TV is a rough and tumble business where there are more great ideas than slots to be filled, and development hell really does exist if your great ideas don’t fit in with what the commissioners are looking for. When you get lucky and you get that hard-won commission (at least in the BBC documentary world where I used to work) you get the money you need to make the film, a guarantee that it will be shown to an audience, and publicity, even if that is only a mention in the TV listings of the daily and weekly press. Out here in the world of independent documentary making, none of those things is certain.
I invested my own money to shoot my first feature documentary, “Bastards”. The legal case I was following in Morocco was not going to wait while I raised development or production funding from the American and European funding bodies that exist to help independents, so I forged ahead, borrowed equipment, used budget airlines and lived in a degree of squalor to get the shoot done. Then I collapsed in a heap of exhaustion, and wondered how I was going to find the money to move forwards to post production, the most expensive part of the process. I raised enough money through the crowdfunding website Kickstarter to edit the film, and then the wonderful Film Agency for Wales galloped in on its white charger to provide the money needed for post production. The money was finally in place, but it had taken two years, and I had given up my BBC staff post to be able to do it. The next step is to find an audience.
Some filmmakers do it themselves, go round the world to festivals and marketplaces trying to sell their film to broadcasters, cinema distributors, DVD and VOD companies. I don’t have the energy, or the money or the contacts to do that, so I am just delighted to have a Sales Agent, Jan Rofekamp of Films Transit International. Here he is talking about what people like him can do for people like me. When he sells “Bastards” it will find audiences, and one of these days you will be able to watch it. Somewhere. I can’t wait.
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