Short filmmakers go through a lot to put their indie films on show. They struggle with resources, have budget difficulties, limitations of mediums to upload their creation, and the uncertainty of not getting any recognition or financial return.
This applies to everyone, whether someone shoots for their first film or a series of films. Creators always need clarification on how their short films will make money.
In this article, we will describe how to make money from your independent film. We will also talk about some important aspects of independent filmmaking.
Let’s get started-
What Is A Short Film?
Remember Taylor Swift’s latest directorial debut in short film- ‘All Too Well: The Short Film’?
That should ring a bell about the magnanimity of short films..
But what exactly is a short film? Should we care to introspect?!
It is simply a motion picture like a movie or a documentary except, it spans for only a brief amount of time, say 15-20 minutes, in general. The magic it wields in such a restrained length of time of the short film makes it one of the ideal choices of entertainment for viewers.
How To Make A Short Film?
In this age of technology, making a short film is possible even with just your smartphone. You can always use professional-grade filming equipment; however, if you are on a budget, your phone can simply replace this equipment.
There are a few steps that, if you follow, the overall filmmaking process becomes simplified. Let’s list down the steps here-
Step 1: Create a Plan
The very first step is to have a plan and execute things accordingly. Without a solid plan, there are chances that you might get stuck in between because you didn’t plan an outline.
Answer the following questions to get help in planning process:
- What is your story for your short film? Is it worth telling?
- Who will your people be?
- Where will the shoot happen?
- What are all the things will you need?
- What is your budget?
Step 2: Write A Script
Before filming, it is important to have a script in hand. No matter how expert you are at managing everything, nothing will come out of it if your storyline is not strong.
A simple yet effective script would be to keep it short with a unique concept with a twist at the end!
Step 3: Select Collaborators
The third step is to choose the people you would be working with. Although it is not a compulsion to have collaborators, it always helps to see your film from different perspectives and receive constructive feedback.
Step 4: Practice Different Steps
- Perform table reading as it will help to find any loopholes in the script.
- Do storyboarding to bring more clarity to the project.
- Next is previsualization where you previsualize all the scenes beforehand.
- Discuss the budget and clarify everything related to it.
Step 5: Film
The number of shots depends on how large your crew is; larger groups should limit themselves to 10 shots per day. Watch all the shots before packing up.
Step 6: And Finally, Edit!
The final step is to watch the entire shooting and make the necessary edits. A film is never completed without editing, and you should never suppose that you do not require editing.
Do Short Films Require a Business Plan?
Like every business needs a plan, producing a short film also needs one. Anything you are building from scratch and ending up into a masterpiece has more chances to succeed if created using a plan.
A short film might sound like needing no plan because, as its name implies, it is a short film. However, the film has stages involved, and many people will be involved in performing different activities. So this might not be as complicated as creating a regular-length film, but it still requires a plan.
A business plan for a short film doesn’t just give you clarity; it also works for necessary grants. For example, if you need investors for your film, you need to present them something, and that’s where a business plan for a short film takes place!
All the stakeholders need something solid to believe in your short film creation abilities; having a business plan keeps short film creators from going blank during discussions with authorities.
Steps involved in creating a short film business plan:
(1) A Summary: Start with writing the summary of your film, which will include the film’s concept, your target audience, budget estimate, and important entities.
(2) Film Concept: The next part will include an overview of your film’s script and genre. This part should also include a logline and treatment. A logline gives an idea about your script, and a treatment tells about the important parts, such as the main characters, antagonists, and a teaser.
(3) Market Analysis: As the next part, include a deeper idea about your target audience, competitors, success rate estimation, and ways to generate revenue from your film.
(4) Production Plan: This part explains the budget allocation to different parts, the shooting schedule, and where and how the important people will play their roles.
(5) Distribution Strategy: As the name implies, this part tells about the possible channels by which you would market your film and let your audience know about it.
(6) Management Team: Short video filmmakers should then describe the people involved in the film. You can explain their professional background, experience, and such things.
At last, give a summary of your overall business plan, such as all the points that you involved in your plan. It is advised that you talk positively about the potential of your film.
How To Make Money From Short Films?
Independent films or short films might end up within a few minutes. However, that doesn’t mean they are easy on the pocket. Since a movie includes casting many people, managing the staff, handling expensive gear, and other things, they charge a significant amount to be completed.
Since independent movies are created mainly by individual creators, it is natural to expect some financial return from your creations. Advertising your film well via effective platforms increases your chances of earning money from your indie film.
Below are some of the best ways that can guarantee you maximum financial success-
Utilize Advertising Model
The concept suggests that you [short movie makers], get aboard a monetization platform like YouTube that lets video creators monetize their videos by essentially running ads on them, upload your short film(s) and wait for advertisers to make you a deal.
