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Philip Fass February 4th, 2011 08:07 AM

ethical/financial issue
I’m planning the content of a documentary while I identify potential funding sources.

The doc is about a specific group of disadvantaged people living in a town. One potential sponsor, a financial institution, specializes in serving the kind of consumer the video is about. For example, if someone doesn’t qualify for a loan, they’ll offer classes in what it takes to qualify and how to understand the terms.

I consider the loan class a great scene to include in the video, but also a very effective marketing tool for the financial institution.

Trying to decide if the exposure they’d gain by appearing in the video --- in addition to a logo credit -- could be offered as a quid pro quo for being a major sponsor. Or if I should avoid putting that kind of thing on paper, and only mention casually that they’ll be getting great publicity if they're actually shown doing their good deed.

Both a statewide nonprofit and its national parent organization are planning to distribute the video, so there should be fairly large and sympathetic audience.

Kevin Spahr February 4th, 2011 09:43 AM

I just looked into Kickstarter.com where you offer people something in return for contributing funding to your project. I'm going to experiment with this funding source to pay for the cost of duplicating my documentary on DVDs, contributors will basically be pre-purchasing the DVD. (If I don't get the funding through this method I'll just pay for it myself.)

Maybe you could talk to the parties involved about funding and go through Kickstarter.com by offering them something like multiple copies of the DVD or the rights to display the finished video or some other idea that might fit the model you are using. Since this would be considered a contribution, that would avoid the look of a having a "contract" with them or the suspicion that the content of the documentary has been influenced by the funding they gave you. You might even be able to raise some money from people you have never met but would be interested in your project.

Or maybe they would just want to contract you to make this documentary on their behalf. Guess it depends if this is "business" or something you consider to be a "moral commitment". Plus it could be hard to give control of your project to someone else.

Philip Fass February 4th, 2011 09:59 AM

I have lots of funding sources in mind, and only a few would be appropriate to work into the video itself. But I'm getting more comfortable with the idea of offering it to those few.

I think it's similar to the PBS show New Yankee Workshop, in which a major sponsor has its woodworking tools used in the show.

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