Producer’s Hat, part 1



Producer’s Hat: A Room With No View

Some time ago, director Inger Lene Stordrange, whom I had worked with on short film earlier (“Gnist” /”Spark” – see previous blog), approached me with an idea she had for a short. I ended not only agreeing to write the script, I took upon myself to produce it as well. Genesis Film agreed to be the production company.

(I have previously written about “A Room With No View” in a blog earlier, so please scroll backwards to find out more about the story line.)

All films communicate something. Some have a message that is clearer than others, and sometimes this message happens to be one others are also trying to convey.  Or a message that others empathize with.  Others, meaning private individuals and organizations.

When this is the case, the possibilities for funding and distribution widen somewhat.

Financing a film, whether it is a short or a feature, is a heavy task. Yes, we have all the usual film financing channels, but the pressure on them has only increased these past years. And even if you succeed in getting a straw in their pockets, it rarely is enough to cover the entire party. Work credits and pulling in favors (or adding to the I-O-U list of favors to return in future) only goes so far.

Anyone trying to make a movie knows this.

Finding investors can be difficult enough for feature films, which in Norway has proven to be a risky venture, and is almost impossible for short film production. How many short films actually make any money?

Anyone ever hear of this ever happening?

Awards, yes. But an actual income?

Another issue is that short films rarely reach a large audience. I have heard from several filmmakers (only directors, I think) that they don’t care if their films reach an audience and that they only make films for themselves. I do believe there should be room for films that are for a narrow audience, but the clue here is that it is still an audience. Besides, who says that good quality films only appeal to a few? Why shouldn’t good, artistic films also be commercial successes? Or at least able to reach many people?

Personally, I want the films I make to be seen by many. That does not mean I am willing to sell out.

And if I can end up with a plus in my bank account at the end of the day, I don’t see why I should feel guilty about that. I have already used all my savings on earlier film projects and worked countless hours for free on almost everyone of them. At some point this will not be able to continue. Besides, if one film makes money, it would be channeled in to another project to get the next one going.

“A Room With No View” has several key elements that caught my attention to make me want to put on my Producer’s Hat. It has a strong visual potential and a strong story to convey, that I trust director Inger Lene Stordrange to be able to do a wonderful job on.

Two important topics in the film are bullying and mental illness. Both of these topics make it possible to think outside the box for financing and distribution. I have started to see that these can be two sides of the same coin.

Research turned up astounding numbers regarding bullying and mental illness:

-In a recent survey done in Norwegian schools, 30,000 pupils claim to be victims of harassment and bullying.

-About 1 in 5 will some time in their life experience a moderate to serious mental illness, so approximately 1 million of Norway’s population.

-900,000 persons in Norway have a close relative who has a mental illness.

These numbers are huge, considering that Norway only has a population of 5 million! If we compare to other countries around the world, the ratio is about the same. These issues affect a lot of people.

Bullying doesn’t always end up in mental illness and mental illness does not always start because of bullying. In our story, how ever, it does.  Our film touches on both, and depending on what they are interested in, it appeals to a large amount of people.

Often issues on harassment/bullying and mental illness are taboo. People may speak about having cancer and other physical diseases, but rarely about mental illness. Bullying is also something that is misunderstood. Many adults don’t understand how painful it is for the victim and view it as innocent teasing that children always do.

On the surface.

Lately I have spoken to many people who know the truth about how devastating and difficult it is to live with these and on top of it, the additional pain that comes from the stigma and ignorance of people around them. After creating a Facebook page about the film, I have received mails from all over the world from people telling me similar experiences.

“A Room With No View” has the potential to reach many people and this should be a way for us to find ways to fund it.

Right before the summer vacation, I started trying out crowd funding as one strategy. I didn’t put much effort into it, something I will be doing in the near future. I did the same as “everyone” is doing these days – started Facebook pages (English: , Norwegian: . I also made homepages for the film (English: , Norwegian: ). There was also an article about it in Rogalandsavis in July.

Between the two Facebook pages there are currently only about 100 followers.  This is something I plan on trying to increase using various strategies.

For now, the few people (many whom I do not know) who have heard of the film have already donated over kr 8.000. That’s not much, but a whole lot more than when I wrote about funding earlier.

My goal is to get 1000 people to give kr 50 or more and 200 companies to donate kr 500 and more. This would give kr 150.000 as a minimum, if we reach this goal. Very few have donated kr 50. Most give a bit (some a lot) more.

In addition to using social media, I am working on flyers people can circulate, either on paper or by e-mail. Not everyone is on Facebook and we must not forget this. Of course, in order to get this started, I am depending on friends and family to help me, as well as those of everyone else involved. It will be interesting to see how far this gets us.

Everyone who donates by paypal and those who donate by bank and send us their e-mail address, are added to our mailing list. I will be keeping them updated about the project, so they feel involved. I have a few ideas of how to thank them properly, in addition to a personal thank you mail they all get after donating, but I will get back to that.

There are other strategies I have started working on, which tie funding and distribution. I will tell more about that when I put my Producer’s Hat back on next week.

For now, I am off to the Norwegian Film Festival for the weekend.  🙂