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Development and Pitching 101: Finding Alternative Funding

Photo by mscaprikell CC BY 2.0

In the good old days, it used to be that you pitched your idea to a TV network, and they gave you all the money you needed to make the programme. No longer. Today, it’s common for networks to pay a proportion of the cost of the show, which means that producers must find top up money from elsewhere.

There are a number of ways to do this:

  • Co-production funding – where two or more TV channels (usually in different countries) share the cost of production
  • Pre-sales – where a distributor gives the producer money on the basis that they will be able to sell the show into different territories
  • Sponsorship – where a brand gives money to have their name associated with the series
  • Advertiser Funded Programming – where a brand pays the full cost of production
  • Grants from film funds and foundations
  • Deficit financing – a bridging loan that can be paid back when the programme is sold
  • Private investment.

What this means in practice that the producer must pitch not once, but several times to various parties in order to raise money. The most common way to do this is on the TV festival circuit where a number of markets offer producers the opportunity to meet with potential buyers from other territories.

Take a look at upcoming TV festivals and conferences around the world.  Greenlit: Developing Factual/Reality TV Ideas From Concept to Pitch has a chapter dedicated to pitching in the international market and finding alternative sources of funding, including interviews with commissioning executives from Canada and Finland who often provide top up funding to UK and US producers.

Get an introduction to ten different kinds of funders and what they look for in a pitch: Give Me the Money and I’ll Shoot! Finance Your Factual TV/Film Project

Read more in this series:

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