DIFF Daily 2011

Variety: Passion and a little bit of luck key to securing film finance

Dec 10,2011 - 01:43 PM

BY BADAR SALEM

Finding a financer for a film is never as easy task. Filmmakers struggle to reach out to the right investors, and when they do, it is often a hurdle to take projects to the next level.

However, there are some financing fundamentals that filmmakers whether first-timers or seasoned vets need to know to be able to position themselves and their projects professionally and increasing their chances of securing the funds they need.

The How To Film Finance panel, which unspooled at DIFF on Friday, discussed the best practices each filmmaker should be aware of in order to be able to market themselves and their films to the right parties.

Whether you’re getting your money from family, friends, investors or film festivals’ funds, the techniques are the same. You need to have a good story or script in hand and to be able to market your film and yourself to the world.

Passion can pay off, according to Lebanese producer and filmmaker Nibal Arkaji, who told the audience that investors became interested in financing her film after they saw how passionate she was about it.

‘Passion and luck played a role in getting the funds I want for my film,’ she said. ‘I used to work in the advertising industry, so I came to know many people, and actually some of my clients were interested in placing their brands in my film. That’s helped.’

She noted that although most of those who invest in films don’t expect to make profit right away out of financing independent films, they expect that you’ll pay
back the amount they gave you. ‘If they get their money back, next time you come and ask them for financing for your second film, things will be much easier,’ Arkaji said.

Ryan Harrington, of Tribeca Film Institute told the audience of inspiring filmmakers about the kind of project they should think about when applying for international film funds and cultural organisations.

‘When we receive a financing request from a filmmaker, we look for untold stories, originality, passion and humanistic and artistic approach to the story,’
OWEN WILSON LIVE! In Conversation with Variety ‘International Star of the Year’ Award recipient, Academy Award nominated writer and actor Owen Wilson. December 10 16:00 to 17:00 First Group Theatre, Souk Madinat Jumeirah said Harrington. ‘We usually ask for three page brief from the filmmakers describing their films to know how serious and passionate they are about their projects. It’s a long process, I receive 2,000 applications a year, but we end up with 40. Good stuff always rises to the top.’

Dubai Film Market consultant Colin Stanfield, the panel’s moderator, said that when filmmakers approach coproduction film funds, they should bear two things in mind:

‘You have to establish a presence and legitimacy in these film funds, so industry people start to know who you are and recognise that you’re serious about what’re doing,’ said Stanfield, who has experience in film funding in U.S. and Canada. ‘Second thing, you have to do your homework: you have to know the people you’re approaching, what films they’ve done in the past. Talk about their projects and find the similarities between their previous project and yours. This way you’ll win them over.

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