Why we created this book
I started putting film funds online at the end of 1999 because as a young film student I was struggling to understand the complex and mysterious world of film finance and rights sales. Excited by how the Internet could improve things for filmmakers, I quit university with Tom Fogg and we set up Netribution.
We put a free film funding guide up on our site, which was partly based on Chris Chandler's excellent Lowdown leaflet for the BFI. It gradually got expanded - Stephen Salter updated it considerably and Focal Press offered us a book deal. In the end we decided to self publish with Shooting People, who funded and promoted the first edition, co-written with Caroline Hancock - Get Your Film Funded covering the UK ('the banana book').
In 2005, after leaving Shooting People, the book returned in partnership with Adam P Davies under Netribution and was updated a third time in 2007 as a global edition, in partnership with dozens of lawyers and writers around the world with info on 50+ regions. It nearly killed us to create - but was a breakthru book, nothing had covered global film finance in such depth before.
Over three editions, and with some 11,500 copies sold, I've tried to hold true to some basic ideas:
1 - No glass ceiling of knowledge: all information for everyone
There are many levels of filmmaking - from no-budget shorts, to bootstrapped micro-documentaries through to big-budget international co-porducitons. A filmmaker in their career may move between any of these places. Someone just starting could learn as much about high-end packaging, as someone at a big budget level can learn about micro-budgets. Some people suggested we should create two books - a 'high-end' and 'low-end' but this two-tier film industry seems to becoming less relevent: we all make moving image and want an audience, whatever the budget.
2 - Keep it affordable: one day free?
It has also been suggested that we should just make a £150 book for 'serious producers', and while we might be richer if we did, the motivation has never been to do this book for profit: it's to make enough money to create something good, while leaving me some spare time (and inspiration) to write and make the odd film. So it's integeral to the book that it should be affordable to people at all income levels - anywhere in the world. The goal of making it free is a long way off - we can't do it all unpaid - but as we start to move back online, more of it could be available free.
3 - Get the best writers and proven case studies
I can't pretend to be a successful producer - I'm a writer and aspiring filmmaker trying to understand how to fund films in the digital age. So my focus is on working with the best people - and we have been lucky with this book to get input from some world-class film finance advisers and outstanding writers. On the last edition, as well as seasoned financier and lawyer Adam P Davies - who co-wrote and helped publish it, we had local guides written by dozens of experts and lawyers around the world, backed up with case studies and interviews spanning from Jeremy Thomas, Roy Disney & Nik Powell to Lance Weiller, Jim Gilliam & Jan Dunn. In getting such a breadth of insight and inspiration into a book we hopefully get the best in thinking across the film world. This can throw up interesting things: in the 2007 edition we profiled - before Kickstarter & Indiegogo - a feature that had crowdfunded over email; and another that went on to be YouTube's first streamed-feature film, which made back its budget through adverts.
The motivation for doing all this now is the same as in 1999 - it's a question I want to know the answer to: how do you fund a film in this landscape? How do you make a business around your ideas to be able to keep on making films without jeopardising your creativity and freedom?
Of course, on one level, you just should grab a DSLR or camera phone and start making something. But how to progress beyond that? Much knowledge has been kept in closed circles and subject to expensive advisers and courses, so we've tried to put as much as we can in one book for around the price of a night at the cinema.
Nic Wistreich, editor, Film Finance Handbook/Kit
Film is a tyranny, and the tyrant is money. The great thing is that, in spite of that, impossibly, some people keep on smuggling out messages of hope from the other side, past the tyrant. I mean, there shouldn't be one good movie made given the way it's structured, and yet there are many good movies made. That seems to be implausible and marvelous at the same time
Writer of Australia, Richard Flanagan