Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Steve Carell Redefined His Career By Surprising Everyone in 'Foxcatcher' Steve Carell Redefined His Career By Surprising Everyone in 'Foxcatcher' Watch: Ellar Coltrane on the 'Brutal' Experience of Watching 'Boyhood' After Living It Watch: Ellar Coltrane on the 'Brutal' Experience of Watching 'Boyhood' After Living It Mortem Tyldum Explains Why Alan Turing Was the Right Subject For His First English-Language Film Mortem Tyldum Explains Why Alan Turing Was the Right Subject For His First English-Language Film Why Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ is a Great, Unexpected Awards Season Frontrunner Why Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ is a Great, Unexpected Awards Season Frontrunner Watch: Patricia Arquette on Stripping Away Ego to Get to the Heart of 'Boyhood' 
Watch: Patricia Arquette on Stripping Away Ego to Get to the Heart of 'Boyhood' 'Whiplash' Breakout Miles Teller Has Officially Arrived 'Whiplash' Breakout Miles Teller Has Officially Arrived Michael Keaton Dug Deep to Deliver the Best Performance of His Career in 'Birdman' Michael Keaton Dug Deep to Deliver the Best Performance of His Career in 'Birdman' Mark Ruffalo Explains Why Dave Schultz Was One of the Most Complex Characters He's Ever Played Mark Ruffalo Explains Why Dave Schultz Was One of the Most Complex Characters He's Ever Played Keira Knightley on 'The Imitation Game' and Why Awards Matter Keira Knightley on 'The Imitation Game' and Why Awards Matter Katherine Waterston On the Good and Bad of Working With Paul Thomas Anderson Katherine Waterston On the Good and Bad of Working With Paul Thomas Anderson Emma Stone Proved She Can Do It All in 2014 Emma Stone Proved She Can Do It All in 2014 Jon Stewart is Off to a Strong Start with Directorial Debut 'Rosewater' Jon Stewart is Off to a Strong Start with Directorial Debut 'Rosewater' Awards Spotlight: Don't Be Surprised When J.K. Simmons Takes Home Oscar Awards Spotlight: Don't Be Surprised When J.K. Simmons Takes Home Oscar Jessica Chastain Proved She's a Total Chameleon in 2014 Jessica Chastain Proved She's a Total Chameleon in 2014 Laura Poitras on 'CITIZENFOUR,' The Most Dangerous Work She's Ever Done Laura Poitras on 'CITIZENFOUR,' The Most Dangerous Work She's Ever Done Jake Gyllenhaal On Doing Very Bad Things in 'Nightcrawler' Jake Gyllenhaal On Doing Very Bad Things in 'Nightcrawler' Channing Tatum Explains Why It Took Him Eight Years to Have the ‘Balls’ for ‘Foxcatcher’ Channing Tatum Explains Why It Took Him Eight Years to Have the ‘Balls’ for ‘Foxcatcher’ Ethan Hawke Didn't Know That Richard Linklater Would Bring 'Boyhood' Home So Well Ethan Hawke Didn't Know That Richard Linklater Would Bring 'Boyhood' Home So Well Jack O'Connell Explains What It’s Like to Work For Angelina Jolie Jack O'Connell Explains What It’s Like to Work For Angelina Jolie 'Red Army' Director Gabe Polsky Reveals the Story of Soviet Hockey 'Red Army' Director Gabe Polsky Reveals the Story of Soviet Hockey How Felicity Jones is Getting Noticed This Awards Season How Felicity Jones is Getting Noticed This Awards Season Edward Norton Goes Full-Blown For Alejandro González Iñárritu in 'Birdman' Edward Norton Goes Full-Blown For Alejandro González Iñárritu in 'Birdman' How Eddie Redmayne Transformed His Body and Mind to Become Stephen Hawking How Eddie Redmayne Transformed His Body and Mind to Become Stephen Hawking Oscar Isaac Explains How 'A Most Violent Year' Fits With His Other Roles Oscar Isaac Explains How 'A Most Violent Year' Fits With His Other Roles Timothy Spall Almost Went Mad to Play 'Mr. Turner' For Mike Leigh Timothy Spall Almost Went Mad to Play 'Mr. Turner' For Mike Leigh 'Gone Girl' Composer Atticus Ross: How to Write a Score Without Seeing the Film 'Gone Girl' Composer Atticus Ross: How to Write a Score Without Seeing the Film How to Play James Brown, By Chadwick Boseman: Study the Man, Listen to Drake How to Play James Brown, By Chadwick Boseman: Study the Man, Listen to Drake Chris Rock on Why Making 'Top Five' Was a No-Brainer Chris Rock on Why Making 'Top Five' Was a No-Brainer Steve James and Chaz Ebert Tackled 'Life Itself' Steve James and Chaz Ebert Tackled 'Life Itself' Bennett Miller Explains Why He Had to Make 'Foxcatcher' Bennett Miller Explains Why He Had to Make 'Foxcatcher' How Do You Roll Six Movies Into One? 'Wild Tales' Director Damian Szifron Explains How Do You Roll Six Movies Into One? 'Wild Tales' Director Damian Szifron Explains How Rosario Dawson Stole the Show From Chris Rock in 'Top Five' How Rosario Dawson Stole the Show From Chris Rock in 'Top Five' Alan Hicks: From Drummer-Surfer to Oscar-Shortlist Filmmaker Alan Hicks: From Drummer-Surfer to Oscar-Shortlist Filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu: 'Birdman' Could Have Been 'so wrong' Alejandro González Iñárritu: 'Birdman' Could Have Been 'so wrong' Amir Bar-Lev Likes to Make People a Little Uncomfortable Amir Bar-Lev Likes to Make People a Little Uncomfortable

