Insiders Tip: How To Find Filmmakers

Photo: Bill Rice via Flickr

Do you have a great idea for the Contest and need help finding a filmmaker?

You’re not alone. Now in its second year, the Contest has spurred on collaborations with filmmakers and food systems leaders to create compelling content and launch stories in front of thousands around the world. Featuring cash prizes and opportunities to work with leaders in the food and film industry, here are some tips to find filmmakers who’d be eager to connect and capture your would-be stories. And who knows, you may be looking outside when you’ve got a budding filmmaker right under your nose. Maybe it’s you.


Finding Filmmakers in your Area

Here are a few tips to find great filmmakers:

  • Search for documentaries that are similar to the subject matter to what you’re planning to produce OR that has a style of filmmaking that you like. Look in the credits and see who produced it.
  • Search on Vimeo for films and shorts from your area and see who produced them. You can also search profiles for location. Send them a message on Vimeo and start up a conversation.
  • Every state has a local film commission with local listings. Make a call and ask for recommendations of contacts or send an email.
  • Try a Google search for “film and video production companies in (your city).” Read their company bio and see if they do documentaries and/or short films. (Be aware that these leads may not be interested in doing pro bono work unless: they’re interested in the prizes and publicity that could come their way, and/or they strongly believe in your cause. Even if they can’t help you, they might be able to point you in the right direction to other filmmakers who might be a good fit for your project.)
  • Call the film department at your local university. They might be able to make some recommendations. Many high schools also offer film and video courses.
  • Attend a local film festival and/or find the organization who organizes the festival and ask them to make recommendations on filmmakers who may be interested in your project.
  • Contact documentary filmmaking organizations such as the International Documentary Association or Center for Independent Documentary.
  • Leverage your development skills and collaborate with local talented filmmakers to apply for grant opportunities.
  • Join a filmmakers chat room such as Creative Cow or DVXuser and pitch your project. (Be aware that you never know who’s going to respond, so make sure you fully explore their films, experience and references.)
  • Try Spidvid which connects people who want to make videos and documentaries.



Pitching Filmmakers on your Project

Here’s the key thing to remember when approaching filmmakers: since most experienced filmmakers won’t work for free (they have to make a living just like everyone else), be creative about what you may be able to offer if funding is limited. Are you a farmer? Offer a CSA share! Are you a non-profit with expertise in an area they could benefit from? Offer your skills. Help them write a grant proposal for an upcoming project. Pitch the project to them highlighting the food and film industry leaders they’d get their work in front of including Contest judges, advisors, ambassador schools, and networks. The cash prizes are sugar on top of a meaningful new collaboration.


Become  the Filmmaker – yes, you!

If you’re interested in the Contest, chances are you’re drawn to film as a powerful way to tell stories. Yes? There are some incredible resources by filmmakers for filmmakers out there to help you learn and develop the skills to be capture your own impressive stories. Show us your reality as you know it best. According to the team behind Desktop Documentaries, there’s never been a better time to be a filmmaker. What was once reserved for an elite few, making documentaries is now within reach of anyone with access to a camera and the internet. There are loads of resources on the cheap to help you get there, including free video editing software and – you can even make a movie with your iPhone. Our media partner, Disposable Film Fest, was founded exactly for this reason – to celebrate the democratization of cinema made possible by low cost video technology: everyday equipment like mobile phones, pocket cameras, DSLRs and other inexpensive devices. If this sounds like an exciting chance to try your hand at filmmaking, we’d love to see your work. There are truly incredible stories, solutions, and innovations to be shared – the future of our food depends on us to spread them far and wide.

Step behind the lens! Follow your instinct. Now’s the time.

Some suggestions here are cross-posted from Desktop Documentaries, there’s plenty more information and resources on the website.