Adam Leader, Richard Oakes and Neal Ward spoke to our host Giles Alderson about their brilliant feature film Hosts. In the podcast they chatted about writing, shooting, acting and producing the film; but they also focussed on their unique way of getting funding for their first feature.

The guys initially tried the traditional ways of finding private investors, but because they were unknown in the industry, at this point, they decided to take a different approach to raise funds. 

“We found being in the independent filmmaker circles that there’s a lot of talkers and then there are doers. And we were sort of like we’re going to make a movie and we’re going to get it funded regardless.”

How they started

Richard had crowdfunded before on a short, but the practice behind crowdfunding didn’t sit well with him. “Give us 50 quid and get your name in the credits, give us a hundred pounds and you get a crappy mug with the logo on that. And I was like, this is just ripping people off and they’re not gaining anything from it. We’re gaining everything.”

So they started thinking about how it could be a win-win situation for investors and filmmakers alike.

Traditionally “we would go to an investor and get money and then we’d give them the percentage that they deserve for the money that they’d invested. So they’ll make money off that. What’s stopping us doing that on a crowdfunding level?”

How Did they Build the Trust of their Investors?

“Whatever avenue a filmmaker wants to take to raise that money, he or she needs to spend time garnering or building that rapport. And there are so many different ways to do it without going down the corporate route of speaking to a financial investor or banker.”

It’s harder to ask someone for money if they don’t know, like and trust you. 

“We had the same thing just on a different parallel, which was our subscribers who did believe in us, who did trust us, who knew that we were good at what we did.”

Adam and Richard had done a lot of the work, six to eight months before, while building their YouTube channel. “We had a small but strong subscriber base that just loved what we did. So we decided to ask our subscribers if they would like to invest smaller increments in the film, in return for what an investor would get – the shares and the profits.”

So, they set up a donate button on their channel, for people who wanted to give smaller amounts to the project, but for those willing to invest in the film, they drew up a contract. 

“We were super surprised that people trusted us, and it was great because our main goal was to make sure that they were paid back. 

One: because it felt morally right to make sure they were paid back their money.

Two: because it shows that we’ve made a profitable film and we’re moving on.

Before taking this approach, they couldn’t get funding from investors, because they were considered to be a risk. “You haven’t proved that you can get an investor’s money back. So getting their money back was our number one priority with this film.”

More and more filmmakers and musicians have started building online communities, in order to showcase their projects and to connect with their fans. Building a sense of trust is vital in getting funding and support from other people. This is why crowdfunding, or their different kind of funding, works.

What Do Investors Want?

Adam’s friend (someone connected to the corporate world) gave him this advice, when dealing with corporate investors: “be yourself because they want to get to know you. They want to know the person. 

I think that the key thing is just going in there and not trying to be someone else, not putting on a mask, just be you because that’s ultimately what sells it.”

For more from Adam, Richard and Neal, check out their full podcast here.

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