The $10,000 versus the 1 Million Dollar Documentary

How much does it cost to make a documentary? Sugarman cost 80K as a first draft. The producer from Man on A Wire saw the draft and upped the budget to 400K. Crafting a compelling story takes time and money. The more money you have, the more you can hire a quality team to add quality input. Nowadays you cannot get funding unless you have a video trailer for your documentary. This makes sense for the funders who can foresee the potential of the documentary better by watching it rather than reading about it. But this process can be difficult for the filmmaker who might not be able to shoot locally and who will have to invest their own time and equipment to produce essentially a short film. I would like to see documentary funders have more pitching applications and forums for start up funds. Right now funds seems to be heavily weighed toward post-production funding, putting the cart before the horse. More funding for smaller amounts at the beginning of production would help keep the documentary industry fresh, opening more doors to more stories. In the meantime, here are some pointers from Kevin Knoblock on the You Tube series Film Courage: