Making a Film

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So You Want to Make a Film

Young people often think I can get their films made. I am a director – a maker - not a producer so I can’t actually get other people’s films made. In fact more often than not I can’t even get funding for my own ideas. I have folders full of scripts and treatments that I love and nobody will give me money to make and I could paper a big wall with rejections. Getting backing to make films is very hard and making a good film is hard and getting people to watch your good film is even harder. I have been doing it for over thirty years and I still find it difficult. But everyone who perseveres can do it.

The good news is that anybody can make a film on their phone, download an editing programme and post it on Youtube. The problem is getting people to watch it but in the old days film was very expensive so it was literally impossible to make one independently unless you were extremely rich.

If you want a less DIY approach you need to learn some stuff. Most people who contact me, send either a sentence asking whether I would like to make a film of their lives or a paragraph outlining either their own lives or a rough idea of what the film might be. In order to get a commissioner, a producer or a production company interested you must learn how to write an outline, a treatment or a script. There are many helpful websites that explain how to do this.

If you want to write a screenplay please read some. You can find them online (make sure they are actually full screenplays and not just the dialogue transcribed by a fan.) Nobody would think they could write music without listening to some or fix a car without knowing how the engine works. You will be competing with people who have been to film school. Learn what they know. Your script can use street slang of course but it’s good to know how to play the game so your action lines are clear and easy to read.

Check out these websites - there is a lot of information if you scroll down and check out the parts that interest you:

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You can approach broadcasters directly but you will probably also need a production company to act as an umbrella for you. If a broadcaster likes your idea they will suggest one. This gives the commissioners security that the money will be spent properly and audited and that an experienced company will make sure you deliver the film.

But you might want to find the right company yourself and find a producer who will help you raise money or find a home for your project (this is not easy.) To find the right company do some online research to find people in your area. You can also look at programmes or films you like and at the end it will show you the production company. Look them up and send something to them directly. There’s no point sending a gameshow idea to a company that specializes in documentary for example.


This is a million dollar question. If I knew the answer I would make a fortune and fund all my own films easily. That is not the case. You need a bit of luck and A LOT of tenacity. Rejection is part of the game.

REGIONAL FILM Depending on the region you live in there are regional funds. There is the Scottish Film Fund (Scotland) or North West Vision (Manchester) or Screen West Midlands (Midlands) and so on. Do your research and find out what is happening in your area and what they fund. Usually they will only give you money if you get 50% of your budget from another source.

TAX BREAKS Once you have most of your funding this can account for quite a bit. Please don’t ask me about this – I haven’t a clue.

PRIVATE MONEY Investors might put money into your film. Maybe you know some rich individuals who want to invest in your film.

TRUSTS Maybe your script concerns social issues and you could approach campaigning groups. There are a lot of foundations that might invest in a film that supports their aims – if you were making a film about someone with cancer then maybe one of the cancer charities might want to help for example.

CROWD FUNDINGThere are sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo where you can upload a little video trailer asking people to contribute to your film. But attracting people to come to your site takes a lot of effort! Just putting it there doesn’t work.

You can hold fundraising events.