taking one frame at a time since 1999

So this I would like to start as I can guess there are lots of new animators who ask "how do I fund my film?"

I myself am in the position of searching for a way to fund Wildlife on Mars, but how? I mean, should we could all get "normal" jobs, and save up, or should we apply to funding bodies, or perhaps, as Phil Tippet has done recently with Mad God, make a public donations account and reward people who pledge xxx donation to the project...or we could just marry a old millionaire?

Lets share our thoughts and results from previous searchs or maybe you've actually done something different to achieve funding?

Lets try make it a wee bit easier for the stop-motion animator to find and get the funding their projects deserve!

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Serious investment funding for short films is probably out of the question - short films don't make money. If they cover their costs that's fantastic, but I wouldn't want to mislead investors into believing they can make a profit.

Pre-sales to a television network are a possibility for some projects - generally they will want something at least a half hour in length (or a commercial half hour of about 22 minutes), 1 hour is better. But any one-off is hard to promote unless it's a major event - they want series that can build an audience, and that requires a big crew of animators to keep churning out fodder to feed the beast.  So there aren't many opportunities for a one-off short film that says exactly what it has to say in the right amount of time, then stops.

The crowd funding option is worth considering.  It's not really investment and it's clear what the contributors will get - a signed poster, a dvd, a "thank you" in the credits or whatever, and I expect they usually deliver what they promise.   Phil Tippett got oversubscribed because he has a name and reputation, however someone brilliant but unknown (or moderately talented and almost unknown) might struggle to get noticed, so I wouldn't like to count on it too much for my next film.  It might help with post production though.

In some places there is public funding, though it is usually limited, hard to get, and not really enough to pay the real costs.  I'm working on two films that have public funding (from Screen Australia) and I'm wondering if I want to go that way myself - or not.   They are required to have a "team" - a producer at the very least, who ends up being the "author" of the film in many respects, even though the animator may have written or commissioned the script, storyboarded it, designed and made everything, and animated and photographed it.  There is also pressure to hire an editor - normally a good idea, but I've worked with editors, and there wasn't much scope for them compared to a drama or doco.   I've edited the film before I shot it, I don't have alternate takes and camera angles to choose from, if there are two takes it means the first one was a complete disaster.  My shots are usually cut on the action so I know within a frame or two where the cut has to be, and which shot it cuts to.  It's easier to cut it myself.   I can't hire other setmakers or puppetmakers because I'd have to pay them a decent amount, whereas I will work for nothing on my own project.    So If I got a grant I would be paying out a lot of it for services I don't need, just to satisfy the funding body.

In both films, the animator/directors are using the bulk of funds to hire people, and end up with next to nothing to pay themselves for their 2 years of hard work.  And there was no question of me charging the actual costs for my time building sets for one - about $40,000 - the best the budget could do was $8000.  I've spent that much on power bills for my studio while working on it.  

Both films took longer to get started, because storyboards had to be approved by people, who might take a couple of weeks each time to reply with suggestions for changes.  Valuable feedback maybe, but also a lot of extra stuffing about.  One director has to subsidise the studio space hire by doing other work for pay on Fridays, if the full cost went on the budget the film couldn't be finished.  These budgets look pretty good - around $120,000 per film I think - but the conditions imposed make them cost that much, where I could make the same film for 1/3rd as much if I could do it my way with no interference.

I funded my last film myself, and kept costs down by doing almost everything myself.  I paid about $500 total for use of music, and around $300 for transferring to video and getting digital Betacam tapes to send to festivals.  I had an unexpected expense of $1000 when my camera developed flicker and I had to rush out and buy a replacement.  (Turned out it wasn't the camera's fault, but uneven power supply.) I probably spent $300 on materials specifically for the film.  I did all post production effects like compositing myself, and even the sound effects recording and editing.  So total money spent was around $2,300, but with the use of existing studio space and equipment.  If you already have a spare room, garage or basement set up, actual cash outlay for a particular film may not be much.  If you don't it's another story.

Actual costs, if I hadn't already had tools, camera, lenses, lights, and equipment and things like clay and set tables in stock, would have been a lot more of course, so if starting from scratch, some funding would have probably been essential.   And I would do much better to get professional sound editing and mixing.  But at the moment I'm leaning towards funding the next one myself. Generally this means not working on it full time, but keeping a day job.  With something already as slow to make as stop motion, that is a drawback - it can be hard to keep up enthusiasm over too long a period.  I don't think I could keep going for 10 or 20 years on a big no-budget project like some have done.   

I tend to agree with Nick on this one, investors for a short film seems a little hopeless unless you have some sort of track record with previous work. 

… though I don’t completely agree, because I do think Nick and a few other guys (like Marc & Ron) would hit it out of the park if they tried a kickstarter … (like $50,000 and up, out of the park)

Anyway, I think kickstarter is a totally viable option if you have an audience. If you can get a few hundred people giving you $50 or a hundred bucks a piece, you can end up with a substantial amount of money in a hurry.

