It seems to be the default response whenever you mention the words ‘short’ and ‘film’ in succession at a major festival or film industry forum:
Oh, short films don’t make money. Once you’ve made one or two, move on to features.
Well, we at Snoovies do see the difficulty in direct monetisation of a single short. People aren’t jumping with excitement to fork out a monthly subscription or a pay-per-view fee for a 10 minute video. Platforms such as YouTube and Vimeo have made the concept of free quality video content ubiquitous. But that doesn’t mean making money is completely out of the question and the short / mini-movie / microfilm is a waste of your time. Consider the following:
1. Your short can earn money through film festival prizes and awards
Many film festivals offer cash prizes to the most original/inventive/daring shorts. These prices can go up to $100,000. If you score such a prize, you can definitely say you’ve made ‘money’ on the short, especially if you were able to create the film on a budget of under 10K. Some cash prize festivals don’t even require you to pay an entry fee to submit your short, check out our list here.
2. You can sell the legal rights for making the concept into a feature film
This is not impossible! If your short is truly original and has potential, it can be the seed that grows into a full fledged film franchise. We at Snoovies have many times reached out to filmmakers about a short film that ended up as a feature a couple of years later. The filmmakers always tell us how they would have never been able to secure the funding and support they needed without having first made a short to showcase the concept.
3. Work leads to more work
It is simple, but true. If you keep busy, people will flock to you with job offers. Many producers and directors of shorts get approached via the Snoovies app to work on commercials, music videos and other media content because employers were impressed by what they saw on our app. For those instances, even if indirectly, can you honestly say the short didn’t make money?
4. Distribute the short as is
There are distributors that have been able to sell shorts using the traditional film distribution model. We came across an interesting link with a massive list of International Distributors.
5. Crowd funding and donations
Just let people view the film for free and ask them to donate to the team behind the film after viewing. This could be to help fund a future project, or just to help you out recouping some of your investment. You’d be surprised how many people are willing to help you after they’ve been moved by your work.
We at Snoovies facilitate this model on our app: whenever users view a film they are invited to learn more about the filmmakers. At that stage, film makers are free to plug their other projects or ask the viewers whatever they’d like. You can link to any existing crowdfunding or donation campaign straight form the app. Give it a go, it can’t hurt to try right? Submit your film here.