Financing / Crowdfunding : Film Treatment / Getting Funding by Scot Michael Walker

Scot Michael Walker

Film Treatment / Getting Funding

Hey, everyone! I'm in pre-production for a short thriller I wrote about three college journalist students. My budget will require funding help (especially if we land named talent) and I understand that a "film treatment" is like a brochure for your film that includes important info. Here is what I was thinking I'd do. I'd appreciate any advice from the wonderful, experienced folks on this site! :) About myself: I have written/directed/produced and self-funded a feature called Rockin' Reverend, and also a short film called The Holly King. Getting funding is new for me. I'm planning on designing a slick full color PDF in InDesign (I'm a designer) that has: • The poster art on the cover page • Title, genre, duration on first page • Logline, and plot outline • Character breakdown • Name talent info including head shots of name talent we are interested in and budget implications for name talent • Location photos and addresses I've already locked down • Studio space info including photo where we'd shoot green screen scene • Shooting schedule • Cinematography notes - movements, lighting, etc. • Audio notes - photo and bio of composer I work with, sound FX • Crew list of roles needed - D.P., A.D., script supervisor, camera assist, grips, gaffer, sound etc. • SAG short film contract info • Legal considerations - brief paragraph showing consideration for legal issues like copyright, location releases, liability insurance info, talent release • Budget - line item detailed budget with total for everything Once I have that, I'd approach a few people I know who might be able to help fund the film and shop the treatment around. I understand that I would get a Letter of Intent from these people that they intend to invest X dollars towards the film. I then plan on posting the casting call on breakdown services as SAG with info about name talent fee being negotiable. I'd have the Letter of Intent for name talent's agent and budget. I'm told that I'm looking at $1K per day plus First Class airfare, hotel, per diem for name talent (someone college age who has been in a regular on a TV show, for example). Feel free to correct me where I have made an error and give me any advice you have to offer. Thank you so much for your time!

Regina Lee

Hi Scot, I'm by no means an expert on short film funding. Very generally, I'll say that in my experience, my friends and my former interns have relied upon the kindness of their friends and family to contribute to their shorts. In other countries, grants are much more readily available for short films than in the US. A really good friend of mine produced a short film for the AFI Directing Workshop for Women. They raised money by putting on a music show. I guess what I'm saying is that I admire your plan to let your potential contributors kick your tires. You're putting it all out there. But for short films, it may be about people who like you and want to help you. Their decision to invest in YOU may not be based on a rigorous assessment of your production plans. That said, you have potential contributors in mind already, and of course, you should try to give them the tools that they need to commit to contributing funds. You know their personalities better than we do. Good luck!

Regina Lee

And in terms of getting named talent for a short film, I think you'll have to demonstrate a very compelling reason for the talent to sign on. Usually when a well-known piece of talent agrees to a short film, it's because his/her friend is directing it.

Regina Lee

Or when a major brand is involved and providing a big budget. A top example is the BMW branded content short film series. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hire

Scot Michael Walker

Thank you so much for your response, Regina. I have a couple friends who had C list name talent in their shorts for the figures I stated above. The trick is getting to them. I do understand that the typical investor of a film doesn't look at shorts because there is no return for shorts but I hope the PDF increases my chance of getting funded. I also intend on doing the crowd funding route. This short has a really interesting opening so I'll create that for the pitch video, plus I think I'll create some custom t-shirts for the crowd funding campaign. I really do appreciate your time and info! Have a great day!

Erik A. Jacobson

Generally speaking, treatments are for feature films, not shorts. No offense intended, but you seem to be getting waaay too technical for something which will return no profit and is only a few minutes in length. Do what most short filmmakers do and get friends and family to kick in some spare money. And Regina is right, your chances of getting name talent on a short are slim to none unless they're a friend or friend of a friend. Have you considered aiming higher and planning a feature instead?

Scot Michael Walker

Well, I got named talent for my short. :) He has been in dozens of movies over the last 30 years and several TV shows. He's currently recurring in a TV show on ABC. He lives in the Dallas / Fort Worth area and his agent is my agent. I sent her an email and she asked for the script. He agreed to a day rate almost half of what he charges for feature films. Now I have to raise the funds. My total budget is $15K for everything. Thanks for the input!

Sandrene Mathews

Regarding the budget, you should just submit a top sheet instead of a full line item budget. And make sure not to get too detailed with your character bios. People can always ask to see more if they're interested, and you should definitely have them before you move forward. But the too long; didn't read mentality is very prevalent among investors, so only give them as much as they need to want to know more. Another option would be to approach potential advertisers instead of investors. Some people advise doing that first, then you have more info to give investors. Good luck!

Nelle Nelle

Hey Scot, I actually think that you are well on your way to getting your short film produced. Name talent will sign on to a short film that won't be too big of a time commitment and that is professionally managed if you are able to get to them. Yesterday in On Stage with RB, this very topic was brought up by David Paterson (Screenwriter, Bridge to Terabithia) who has had a ton of success with his short films. The main thing I remember is that you have to treat your short film as a feature. It's not up just yet, but check it out when it is: https://www.stage32.com/webinars/on-stage-with-rb

Scot Michael Walker

Thanks, JL Ivory!

J And Courtney Navarro

Hey Scot I just wanted to say sounds like you're doing awesome! Keep it up. Any advice for someone in the Development stage seeking funding that doesn't have a big following as of now?!

Scot Michael Walker

Hey, sorry for not replying, J and Courtney Navarro. I've been off this for a while. The opinions about funding were valid. I was able to get named talent easily, however getting the funding for a SHORT didn't happen. I have made a really fantastic contact via my casting call, though, and I'm turning the 15-page script into 90 pages right now and it will be read by a couple producers in LA. Advice, make your project SAG-AFTRA and put it up on Breakdown Express, which is Actors Access (the standard for actors and agents - casting calls). This will get you talent from LA who have been in TV shows and supporting roles in big movies, but more importantly, this will get you contacts that can help you out more than if you are in Dallas, like me, or elsewhere out of LA. If they like your script, people will help you out.

Pippa Hinchley

Blimey, Scot - fancy producing some of my stuff when you are done?! I think you are doing awesome too. Actors - if you have an older part - 60+ - you absolutely can get some great talent, starved as everyone is for strong parts over a certain age. Is there a college professor here? Hit up some youtube talent. Easy to send a message too. If you look for the comedians there are some good actors among them and then you have their following and guaranteed audience. And yeah, because of this you can make money on shorts, youtbe & so many other platforms, short film channels, lots of airlines and TV strands. It might take you a while but never before has the possibility really been there to even get your money back like there is now. Tell me when you cast - Im an actor as well as writer so I know a few peeps in series etc you might get a CD to help if it has awards written all over it too. I was also going to say enter the screen craft short FUNDING competition - I'd still do it - you could make the trailer? They run it 3 or 4 times a year and give up to 20k to 4 projects. And everyone - go to FILMDAILY.TV – great resource on US grants and diy producing. Good luck y'all. Pip (I just did my profile pls check it out as looking for collaborators)

Scot Michael Walker

Thanks, Pip! Cheers!

J And Courtney Navarro

Hey Scot, I sent you a message to connect. Want to see how things are going with your thriller and had a couple questions for you - Courtney

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