YouTube selectively picks out worthy creators from all who are eligible as per their rules and confers them with the authorization to create a revenue stream from advertisers publishing their ads anywhere within the creator’s video.
If you are in favor of this platform, then you must be notified of its revenue potential which is not of a remarkable deal yet it suffices to keep you afloat in dire circumstances of financial needs. Additionally, in case you try and achieve a status of virality for your short film then that might hike up the “monetizability” of the video.
Product Placement/Embedded Marketing
Retail brands are always vying to place their brand in front of mass gatherings and what might better entail this ideality than a movie audience. Whether they are all gathered under one roof or accounted for individually in the haven of their homes, they are the mass.
As you might also know, these same brands tend to get cinematic when taking ads to compete with the emotionality of the target audience. So start dreaming of roping in a brand that will be subtly highlighted in your short film.
But there is a teeny thing that must be ensured to find brands for such a collab (sic)- your filmography must have gained some traction to be chased after by prospective clients. So work on that if you would like to hit it off with this idea.
Send your film to Film Festivals
Filmmakers cannot feel more in the hood than they could feel at a Short Film Festival. What else could be this authentic in terms of a recognition & reward by their very own fraternity?!
All you need is solid confidence in your work as well as self-attestable merit in your work too. Since that could necessarily be what the best festivals of this category look for amongst contestants.
Though, you are expected to be quite nifty with the entry guidelines of festivals if you are to crack the code of monetization through the reward system of short film festivals. Some of the festivals in the circuit expect distinctively fresh application that connotes not entering other festivals with the same work.
Let crowd fund through Crowdfunding
If you want crowdfunding to work, approach different platforms that let creators ask the crowd for funds. It is always a good idea to ask for the minimum amount, as it gives you more chances of being funded.
Even if the funding does not work well, it will give people an idea about your creation and will help spread awareness.
Further on how independent films get funding, it is also advised to ask for support from family and friends if possible. Looking for grants or getting a loan is also an option to fund your short film.
Get paid by brands
Unlike the other concepts of marketing associated with content, this is quite brainier. In fact the whole basis of this idea is to reflect well on the servicial value of the brand under spotlight.
Another point of attraction here would be, the brand invitingly pays short film creators to create content of value admissible for both parties of a pretty commercial deal.
Sure enough with this idea, the filmmaker tends to feel a little restrained in exhibiting their creativity owing to the technicality of brand correlation. Yet I suppose it shall fetch you a returns value of interest if you get over the said frustration.
Case in point, a 2001 marketing campaign rendered as “The Hire” initiated by the car company of BMW released a series of short films that featured reputed directors in their cars.
These films were broadcasted on Television via DVD whose retailing was promoted on magazines.
Once these films did a full round through the target audience of BMW, the initiative’s value started to show off around 2005, It had achieved a mark of 100 million views by then amongst other accolades in the category.
Provide Corporate Support
A proven way to make sustainable income within the subdomain of short filmmaking is to cinch a corporate deal. These corporations accept creative– to an extent– collaboration with creators of movies in short formats to produce content majorly for video marketing purposes.
Their requirement is not to touch the general audience of the larger public, rather their intention is to employ these media in support of their internal campaigns targeting specific audiences. So naturally they tend to be not particular about hiring the services of senior filmmakers.
New and upcoming filmmakers can thrive on this business concept. Making thematic movies for associations or corporations is potent of begetting successive deals and does not let the filmmaker put in their own movie which in itself makes it a sweet & secure one of a deal.
This idea is based around the subsumption of your short films by an ott video platform. If you are an independent short film maker who has long slogged your way to a bit of recognition in this field then you may very well pitch to ott platforms concerning entertainment such as GUDSHO, for an instant reference, amongst others.
Such an acquisition could make up leeway in your financially tight situation as well as bring you confidence over the fact that your work is worthy enough of space on ott. It should also take your work to a far wider audience than you could otherwise aim for without the arsenal of an ott technology that is happening in the current world.
Content acquisition by otts can be an empowering and high-paying deal for filmmakers like yourself. So if your filmography and resources are convincing enough to make the deal for you then do not miss out on this opportunity.
Sometimes all we need is a single opportunity for a massive launch off in our fields. Same goes for movie makers too. If you are the possessor of a much adulated short film that has got a global perspective.
Then you should seriously consider monetizing it extensively in terms of multilingual release. Dub it off in other languages for visibility in its respective regions, you would have set your content up for international domination.
Doesn’t this provide for in more than one way. You are gaining the income from wherever your short film is up and running alongside a multinational marketing outcome.
