11 February 2008

Fundraising for Documentaries

I just spent a week in Asia meeting with folks I hope to make private investors in the Stanley Kubrick Napoleon documentary. The pitch often reaches a tense moment after I mention the Kubrick name. "Oh, you mean Stanley Quebrick." Now I have to bite my tongue and not try to correct the speaker and watch them sail away with the money. Because at this stage in the game, politics is more important than accuracy. Biting my tongue has become some thing of a knee jerk response to the notion of asking people for money. But the name of the game is getting people to bankroll my passion in this documentary. And passion and correction do not create a tasty mix. At Princeton they hold seminars for alumni about the "art of the ask." Princeton is in the midst of a major fundraising campaign and that is where I just learned about asking for money in a dispassionately passionate way. The pitch is tailored to fit the position of the potential donee. If that person has not made a major contribution before, or is disaffected or even hostile to the university matters in how you present the message. Even their generation is significant as a baby boomer is inclined differently to the university than is a Gen Y'er. If ever I thought that annual giving was to become such an important part of my life I would have paid more attention as an undergraduate on starting a movement. Because, ultimately, isn't this whole fundraising thing about building a movement and community behind a common vision? And what's wrong with taking that notion and giving it a capitalistic twist? There is a trend now among documentary filmmakers in allying with non-profit and not for profit foundations as a way to turn financial support for a film into an immediate charitable deduction for the giver. It also benefits the foundation by promoting its mission to benefit the arts and sciences. And if the documentary delivers a return to the private investors then everybody wins. The blog at Docs Interactive comments on this technique as well as listing more fundraising sources for documentary filmmakers. On the Kubrick Napoleon project I will test some of these techniques and report on their effectiveness. Any additional funds raised would go to post production and animation. I will keep everyone posted on my progress with fundraising with foundations to get this documentary produced.

Photo of the day. Barry Lyndon, infantryman. Gives you the idea of the kind of thinking Kubrick might have contemplated for the Napoleon project and translated to his 1975 film, Barry Lyndon. Enjoy the trailer from this Kubrick movie's initial release posted here by TCM.

Here is another version of the trailer from You Tube:

Lagnappe. In honor of his Bafta award for Best Actor, here's a little ditty riffing on Daniel Day-Lewis as John Huston, sorry, the oil baron Daniel Fairview from "There Will Be Blood."

Here's the actual "milkshake" clip from the Paul Thomas Anderson movie.

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