Film Financing - A Basic Primer

 By Elliot Grove

You sign up for writing group after writing group, searching for the next hot screenwriter.  You troll through the fringe theatre scene seeking undiscovered acting talent. You scour film festivals for the hippest new film director. Finally, after months of preparation, you’ve got a Hot Script, and a roster of steamy new talent.

Now you need to finance.

Many new producers don't understand that a financial plan is as much of a necessity as a business plan. Every project is different: will you be using private equity or co-production funding? How important are tax incentives to your finance package. Could crowd funding work as part of your plan? Each successfully financed project secures its money from a variety of sources. I have put together a primer of the 4 basic types of film funding. All you need to do now is to decide what is right for your project and implement your plan.

The 4 Basic Types of Film Finance

Post Production Services1. Finding a Co- Production Partner

Everyone asks where to go to find a suitable co-production partner. The truth is that there are no stores or centres to go to where eligible producers hang their hats waiting for the likes of you to show up. There are, however, some places that can help:

1)    Rotterdam's Cinemart
2)    The European Film Market
3)    Festival de Cannes

These markets all have industry forums and networking events designed to marry together producers eager to co-produce. Make certain you have your business plans complete - budgets and schedules at the ready - should someone be hot to trot. The good news is that you don't necessarily need to attend these events in far-flung places – all these events have websites with useful lists of participants.

Another excellent source is the Media Programme - an EU funded quango that does much needed work in matching up producers from one country with producers from another.

2: Tax Incentives

Nearly every country in the world and most States in America have tax incentives. The trick is to match the tax incentives to your script and to your budget. The worst thing to have is a film that relies on tax breaks from different countries that demand a certain amount spent in their territory. This gives rise to "Euro pudding" - a road movie that takes place in several European countries for no real reason other than getting the tax breaks. Research, research, research, and don't be surprised when a tax break seems too good to be true – it probably isn't.

Write and Sell the Hot Script with Elliot Grove

3: Pre-Sales & Co-Productions

Stop! Collaborate and listen!
Remember, a co-production is collaboration between 2 or more production companies. An entire film genre is dedicated to one of the more well known collaborations: the Spaghetti Western, anyone? Spaghetti Westerns were American films shot in Italy, with Italian directors, crewmembers, et cetera ad nauseum.

Co-Productions don’t even have to rely on partners from other countries. The basic goal of a Co-Production is for two production companies to come together and make something beautiful. You can get a list of all the co-production treaties with the United Kingdon here:

4: Crowd Funding

Crowd Funding is a form of Internet fundraising. Proactive fans of artists, musicians, entrepreneurs, and yes, even filmmakers, are now able to join forces and donate money to support their Artist (a.k.a. “charity”) and thus support the Artist’s artistic endeavors. In theory, the donations accumulate fast enough if you drum up support through blogs, social media, and self-promoting. This donation process is facilitated by the third-party website. For a list of Crowd Funding sites, check out this crowd funding article.

Your Comments Please

Thanks for this great article Elliot! Whilst working to get my first feature of the ground, I find your articles to be a constant source of realistic information, inspiration and encouragement. Please keep 'em coming!
John Osborne Hughes

Elliot, I really like this article. It has that unmistakable ring of authenticity. Thanks for the continual encouragement - you really are reaching and inspiring a lot of people!

Keep it up!

Gani Naylor

Raindance Alumni

If you would like to comment on this article, please click here

About Elliot Grove

Elliot GroveCanadian born Elliot Grove founded Raindance Film Festival in 1993, the
British Independent Film Awards in 1998, and Raindance.TV in 2007, the Raindance Postgraduate Film Degree in 2011 and Raindance Raw Talent in 2013.

He has produced over 150 short films, and 5 feature films incuding his latest feature film, Deadly Virtues: Love.Honour.Obey. He has written eight scripts, one of which is currently in pre-production. He teaches writers and producers in the UK, Europe. Japan and America.

He has written three books which have become industry standards: RAINDANCE WRITERS LAB 2nd Edition (Focal Press 2008),  RAINDANCE PRODUCERS LAB (Focal Press 2013) and 130 PROJECTS TO GET YOU INTO FILMMAKING (Barrons 2009). His first novel THE BANDIT QUEEN is scheduled for publication next year.

Open University awarded Elliot and Honourary Doctorate for services to film education in 2009.
He is regularly interviewed. Here is an interview for Canadian television

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Film Finance - A Basic Primer