Here’s How the AFI FEST 2015 Filmmakers Funded Their Films

Here's How the AFI FEST 2015 Filmmakers Funded Their Films
Here's How the AFI FEST 2015 Filmmakers Funded Their Films

In advance of the 2015 AFI FEST, Indiewire sent out a questionnaire to filmmakers with films in competition asking them a variety of questions about their projects. We asked this year’s crop of AFI FEST filmmakers how they financed their projects and if they used crowdfunding. Below is a selection of their responses, which help to demystify the funding process for indie films:

READ MORE: From ‘Blue Velvet’ to ‘The Virgin Suicides’: Here are the Films that Inspired the 2015 AFI FEST Filmmkers

“We financed it through grants, private equity, crowdfunding and a lot of begging.” – Chloé Zhao, “Songs My Brothers Taught Me”

“Arts organizations like Sundance and Creative Capital and Tribeca and Guggenheim funded development. They helped keep us alive while writing and working. But finally one investor put up the modest shooting budget. The New Zealand Film Commission (I immigrated here a few years ago as a tax-paying resident) funded the post. There was a small crowdfund thing that the producers ran at the end.” – Jake Mahaffy, “Free in Deed”

“The project was financed through a combination of crowdfunding, investments, sponsorships, organizational partnerships, media grants and deferrals.” – Brad Allgood, “Landfill Harmonic”

“Self-financed. Myself and my dad. He really earned that exec producer credit!” – Nicholas Brooks, “Sam”

“This film was produced by Burning Blue — they are are friends that I met during the shooting of ‘Towrope (La Sirga).’ I was an assistant at that time, and after I presented them with the script, everything started. They helped source funding and resources in Colombia and Chile, as well as finding other partners. It was great to find people who have the same interest in cinema that I have.” – César Acevedo, “Land and Shade”

“It was financed by grants, the European way. Most of the money came from The Icelandic Film Centre. We also got a grant from the Danish Film Institute and 20% tax refund in Iceland.” – Grimur Hakonarson, “RAMS”

“It was a co-production between Colombia, Argentina and Venezuela. We were not able to find support from Europe, but we were able to set it up as an entirely Latin American film, which we are proud of.” – Ciro Guerra, “Embrace of the Serpent”

“I did crowdfund! After many unsuccessful attempts at getting this dance-driven, dialogue-free film about a virgin mother’s pilgrimage to Las Vegas funded in a traditional way… HA! I turned to the audience that I had built over the years of sharing all of my short films and dance videos online, and asked them to help me make my feature. It was such an incredible and overwhelming response that resulted in 53k raised. From there I had a few executive producers come on board and give in bigger ways; as well as making my own investment.” – Celia Rowlson-Hall, “MA”

“Mostly from public sources: National Film Centers of Romania, Czech Republic and Bulgaria, Eurimages etc.” – Radu Jude, “Aferim!”

“We financed it through Kickstarter and a few private investors.” – Nathan Silver, “Stinking Heaven”

“With no financial support at all. We shot at the apartment we were living in France, me and my wife, like a home movie. The post-production took us more money than the production itself.” – Guto Parente, “The Mysterious Death of Pérola”
“I did not crowfund. That system does not quite work in Argentina yet when you want to finance a feature. I was approached by Jeonju International Film Festival (South Korea) to be part of their Jeonju Cinema Projects, an initiative by which three filmmakers from around the world are invited to produce a feature to play at the festival´s next edition. They gave us about $90.000. The film ended costing about twice that amount and the rest of the money came from Argentina´s public funding system for film.” – Benjamin Naishtat, “El Movimiento”

“We financed the film with a $50,000 Kickstarter. Honestly, my family members put an inordinate amount in, they were so worried we wouldn’t make the goal. It’s criminal how much money I’ve taken from family members over the years for films. But they still have houses and are clothed and they seem to have no regrets. They were excited because ‘Funny Bunny’ was made for my mother’s cousin, who had a tragic life, which she ended in 1976. I made the film just for her. About $35,000 of the Kickstarter came from friends and strangers.” – Alison Bagnall, “Funny Bunny”

READ MORE: Attention, First-Time Filmmakers: Here’s the Best Advice from the 2015 AFI Fest Filmmakers

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