POV’s Story Doctor Fernanda Rossi has been probing successful filmmakers about their budgets for the last few months. Here’s what she’s learned from seven of them.
1. Beth Toni Kruvant, David Bromberg Unsung Treasure
Though most of Beth Toni Kruvant’s funds for the music documentary David Bromberg Unsung Treasure came from friends and proceeds from her previous work, The Bluegrass Blog called her trick “an interesting twist on the crowdsourcing formula.” Kruvant auctioned off a Martin guitar signed by David Bromberg on Indiegogo, raising $10,000.
2. Kimberly Bautista, Justice For My Sister
For Justice For My Sister, a film about domestic violence in Guatemala, Kimberly Bautista found a few significant sources, but many more small sums of money wherever she could find them:
- $66,000 from Dutch Embassy in Guatemala for post-production and initial outreach in Guatemala late 2011
- $25,500 in thesis grants
- $23,000 from U.S. Embassy in Guatemala for outreach in early 2012
- $10,000 from Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB) for outreach in 2012
- $10,000 for an HBO-NALIP prize in early 2013
- $6,000 for the Camera Justitia Award at Movies That Matter Film Festival in 2013
- $6,000 from Movies That Matter Foundation for outreach with police, judges, and lawyers with our partners from Aquí Entre Hombres 2013
- $5,300 raised on Kickstarter in October 2010
- $5,000 from a grad school foundation after graduation
- $5,000 from the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala in early 2011
- $1,500 from independent donors
- A couple of months working as a barista at a local café
- Intermittent babysitting gigs
- Activism work in Guatemala with Justice for My Sister campaign
- Public speaking engagements related to film at universities
3. Therese Shechter, How to Lose Your Virginity
How to Lose Your Virginity, a film about the myths and misogyny surrounding the magical world of virginity, uses a lot of archival material. Shechter said, “I thought I’d have to cut them out or go broke paying fees — or get sued. Until I discovered Stanford Law School’s Fair Use Project.” Applying for a pro-bono review was long and complicated, but once she was got in, they reviewed and certified most of her third-party materials. “We still had to clear materials not under fair use, but working with them gave me an education and peace of mind.”
4. Lindsey Dryden, Lost and Sound
When Lindsey Dryden’s documentary Lost and Sound wasn’t complete by the end of her post-production schedule, she learned that when the budget runs out — it was a modest $105,000 — the best thing to do is go back to your story. “Taking time out to work on the film’s structure — outside of the edit — was a scary decision, but the best move for the film,” she said. Dryden raised another $15,000, went back into the edit, and she soon had a final cut that was promptly delivered to SXSW, where it premiered.
5. Amy Nicholson, Zipper: Coney Island’s Last Wild Ride
With Zipper: Coney Island’s Last Wild Ride, producer/director Amy Nicholson was turned down for every grant and opportunity available, so she used her income from her 9-to-5, and made the most of her 5-to-9. On most days, she got up early and spent two hours on the film before work, then after returning from work logged another three to four hours. “It gets old. And it makes you old!” Nicholson says, but the film premiered at DOC NYC, where it received a Special Jury Prize.
6. Christine Beebe, Felix Austria!
Christine Beebe made an arrangement with her spouse — she would raise the kids while working on the film, and her spouse would bring in the hard cash. “I had the best of both worlds,” Beebe said, “seeing my kids all the time and fulfilling my creative drive.”
7. Robyn Symon, Behind the Blue Veil
Bring cash! Robyn Symon’s Behind the Blue Veil was funded (about $220,000), both from a major grant and a Kickstarter campaign, but when she was filming in the Sahara, she learned the hard way not to run out of cash. “I’m talking the actual paper money,” Symon said. “There are no working ATMs in the Sahara and plane tickets can only be paid in cash.” Good thing she had a credit card that could wire emergency money or she might still be there.
Read more posts in the “Film Anatomy” series on Fernanda Rossi’s Story Doctor blog on POV, http://www.pbs.org/pov/blog/storydoctor/.