24 July 2019

Short Films – Funding and Festivals

By Michael Wood Head of Performance

The creative process of making a short film is an invaluable way of gaining industry experience and developing your skills. Short films can also be used to showcase your talent and secure funding for future projects. Although on a much smaller scale than features, short films still need to receive funding from somewhere to get made, and without the backing of studios would need to be self-publicised.

Crowdfunding websites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo have risen in popularity and are one way of drawing attention to and building buzz around a project.  However, to get the most out of this option, an engaged (not necessarily large!) social media following is a must-have. A big part of Crowdfunding also involves offering various perks based on the amount donated, for example, The Veronica Mars Movie Project offered various different incentives starting from $10 for a PDF of the movie script, going all the way up to $10,000 for a speaking role in the film!

Grants aimed at short films are another option, with funding programmes including GeneraFilm London: London CallingThe John Brabourne Awards Talent Development Programme and shortFLIX.

Organisations such as the Wahala Film Fund – which supports filmmakers who are queer, transgender or intersex people of colour – also allow further opportunities for more diverse film-making.

Entering into competitions can also be an effective way of raising funding for future ventures, as well as exposing the film to different audiences. Last year, we hosted our inaugural Short Film Competition, which included prizes to support filmmakers in the development of their next project.

There are also more genre-specific competitions such as the Iris Prize, which focuses on LGBT+ storytelling.

Another way to increase exposure to industry people is to enter your film into festivals. In 2004, Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck won a prize for their short film Gowanus, Brooklyn at the Sundance Film Festival. This success lead to their first feature Half Nelson starring Ryan Gosling, released to critical acclaim. Their most recent feature was the hugely successful Captain Marvel which grossed over $1.1 billion worldwide and currently stands at the second highest grossing film of 2019. Another short to receive great success is Whiplash, which was screened at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival – the feature version went on to win three Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

Although Sundance is considered one of the most well-renowned film festivals, there are still many other options out there. The BFI has a comprehensive list of UK-based and international festivals, and they also run their own London-based competition.

This article by Raindance Film Festival founder Elliot Grove includes some very helpful advice on what not do to when entering a film festival.

A short film may, or may not, lead to your big break, but the experience of budgeting a production and getting your work out there is immeasurable.