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Alternative Funding

Give Me the Money and I’ll Shoot! Finance Your Factual TV/Documentary Project by Nicola Lees

Building on the success of Greenlit, this book is the most accessible guide to the traditional, emerging and creative funding models being exploited by factual TV producers and documentary filmmakers in an ever-changing international market. It introduces you to ten different kinds of funder – from international broadcasters to ordinary individuals – and reveals their very different motivations for funding non-fiction films and TV series.
Advice from industry insiders – producers, buyers, media agencies and film funding bodies – is combined with a range of case studies that illustrate the benefits and drawbacks of each source of funding. Packed with practical, actionable tips and examples of successful written proposals and grant applications (along with tales of caution), this book explains exactly what TV commissioners, grantors, brands and investors are looking for in a pitch.

“Reading this book made me feel that organizing the finance of my next project myself was not only possible, it might even be fun.” Charlotte Fisher, Producer/Director

This book delivers a crash course in funding your documentary or reality TV show and gives you the kind of vital insider knowledge that it would take years to acquire on your own. Whether you are making your very first independent documentary or are an experienced TV producer trying to find new sources of funding, there’s something for you.

“Really well researched and well written. Highly enjoyed reading it – lots of surprising tips, anecdotes and useful information.” Uli Hesse, Producer/Director

So, what’s new?

There are a number of excellent books that provide directories of funding bodies, or focus on the complexities of entertainment business contracts and legal issues, but the problem is that directories go out of date as soon as they are published and legal/business affairs books require you to have an enormous amount of specialist expertise in order to make sense of them.

Give Me the Money and I’ll Shoot! is designed to be a readable and entertaining overview to all the different kinds of funding available to you. Some are best suited to executive producers seeking to fund expensive landmark TV series, others are more appropriate for first-time filmmakers working with a micro budget.

The book is split into three parts:

PART I: The Idea

Before you go looking for funding you must make sure that your project is fully developed and that you have identified the correct market for your film. Different funders require different types of proposal, ranging from a one-page proposal for TV commissioners to a business plan for equity investors, a twenty-page grant application for foundation funding or an online pitch for crowdfunding. This section of the book helps you formulate a strong master proposal that can be adapted for different funding applications, and includes examples of different kinds of proposals.

PART II: The Funding

In these uncertain financial times, it’s likely that you’ll have to find money from several different sources to fund one film. Depending on your level of experience and the nature of the project you might need to secure money from:

  1. TV broadcasters
  2. Distributors
  3. Brands and advertisers
  4. Banks and equity investors
  5. Government sources
  6. Issue-driven organizations such as NGOs and charitable foundations
  7. Knowledge-driven funders such as universities and specialist foundations
  8. Film funds
  9. Crowdfunding
  10. Family, friends and credit cards

You’ll find out what drives each type of funder (and what will instantly turn them off), and find out how to best approach each to maximize your chances of success. You will also discover:

  • The important difference between TV co-productions, pre-sales and acquisitions
  • How to develop and pitch advertiser funded programming and the pitfalls of product placement
  • Where to find foundation and grant funding and how to fill in those fiendish application forms
  • The power of crowd-funding and why social media forms a vital part of a pitch strategy
  • Why corporations are keen to fund documentaries and the importance of retaining editorial control

Every chapter contains a jargon buster, a list of the types of TV programme/film to which that type of funding is best suited, a list of useful resources and suggested next steps.

PART III: The Reality

Twenty five international funders and producers offer their personal insights and top tips for securing development, production or post-production funding, using their own projects as up-to-the-minute case studies. Interviewees include:

They talk candidly about the frustrations of raising funding and the level of perseverance needed to overcome what can seem like insurmountable odds and pass on the things they wish they had known before they started out.

“It’s as if you’ve made the effort to track down all these industry bigwigs, plied them with drink and then listened as they spilled the beans!” Claudia Sermbezis, Wildlife Filmmaker


How do I know what I know?

Nicola Lees

I’m Nicola Lees, experienced development producer, and founder of TV Mole. I’ve spent more than 15 years in the international TV business, and have developed written and pitched hundreds of documentary, docu-drama, multi-platform and reality series for broadcasters such as the BBC, Discovery, History, TLC and the The Travel Channel, and have won approximately eighty commissions in the UK and USA. I am your guide to the frustrating and often confusing world of TV commissioning, wherever you are in the world.

But you don’t need to just take my word for it. I’ve interviewed 50 top industry names – producers and buyers – to find out what works, and what doesn’t when pitching for funding. With this entertaining peek behind the scenes you’ll see how documentaries and TV shows are REALLY funded and will be able to use the secrets of successful industry insiders to make YOUR idea a must-buy proposition.

“The inside track on TV development from one of the best developers in the business.” Saul Nassé, General Manager and Creative Head, BBC Worldwide Productions, India

Buy the book now

There are a number of ways to purchase the book, depending on where you are in the world:

United Kingdom

North America (published by Bloomsbury 15th July, 2012)

Rest of World

ISBN:9781408132968

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