x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Glad tidings for all young filmmakers in need of funds

A revolutionary form of funding offers hope for regional filmmakers struggling to tell their stories on the big screen.

Crowd funding could provide the financial boost that young filmmakers need to launch their projects. Jeff Topping / The National
Crowd funding could provide the financial boost that young filmmakers need to launch their projects. Jeff Topping / The National

I attended Tamakkan's seminar on the funding and production challenges of filmmaking in the UAE last month - and it made an impact.

The panel of speakers for the event in Abu Dhabi, including Mohammed Al Otaiba, the head of Imagenation, discussed the main challenges faced by the film industry in the Emirates.

A major obstacle faced by movie makers and artists in general, is the lack of funds to promote their work, or to even get them started. Many young filmmakers have great concepts and stories to share, but they lack the resources to do so.

The good news is that there is a new revolutionary form of funding to help them.

When entrepreneurs are starting or growing a small business, funding is a vital element to the success of a business or a project in a competitive market. It is not easy for young filmmakers to receive funding from banks, especially in our region, given the tough economic times that a number of countries are going through.

Called crowd funding, this new way of raising capital involves a group of investors sharing their resources to support efforts initiated by other people, or small organisations, usually over the internet.

In the United States, many areas take advantage of crowd funding - such as political campaigns, scientific research and music artists.

Unlike other forms of funding, crowd funding provides extra benefits, such as publicity, to numerous business investors who check out the crowd-funding websites.

If you see that your idea is generating support, you will know it is viable and appealing to your target market. If not, you need to change strategy.

We now have our very own crowd-funding platform in the UAE.

At the seminar, Vida Rizq, the principal founder of Aflamnah.com, spoke about her venture and how it supported artists, and filmmakers in the region.

The process if simple. A person with an idea or a project registers in the website, and submits his or her idea for a US$100 (Dh367) "upload" fee.

The application is then reviewed, and shared on the website, along with the desired amount to be raised. Supporters, who are usually friends, or advocates of community projects, would review the trailer of the film, images of artwork, or read about the idea, then donate an amount, typically ranging from $10 to $1,000.

With crowd funding, there is also something for the supporters of such ventures.

Depending on the amount donated, a supporter could be credited at the end of the movie as a "producer", or be invited on set during filming. For some supporters, those rewards are valued more than the amount they had donated to support the idea.

For those who want to raise funds this way, keep three things in mind.

First, select the right crowd-funding platform to promote your idea, and pick one that will attract the most suitable supporters.

Second, you have to come up with some attractive rewards for potential investors if they are to invest in your project. The rewards you come up with could be based on the idea you are promoting.

For instance, if you are working on a movie to showcase in the Abu Dhabi Film Festival, then you could offer rewards to credit the supporters as "producers" of the movie or offer them tickets to attend the screening.

Third, come up with a marketing strategy to promote your work to potential investors.

Instead of presenting a written paragraph about your movie and its plot, produce a trailer, or film yourself explaining your passion for the project.

Internationally popular crowd-funding websites include Kickstarter.com and RocketHub.com.

Businesses can also gain by supporting crowd funding. They can have a positive impact on a start-up business, as well as empowering young thinkers and entrepreneurs.

But my favourite reason is that projects such as these involve members of the community in the production of something for the community - a teamwork effort at its best.

Manar Al Hinai is an award winning Emirati fashion designer and writer based in Abu Dhabi