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5/26/13 5:12 PM
HOW TO WRITE A PROPOSAL THAT SELLS
The good news for video producers - there’s lots of money out there to fund your production. The bad news - to get it, you have to work hard and follow the rules exactly as requested. The Prologue I don’t mean to rain on this parade before the first baton is twirled into the air, but you need to know that getting free money is a whole lot of work. As my grant writing independent study teacher informed me when I started my graduate thesis film, “It might be easier and quicker for you to meet your budget by flipping burgers at minimum wage than to get involved in raising money through grants.” Show Me the Money That said, lets assume you’re ready to commit the blood, sweat and tears … and long hours to fund your film with a well-formulated proposal. Your first step rests with the very question any filmmaker needs to answer about any project: Who is your audience? Not, in this case, the audience for your finished film but the audience who will read your proposal. Who are these people and why will they reach deep within their pockets to give you their hard earned, cold cash? Will they be family and friends, government, private foundations, corporations or nonprofit organizations? You could approach more than one of these sources for funding but the proposal you craft will most likely have to be uniquely re-tooled for each. For the purposes of this article, we will be more general in outlining a master plan but remember, you may need to alter your masterwork for each type of funder. Once you have targeted your audience, you need to determine what it is they require of you. Think of it this way: What is in it for them? If you are planning a Kickstarter.com campaign, your mother may donate because she wants you to succeed … or, earn enough money to move out of the house. Craft that campaign according to that audience and what they want to see and hear. If you are a member of the Iroquois Nation
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If you are required to mail in a deadtree version. “… strike a balance between mind and heart. Know the foundation or funders mission. Color Within the Guidelines Once you know who is most likely to fund your project and/or fund you. Garamond or Helvetica font with black ink on 8 !-inch x 11-inch white paper.” Individuals may be impressed with an outpouring of emotion but this strategy in a proposal for a foundation may find your project eighty-sixed. Follow guidelines and application instructions closely. Locating funding guidelines has never been easier thanks to the Internet.videomaker. keep it simple and professional. application and other supporting material with a few clicks of the mouse. In most cases it’s as easy as downloading a PDF of their guidelines.How to Write a Proposal that Sells | Videomaker. the table of contents for your proposal would be strong if it included all of these elements: http://www. No fancy fonts in orange ink on blue paper. There is such thing as being too creative and more is not necessarily better. Many proposals are submitted online these days. reason and passion. This will get your story across in a professional manner. in what I consider to be the bible of raising money for film projects. Shaking the Money Tree (3rd Edition). The Bones To borrow once again from Warshawski’s Shaking the Money Tree. Leave the creativity to your treatment (more on this soon). Use 12-point typeface utilizing a Times Roman.com 5/26/13 5:12 PM and you are writing a proposal for a grant from the Indigenous Film Fellowship. Give them what they want. The National Endowment For the Arts has a whole other mission and their guidelines and motivations will be completely different. Be as simple and direct as possible.com/article/15684-how-to-write-a-proposal-that-sells Page 2 of 6 . Will your message progress their efforts or be opposite of what they believe in. Morrie Warshawski states. Craft accordingly. it is likely that they will fund you because they want to see one of their own excel or tell the Iroquois history or culture to a wide audience. research what it is they want.
Cover Letter 2. Community Outreach 14.com 5/26/13 5:12 PM 1. Evaluation Plan 15. This one element can make or break your request. Title Page 3. Why I Became Involved with this Project 9. the treatment is one of the most important. sounds. Distribution Plans 13. etc. The sights and sounds should be projected on the mind of the reader. Demo Reel/Trailer Warshawski breaks each of these headings down into detail in his book. Letters of Commitment d.videomaker. Description of Intended Audience 8. Press Clippings e. Description of the Project 6. Full Resumes of Personnel [please put accent marks on resume] f. Letters of Support c. dialog. Production Plans and Timeline 11. Personnel 12. Budgets 17. Table of Contents 4.How to Write a Proposal that Sells | Videomaker.com/article/15684-how-to-write-a-proposal-that-sells Page 3 of 6 . Funding Strategy for Completion of Project 16. This is where you paint your story in exquisite colors. Statement Proving Need 7. Miscellaneous Support Materials a. The mere $16 price tag might just be one of your best fundraising investments. Treatment 10. http://www. This is not a place for explanation. not be told about it. “You need to spend money to make money. Fiscal Sponsor Letter b. As they say. You want the reader to experience the project. Formal Request 5.” Filmmaker as Painter Of the twenty plus above items.