I did personally try running a kickstarter for my film project, Curse Of The Wolf's Heart a while back. Here it is I failed to make my goal, so I didn’t end up with any money, but it encouraged me to think what might be possible with a larger audience.

Another option is YouTube videos, if you can make viral stopmotion videos like Patrick Boivin - That get hundreds of thousands of views you can actually make a living off the youtube ads.

There’s also the option of ads on your blog or website, if you can get a good amount of traffic consistently hitting a blog about your film, you can monitize your site with google ads & project wonderful ads. I do that and I make a little money, if I had more traffic and more clicks I could make a lot more.

Another option is selling products, I notice a lot of sculptors and fx guys do this. They put together tutorials on DVD, or digital download, and sell them.

I think it just boils down to what kind of audience you can put together? If you can inspire a huge amount of people to love your work, kickstarters, and ads, and downloads will probably work, but if you have 3 people reading your blog … none of it is going to work.


I have 21 hours left on my indie go go campaign, and I would have to agree with Nick that it is hard to get noticed unless you are a name, which is ironic as crowdfunding is supposed to be a platform for those working ouside of the system. Anyway I have raised 2/3rds of my funds, (21 HOURS TO GO) so it isn't all doom and gloom, but it is a hard slog with no guarantee of a return.

Check out my campaign:



apparently is another place to try for public funding.


great feed back guys, keep ideas, experiences and thoughts coming, remember we need to try show ways to get money to finance our films, apart from waiting for that one rich guy you meet in a bar one blue moon night!

The most important thing I know about raising money is that you have to learn how to ask for it. Face to face, one person to another, without embarrassment.

Also: the people who are most likely to give when asked are not strangers — they're the people you know.

Generally speaking, a large sum is built out of many many $10 donations, some $20 donations, and very few $50 donations.

Once you learn how to ask your family, friends, FaceBook followers, and co-workers for a little support for the Great Idea, then you start finding bigger fish to ask. Like by writing grant proposals. But it's still essentially about convincing one person at a time to believe in you.

Also, don't forget to ask for donations of things other than cash. In-kind donations of physical materials, loans of equipment, or volunteer labor — these also count toward your goals.

To me, the elephant in the room that we need to talk about is how much money we're budgeting for in the first place.

Personally, I think a $500-$1000 budget for a short stopmo film is pretty achievable, $1000-$5000 is beginning to push it, and $5000+ is very unlikely to succeed. (This is assuming that we're talking about a team of 1-2 auteurs, not a larger team effort.)

The time we put into a film is worth far, far more... We all dream of getting at least minimum wage! But I've also read through budgets for large art organizations — and know that what some of us ask for when trying to fund our 5-minute-long pet projects is more than what some Arts employees are getting paid for a year of service to large communities.

Does anybody here have any experience getting grants? (like Sven mentioned)

How do you write them and where do you get them? I've searched around the web a few times before and didn't find much usable information.


Sven Bonnichsen said:

"Like by writing grant proposals"


Congratulations on your awards!  I cannot wait to see what you end up producing with the extra economic assistance.

I worked in two groups, the first as the Information Manager of the Western States Arts Federation in the mid 1980s, and the second as a Programmer/Systems Analyst 2 for the State of New Mexico, where I was fortunate to be included in workshops in both which were presented by some of the top grants writers in the country.  Although it has been a looong time, I am trying to contact one of my old bosses and see if he still has the manual for the workshop, and would send me a copy.  If I can get it, I will either share it with the members, or summarize the contents (depending on the copyright). 

Grant writing is a complex field, with definite strategies and requirements.  Just jumping in without knowledge pretty much dooms the jumper to failure, while approaching the process with the right information dramatically increases one's chances of a positive outcome.


Congratulations on your successful funding campaign! 

John O'Lone said:

I have 21 hours left on my indie go go campaign, and I would have to agree with Nick that it is hard to get noticed unless you are a name, which is ironic as crowdfunding is supposed to be a platform for those working ouside of the system. Anyway I have raised 2/3rds of my funds, (21 HOURS TO GO) so it isn't all doom and gloom, but it is a hard slog with no guarantee of a return.

Check out my campaign:



Congratulations Bianca, glad your having success. I'll try taking your advice and look around for opportunity's here.


some great points and answers here guys, keep them coming and Bianca, i defo think that having a online funding source thread actually would be a great idea :-) especially for people like me who have no clue where to start looking

That is an excellent idea!  I really like your cheap puppetmaking thread.

Bianca Ansems said:

Thank you, both. I don't mean it in a braggy way, by the way, just saying the funds are out there, just try and apply for everything. Sometimes festivals have competitions attached to them as well.

Perhaps we should start a thread with competitions and funding we find online whatever country it is?

Right now I am working on my Master's degree in Creativity Studies and using student loan money to fund my research and production of stop motion and other animation.  Since I will be using stop motion and hand-drawn 2D animation for my Master's Project, it is a legitimate expense.

The only problem is that I have had serious health problems over the past two years which have caused me to have to drop out and start all over again each semester, or caused me to have to skip a semester before I restarted.  Hopefully my body will be healthier now and the health problems will all be behind me.

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