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How to Finance your Film Project

April 30, 2013 by · Comments Off on How to Finance your Film Project 


Forster BeachThis weekend has been a glorious weekend in Sydney. The weather has been unseasonably warm at 27C and the water in the ocean is at an incredible 24.5C. We are nearly at our short three month winter in Sydney.  Therefore,  I took the last chance of this Indian summer  and went to Forster Tuncurry, a holiday area on the mid north coast in NSW and I had a break for three days. On the break, one of my main focuses was the business plan for our feature film project “Absolute Freedom”.

Yes, I spent my time working on the  most challenging area of the Film World: Financing a Film. 

Most Film Makers are artistically slanted and therefore find the area of finance to be unattractive. Most of you may only be interested in financing the short film which is a lot easier than financing feature films. So this week, I will focus on Short Film Finance.

show-me-the-moneyWe teach on our 4 Month Film School the Prime Directive for financing micro budget film projects.

Every contribution, every favour, every person who works on your film voluntarily, every actor who acts in the film for show reel material ……. is finance for your film.

If you were in a fully financed film you would have to pay people to work on your film. You would have to pay actors, pay for your location fees and overtime.

Once you get this mindset, financing short films and micro budget feature films is a lot easier.  Make no mistake, raising finance for your film includes all of the freebies and contributions accrued on your film and can comprise 80% of your actual budget. In other words the cash budget is only about 20% of the actual budget.

There are always some areas that one has to pay cash money for including:

  • Catering
  • Film Equipment Hire and a really good DOP who should have some basic lighting.
  • Sound Hire
  • Post Production includes an expert editor, music and Sound Designer and Mixer.

imagesThese areas cost money and on the average 10 minute short film, this will cost you approximately  $5,000 – $7,000.  So the question is where can you find cash money to fund your short film?

Here are three suggestions:

  1. Many people save every dollar and finance the film themselves. The advantage of this is that you have full control over the timing and the person who is financing.
  2. Donations on crowd funding sites are also a great way to raise money. This is called crowdfunding. My two favourite are Indiegogo (an international site)  and Pozzible, an Australian crowd funding site. Crowdfunding works best if you  have a big network such as 500 friends on Facebook. You can hit up your friends for a donation and if 20% donate an average of $50 you will raise $5000. This is definitely worth considering.
  3. Event Funding. When I first started making films over 20 years ago, we shot on super 16mm film stock and our average short film would cost about $30,000 in 1992 money ($90,000 today).  We would have massive fundraiser parties whereby we would raise about $10,000 per night. It would take us three parties, but our budget would get there in the end. This form of financing works best for people who love to throw a great party and have a massive network. You make your money off the Door Charge and any other fundraising during the event. It is so important to throw a great party and give the punter value for money. Also, all costs for the event should be sponsored.

images-1The bigger your network, the more you will raise in finance.

If you would like to learn how to make a film and actually work on a film production and not have to worry about the finance process, enroll on our four month film school in Melbourne or our four month film School in Sydney . That way you will be guaranteed to work on a financed film production this year without any of the cost outside of your course fee.

Colm O’Murchu      Director


Three top Tips for Casting

April 8, 2013 by · Comments Off on Three top Tips for Casting 

Casting is one of the most important parts of indie film making.

Casting 1
The reason I am writing this article is that we had a successful casting last week in Melbourne for a film called “Blessed”. The film is about a corrupt priest who has turned into a Godfather Gangster.

Starting at 6pm, we had about 30 actors test for the various parts in the film.  By the time we had wrapped the casting,  it was 12 midnight.  The result was the objective; we had successfully found some great actors to play the roles in the film “Blessed”.

I always stress that a successful casting is one of the most important film directorial skills.  Today I would like to outline five important tips that dramatically improve your casting

1 Send the scene to be auditioned for and if you are making a short film the whole script five days in advance of the casting.

This way,  actors can prepare an interpretation of the script in advance. Also it will tell you how much an actor is into the film.  Actors who actually learn their lines and prepare for the casting show a more conscientious committed work ethic.  Actors who have to read from the script and do not learn the lines demonstrate a lack of interest in the film.

2 Be prepared to direct the actor if they show promise on the first read. Remember this is a screen test, so test the actor

Casting 2Give the actor outrageous directions. An example: An actor is auditioning for the role of a gangster priest and plays the character in a priestly educated and controlled way.  The Director then decides to test the actor and asks the actor to be sleazy and creepy.  He or she requests the actor to seduce the other character with the same lines as in the script. See what happens on the second read.

If the actor is accomplished they will give you a very convincing sleazy and creepy interpretation.  As a director,  you will want to see if an actor can take direction well.   If they pass this test, you know you have an actor that can take direction and is versatile. This actor should be listed on your short list.

3 Make sure you have a challenging surprise improvisation.

The Director should spring an improvisation on the actor. This will illuminate the level of acting talent,  the actor has.
As a Director you could say to the actor
“I want you to play a gangster priest.  I want you to imagine you are in a warehouse with a member of your parish who has disobeyed you. You are furious and you scream at the person and lose your temper with him and then shoot him.”
See what happens with the actor. If they are good at improvisation, this part of the test will tell you if you want this actor on your final shortlist for the part. Only do this with actors you like.

4 Focus on the 15 % that are suitable for your film

Casting 3 When you test actors, 85% of them will be unsuitable for the role. This is the hard work aspect of casting shifting through the unsuitable actors.   My advise is save your energy for the 15% of actors that are suitable for the film.  You only direct the  15% that make your short list. This is the easy fun part and everyone in the casting room gets an emotional high when you score a suitable actor for the short list

5 Record your Screen Tests so you can watch the short list later. 

It is very important to record all the tests on camera so that you can play them back later. This way you can make a decision.  Most of the time the right actors stick out head and shoulders above the rest.


Set up a  successful casting and it will dramatically improve your film directing and the quality of your film.  If you want to learn how to organise and run a successful casting, please book into one of our 4 month Film School


Colm O’Murchu owns and runs Australian Film Base and Sydney Film Base, a successful film production company and indie film centre that trains emerging film makers. His next feature film production Absolute Freedom starts preproduction in late 2013

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