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John Simkin

Film Funding

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I found this article in the Guardian interesting:

http://film.guardian.co.uk/news/story/0,,1697939,00.html

A British film company is hoping to revolutionise the way independent productions are made by appealing to the public to finance its next movie.

Vertigo Films, which has built up a cult following with releases such as Human Traffic and The Business, based around aspects of youth culture, plans to raise the money to make its film Outlaw from fans of its earlier movies.

The innovative funding mechanism will be launched today through the company's website. It is thought to be the first time a British cinema release could be entirely funded by filmgoers.

Investors will not get a cut of film profits but in effect will buy a copy of the movie when it appears on DVD and receive an executive producer credit. They may also be offered other film merchandising and benefits. The packages will cost £10, £50 or £100, and will enrol contributors into a club allowing them to be involved in a film's production. They will get regular updates on the movie's progress, see videos of casting sessions, and have the chance to be an extra.

Allan Niblo, Outlaw's producer, said that fans of Vertigo's work and of the director, Nick Love, tended to be young and extremely loyal. More than 1.6 million fans had already signed up on the website to receive updates and three-quarters of them had bought the films on DVD. "It seemed a logical step to offer them the DVD in advance. Then the logical progression was to offer other things and open up the movie making process."

The overall budget for Outlaw, likely to be less than $5m, is about average for a UK independent film.

Love said he wanted to appeal to an audience not catered for by Hollywood. He said he received hundreds of letters from fans wanting to become involved in the production process.

With DVD sales overtaking cinema receipts, and piracy rife, other producers are experimenting with ways of funding and distributing films.

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It is a similar approach to how my firm takes its funding public. I would love to say that it's part of the digital cinema revolution that is democratising cinema but in fact it has more to do with the utter lack of imagination of most traditional film fund sources.

Also a couple key reasons to do this sort of thing are

1. your film has an absurdly small budget compared to its competitors in the marketplace - the paradox of being too economical for your own good... wtf

2. you have a fanbase that is rabid enough to support direct appeals

Good luck to them and the more times people succeed at this the more often traditional film industry profiles and the public media which fawns on them will fail to suppress genuinely alternative viewpoints.

-Jonathan

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