NBGTF: Chapter 5 (part 2) - FUNDS

First time to this book? Here's the skinny:

You want to shoot a video or a feature. You have next to budget, but you have a story to tell. You're fighting fear and wrestling with a pile of doubts. But you have a tale worth telling. Start here.

The reason you do all this is to PROTECT you. A lawsuit-hungry thespian is more likely to hit a wall if you have an LLC running your production than if you're a regular ol' Joe Schmoe with a sole proprietorship (where personal & business funds coexist in the same account). Be wise as serpents - again, find a business mentor in your community and start having lunch with that person, watch football together, develop a relationship. These are the kinds of friends and influences you will need in your life to

a) have the guts to bootstrap and

b) grow.

Iron sharpens iron. John Lee Dumas of entrepreneuronfire.com always goes back to the observation that we are the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with. Do you need funds for a feature? Of course you do. Better than acquiring the funds, and you should make this a daily part of your prayer, is knowing how to manage God’s resources in a Godly way. I wasn’t praying that prayer when I shot my feature, but ever since launching Church Films, it has pretty much been a daily prayer. God, teach me how to multiply your resources and honor you. Remember, money is not the root of all evil - it is the love of money that is the root of all evil. Money is a tool. Ask for wisdom and ask believing that He is faithful to give you that wisdom. Then seek the counsel and company of others who will mentor you in this area, be it bootstrapping, fundraising, or video/filmmaking.

The difference between the creative and the consumer is often perseverance.

After two rounds of crowdfunding for the feature 12 Til Dusk, I had nowhere near the amount of money I had sketched out, and in hindsight, I was shooting for that distant planet Anne Hathaway landed on instead of the moon where the Apollo needed to land. I’ll be honest because like you, I don’t like it when vague generalities are offered. You’re in the trenches too. So here we go. We were shooting for $16,000 or thereabout, and we wound up getting from multiple sources a grand total of about $5000-$6000. Did we really need $16,000? Nope. We needed much less to go and shoot the film. It was the microbudget’s microbudget. We needed money for gas, food for the crew, and a handful of props and film gear (assets). I didn’t blow the budget on a spiffy new camera. We picked up a B-camera in the form of a Canon Rebel T4i because we had to meter out our limited budget on what was needed. In a later chapter, you’ll understand better what I mean when it comes time to talk shop (i.e. camera gear).

Map out what you need and go for that. Did you catch that? MAP OUT WHAT YOU NEED. Not what you want. Then, if it’s in God’s will, keep asking for that need. We wrapped up a Kickstarter campaign to create short videos for recovery and care ministries in September of 2015. Remember Anne Hathaway in Interstellar in the ending? Yeah that turkey would have been the $40,000 we were hoping to get with piles of ministries signing up for subscriptions of digital and physical copies of recovery-themed videos. Did we get past the Earth’s orbit? Barely. We made it to the moon because that’s what we needed for the crowdfunding to succeed, ultimately. All glory goes to God. The September Kickstarter campaign didn’t have a quarter of its funding until the next to last night. It fully funded with about 25 hours to go on the clock. I had all but given up, but not in a pouty way. Days before the funding ended, I came to terms with what I can control and what I can’t control (the former often being an illusion). I put my trust in the Lord that win, lose, or draw, I was going to trust and obey.

Easier said than done Jacob. I agree. I had my dark days. You will too. I’m sure there’s a nice, inverted bell curve somewhere that shows the activity surrounding the average crowdfunding campaign. There is a lot of excitement in the first few days and then it’s deadsville and then there’s a stellar finish to bring it on home (or nothing at all towards the end). Put your hope not in numbers - use them as a tool, but nothing more. Remember the God we serve is a God who uses the few to influence the many. Look at the story of Esther, Gideon, or even the 12 disciples. All throughout the Good Book, you see examples of small numbers in the face of (seemingly) insurmountable odds. Look at the story of the lost sheep. There was/is more celebration in heaven over the one sheep than the other 99 who were/are more squared away. God wants our entire faith. He wants us to put our faith and hope in Him; numbers are temporary anyways. Think about it. Every dollar represents a finite amount. Why would you trust something so temporary? It’s tough. I realize that. I have my days even now where I question God “where is the money going to come from?”

Today, choose to trust the King. Our hope is in the promise of life we have in Christ. Jesus is our hope. Surrender to him, and pray it several times. “Your will be done. How can I be a part of what you’re doing today? How can my ministry be a part of what you’re doing today? How can this video bring glory to You? How can this film impact the lives of others?” Find peace in Him. He authored it after all. If the crowdfunding doesn’t work, guess what - Edison would not write you off as a failure (and God certainly doesn’t). He’d agree that you just found one way that doesn’t work. Try again. Go to the throne of grace and thank our Father for shaping your life. He is developing you. Do you think David started off as a stud? Or Joseph? Not even close. Both guys had years of development before they were handed the keys to the city. David wasn’t even included in the roundup with Sammy and the other sons of Jesse. He was a warrior shepherd fighting bears and beasts, and then he was a servant in Saul’s court: he played the harp to soothe the fiery King Saul. Joseph was trafficked to Egypt over a little envy. He wound up in prison because his integrity wouldn’t let him bend in the face of temptation. But you already know how their stories turned out. Endure. You need to endure. The difference between the creative (artists, entrepreneurs, church planters, etc) and the consumer is often perseverance. God’s always shaping you, and His timing - while perfect - just doesn’t make sense half the time with our limited human understanding. Remember this Proverb: the horse is made ready for battle, but victory is the Lord’s. This was my battle cry with my crowdfunding campaign in September of 2015, and it’s my battle cry going back into the fight with crowdfunding again in December of 2015. What’s yours?


Las Vegas

I want to encourage others and bring honor to the Almighty in everything that I do with film and video. My goal is to take the first 11 minutes of my tv pilot and seek out decision-makers who can further the conversation about developing it into a show. If my team and I can do that, then we can teach 100,000 other microbudget filmmakers how to do the same thing so that we might tell stories of hope to millions. In the meantime, I'm a son of the King, a family man, a lifelong student of film, and the author of two microbudget filmmaking books.