Friday, January 4, 2013

How To Pitch Your Documentary Idea and Write an effective Documentary Proposal To Get Funding

How To Pitch Your Documentary Idea and Write an effective Documentary Proposal To Get Funding

So you have a overwhelming documentary idea and you just need some cash to get it going. Where do you go? How do you find funds?

One of the first things you'll need to do is write a Documentary Proposal. A proposal not only helps explain the scheme to possible funders and supporters, it's a great practice to get You the filmmaker thinking through all the details. Basically, a Documentary Proposal is your film's company plan.

Here are the key elements you'll need to comprise in a documentary proposal: synopsis, scheme overview, treatment, style/tone of project, output schedule, interview subjects, crew bios, advisors/experts, partnerships, target audience, budget, fundraising plan and distribution strategy.

There is often a lot of overlap when describing the synopsis, scheme report and treatment. There is no right or wrong answer. One way to think about it is to say that the synopsis is a short 1-2 paragraph summary of your project. The summary is a longer synopsis that goes into more information about the project, possibly 1-2 pages in length. And the treatment is more like a script, describing exact scenes and quotes. A treatment is often difficult to write at the beginning of a scheme since the nature of a documentary is that it can't be "written" until after it's been shot, so I would say together with a treatment in your proposal is elective unless specifically requested.

An efficient documentary proposal will respond the following questions:
Why this documentary, why now? Why is this documentary dissimilar from any other film ever made? Why are You the one to make this documentary? What gives you and your team the credibility to be trusted with donated money (experience, partnerships, advisory board, fiscal sponsor, letters of support, etc) What unique entrance or connections do you have for production the film?

The big picture goal for a documentary pitch or documentary proposal is to build Credibility. You do that by putting together a well-written proposal, having an experienced team (if not you, that can be crew, advisors or partners), having a compelling film concept, a well-thought out plan and a realistic budget.

Once you have your proposal together, now it's time to start production your pitch. If you are a new filmmaker, my best guidance is to avoid the big foundations and grants and go after the "low hanging fruit." Find people who are already passionate about the field matter of your film and see what connections they have. Basically, you want to go through the "back door" to find your funding. Maybe a friend's uncle is the Ceo of a local million dollar company. Or possibly your favorite college professor is friends with the executor of a small family foundation. Leave no rock left unturned.

The last thing you want to do is say, hey, who's the richest guy in town and let's go after him. Does the guy already have a proven interest in the field of your film or in art/film projects? Do you know man with a personal association to the guy who can pitch the scheme on your behalf? If no, then don't waste your time or theirs.

Find natural connections to people who are already pre-sold on the theme of your documentary scheme and send them your proposal. They already know the field matter of the film is important, now all you have to do is convince them that You know how to get the job done.


Post a Comment