Writing a grant - the lowdown
For 95% of most grants, they want nothing to do with FILM or COMMERCIAL industries
--Remember that before writing a grant to keep in mind that they will give you the grant if you expand the ARTIST soul inside you and you can become a better person by making this project
--Fostering ARTIST growth for ARTISTS
The Jury members are not PRODUCERS but other ARTISTS
The key is to not get them bored. Appeal to them
When grant writing you need to differentiate your film from other films that are similar to yours
--Yours could be current. Last film made about this subject was a long time ago or never
--Yours could be more in depth, maybe a short or a feature
--Yours could be intended for a different audience
--Yours could have a whole new angle on the subject
When checking your target audience ASK: WHO WILL NOT LIKE OR NEED THIS PROGRAM?
What audiences do you want to reach?
What is the easiest audience to reach?
Who do you most want to reach?
Talk to a distributor as early as possible when doing the project
Distributors get a sense of whether or not there is a need for your program in the marketplace
When writing your time line section in the grant, make sure you add the following:
The jury spends a whole lot of time looking over the budget
When writing a grant the budget needs to be detailed but LESS is always MORE
THE JURY IS LOOKING AT TWO THINGS
1) Are they going to pull it off
2) Artistic merit
PAY YOURSELF - Funders hate to see budgets where filmmakers have undervalued their time
COMPARABLE AND FAIR - Do not LOW BALL or HIGH BALL items in your budget. Set a price for every item in your budget which is fair, reasonable and comparable
-In determining wages for personnEl, consider their skill and experience
ADD IN KIND DONATIONS - This is when someone or a business provides time or services to the project for FREE. When writing a grant bear in mind that funders appreciate when this is in the budget.
-Research and developing
-Script development and writing
-Production: including travel, equipment rental, crew salaries, tapes and film stocks
-Post-production: edit suite rentals, film processing, sound, music, rights, archival material, purchase etc...
WHEN WRITING A GRANT LEARN AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE ABOUT EACH FUNDER AND THEN TAILOR EACH REQUEST DIFFERENTLY AND SPECIFICALLY TO EVERY FOUNDATION
RESEARCH AND FIND ALL POTENTIAL FUNDERS - THERE'S ALWAYS ONE IN YOUR AREA FOR LOCALS
THE RATE OF SUCCESS IN WRITING A GRANT WILL DEPEND ON
-The nature and timelines of the project
-The range and effectiveness of the research
-The quality and energy of your personal approach
-The strength of the written formal proposal
For each funder, discover:
-Who is the head of the foundation?
-Who makes the final decision on grants?
-Who is an influential program officer or intermediary with whom you must work?
SOONER OF LATER YOU WANT TO TALK WITH ALL OF THESE PEOPLE
-Statistics show that at least 70% of all grants awarded involve some form of personal contact -- by phone or in person
The filmmakers who are persistent about trying to see the funder and are not obnoxious are the ones who tend to be the most successful at getting grants from the foundation
Filmmakers writing a grant and funders offering grants are engaged in a ritual-mating dance. Both are looking for a compatible partner
THE WRITTEN WORD
CLARITY Ė SIMPLICITY
LESS IS ALWAYS MORE
BE VERY CONSISE WITH WHAT YOU WANT TO SAY
It must have INTELLECT and PASSION
Write from a PERSONAL experience
What makes it close to your heart?
What is your search?
What is you mission?
What do you want to tell?
It needs to show that the filmmaker is totally committed to the project and ardent about the subject matter
ELEMENTS OF A FULL PROPOSAL WHEN WRITING A GRANT
-Table of contents
-Case statement proving that there is a need for the project
-A description of your intended audience
-The project's history, including how and why you become involved
-A brief treatment (1-2 pages) and if a dramatic project, the script
-Production plans and a time line
-Budget summary followed by a detailed budget
-Full resumes of all personnel
-Promo reel or work sample
THE COVER LETTER
-Addressed to the appropriate person
-Start off by referring to your recent phone or in-person contact with that person or someone else on staff
Summarize nature of project
How much money requested?
How the money will be used
Other funders/key people who have give support on project
DO NOT mention anything in the cover letter that is not explained in the formal proposal
THE TITLE PAGE
THE TABLE OF CONTENTS
Only if ten pages or more
NOTE: If you're writing a typical film grant proposal make sure your application isn't longer than 25 pages. Short and sweet. Imagine that you have to read over 100 applications. The short ones are the ones you're going to like best. It's human nature
-Format - 16mm, HD etc.
-Color or B&W
-Type of work - drama, Doc etc.
-Most important part of any proposal
-Mission of the film
-Need to prove to the world why this program is needed
-Targeted audience for the work
-Be as specific as possible about the types of people you want to reach
BRIEF HISTORY OF PROJECT AND PERSONAL INVOLVEMENT
-Personalize the proposal and provide background of your commitment
-Research notes -- shooting that has been undertaken etc.
-No more than two single spaced pages
-Whisk teh reader from the opening to the closing credits of your programs
-Make the writing visual
-Let them know what style will be used in shooting
-How you will approach the subject
-What the major events are?
-Where and when will you undertake production?
-What must you overcome during production - equipment, personnel, travel etc.?
-First off, why are YOU the right person for this job?
-Fill your team that fit the strengths you need to go with what you're unfamiliar about. Ex. If you have limited knowledge of film cameras and lighting, fill your team with a very experiened Director of Photography
-When writing a grant include a short paragraph of yourself and three or four of the most important people on the crew
-Convince reader that the whole crew is experienced and knowledgeable in their areas of expertise
-List all possible markets
-Mention whether the program will be self-distributed or given to professional distributors.
-Just let them know that you've done your homework
YOUR FUNDING STRATEGY
-How will you raise the rest of the money? (for some ideas, check out joint ventures)
-Show how many activities have already been completed and where you currently sit on the time line (see above notes)
-Two budgets - first is a one page summary of your detailed budget that gives reader a quick overview of the expenses
-Then attach a full completed budget. Make sure you detailed your shooting ratio
LETTERS OF SUPPORT
-Effective way to share up the credibility of you and your program
-Make it a habit to gather these letters throughout your life as a professional
-2 to 3 per proposal - nothing more
FULL RESUMES OF PERSONNEL
PROMO REEL OR WORK SAMPLE
AFTER GRANT IS SUBMITTED
Call your program officer about 10 to 14 days after submitting document
Sample phone call:
ďIím calling to make sure that my proposal arrived safely and to ask if you have had a chance to look at it yet. Does everything seem in order? Are there any questions I can answer about the proposal?
IF YOU GET THE GRANT
Call and thank the program officer. Write a short sincere letter of thanks to the director of the funding agency
STAY IN TOUCH THROUGHOUT PRODUCTION
Arrange for supporters to see the work once itís complete
IF YOU DONíT GET THE GRANT
Make a call to the funder:
Ask since the letter is very general, if they could tell you a bit more about what happened during the panel meeting and why the project did not get funded? Are there and changes they could suggest you make to strengthen your proposal as you go to other funders?
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