Begging is when you ask for something with nothing in return

Usually for my “Wednesday Where’s Your Film?” updates I write about “my” film. That is, the film the I wrote and am directing.

I am a producer on another short film that I’m preparing to launch a fundraising campaign for.

It’s been interesting hearing the director’s fears around asking for money. They almost exactly echo the concerns in the community organizing and nonprofit world when I used to do trainings on fundraising from individuals. This voice that says “I don’t want to beg” or “I feel bad, what if they feel pressured?”

Here’s the thing though: begging is when you ask for money for nothing in return. Fundraising is collecting the resources of your community in exchange for a service, a service that is currently not well funded by our government.

Art in a Profit Driven Culture
Yes, there’s all kind of outrage one could have about living in country that would rather build three extra bombers rather than give a few million extra to the National Endowment for the Arts and continuing to make many art forms a luxury for those with resources. But our historical reality at this moment is that we live in a culture that values “products” only in the material, consumeristic profiteering sense. Things are not priced by their social worth, or their environmental or social cost.

In other words, we have to see ourselves as providing a service that is needed, but is currently not valued. Since it has no “value” can’t be financially supported by government or private industries, it is up to our communities of friends, supporters, allies, to pool together resources to make it happen.

Clarity is Your Strength
If you approach fundraising for film or some other artistic project, you need to get clear on how strongly you feel about the story you are telling. Why does it need to be told? What aspect of the human situation does it address that isn’t being told in mainstream circles, or not in the creative way you will present it? And if this isn’t your “masterpiece” but a chance to learn and increase your skills, why is it important for people to invest in you.

As the great fundraising guru Kim Klein says, the fear of not completing your project needs to be greater than your fear of asking for money.

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