Funding Short Film

HeySiriHeySiri Website User Posts: 382 Just Starting Out
edited January 2019 in General

I'm making a short film, about half an hour long. I've done a rough estimate, and it should cost about $1000 to produce. Not that bad, because Hitfilm Pro's price is factored into that, and I was going to get that anyway.

Here's the thing, I've tried looking up grants, crowdfunding techniques, et cetera. But, it's difficult to find this sort of stuff for someone like me: a high school student. How can I fund a short film when I'm still in high school? Are there grants for people my age, and what are some crowdfunding tips for someone my age?


  • WhiteCranePhotoWhiteCranePhoto Website User Posts: 896 Enthusiast

    1. Rewrite it to be 10 minutes long or less. A 30 minute short is not a good idea, especially if you want other people to actually watch it. If you're interested in festivaling it (unless it's HollyShorts, Sundance, Raindance, or Cannes, there's really no point) then you've already failed if it's over 10 minutes.

    2. There are definitely emerging filmmaker grants out there; it's worth looking for, even though you might have to get a parent or similar to help you to get around the age limit.

    3. Seed and Spark has some nice resources on crowdfunding film projects. It's worth a look. You'll probably still need a parent (legal adolt) on board, but the how to go about it part is there, at least enough to get you started.

    Good luck! I hope you are successful :)


  • HeySiriHeySiri Website User Posts: 382 Just Starting Out
    edited November 2018

    @WhiteCranePhoto I can't rewrite it to be 30 minutes or less. It's a detailed plot that can't be compressed. I'm not planning on submitting it to festivals or anything. I'm mostly making this to prove to the people around me I CAN make great short films, and after this one, I'll be making shorter ones that I could send into festivals and et cetera.

    But still, thank you for the help!

  • WhiteCranePhotoWhiteCranePhoto Website User Posts: 896 Enthusiast

    Then you should probably consider making one of your shorter ones first, rather than starting with a 30-minute film. That's six days of production if you put together a strong team, unless you rush it and try to squeeze that into two days like so many indie producers think is a good idea.

    And on top of that, you still have to edit and color it, add sound design + music, clean up dialog, etc. You're better off showing people what you can do with a smaller project than you are by jumping into a big one as you first project.

  • CleverTaglineCleverTagline Moderator Las Vegas, NVModerator, Website User, Ambassador, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 3,034 Ambassador

    @HeySiri I'll second what @WhiteCranePhoto said. While I haven't made a short film in a long time, I've done other stuff where I bit off more than I should've chewed thanks to pure enthusiasm and a desire to "prove myself" etc. etc.  In that sense, I know where you're coming from.  You have this idea that you're all fired up about and don't want to put off.  However, it's probably best to put it off anyway until you have cut your teeth on some smaller projects that don't require extensive funding...or any funding.

    I'm going to ping @HIS__Films here, because they may be able to offer some insight. I think they're in your same general age range, and they've done lots of short-shorts and tests of various types before working on longer projects. Their most recent, Balogna Man, is just shy of 13 minutes, and is (as far as I know), their longest and most ambitious project to date. I don't recall the length of the one before that, but I've seen a lot of their work, and there has been clear progression and improvement over time, and they've been doing this stuff for many years. Why didn't they just tackle something like Balogna Man when they first started? I'll let them speak to that, and to other insights they've picked up over the years.

  • HeySiriHeySiri Website User Posts: 382 Just Starting Out

    To be honest, I'm not sure how long it'll be. The script is at over 40 pages BUT there are quite a few moments with very short dialogue lines, which just took up a lot of space! I've done a rough estimate and am guessing around 25 minutes.

    And I actually have made a couple really small projects before, but it was only like two and a half minutes for my most intensive one, but I definitely see all of your points! I might make a small prologue of about five minutes to make for my movie, to step a little bit into the filming world and make sure I'm ready. Thanks for all the help and I'm glad I've gotten new ideas from this!

  • WhiteCranePhotoWhiteCranePhoto Website User Posts: 896 Enthusiast

    If you've followed the standard format for a screenplay, then on average, a page equates to a minute. That's part of what the standard format is for.


  • HeySiriHeySiri Website User Posts: 382 Just Starting Out

    My "standard format" might be a little bit off...

    I also go into a lot of details on locations and stuff in the script, all of which is seen in just two seconds in an actual movie. The movie is nowhere near as long as the script.

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 18,254 Ambassador

    One thought is to make a two-minute segment of the your 30-min film,(or two min "trailer.")

    Make it kick-ass, then, when you do look for funding you specifically say it's "to finish this."

  • WhiteCranePhotoWhiteCranePhoto Website User Posts: 896 Enthusiast

    Agreed... it's better to make a two-minute short that rocks than to make a 30-minute film that doesn't. 

  • HeySiriHeySiri Website User Posts: 382 Just Starting Out

    @Triem23 I was going to try crowdfunding for funding my movie, and my idea for my video was to make basically a trailer for it, then with the words:

    "We made this for free. What could we do with your support?"

