How to Raise Money for an Independent Film

By Nancy Wagner ; Updated September 15, 2017

Finding the money to make an independent film takes time and connections. You also need to do your homework so potential investors know you’re following a clear plan to shoot, edit and complete the film. The key is to outline the production of your film in full detail so investors feel it's worth the risk.

Pre-Production Strategy

You can't count on people investing in a project they don't believe in, which means you have to sell them on the film idea first. Test the script on others to see if they get enthused. If they're not, ask what would make the film more interesting for them, and rework your script. Next, write down your goals for the film and map out how many locations, performers and crew you'll need. The final budget has to include post-production costs as well, such as studio editing time if you can't do it with a computer.

Network of Acquaintances

Send a personal letter or email to everyone you know who might be interested in investing. Post your request on Facebook, too. Outline the subject of your film, and explain why you're so passionate about making it. Request a small contribution so those who have limited funds can still support you. Sweeten the deal by offering a benefit or two, such as a couple of tickets for small donations or a spot in the credits for larger contributions.

Online Campaigns

Develop an online crowdfunding campaign through websites such as Kickstarter and IndieGoGo to raise money from people you know as well as those you don’t. This takes planning and promotion, but, according to Indiewire, at least 14 of the filmmakers who participated in the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival used crowdfunding to raise part or all of the production money. The website should have a small clip and as much detail about the production as possible. Ask for a range of donation amounts. For instance, encourage people to make a $50 investment that includes a DVD copy of the movie, while a $1,500 investment includes a film credit.

Limited Partnerships

Some other independent filmmakers got help through an equity partner in a limited partnership. There's no one formula to finding such a partner as the website Filmmaking Stuff says it comes down to you making calls and contacts and coming up with a name. However, the most likely investor will be someone who believes in the film and wants some piece of the profits. Before meeting with such a person, research similar films that did well at the box office to show the investor your idea has moneymaking potential. The limited partnership means the investor won't have the final vote on what's in the movie, but will expect a return on his investment if the film starts making money.

About the Author

Nancy Wagner is a marketing strategist and speaker who started writing in 1998. She writes business plans for startups and established companies and teaches marketing and promotional tactics at local workshops. Wagner's business and marketing articles have appeared in "Home Business Journal," "Nation’s Business," "Emerging Business" and "The Mortgage Press," among others. She holds a B.S. from Eastern Illinois University.