Interesting question. I’m a big believer in learning to code. The job market for programmers is super strong and will be for a long time. Often programmers can work from home with flexible hours. And a freelance programmer can charge ten times what a waiter or temp might make. There should also be plenty of opportunities to find good organizations that you want to support (and maybe who are connected to your passion projects) who need help with technology.
And what are some mistakes that we make specifically when looking to fund our projects?
When embarking on a new indie project, would you advise filmmakers to make a smaller proof of concept first, or attempt to make the full story from start to finish? We’ve seen a lot of arguments for both sides of this in the past few weeks.
This is getting a little into the weeds, so I should be careful not to go too far beyond my sphere of insurance knowledge. But I’m mostly thinking of errors & omissions coverage. In general, a distributor is going to want to be protected against claims of libel or copyright infringement, for example. As far as I know, it should be possible to get a policy after the film is made, but it might be more complicated. This might be a better question for Fractured Atlas’s program staff, though!
Do you have a background in film or filmmaking? Why did you decide to start your company?
Relying exclusively on a crowdfunding campaign or otherwise failing to understand that a fundraising effort must include multiple channels over a sustained period of time. Fundraising isn’t transactional; it’s relational.
Also, assuming that just because the project excites you it will immediately excite others. You need to be able to tell your own story in a way that is compelling and speaks to the donor’s perspective.
So for projects that are commercial-whatever (not for a particular ‘social good’ campaign and not a documentary), what is compelling to a donor?
I’m sure there are strong arguments for either approach. In terms of fundraising, some kind of proof of concept is likely to be helpful, since it’s easier to raise money off of something that’s concrete and has emotional resonance, rather than just an idea.
In your mind, other than fiscal sponsorship and crowdfunding, what are other places filmmakers should be looking to find donors/funds for their projects? Places we might not be thinking of/looking?
My background is in theater, actually (or at least that’s what I studied in college). But Fractured Atlas has always supported artists from all disciplines.
I started Fractured Atlas initially to serve my own needs as an artist. It just expanded from there!
If I understand the question, then nothing. A commercial film should have investors, not donors. And an investor is going to want to believe they’ll make a financial return from the investment. Of course, if they’re investing in indie films, they probably want to believe in the filmmaker’s vision as well.
So with that in mind, do you think the future of online filmmaking (like we all do) is in indie distribution (YouTube, Vimeo, Seeka, etc), or in filmmakers making pathways to the more big-name online streaming services like Hulu and Netflix and Amazon? That’s usually where the proof of concept argument comes into it- should people be striving to just make their art and put it into the world, or should they ‘hold out’ to pitch it to someone else/until they get ‘picked up’?
Grants! There is a lot of grant money out there, mostly from private foundations. We raise millions of dollars per year in grant funding for our sponsored filmmakers’ projects.
Where do filmmakers go to find investors, then? And fair enough about ROI, which comes up a lot in these convos. Do you see anything in the online series distribution landscape that will help us be able to get a return for these hopefully-right-around-the-corner investors? YouTube, even if you go viral, has some really bad ad share rates, so that’s obviously out.
I’m probably biased on this one, but in general, I hate the idea of waiting around to be “discovered”. I would always rather take the reins and make something happen on my own terms. I’m sure there are times when that’s a mistake, but if I’m going to fail, I’d rather fail actively, not passively.
Aren’t most grants pretty focused on social good or documentaries, though? What about us goofy comedy writers? I can make the argument that I’m increasing women’s representation (largely lady ensemble) but is that enough?
You’re right; it’s really tough. My sense is that most web series have pretty small audiences, which makes it all but impossible to make a profit. Hopefully that will change over time. But any business that makes its money from ad sales has to have a HUGE audience to make money. So I guess in general I’m more encouraged by subscription models, for example, where you can be profitable with much fewer eyeballs.
quoting for Meg because I think this question got lost in the others
What are some good example of digital subscription models for indie content? Or just general good examples of indie distribution sites?
Where have you seen the coolest innovation/experimentation happening in the independent film world, in terms of story or structure? On a content level.