I've been funded three times by Film London and the UK Film Council, and twice by the British Sign Language Broadcasting Trust. To get finance for your projects requires a strong and compelling core idea, in depth research, a clear plan for what you want to achieve, and most importantly, the ability to create a strong proposal package for your short film.
What follows is a list of useful links, downloadable documents and more to help you develop your own short film funding proposal, and hopefully get some money from both public and private sources to create your own films.
STEP ONE - Watch Short Films
Before you start thinking about your own short film idea, it's good to look at others and decide what works for you and what doesn't, developing your own critical understanding of the perfect short film.
Here are some useful links to channels, filmmakers and good DVDs to buy.
Where possible I've recommended subtitled films and DVDs, but this isn't always possible.
SHORT OF THE WEEK A site devoted entirely to the best short films online, updated several times a week.
Short of the Week
FUTURE SHORTS The largest short film channel in the world. There are some beautiful films on here, and a lot of the foreign ones are subtitled.
HOW THEY GET THERE Spike Jonze's first ever short film. No dialogue.
How They Get There on YouTube
SPIN What if God was a DJ and his decks could turn back time? No dialogue.
Spin on YouTube
SHORT FILM DVDS TO BUY These DVDs contain a mix of captioned, silent and non-captioned films.
Cinema 16 British Short Films
Cinema 16 European Short Films
Cinema 16 World Short films
Regarde La Mer
Buster Keaton: The Complete Short Films
Adventures in Short Film Vol 1
STEP TWO - Read Short Film Scripts
Before you start thinking about your own short film idea, it's good to look at others.
ZOETROPE Register and read other people's scripts, and submit your own for evaluation.
SHORT FILM SCRIPTS Try these shorts from SimplyScripts.com including Bunuel's Un Chien Andalou.
50 KISSES SHORT FILM COMPETITION The London Screenwriters' Festival is running a fantastic competition for short film scripts to be made into films as part of a feature film anthology. The 50 shortlisted scripts are available to read as PDF downloads, and many of them are wonderful examples of what can be achieved in the short film genre!
STEP THREE - Learn More About Scriptwriting
Many screenwriters have their own blogs, with useful links and resources. Like these:
SCRIPTWRITING IN THE UK The blog of Danny Stack, screenwriter and script editor, carving out a career in the UK TV/film industry, and beyond...
WORDPLAYER Heard of Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio? You should have. They wrote Pirates of The Caribbean. What ain't on this site ain't worth knowing.
JOHN AUGUST The guy wrote Big Fish and The Nines. He's a good guy and his blog is really informative.
SCRIPT SECRETS This dude has written nearly 20 direct to DVD films. Respect.
STEP FOUR - Learn More About Treatments
Your treatment should be the blueprint for your script. Have a look at these articles and sample treatments. Annoyingly, many of these links are for as yet unmade feature films, but the writing principles are the same.
PROPER TREATMENT A great summary by Terry Rossio of Wordplayer.com on how to write a treatment. Wordplayer.com
SAMPLE TREATMENTS Have a look at these treatments and scriptments from SimplyScripts.
ET II: NOCTURNAL FEARS Sorry, just had to put this one in. Steven Spielberg wrote a treatment for a sequel to ET. If you're gonna learn how to write a treatment, learn from the best, I say...
ET II: Nocturnal Fears
THE 108 MOST PERSUASIVE WORDS IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE Use these words in your treatment. They're persuasive.
The 108 most persuasive words PDF
STEP FIVE - Start Writing Your Script
Now you've done your treatment, you're ready to write your own script.
I really recommend Final Draft - but CeltX is a cheaper alternative that you can try out.
WRITING THE PHOTOPLAY The first EVER book written about screenwriting in 1913.
Writing The Photoplay
WILLIAM C MARTELL BLUE BOOKS These are a great set of 'workthroughs' and more accessible than a single writing manual.
36 DRAMATIC SITUATIONS A list of the different situations you can explore in drama. Useful for helping you identify your plot ideas.
36 Dramatic Situations
STEP SIX - Research Local Funds and Start Networking
Next up, you need to get meeting with potential funders, other filmmakers, cast and crew.
FIND YOUR LOCAL FILM FUND The BFI funds two areas of short film making. Lighthouse Shorts is nationwide. There are also regional short film funds such as the Film London Borough Film Funds. There will be others in your area. Contact your regional screen agency for details.
BFI Lighthouse Shorts
Film London Borough Film Funds
SHOOTING PEOPLE An invaluable source of crew, advice and tips throughout production. Without Shooting People, there would have been no Stiletto. It's that important. Sign up, and start reading the emails. Send a message to the group introducing yourself and ask any questions you like. Submit your short film for the script pitch network email every Wednesday and get feedback.
TALENT CIRCLE Like Shooting People, but free.
STEP SEVEN - Create your funding proposal
I've created a sample funding package here for a short film called Melodie En Sous-Sol:
This is a short film that will never get made.
It's based on various Alain Delon films of the 60s and 70s.
It's intended as a guide to how a good funding package is put together.
Cover sheet, synopsis, treatment, director's statement,
schedule and mood board:
Melodie En Sous-Sol Funding Package
Melodie En Sous-Sol Script
Melodie En Sous-Sol Budget
Feature film budget - The Village:
If you need more help devising your production budget, take a look at this 79 page breakdown of M Night Shyamalan's The Village. It's particularly interesting to see how much of the $72m budget ended up in M Night's pockets.
The Village PDF
STEP EIGHT - Create a sizzle reel
More and more directors are releasing their sizzle reels online for people to see. A sizzle reel is a short video that demonstrates the tone and style of the film you want to make. There are several ways of making your sizzle reel - using animation and drawings; clips from other films; or even making a 'trailer' from scratch.
Rian Johnson's Looper:
This reel combines storyboard drawings, stock footage and clips from Blade Runner and Seven to great effect:
Joe Carnahan's Daredevil:
Joe Carnahan never got to do the Daredevil remake which is a shame, as he seemed to be going for a super gritty 70s New York vibe with hints of Death Wish and The Warriors:
Joe Carnahan's Gemini Man:
That man Carnahan again. I think his Gemini Man, with a younger clone of Clint Eastwood hunting his older self, would have been fun (and an interesting alternative to Looper):
Kevin Tancharoen's The Hunger Games:
This looks like a very interesting vision of The Hunger Games which is certainly quite different from the film seen in cinemas.
AND FINALLY - A few key things
Watch Short Films.
Network online and organise face to face meetings where you can.
Ask yourself why you want to make the film?
Develop your skills through training.
The Idea make sure your idea is good, and original. Keep developing it.
Good luck! You can find most of the above information in this book:
Shooting People Shorts Book
BBC Film Network also has an excellent funding guide: