3 Ways to Bypass Film Industry Gatekeepers by The Film Fund Founder and CEO Thomas Verdi

If you’re interested in the film industry and getting your flicks made, read up.

You’re probably not J.J. Abrams, or Steven Spielberg, or Quentin Tarantino. With their industry reputations, “bankable” status, and proven track records, these guys can make a few calls and get their productions greenlit. Okay, it’s probably a little more complicated than that, but still.

I really can’t say for sure, as, at least at this point in my career, I’ve been blocked by those known in the industry as “gatekeepers.” And so have my friends.

While I know this fact to be true, I didn’t realize there exists an industry term for those figures who hold all the production power—the studios, the prominent festivals, whatever. The term “gatekeeper” made its way into my brain straight from several frustrated filmmakers who had emailed me back about The Film Fund—our alternative to using crowdfunding, big screenwriting contests, or grant applications to fund budding short film projects.

So because the word “gatekeeper” has been lingering in my head for a while now, here are three reasons why we think it’s so easy to get around those people. They want you to think they hold all the power. They don’t.

1. Give crowdfunding the finger (the gatekeepers run these, too!)

It’s not that crowdfunding doesn’t work. But it usually only works for the right people. Zach Braff of Scrubs fame raised over 3 MILLION dollars for his film using Kickstarter. And other big online influencers succeed with crowdfunding because they already have fans and followings, even if just on social media.

And of the films on Kickstarter that do get financed—we’re talking about narrative films here—only 14.7% of them are short films, and 41% of these short film campaigns fail.That doesn’t leave a lot of room for your little project. To get around the gatekeepers, forget crowdfunding.

2. Start from the ground up. From below what you think the ground even is. Really.

You do not need the big players to make a successful short film—at least not at first. In all probability, you’re not going to be able to get a job as a security guard on a film lot and suddenly have the opportunity to pitch your attack-of-the-alien-killer-crabs short film concept to Peter Jackson and have him write you a check to cover the budget. That would be pretty sick, though.

You need to make a small project to get you in front of some people who matter, some influencers, and then maybe they’ll be interested in developing future projects with you.

Wrestle together $500 from your uncle—or maybe even up to $10,000 with The Film Fund—make an awesome short, and submit it to small festivals. If it’s any good, people will notice.

3. Be lean.

Short films do not make money. They serve as calling cards, quick references to show what a filmmaker is all about. While there are always exceptions, it doesn’t make sense to me to slave over a short film script with no likelihood that it will be purchased or produced by anyone other than the original writer—or production team.

There are tons of short writing competitions and grants out there that require a sizeable amount of time and effort, and they will gladly take your hard-earned dough—as much as $125 in some cases—for one entry. We think you should approach filmmaking with the same mentality as many successful startup companies: be lean and test out an MVP, a minimum viable product.

With The Film Fund, you can go in with nothing more than a simple idea, and if our judges think it’s got moxie, then you can develop it with our funding.

If not, there’s really no time wasted. You wrote one sentence, and you coughed up a few minutes and twenty-five clams. That’s like a decent steak dinner—not hours on hours and $125.

You’ll even get some free entries if you spread the word about The Film Fund on social media after entering.

So to avoid having an aneurysm at the mighty filmmaking gates, try something a lot less stressful, like The Film Fund.

And feel free to email me at tom@thefilmfund.co.


Founder and CEO of The Film Fund, Thomas Verdi


As Founder and CEO of The Film Fund, Thomas Verdi is a dynamic creative who wants to help indie filmmakers with their projects. Finishing up a BA in English, a concentration in creative writing, an entrepreneurship minor, and a film studies minor at Lehigh University, he looks forward to focusing on the synergy between creativity and innovation in his future pursuits. He has been writing and directing films since childhood, and his short script “Son of Blackbeard,” currently in pre-production, was named a semi-finalist in HollyShorts Film Festival’s Screenplay Contest. Thomas also works as a freelance content writer for several prominent startup companies such as Flip.




The Film Fund – check it out here!

From The Film Fund – Get up to $10,000 to make your short film by writing one sentence.

The Film Fund is providing funding up to $10,000 for a short film in a way that’s a lot simpler than screenwriting contests, crowdfunding, or applying to grants – read more about Founder and CEO Thomas Verdi’s The Film Fund here via his website.



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