – good to drum up some hype, interest, or excitement about your project while it’s happening. Remember to take lots of good stills, behind-the-scene shots as well as production stills for promotional material like posters and press packs. Start thinking about which festivals you want to submit your film. There are way too many festivals around nowadays, and since some of them are quite expensive, not all of them will be useful for you. Do your research and see which ones cater to your genre and style and see what kind of films they’ve screened in the past. What is important for your film? Do you want exposure or are you just after an award so you can write ‘award winning…’ on the back of the DVD?

Knowing your festival can be just as important as knowing your audience, says Philip Ilson. The London Short Film Festival gets up to 3000 submissions and selects 30, only 6 or 7 of which are from the U.K. Sending to multiple film festivals without doing your homework will put a huge dent in your budget since most festivals in the U.K and U.S charge for submissions. Festivals in Europe tend to be a bit forgiving, and you will find lots that are free. Be involved in the distribution of your film from the start and figure out who you are targeting. Here’s quite an exhaustive list of festivals if you have lots of time.

If you don’t have time to mine the internet for suitable festivals, deciding which festivals to submit to can be a daunting task. The British Council Short Film Scheme has 40 BAFTA recognized festivals on their list, though all of these probably won’t be suitable for your particular project, but it’s a good place to start. Don’t just go for the big names like Cannes and Berlin Film Festival, some of the smaller festivals also get a lot of film agents and distributors. The general consensus at the session was that it’s rare to see a short film at more than four or five festivals, which makes sense because you typically get around €500 / minute, less in the U.K, if you sell your film, and travel, accommodation, and submission fees can really add up. The British Council has recently re-launched its international support for UK filmmakers; if your short is accepted at any of the world’s key film festivals then you might be eligible for travel and accommodation support.

Don’t despair if your film doesn’t get selected for screening at the festival though, it’s never the end of the road for a short. Other than the popular competitions like Virgin Media Shorts and Reed, there are other options like Shorts TV and Channel 4’s Random Acts. Also try Dazzle, Atom, and Bombay Sapphire’s Imagination Series.

As long as you have an internet connection, you can always find channels for your content – good luck.

By Vasi Hasan

Putting Your Short Online

Let’s just cut to the chase; you finally did what you’ve been thinking of doing for the last 5 years: sold your car/furniture/soul-to-the-devil and raised enough money to make a short film. Now it’s time to show it to the public and take over the world, right? The only problem is that so far you’ve managed to give out one DVD out… to your mom.

We were at the Virgin Media Shorts Sessions listening to what MJ Delaney, Simon Young, Michael Stevens, Nick Scott, and Thomas Thirlwall had to say about putting your short online.

Film making is an expensive hobby; you have to be either extremely persistent or extremely lucky – being a hard-working, talented story-teller is mandatory. Traditionally films go the festival route, going from festival to festival in the hope of getting picked up by a distributor; there really wasn’t any other way films could be seen before the internet. Although this is changing now, but most festivals still don’t take films that have been put online because they want fresh material, it is after all, a showroom where distributors come to buy tried and tested films – they’d be vary of buying something that millions of people already had access to online. So you put your film in film festivals, and if it does well or wins an award, it’s a sure fire way to getting more work. If however, you’re not going to send it to festivals and you want to put it online, the big, bad, extremely judgemental world wide audience will decide the fate of your film.

Putting your work online means that you present it to the best rating system ever devised; if people like it, they’ll recommend it to others and you’ll get more people to watch it. If they don’t like it, it’ll be thrown out before you can say “click me”, dead and buried under billions of other casualties that the internet chews out every day.

Unfortunately, there’s no science to making it work, no formula for making your short viral. There are some rules that some follow, like keeping it short. MJ Delaney, famous for her Newport State of Mind video seems to think that anything longer than 3 minutes tends to not get shared; watching something longer on the internet is just not something people are used to. Or the Golden 15″ rule: If it’s not funny in the first 15 seconds, you’ve lost your viewer. Funny or Die, say proponents of humour on the internet – people generally seem to agree that internet is made for comedy, (It’s actually made for cat pictures) so content on the internet is skewed towards short, funny stuff, something that Michael Steven’s extremely popular channel Vsauce seems to endorse. Michael has been making at least one video every week for the last 5 years. There are no secrets to success on the internet, he says. More is good. If the first one isn’t popular, the next one might be.

So once you’ve decided to put it up on Vimeo or YouTube, you have to push it. Yes, push it more, Egor. You post it on Facebook, and depending on your content, you post it on sites like Reddit, 9GAG, common interest forums, send it to blogs, writers who have large followings – you get the picture? It’s like The Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park; you have to shout it out.

The Webby Awards is something you should be aiming for, the Oscars of the internet. Or use your internet popularity to raise money for your next venture, check out Kickstarter for that. People have done it before, and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be the next success story.

By Vasi Hasan

Hi Everybody!

So, in the infamous words of Dr Nick, ‘Hi everybody!’ For yes, this is a freshly minted blog created with the sole purpose of sharing the things we care about on our Film Futures: Pro course – AKA ‘MA in Film Marketing & Distribution‘ – at Birmingham City University’s NTI Birmingham.

So, what do we care about? Well, much like the masters degree we run, we like to concentrate on the start and end of a film’s life, albeit from the slightly less glamorous, but vastly important, perspective of a film Producer, Marketer or Distributor.

But of course, for those outside the film industry, such job roles can be somewhat more alien and mysterious than that of a Film Director or actor. Yet these are the roles that many film industries, such as the UK’s, are desperate to fill in order to truly build a successful and sustainable sector.

So, in a nutshell, that’s what we intend to use this little Film Futures blog for, demystifying the film industry with blog posts all about the distribution and marketing of film amidst the backdrop of ever-changing patterns of movie consumption by a increasingly cine-literate public.

Wish us a luck.