Short Film Funding Ideas

Short film funding ideas, this article looks at six strategies you could use to fund your short film. I have also made a list of short film funding grants and competitions which you can find below.

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There are many different ways you can find a budget for your short film. I researched into these possibilities looking at how other filmmakers approach short film funding.

I hope this helps spark some ideas on how you can get your film made, before you begin searching for funding make sure to create a budget plan. Also consider what you will do with your short film once complete. Likely a short film will not make it’s money back, many filmmakers use short films as a calling card to gain funding for bigger projects.

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# 1 – Self Funding

The first handful of films you make should be no-low budget. These are practice films, use them to make mistakes without any pressure. I self-funded my own short films and when I did need a budget I saved my money from part-time work (to be transparent for my university films I used part of my student loan).

Jumping through all the loops to find a budget can be time consuming and stressful. So, before you decide to apply for professional funding determine if you can fund the film yourself. A short film can be made without a budget, hire student actors, download free editing software and enter free film festivals.

This years BAFTA ward winning short documentary 73 Cows was made without a budget (just expenses for travel).

# 2  - Crowd Funding

Ten years ago when crowdfunding was first introduced there was a flock of films being made through platforms such as Kickstarter. Frustratingly it’s not as easy as it looks to have a successful crowdfunding campaign and many filmmakers fail to reach their goals. If you are considering crowdfunding research into successful campaigns with projects similar to yours. Also be realistic with how much money you ask for, a common pitfall is asking for too much and overestimating the budget.

On a side note many films I see successfully meet their goals through crowdfunding are in fact self-funded and crowdfunding is used as a marketing tool – not as a funding source.

The most popular crowd funding platforms are Kickstarter, Indigogo, and Patreon. BATFA award winning fiction short WALE was successfully funded through online crowdfunding.

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# 3 – Film Schools

Often overlooked, top tier film schools can be a great way to make your first professional short film. Not only do you get access to equipment and crew, but you are also more likely to get your film shown at major festivals.

If you research into award-winning short films you will notice a pattern, many short films shown at major festivals today have been created alongside a film school. Although film education has a bad reputation online, if this is an affordable option, this could be your best solution for professional short film funding.

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Many film schools offer grants and scholarships, UK’s highest rated film school NFTS has production budgets included in its overall cost. Short film November 1st is an NFTS graduate film that now making its way around film festivals world-wide.  

# 4 – Competitions

There are many competitions and charities out there offering funding for filmmakers. Make sure to read through any rules and regulations carefully before applying. Typically there is a theme or cause that the competition wants the film to revolve around. For example, the Iris Prize offers £30,000 for short films on LGBT+ subject matter. You can find a list of competitions and grants at the bottom of this article.

Short film Pulsar was funded through The Pitch, a competition that offers up to £30,000 in funding for a short film that draws on the Bible for inspiration.

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# 5 – Government Funding

If you are looking for serious funding then government schemes are your next step. Many countries and regions have film councils, find your local council and see what type of short film funding they can offer. In the UK we have Creative England, they currently have an initiative called ShortFlix providing £10,000 of funding for young filmmakers aged 18-25. As with all schemes like this there will be a lot of guidelines you need to meet and it will take a long time to jump through all of the hoops before you are trusted with the money.

Oscar nominated short film Marguerite was funded through Quebec arts film funding grants.

From my research I have found that a major budget short film is likely to have been funded through a mix of government schemes, self funding and private investors.

# 6 – Private Investors

Many independent feature films are funded through private investors, the same technique can be used for shorts. Although a short film is unlikely to make its money back an investor might be interested if they care for the subject matter. Short film The Line of Freedom deals with political issues that caught the attention of private investors (fun fact I worked on that film).

You will need to create a treatment and approach potential investors who you think would be interested in funding the project. This will take a lot of time to find the right people but this can be the easiest technique for major short film funding.

short film funding Grants -

World-Wide - Filmmakers without boarders , Independent Filmmaker Project , Women In Film , From the Heart , Genera Films , Iris Prize , IFFR , Catapult Film Fund , The Film Fund ,

UK - Arts Council , BFI funding , WFTV , The Pitch, Film & TV Charity, Creative England , Film London , Film Cymru ,

USA - PanaVision , LEF Foundation , Creative Capital , Jerome Foundation , 48 hour film , California Documentary Project , The David Ross Foundation , Culture and Creativity , Loreen Arbus Grant , Flies Collective , Indie Grants , Zoetrope ,

Ireland - Screen Ireland , Canada - National Film Board of Canada , Australia - Screen Australia , NSW Screen , Dubai - Arab Culture Fund , Doha Film Institute Germany - German Film Commissions , France - Film Funding France , India - Six Sigma Films , South Africa - Gauteng Film Commission ,

Resources - Studio Binder Film Grants , Film Daily TV Grants , We Are Film UK , No Film School Grants List , KitSplit List