You Pay, We Direct – Funding Independent Films

BY BRANDON DOYLE

In the Internet age virtually anything is possible.  But filmmaker Robert Greenwald and business partner Jim Gilliam have found a new way to fund their independent film projects.  In early 2006, Gilliam approached Greenwald with an idea.  After struggling to meet the budget for Greenwald’s newest film, “Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers,” Gilliam wanted to ask Greenwald’s Internet followers for money.

The idea to simply ask for donations on the Internet was unheard of, and was an idea Greenwald never projected would be successful.  “I thought he was crazy,” said Greenwald about Gilliam’s idea. “I thought this would never work.”  But after requesting donations on the Internet, Greenwald and Gilliam had exceeded their goal of $200 thousand in just 10 days.

Gilliam and Greenwald were able to fundraise successfully because they had previously established a loyal following.  An overlying theme of independent media, as I blogged before, is “itch the niche.”  Independent media pioneers need to find their target audience, establish a connection with them, and exploit them (a positive exploitation to help produce more content).  It was because of this pre-established audience that Greenwald and Gilliam were able to meet budget requests by simply requesting donations from.

If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a thousand times.  Itch the niche.

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