    Or something like that. There'd be more to the crowdfunding video than that but I was going to make a short segment from the movie or something. I bought Hitfilm Pro just yesterday, so I've already made my first step into a larger video editing world...

  • GavinBarkerGavinBarker Staff Website User Posts: 98

    I think the advice of doing something shorter as a taster/teaser is spot on. If your script has something you could identify as a 'perfect hook', that teases the plot and the central conflict, then you're on to a winner.

    A lot of viewers will look at something 30 mins long and likely draw their conclusions from the thumbnail/1st 2 minutes, rather than giving it the time it deserves. It's why most film trailers include at least one moment that they hope will illicit a 'I'd happily go and see more of that!' reaction.

    Going with a crowdfunding trailer is probably your best bet if crowdfunding itself is looking like the best option. Don't go into it expecting the $1000 or so to come through that way (ALWAYS plan for the worst) but making a kick ass trailer will definitely give you a much greater chance!

    Good luck with the project, and keep us all updated on how the process goes! :) 

  • WhiteCranePhotoWhiteCranePhoto Website User Posts: 896 Enthusiast

    Agreed... a few projects I'm involved in right now are heading down that strategy as well. W're looking for crowdfunding to help raise seed money with which to take care of things like pre-production and hiring a casting director in the hopes of getting some marketable talent on board with which to entice investors into kicking in some extra dough.

    For the teasers we're looking to keep things simple and moody showcasing production value as well as teasing the plot and introducing some of the cast. 


  • HeySiriHeySiri Website User Posts: 382 Just Starting Out

    I've been doing some thinking, and I had the idea of (since I'm a teenager) attempting to go door-to-door in my surrounding area basically asking for donations from people. I know this isn't likely to work, but anything will help, and I can just leave them a form with information to go to a GoFund Me page or something.

    But, I want to also have something they get back, so like the more they donate the more they get, which would be like an incentive to give money (because they would be getting something back). But, what could I give in return for a cheap cost? I'm posting the movie online for free, so I can't just give them a free copy of the movie or something.

  • JBaymoreJBaymore Website User Posts: 333 Enthusiast

    Can you wrap this film project into your current education (I'm assuming you are in High School) in some manner?  If so, there may be some funding within your school for which you could apply. 

    Is film-making your intended profession in the future?  Do you plan to go to college for studying this subject?

    If so, this adds a possible "incentive" toward developing funding sources.  People often are quite supportive of a young person's serious educational efforts.  How you 'couch' the film idea into this background concept will maybe help as you work on seeking some funding.  If it is a PART of getting you the successes and experience you need to get into a good art/film school, that is a good 'sales point' for getting donations. 

    This idea might also open up access to some grants. (As a minor, you still might need parental support.)  Search the net for art and film-making grants.  Being a pro 3-d artist myself, I personally do not know if film has much available, but in other media.... there are opportunities out there.



  • WhiteCranePhotoWhiteCranePhoto Website User Posts: 896 Enthusiast

    That's certainly an interesting conundrum.

    One possibility is to offer your neighbors an opportunity to get their children involved -- I know a film production in my area got a sizable donation from the uncle (or maybe father? I'm not sure -- but same idea either way) of an aspiring actress in return for having her in the film.

    He's putting in enough to get his niece/daughter a pretty significant role, but if you can work with tiers like extra, featured extra, and if you give me "X" bux I'll write a part in for your son/daughter. 

    Make the required donation to get feature extra or even more important roles a bit pricey; you don't want people picking that because it looks like a bargain because then you'll end up writing roles for half the neighborhood. :)

    You could also sell things like baked goodies or other treats -- if they're homemade they'll both be cheaper for you to make and a LOT more desirable -- be honest and tell them that you're selling them to raise funds to make a film, obviously; don't hide it. You WANT them to know that you're making a film, and you want them to be involved -- promise them (and keep this promise) that you'll include a thanks to them for their support in the credits (even though the only people who will look for their names are people who provided support). 

    You might end up being pretty surprised at the outcome. Most people want to be involved in films. It's a romantic and exciting thing, and you'd be amazed at how often people will rave about how amazing it was to be on the set when they filmed that scene and look how it turned out! Seriously -- most people LOVE the idea of being involved. When filming in public areas passersby often stop and ask what we're filming, and where and when can we see it? 

    You don't have to be a big budget film to attract attention. You don't have to have a big crew and 8000 watts of hot lights, director's chairs, and all that to get people interested. You really just have to be nice, honest and earnest, and act professionally. 

    Do that and you might be surprised at how often you'll get people asking how they can get involved rather than yelling at you to go away and stop blocking traffic! 

    I've filmed several shorts for Cascadia Dread ( and we've had no trouble getting extras, for example... especially when there are parents with children interested in movies around (which to be honest is most parents -- almost all of the kids want to be involved in film). 

