8 Tips on Finding Sponsors for Your Film Projects #9CamJam

Image © Trailers of the East Coast on Flickr. Creative Commons v 2.0
If it’s good enough for racing cars… Image © Trailers of the East Coast on Flickr. Creative Commons v 2.0

This is article 2 in my #9CamJam blog series. You can find all the related article by clicking here, or selecting the “#9CamJam” category link from the Creative Arts > Film & Video submenu.

So you have a film you’re burning to make. There’s just one thing missing: money. Ain’t that always the case? Too many ideas. Too little coin. It’s the bane of every filmmaker. Even highly successful actors and directors often have a hard time finding funds for their productions. How much harder then is it for us “little guys”? Of course, there are crowdfunding options like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo. That has worked well for hundreds of filmmakers. But there’s another option. Not necessarily easier, but an option still the same. Sponsorships.

Simply put, a sponsorship is when a company invests its resources into your project. Those resources could be in the form of money, the products or services they offer, or a combination of both. I’ve been producing podcasts and web shows for over seven years, and I’ve learned a thing or three about finding sponsors for projects. Here are some of the top lessons I’ve learned.

  • Quid Pro Quo: That is Latin for “something for something “. Bottomline: a company is going to sponsor your project because they think it will be good for their business. Either it will generate revenue for them, build a customer base and/or it will increase brand awareness or affinity. You need to have a clear understanding of what’s in it for them. My following tips help you to figure out what that is.
  • Build a Platform: If you haven’t already done so, start building a platform. Essentially, your platform is the combination of online and offline reach. It’s your blog, website, social media presence, fan base, etc. Take your knowledge, start sharing it with the world, and build a platform. I highly advise reading Michael Hyatt’s book “Platform” for learning how to do this. Another great resource is Seth Godin’s “Tribes.”
  • Make a Kick-Ass Film: Some companies may be inclined to sponsor you strictly on the merits of the project you’re making. Are you producing some super cool, never tried before timelapse film of that unpronounceable volcano in Iceland? Are you making a fan fiction film about “Star Wars” that will utilize unprecedented visual effects for a film that small? If you think the project you’re producing is of that caliber, use it as a selling point. Which brings me to my next tip.
  • Learn How to Sell: Let’s face it, most of us hate selling. But if you want to raise money for your project, you have to sell. There’s really no way around that. It helps to remember my first point, quid pro quo. If you genuinely have something of value to the organization you’re approaching, remember that. Frame your approach on selling related to the fact that you are offering something of value to them. That’s actually a good tip on selling for any aspect of your business.
  • Ask for or Call in Favors: Maybe you don’t have a Zack Arias, Philip Bloom or Chase Jarvis-sized following. But maybe you know someone who does. (Heck, maybe you’re good friends with Zack, Philip or Chase). Don’t be afraid to ask for the favor. When I started my podcast Crossing the 180, the very first guest I had was the producer of X-Men. I got him because a friend and client of mine was a friend of his. So I asked. I got Albert Hughes, co-director of “Book of Eli” because one of my dear friends happens to be an exec at the company that produced that film. If you don’t ask, you’ll get nothing. (Note: be smart about it. If your friend says “yes” and makes the connection, you now have their reputation in your hands. So handle with care and wisdom.)
  • Avalanche It: As you start landing sponsors, let future potential sponsors know. In 2008 when I was raising money to produce “The Longest Day“, once I landed Microsoft as a sponsor, it made it easier to get future sponsors. The thinking makes sense, right? Companies will be more inclined to join in if they see other similar or high-profile companies participating. Try to land the biggest fish first and build from there.
  • Go Above and Beyond: Once you do land a sponsor, always go above and beyond. As much as possible, give them more than what you promised. Retweet their tweets. Share their Facebook links. Be a walking commercial for them wherever you go. They’ve invested in you, so remember, quid pro quo.
  • Get it in writing: At the end of the day, a sponsorship is a business transaction. Have a contract that clearly states all the terms of the agreement.

Speaking of sponsors, I want to sincerely thank my sponsors for their faith in this and the other projects they’re helping me to produce. If you’re a friend of this blog, give them some love by checking out their sites. Read below and you may find some savings for your next project. 😉


LensProToGo is an amazing company to work with. Their employees are working photographers and filmmakers who can help you make the right gear choices for your shoot.  Rates include shipping so there’s no shipping sticker shock at the end of the shopping cart. And all of their equipment ships in Pelican case, so you’re ready to roll wherever you go. (They’ve hooked up my readers with a special discount. Use the code 9camjam and save 10% on your rental.)

Sliders, Stabilizers & Rigs for DSLR Filmmakers

Rhino Camera Gear is a local gear manufacturer here in the Seattle area who has been able to have not one, not two, not three, but FOUR successful Kickstarter campaigns, all ranging from 230% to over 1300% funded. Their 1300% funded campaign was for their signature product, the Rhino Slider (video). I’ve used a number of sliders over they years, and I can honestly say this is one of the silkiest, smoothest sliders I’ve ever used; and at under $500, you can’t beat the price for that level of quality. We used their Rhino Carbon Core for this shoot.


FxFactory – Visual Effects Plugins for Final Cut Pro, After Effects & Premiere

The best way to describe FxFactory from Noise Industries is “The App Store for NLEs”. The FxFactory application is free, and once installed, it gives you access to a whole host of plugins for all popular NLEs and motion graphics programs including Final Cut Pro 7 and X, Adobe Premiere, After Effects and Motion. No matter what computer you’re on, if FxFactory is installed, you have access to all the plugins you’ve purchased. They have plugins ranging from color correction and grading to title effects to mo-graph effects. The one I personally use the most is Nattress Levels & Curves. Ripple Training has a few FxFactory plugins also you should check out. Their plugins are affordable, easy to use, and all come with full functioning trial versions (with watermarks).

fxfactory-main-windowUpdated: January 2015

We’re excited to announce two more sponsors to the film series.

RØDE Microphones

RØDE Microphones is a leader in providing audio equipment and solutions for the film, video and music industries. You’ll be hard pressed not to find a DSLR filmmaker shooting without a RØDE mic sitting atop his/her camera.


Music Bed

Music Bed is a curator and licensor of high quality music that can be legally used and licensed in your video productions. They are a popular go-to source for many filmmakers, including the likes of Vincent Laforet, Philip Bloom, Eliot Rausch, Salomon Ligthelm and Shane Hurlbut.