Share Your Skills and Experience
On my move into producing, I was advised to firstly produce a short. Fully aware of the potentially unfavourable balance of time and reward, I wanted to increase the impact and value of the process so I offered school students the chance to work alongside me as co-producers. I designed a six-month workshop programme which culminated in us shooting our short. The students came up with a story, helped raise the budget and assisted on production. We attracted support from the Ernest Cook Trust, Movietech, Deluxe and Carrier Media, amongst others. The experience was a lot of work, but it inspired students to think about their futures and produced a product I was very proud of.
When it came to making my first feature, Brenda Lee’s multi-cultural comedy Fortune Cookies, I wanted to incorporate the same principles to help me produce the feature and add value to the whole process. The short had aroused my interest in operating truly for mutual benefit. Arguably all good businesses operate like this, but I wanted to produce the film and increase its potential while also providing a valuable educational scheme.
I worked with Northampton Academy to create a programme that aims to increase students’ engagement with learning, literacy and livelihoods through 16 weeks of workshops and work experience. For example we can offer unique literacy activities—working with our script and storyboarding—along with practical demonstrations of how our professionals use science in their world of work.
The social enterprise model is also helping us attract practical support. Our latest success has been the backing of Elstree Studios, which pledged studio space for the game show section of our shoot. The students and I are incredibly excited to be making the film at the home of British cinema, and Roger Morris, MD of Elstree Studios, is also enthused. “We like the idea of supporting young filmmakers,” he told me. “Becky is based in the east of England and had the initiative to contact us, and we were very interested in what she was trying to do. We feel what we are doing is an example of the type of contribution that facilities and studios should make to young, aspiring filmmakers. I was similarly helped when I was a film student at London Film School many years ago, and I hope other studios will take note.”
The social enterprise model has now encouraged us to use social methods of funding, and we have started a crowd-funding campaign on Sponsume.com. In many other campaigns I’d seen lots of rewards that, personally, I wouldn’t buy—such as DVDs of shorts—so I was keen to make our perks appeal to the wider public by offering such opportunities as set visits (for a £60 donation).
I think the key to crowd-funding is having a following before you start. Initially my game plan had been to sell to the wider public, but it soon became clear that this would require a huge campaign. I’ve now realised it is about making meaningful connections with interested parties through things like social media, which requires time and personal investment. It is easy to be cynical about the sincerity of social networking but I’m enjoying building a network of excited people—even if I did start a little late—and do get a genuine warm feeling inside when someone backs our project with their hard-earned cash.
Part 5 – Screenwriters Can Benefit Too (Raoul Tawadey, CEO / Founder, Circalit)
Taken from movieScope magazine, Issue 28 (May/June 2012)
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