Get yourself recognized with Awards
Running for all the genuine awards in your circuit opens you up to a pretty broad window of opportunity in monetization. Since these awards primarily exist to acknowledge the works of filmmakers like yourself,
Why not foray into this avenue for revenue generation?
If you also gain a knack for applying to these awards on the basis of favorability for your case then you might be set for this game.
But know that your chances aren’t essentially slimmed down by this, there is an indefinite number of festivals out there from small to big, right up till the Oscars. So try your luck every way and hope for the best.
Seek out sponsorships from affluent producers and connoisseurs in the media industry. They are always scouting for the next big talent in the industry. So hop onto that chase and bet on your chance at it.
Sometimes these big money people do not need an introduction to filmmakers who have swept awards for best filmmaking or best filmmaker giving them a predisposed advantage at helping their project get off the ground.
And if your sponsor has a brand to their name then you could suggest roping their brand into your project to lend any tangible advantage to them in return for sponsoring your short film. If you land a sponsorship deal then there is also a chance for you to attend to other supplementary aspects of your project such as marketing and promotions.
Is It Wise To Look At Money While Making Short Films?
Short film creators can generate money, but the answer depends on how strong your script is and what medium you use to distribute your film.
Creators should not expect to sell it to platforms like Netflix or Disney because that’s only going to bring disappointments. However, if they want to have some financial returns on their creation, it is surely possible.
Yes, you can look at money while making short films!
Now, the question arises “how will you generate this money?” The most direct and practical way to distribute films in this digital age is to use online streaming platforms.
Since every individual looks upon streaming platforms for educational and entertainment purposes, using such platforms would serve you with more financial opportunities.
Here are some of the platforms you can consider to distribute your film-
Selling your film to a well-known platform like Netflix doesn’t happen daily, but you can still post your film to YouTube. By publishing your film on YouTube, you can monetize the same and earn via views and advertisements, among other ways to earn on YouTube.
The most common way to earn for short film video makers is by monetizing content and using advert clicks. To monetize your YouTube channel, you must fulfill the eligibility criteria, which require more than 1000 subscribers and 4000 watch hours within a year.
YouTube pays you for every 1000 views, and the amount depends on your content’s niche, geography, and other factors.
Via adverts, you earn an amount whenever the viewers click the link, redirecting them to the advertiser’s site. Earning through adverts also includes if the viewer watches the ad for more than 5 seconds without skipping it.
GUDSHO allows filmmakers to publish their short films or indie films and earn from them. The platform lets them earn through SVOD, TVOD, and Donations, meaning your fans can take your short film on rent or donate to support your creativity.
If you want a channel to upload premium content regularly, you can also use their SVOD monetization method. This allows you to earn via subscriptions when your viewers pay the weekly, monthly, or yearly subscription fee to stream your content.
Vimeo is suitable for both individual creators and businesses. If you crave a more professional-looking and sophisticated platform with a strong market grasp, then you can choose Vimeo.
However, the free version only lets you use 500 MB without any premium features. You need to pay for the premium plans to access more advanced features and bandwidth. Creators can use Vimeo if budget is not a constraint!
MUBI curates their selection of films on the platform and brings them to the world. The platform helps filmmakers by showcasing their creations theatrically and also provides a Notebook that provides news and criticism.
To monetize short films, MUBI features one new film every day and pays the filmmaker half of the amount. The movie runs for a 30-day period, and they give the license for 2 years.
The platform is particularly dedicated to independent short films with a vast collection of Indie films. Creators who get selected by the platform gain 3 years license while giving you complete rights to your creation. Hence, short video makers can also publish their short films on other platforms simultaneously.
There is no restriction on genre or content length; however, they do not accept films with explicit graphics.
While being attentive to making money from your independent or short films, using your existing resources is a great way to start. If you have a story that can stir up the emotions in your audience, it doesn’t matter if you utilize a professional-grade high-tech camera or your own smartphone.
Also, things always come up better with practice! It is not important to put all your budget into one film; instead, you should create as many films as possible, even if they are shot using a phone and are less fancy.
An independent filmmaker should use all these mentioned mediums and keep an eye on online contests.
While ending up the article here, we hope you find the tips helpful and have success with your upcoming short film.
You can work with distribution companies or self-distribute your film on various short film platforms. Shortfundly, Pocketfilms, and GUDSHO are some of the platforms.
A short film can be from 5 to 40 minutes, depending on the message it wants to convey.
A script that can hook the audience, portrays characters with clear goals, and have enough visual appeal can make a great short film.
A short film can be built on any niche if it delivers the message clearly. Creators can pick up Sci-Fi, Drama, Horror, and other niches.
Short films can make money in case they are selected by some film festival or streamed on streaming platforms. You can also try crowdfunding and have some donations.