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Merging Art and Commerce: A Filmmaking Philosophy

To quote producer Iain Smith OBE, “Art and money are always seen as clashing, but films are inspired by talent and sustained by money.”

The topic of art and commerce in film is a prickly one for most. The medium is universally praised as a vehicle for artistic expression and yet, the industry is predicated on the idea that success is best measured in dollars and cents.

So where does that leave all those who opt to make the films they’re passionate about, disregarding the formulas and market forces so closely followed by Hollywood?

In a state of limbo, if they’re not careful.

With the astronomical odds of ‘making it’ in the backs of everyone’s mind, it can be difficult to dare to dream and this is a dangerous mentality to adopt.

Yes, every filmmaker wants to craft a narrative that will resonate with their audience, but there’s nothing to fear from the intersection of art and commerce. In fact, it must be embraced.

The question is, should you focus your attention on getting ahead or getting your work seen?

Sidestepping Success for Perpetual Productivity

On the one hand, there is a school of thought that advocates completely ignoring the commercial appeal of filmmaking for the sake of experimentation — such as with micro-films and performance projects like Takeaway Scenes.

These are the personal projects you should take on as a way of accelerating your technical skills and increasing your knowledge of the craft of filmmaking.

That said, if your goal is to create something for consideration at film festivals or for distribution, you’ll be much better off working on short to long-form projects that require you to delve deep into the logistical and financial aspects of it.

And since making films is a costly exercise, it’s quite likely you’ll turn to the crowdfunding model as the answer. Before you do anything though, do your homework.

A Mad Dash for Crowdfunding

If you spend any time browsing the projects listed on Kickstarter, Go Fund Me or Pozible you’ll find a number of successfully funded films. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find countless more that never went very far.

It seems when independent filmmakers turn to crowdfunding en masse, they create the conditions for a very small few to obtain the funding they need and the rest then fall victim to it. The reasons for this however are not clear cut.

It could be down to the insanely high levels of competition, the overrepresentation of a particular genre, asking too much, offering too little or a combination of these if not something else entirely.

This is not to say that you should avoid crowdfunding. You shouldn’t. Just incorporate it into your production schedule and as part of your social media strategies as early as possible.

Embracing Your Entrepreneurial Spirit

The road less travelled by independent filmmakers — particularly here in Australia — is approaching various local, national and international funding options in lieu of crowdfunding.

This can include State, Territory and Federal funding bodies, free-to-air broadcasters and paid community TV channels as outlined in the Arts Law film Financing Information Sheet.

And while many filmmakers believe their chances of securing finance through these avenues are lessened due to a lack of followers or proven track record or following, there is no reason you can’t pursue co-producer ventures.

Bridging the Gap

Getting into the mindset of a business person is not for everyone but as something that can help you navigate the machinations of the industry, it can’t hurt to try.

So if you’re currently writing or editing a screenplay, planning your crowdfunding campaign or need help with writing a pitch, contact us for a consultation and quote based on your needs.

Good luck!

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