  • JBaymoreJBaymore Website User Posts: 333 Enthusiast

    While it is more work for you and your crew......... can you shoot some background footage to do a short "making of" type piece... that can become one "perk" for any donations.  THIS short piece does NOT get distributed to anyone except those donating a certain bracket level.



  • HeySiriHeySiri Website User Posts: 382 Just Starting Out

    @JBaymore I LOVE your idea of making like a sort of special edition only given to people who donate a certain amount! I'm just worried that only one person would donate enough or something and then I'd feel like the special edition would be wasted. My friend (who is also co-producer, lead actor, costumer, and orchestrater) really wants to make a behind-the-scenes video and bloopers, and stuff like that, and post that on YouTube WITH our video (we can't sell it in any way because that makes it a commercial film legally and then we have to get a bunch of permits and stuff, but I'm doing extensive legal research to make sure everything we're doing right now is legal). Maybe we'll make the bloopers and behind the scenes, then make an exclusive SECOND behind the scenes that would be the same as the behind the scenes just more in-depth? Something like that? I wanted to make a free behind-the-scenes to go along with it but I also want to do your idea of a special edition of sorts...

    Also, it's possible I could ask my drama teacher if she could give extra-credit if I make a short film. That way, it becomes an educational "project" and I can say the film is sort of for school. I'm not planning on going into filmmaking as a career. I want to go into science, specifically some sort of biology. The reason I'm making a short film is, I love telling stories. I got into writing about a year ago and discovered I have a natural talent for it, and I've been writing stories since then. I found Hitfilm in April, I believe, and have since purchased Hitfilm Pro because I love animating. I made a short movie of sorts using iMovie and SketchUp a few years ago! Now, I'm entering filmmaking as mostly just a hobby because my friends love helping out with a film (I mean, it's just fun to be involved in, isn't it?) and for me it's both a learning experience in production, budgeting, marketing, raising money, a ton of legal stuff, and filmmaking is also just another way to tell a story. I loved writing because I was good at it and it gave me a way to share a story, but I feel like filmmaking is just a more fun way to do it (I plan to keep writing, though).

    @WhiteCranePhoto I love all of your ideas as well! The only problem is my current film does not have any scenes that need extras. I specifically wrote it to NOT need extras. Although, I suppose there are a few scenes I could have a few people running in the background. What are some ways I can give people opportunities to be involved with the film?

  • JBaymoreJBaymore Website User Posts: 333 Enthusiast
    edited December 2018


    Glad you liked that idea.

    BTW... about 50+ years ago I started out in college as a marine zoology major.  In high school I spent all my time in the art room though; painting, drawing, sculpture.  Took an elective art course 2nd semester in college... and that was that.  Start of a 50+ year career in art, internationally known and exhibited, work in museums in places like Japan, POR China, and South Korea, etc.. 

    A career in art is possible...and you are "working" doing something you love.  ;)



  • HeySiriHeySiri Website User Posts: 382 Just Starting Out

    @JBaymore I'm just having trouble figuring out what I could include in the behind-the-scenes video that I don't mind if only a handful of people end up getting to see... I already want to do a free behind-the-scenes, so what else can I do to give to higher-bracket donators?

  • WhiteCranePhotoWhiteCranePhoto Website User Posts: 896 Enthusiast

    @HeySiri a lot of people will jump at a chance even to be a PA on a film. :)

    And if you have a few scenes where adding some folks in the background will add depth, then you have an opportunity to fit some extras in.

    They love that, "Hey, I was in the film! See!" moments even if they have to pause to find them ;)

    My degree was in biophysics... hasn't had much influence on my career. If I'd made a career in science, I probably wouldn't be into film now, but I'm hoping to bring the two together... 


  • HeySiriHeySiri Website User Posts: 382 Just Starting Out

    @WhiteCranePhoto sorry, I'm not familiar with a lot of production terms and jobs, what does a PA (which I know means Production Assistant) do? And what could these people do as a PA?

  • WhiteCranePhotoWhiteCranePhoto Website User Posts: 896 Enthusiast

    PAs are basically general help. They end up doing everything from making runs to the coffee shop to restock the coffee to carrying stuff around to help out the crew.

    That's why their title sounds so generic... it's because it IS very generic.


  • JBaymoreJBaymore Website User Posts: 333 Enthusiast


    @JBaymore I'm just having trouble figuring out what I could include in the behind-the-scenes video that I don't mind if only a handful of people end up getting to see... I already want to do a free behind-the-scenes, so what else can I do to give to higher-bracket donators?"


    In the interest of fund raising you might find that the "making of" one needs to be reserved FOR fundraising.  Trading off "fun" for "reality".  That is a tangible item that you can use as a reward, that likely has SOME intrinsic value to people.  PARTICULALRY if you have some of them "on set" helping with the production.



  • HeySiriHeySiri Website User Posts: 382 Just Starting Out

    I set up a GoFundMe for my short film, The Survivors—If there are any random people on the forums wanting to donate, here's a link!

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