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

Selling the Idea: The Perfect Pitch

You’ve got the best idea for a film, ever, and you want to make it. Chances are you’ll have to pitch that idea to multiple people before it ever gets made.

What is the perfect pitch?

Here’s the wisdom from Will Massa, Damian Spandley, and David Pope at the Virgin Media Short Sessions.

We’ll give you the bad news first: it’s tough getting it right. You have to be charismatic, bold, and confident – everything your mother wanted you to be, but sadly aren’t.

The good news is that even if you’re not all of the above, you can still practice your pitch.

Don’t think of it as ‘pitching’, suggests David. Think of it as having a conversation with somebody, a conversation that ends up with you in a business relationship with that person. If you hate putting your ideas up for other people to judge, you’re not the only one – however, do keep in mind that everybody will be judging your film at some point, so it’s best to get used to the idea early on.

Pitching is a dark art, talking about yourself, about your work; some have it, others don’t. However, before you go bumbling about trying to convince a distributor to take your film – here’s what you can do.

  1. Understand your audience.
    That means the person you’re pitching to, not just your film’s audience. Do your research; find out what kind of films they buy, which genres they specialize in.
  2. Know all your references, and build a toolkit.
    It’s good to use examples that people are familiar with. If you’re selling a gangster film its ok to say “like Good Fellas” or “Godfather”- however, keep in mind that you better be able to match up to the references you provide, your little cousin Vinny is probably no Al Pacino, even if you are Francis Ford Coppola.
  3. Establish a hook.
    Which emotion are you aiming for? Decide on that, and make it sound good. If you’re pitching a comedy, make sure somebody laughs – confidence is key here.
  4. Divide and rule.
    If you’re pitching as a team, break up the pitch into different parts for the Producer and the Director. Producer answers the all-important “Who is the audience for the film” questions and the Director talks about the story, mood, and treatment. Remember, you will be judged on how you function as a team, how you will deliver. When you’re pitching, they’ll be thinking if the Director is clear enough about what he/she wants to do? If the producer knows his numbers and audience? A good way is to give examples and say we’re targeting the kind of people who’d go watch film X.
  5. Get your cast list together.
    Unless you have Angelina Jolie as the lead, it’s fine to not use names and say “Young, attractive, 35-year-old woman”. Get your cast list together with pictures and letter of intent/release forms.
  6. Film references.
    That includes references for mood, the visuals, and sound.
  7. Film synopsis.
    A short, beautifully written summary of what’s happening. Please spell check it, and get somebody other than a computer to read it before you send it in.
  8. Complete script.
  9. Online presence.
    Last but not least, make sure you have an online presence so people can look you up and check your work if they need to. Your showreel should be ready and transferable to multiple platforms.

Once you have all of the above, practice talking about it. Once you’re done, practice some more and then some more. Keep going until it’s as natural as scratching your nose.  Keep it short, and as long as it has to be – though shorter is better, you’ll know it’s long if they start checking their Facebook feeds, but then it’ll be too late.

Remember that all you are trying to do is tell the man with the money what your film is, where it will end up, who it’s for – and most importantly, how it’s going to make more money for him.

By Vasi Hasan