7 Tips For Funding Your Doc Without Selling Your Soul

By Chris Pomorski | Indiewire September 19, 2012 at 11:41AM

The panel discussions at Sheffield Doc/Fest earlier this year included a 90-minute session on the ethically fraught territory of documentary fundraising. "Fund Your Doc, but at What Price?" was moderated by Claire Fox, director of the Institute of Ideas, and included Mette Hoffman Meyer of Denmark's DR TV, critic Jennifer Merin, the BBC's Nick Fraser, and Alex Connock, from Shine UK.
0
Sheffield DocFest

The panel discussions at Sheffield Doc/Fest earlier this year included a 90-minute session on the ethically fraught territory of documentary fundraising. "Fund Your Doc, but at What Price?" was moderated by Claire Fox, director of the Institute of Ideas, and included Mette Hoffman Meyer of Denmark's DR TV, critic Jennifer Merin, the BBC's Nick Fraser, and Alex Connock, from Shine UK.

"All art is propaganda," Fraser reminded the audience, echoing George Orwell. Still, even shades of grey can create stark contrasts, and for filmmakers serious about keeping their work firmly outside the category of branded content, it is worth drawing distinctions.

Though the group spent much time lamenting the often-unavoidable compromises in objectivity that come with accepting money from corporations, NGOs, charities, and other potentially slanted sources, from generalized frustration and discontent there emerged a number of insights useful to documentarians eager to fund their films without selling their souls:


1. Before speaking with potential funders, know exactly what you want and understand your long-term objectives.

2. Be wary of funders seemingly more interested in confirming a presumption than investigating an argument or a set of conditions. There should be no true conclusion to a story in a documentary, Merin told the audience, as documentaries concern themselves with situations that continue to exist and develop beyond the lens.

3. Agree ahead of time with investors to the terms of their contributions, so that their is no confusion later about their right to influence or edit your content. Be sure when accepting money that it has no strings attached. That might seem like a quixotic ideal, but Fraser insisted that it was still realistic and that filmmakers ought to strive to achieve it.

4. Merin offered a standard she said her friend, the filmmaker Anne Aghion uses.  Aghion, she said, never accepts majority funding from any one entity. That way she can never be accused of having been influenced unduly by any single corporation, NGO, charity, or individual.

5. Be brutal with yourself about when what you are doing or accepting moves you toward propaganda. Be unwilling to cut yourself slack when you feel yourself being nudged by financiers to achieve an agenda in which you do not believe.

6. On the other hand, if you do your research and establish your parameters of independence and objectivity ahead of time, and a potential backer remains interested, go for it. "If the company is mysteriously benign and is gonna give you the cash, fine," Fraser said.

7. If at all possible, work with public broadcasters, like the BBC or PBS. "I can tell you with my hand on my heart," said Fraser, "they are just about as independent as you can get under the circumstances."

Watch the whole panel here:

This article is related to: Sheffield Doc/Fest, Filmmaker Toolkit: Documentaries






Check out Indiewire on LockerDome on LockerDome



Awards Season Spotlight

Contender Conversations

Indiewire celebrates the best and brightest from Independent film, Hollywood, and foreign cinema.

More