Students,

Movies are very expensive to make. However, people still want to make films. And in order to make a movie, you need money. Getting money is hard, and when you are a student, you usually do not have much money to start with.
Typically, student films do not cost as much as bigger movies; this mostly comes from the fact that they use lower quality material.
There are different ways to finance a student film:

Your own money

As a general rule, it is better not to put up your own money for your student film if you can get money somewhere else. But let’s be honest, you will most likely have to put some of your own money if you want to make a good student film. If you do not have money to invest in your student film right this minute, think about saving some while you start developing your idea and getting everything ready. By the time you are ready to start you will have some money aside to start pre-production or production of your student film.

Parent’s money

If your parents are supportive of your career choice, you might want to think about asking them to help sponsor your student film. You shouldn’t ask them to give you the money, but you should put it to them as an investment for your student film. It is an investment for the start of your career. You should present it to them like you would present your plan to an investor.
And if you are lucky and your parents have money, you might even get enough money to make a pretty decent student film.

Family’s money

In addition to your parents, some of you might have some family who are ready to support you and invest in your student film. Again, present it to them as an investment and not as just giving you money.

Friends’ money

Most likely, your friends will not have much more money than you do, but they might be willing to help. Even if they do not have money, they can put their skills at your service during the production of your student film.

Sponsors

This is a great way to either get more money or free equipment or service.
You would be surprised at how easy it is to get people to give you money or give you services for free.
The best way for you to get those is if your student film touches some issues that people find important (ex: AIDS, WWII, etc.)
Then try to find an organization or association that supports this issue. Arrange a meeting with them. Be very professional, they have no reason to do you a favor, but you have to show them why they should. Go there prepared, have a kit with you with pictures and information about your student film (it is best if you already have a location where you will be shooting your film, some of the main crew, equipment needed, and anything relevant to the making of your student film.

Have a plan. Tell them what you plan to do with the film (festival, theatrical distribution, etc.) If you do your job well, you might get out of your meeting with some money in your pocket to finance your student film.

Getting services for free is also a great tool. For example, if you are shooting your film on 16mm or 35mm, film can be expensive as well as processing, but wouldn’t it be great if you could get all that for free or at least for a discounted price? You can.
Pretty much the same principles as for getting money apply here: present your project to the people in charge and hopefully they will be willing to help. (You might wonder why anybody would want to give services for free. Well, let’s just say that if you make it big, you are likely to go back to them, but this time with money. They are building their client list.)

Credit Card

You could always put some of your expenses on your credit card and pay them back once you get the money, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Getting into debt over a student film is not a great way to start your career.

Loan

As a very last resort you could always take out a loan. But I wouldn’t recommend it. Before you do that, you should try to lower your budget or find solutions to make your student film cheaper.

Donations

If your student film touches some social issues, you might be able to get some donations for it. Try to find some non-profit organization that might be willing to support your student film.

Now go out and make that film!

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