The Bridge to Funding or not

Over the weekend Abby and I watched a documentary called the Bridge. If you haven’t seen the film, it’s about people who kill themselves by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. More people choose the Golden Gate as their place to die than any other spot on the globe. That’s depressing, but also intriguing so I understand why a documentary filmmaker would be drawn to the subject. However, this blog is not about the film or it’s merits. I will say that it was beautifully shot, and very depressing. (watch it for yourself)

What prompted me to write this post were comments made by the Director Eric Steel in a featurette on the DVD. He basically said that after he read “Jumpers: The fatal grandeur of the Golden Gate Bridge” in the New Yorker, he immediately decided to move to San Francisco and shoot a documentary about the subject. Next he bought “$100,000″ in camera equipment and “learned” how to log tapes. Then he hired a significant crew of production people, and they staked out the Golden Gate Bridge from at least two locations for an entire year.

Wow. Ok. That’s pretty amazing. He just decided to do that after he read an article in the New Yorker. And at the end of it, he had a pretty solid film about a touching issue with some amazing cinematography of one the United States most recognizable landmarks. Like I said, wow.

What I’m wondering is, how do you just afford to pick up your life, drop a hundred grand on camera equipment, and spend a year shooting a documentary? Who has that kind of money laying around? Who can immediately relocate to another city, take at least a year off from paying work, and hire a production crew of talented people?

If you imdb Mr. Steel you learn that he has produced Hollywood feature films in the past (Including Shaft), so he either had the money or knew where to get it. Good for him and his accomplishments, but that isn’t the inspiration I was looking for after I heard him describe how the film was made.

Where does the money come from for filmmakers who don’t have a Hollywood resume? Collectively Abby and I have worked in college radio, international cable television, major publishing, and cutting edge social media. We know a lot of creative professionals, but not any money people interested in backing documentary films.

What are we missing? …because recently I read an interesting article in Mother Jones, and I’d like to relocate to shoot a doc on the subject. Anybody want to pass me a hundred grand? TeamJaded needs to make it happen.


5 Responses to “The Bridge to Funding or not”

  1. Neil Cocker says:

    Frustrating, isn’t it?!


    I’ve got at least 4 or 5 ideas that could easily be got off the ground and have a very good chance of making excellent money if only I had easy access to relatively small amounts of money (10,000 pounds or less). The ridiculous thing is that it’s sometimes easier to get funding for something massive than it is for something small. I’ve given up pitching for government/state funding as they never seem to understand the creative industries.

    Us creative types will just have to do it for ourselves!



    p.s. Maybe he won the lottery…?

  2. Neil Cocker says:

    p.p.s. In some spooky moment of synchronicity, I’ve just realised that today would have been the birthday of my best friend who committed suicide by drowning himself in a lake about 6 or 7 years ago. I hope films like this go towards helping people understand depression and other mental illnesses and that we can help more people avoid feeling that taking their own lives is their only option.

  3. Jeremey says:

    The film definitely takes a long look at suicide and what drives people to it. They did a good job of delving into the stories of people who had used the Golden Gate Bridge for suicide by exploring their personal lives through family and friends. As with any doc all we can do is hope that it helps people through the personal stories of others.

    As for the money thing. We are totally on the same page.

  4. lo says:

    teamjaded I’d give you the money if I only had it, but I don’t, so this is not helping.

    If you are confident the project will pay for itself you could get the money on loan or credit.

  5. Jeremey says:

    Unfortunately it is almost impossible to get a loan for creative work, and pretty difficult to get loan for a small business in this economy. As for credit, we’ve been down that road, that’s how we ended up back in full-time employment.

    I think the answer is a combination of personal resources, connections to rich people, contributions from interested parties, and grants.

    Since our personal resources are nil and we don’t know any rich people that leaves the latter two options.

    We need to put together a solid proposal that we can pitch to interested parties, that’s a definite.

    We also need to figure out how to write a grant and where to send it off to.

    So if we needed help with anything, it would be the following, writing a proposal, writing grants, and learning the proper avenues to send those documents, and pretty much everything else about that process.

    We will be getting to all of those things in November after the wedding. In the meantime I’m going to continue researching and blogging about other peoples success and/or failures with funding.

    Thanks Lo.

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