THE FILMMAKER AS FINANCIER
With his various blogs, Sujewa Ekanayake has been a tireless supporter of DIY independent filmmaking. Now, he’s going to put his money where his keyboard has been with a gesture that, if replicated by others, could lead to a new way of financing no-budget films. Two years after the United Nations announced “The Year of Microcredit,” Ekanayake is applying the economic model pioneered by Muhammad Yunus in which tiny loans — microcredit — are offered to unproven entrepreneurs in order to realize their projects to independent moviemaking.
Microcredit is the extension of very small loans (microloans) to the unemployed, to poor entrepreneurs and to others living in poverty who are not bankable. These individuals lack collateral, steady employment and a verifiable credit history and therefore cannot meet even the most minimum qualifications to gain access to traditional credit. Microcredit is a part of microfinance, which is the provision of financial services to the very poor; apart from loans, it includes savings, microinsurance and other financial innovations.
“Unemployed, poor entrepreneurs who are not bankable…” — sounds like the classic independent filmmaker.
Taking note of this, Ekanayake will loan $500 from the proceeds of his latest Date Number One to another filmmaker. Here’s his post:
My newest indie filmmaking related past time is trying to help fellow low/”no” budget filmmakers make their second or third or whaterver, post-first & good, “no” budget feature.
And by “no” budget I mean under $10K ($3K to $5K budget would be best, it is doable, Swanberg & Dance Party, USA & others have done it in the past). Often it isn’t the exact amount of money that makes a big difference in a project, it is the fact that someone other than the filmmaker believes enough in the filmmaker or the project to give any money to the project. I have been supported at very crucial times by small investments in my most recent project Date Number One. So I would like to return the favor, help another filmmaker or two this year. I offered $500 (to be handed over in May, after taxes & current Date Number One debt & other related expenses of mine are well under control) towards the next feature of a filmmaker friend a couple of days ago. If he does not need it, I’ll go down the line of people I know who blog & make low budget indie films. In exchange for my investment I would be willing to take an appropriate number of DVDs of the finished film that I can sell through my blog & other websites of mine, plus a producer credit in the film & an appropriate % of profit, if any, whenever it may (or may not :) happen. And if the film does not happen, then I would want the $s paid back, when possible, so that I can try to use it to help another project. Now that indie films are cheap to make due to DV & can be self-distributed with press help coming from blogs, it is time to do (and more importantly it is possible to do) what we indie film fans can (including with $s) to make sure interesting movies get made by interesting filmmakers, even if we do not have a lot of money to spare. All a part of participating in the new digital & web enabled indie filmmaking scene.