May 10, 2016 at 4:35PM, Edited May 10, 5:17PM

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Fundraising budget: should I include past in-kind expenses?

I'm looking for advice on how to write a budget for a grant.

Where I'm at: I'm writing my first budget for a full-length documentary. Research and production are completed, and I am currently editing the film. The funds I'm seeking are to complete post-production. All of the expenses so far have been in-kind (film that has not yet received any external funding).

My question: In submitting my budget to funders, should I include in-kind expenses already spent? Or should I only include items for which I currently need funding?

Any advice or links to other sources that help write budgets would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

9 Comments

Your budget should include everything you have spent, everything you have raised, everything you have done, everything you need to do, and how much you need to finish the project. Such a complete budget shows both the scope of your project as well as your ability to keep track of it all (and hopefully keep it on track).

In general, I would expect that in-kind expenses have presumably already settled, and thus it would be very strange to try to re-compensate those who have already been compensated. But if you can think of a logic for doing so, you can certainly present to a funding agent. I doubt many would find such requests very attractive/productive/within their scope. But the larger answer to your question is: you should be as complete and transparent as possible, and if you decide that you don't want to expose certain expenses because, to quote Rafiki from the Lion King, "the past is in the past", then just let those items rest as completed and paid for and ask only for the remaining funds you need to complete your project.

May 10, 2016 at 5:06PM

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Thanks, Michael, that's very helpful. I was hoping that my past expenses (mainly my time) could be treated as investments and that they could be repaid retroactively by funders, but I understand that that may be an unrealistic expectation. This is a low budget film (under $40,000), so perhaps that might make it easier to repay in-kind expenses already made.

G.

May 10, 2016 at 5:13PM, Edited May 10, 5:13PM

If you are lucky enough to find someone to buy your film for distribution for, let's say 200k, then the amount you have invested already will be paid back to you, plus the rest you need to finish post-production plus a profit.
Otherwise, for a total budget of 40k, where you have invested 30k and an investor 10k, you will own 75% of the film rights which will (usually and roughly) be equal to 75% of any profits.

May 10, 2016 at 7:45PM

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Stel Kouk
Filmmaker
3062

Is there a stage of a film when it is more common to look for distributors? I have been assuming that, if things work out well, I can connect with distributors at festivals. Should I be pitching to be distributors now (before I have a rough cut)?

And, any suggestions for where/how to connect with distributors?

Thanks!

G.

May 11, 2016 at 10:22PM

G, glad you found the answer helpful. A helpful way to recognize a helpful answer is to actually give it an upvote.

To also answer the question you raise in your question, your past time investments certainly can be valorized in a budget. And doing work for no money is not, technically, an in-kind contribution(*). So you can easily declare that your time is worth $X, and that the project has a liability to pay you $X. But it could be a liability that is paid after all other liabilities. Then, if the film does turn a large enough profit, you can get your money back, but if not, first fruits (or any fruits at all) go to more senior creditors.

(*) An in-kind contribution means that an actual exchange was made. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_kind . Because an actual exchange is made, it's often tricky to re-run the transaction with money replacing one or both sides of the transaction.

May 10, 2016 at 9:56PM, Edited May 10, 10:03PM

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You wrote: "The funds I'm seeking are to complete post-production. "

If you are seeking funding to complete post production then if you use the money for other things you are obviously not playing by the rules.

May 12, 2016 at 2:56PM

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Cary Knoop
Member
2341

Hi Cary, I can see how you'd think that, let me rephrase what I said to clarify my question. In order to finish the film, I need funds for post-production. However, some of the grants I'm applying for offer funds for more than post-production, so I'm wondering whether it is normal or acceptable to solicit funds to cover past expenses, such as the money I spent on production. In no situation would I lie about what I'd use the funds for.

G.

May 13, 2016 at 6:43PM

Regarding your distribution question: It's almost impossible to secure distribution before finishing your film - this usually happens only with high-end projects which get pre-sales based on the attached talent (stars, director etc).
There are film markets, taking place during film festivals, where you can go with your finished film and meet buyers/distributors.

May 12, 2016 at 4:15PM, Edited May 12, 4:15PM

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Stel Kouk
Filmmaker
3062

This raise questions before being able able to give the good answer.
- Who are your founders : film producer, crowdfunding, gouvernement price grand, etc ?
Depending on who you aim for you don't put the things in the same way.
- - Why asking founding now and do you really need money to finish or do you just want to get (some) your investment back ?
The editing is the cheaper part of the production, you can do it yourself at home..

I have done a successful crowdfunding of my last feature so I know what I'm talking about, you have to realize that getting founds is a huge investment in time. It's a real full time job and it might be quicker and cheaper to finish the film yourself.

May 12, 2016 at 7:31PM

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AvdS
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