head right to the big guns with programs such as Adobe Dreamweaver or Microsoft Expression Studio 4 Web Professional. And you don’t necessarily need a degree in design. or have a friend who does and owes you a favor. again.com 5/26/13 5:12 PM The treatment should be two pages or less so you have your work cut out for you. As the French mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal said. Google Sites and Yola are popular. “If I had more time. Vimeo). Does your budget include distribution and/or film festival costs? If not. Another bit of well-spent money is to acquire a unique URL name. My personal website is an example of that I mean: www. usually your own name or the name of your production company. Funders are not interested in finished films that live in a http://www. Other programs such as Webs. how is your message going to get out to the masses. Have a couple of smart friends proofread it and take the time you need to perfect the treatment.should not only show your best product but it should also show subject mater relevant to the funder.com/article/15684-how-to-write-a-proposal-that-sells Page 4 of 6 . If you are going to make a feature length period piece for $2.usually in the form of a demo reel or work in progress . Budgetary Note Be realistic with your budget. Homestead.com There are many tools to help the HTML illiterate amongst us to build a simple website. a picture of you and your contact information will do.videomaker. your funder is likely to notice that you don’t know what you’re doing.000. though it wouldn’t hurt. They are a bit more like a blog but the line between blogs and websites are blurring. If you do know design and HTML. Sample Your sample work . It doesn’t have to be complicated. I would have written a shorter letter.” Take the time to get this right. Blogger and WordPress are very popular tools to help you build an online presence. Instead of having your demo reel or sample live in the vast video sea known as YouTube (or better even. I strongly suggest you keep it professional and spend the money to avoid advertisements on your site. snail mailed DVDs are the exception these days. simpler is better. A single page with your video in the center.How to Write a Proposal that Sells | Videomaker. design a website for the video to live.morganpaar. More and more funders are expecting to see your demo reel online.
a must for any producer. ask what the funders liked about your proposal and what they didn’t. you know what you are doing. Get it in well before the deadline. cinematographer and editor for Nomadic Frames. The funder wants to know you are serious.com/article/15684-how-to-write-a-proposal-that-sells Page 5 of 6 . Proposal writing is not an easy road but it can be very fulfilling. Desired Feedback And finally. If you have not heard from the organization. Morgan Paar is the co-founder and a producer. After you have received your approval or denial. In fact. I recommend you ask for it. Producing a proposal to raise money is similar. you should be accepting of feedback. The Waiting is the Hardest Part Don’t expect to be approved and opening a fat check within days. if you beat out all the competition and win the grant. This will enhance your second. Most organizations that give money are like large ocean-going ships. anywhe"re in the workflow of the grant writing process. Michael Wiese and Deke Simon’s Film & Video Budgets (2nd Edition) is the bible of line items and total tallies.videomaker. organizing and execution that went into producing that seemingly simple twohour event. whether you are accepted or rejected. you’re not afraid of the hard work and finally. they take time to turn. Three to six months seems to be the norm in order to see a positive return. that they will look the better or will have bettered society with their funding of your project. The Martini Shot All the work is finally done and its time to deliver.How to Write a Proposal that Sells | Videomaker. you rarely think of all the planning. third and 100th proposal efforts. Many people spent many laborious hours in order for that parade to go on without a hitch. Your proposal may need to pass many sets of eyes and even multiple meetings before getting the required number of thumbs-up for approval. and it could finance your dream. The Parade Must Go On When you enjoy a parade in a small town or large city. Don’t wait until the day before the proposal is due to overnight FedEx it five minutes before FedEx closes.com 5/26/13 5:12 PM filmmaker’s closet. call the program officer and politely inquire if they have received the proposal and supporting material. The final effort comes two weeks after shipping. http://www.
travel video. Morgan Paar Wed.How to Write a Proposal that Sells | Videomaker.com/article/15684-how-to-write-a-proposal-that-sells Page 6 of 6 . and travel still photography. 05/15/2013 .4:40pm http://www.videomaker. Paar is also a film professor in New York City.com 5/26/13 5:12 PM a company specializing in international video production.
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