What do you do when you have a story that must be told, but you just don’t have the cash? Ask your fans to pony up. Filmmaker Robert Greenwald has proven that if prospective viewers believe in your idea as much as you do, they will.
Greenwald and his Culver City prodco Brave New Films needed US$300,000 to get Iraq For Sale, his new film about war profiteering, into production for a fall release. There was a major donor waiting in the wings willing to give him $100,000, but it came with a condition: it had to be matched against $200,000 of donations from others.
So, Greenwald turned to the Internet. Brave New Films made a trailer for the film, started a site (iraqforsale.org) for online donations, and then did email blasts. It took three weeks to raise enough money to trigger the funds from the major donor. In fact, 2,906 people donated $261,132 to the project, bringing total donations to $361,132. After all the success he’s had bypassing the system in order to find funding and distribution, did Greenwald think it would take less than a month to bankroll his latest passion? ‘Not in my wildest dreams,’ he admits. ‘It has allowed us to begin filming.’