This is the third in my ongoing (though irregular) series of posts on Project Funding Application Tips (see here and here for previous posts). They are tips that I’ve come up with after reviewing an awful lot of applications for a variety of funds.
- I can’t believe I have to say this but leave your cutesy bios on your website (if you must). I don’t care if you like rainbows and kitty cats and rock climb in your spare time. I want to know if you have the necessary skills and experience to do the job.
- If your website is going to have a lot of videos and some of them will be exclusive and some of them will be edited footage from the television show (e.g. bloopers), the budget for video cannot be assessed unless the evaluator has an idea of how many videos will be original and how many will be edited. Even a ballpark will help.
- If something that you want to produce is going to be more expensive than normal ranges, you have to explain, in detail, why it will be more expensive. Without that explanation some evaluators will cut the budget and/or the amount funded while others will reject an application completely. Whatever the reason for the higher expense – sell it. If it is a digital project and the higher expense is due to more content then you have to explain just how much content will be produced. If it is a drama and the cast is huge that should be obvious in the scripts but there will be other cost categories that will not be so obvious and they need explanation.
- If you are applying for funding for a second or later season, don’t assume that the evaluators are familiar with your show. An episode of the earlier season is not enough. You need to include a bible or other document that explains who the characters are and a summary of what happened in each previous season, particularly if there are story arcs that relate to the current season’s story. It’s hard to evaluate creative when you don’t have any clue what’s going on.
- Comedy is hard but applying for funding for a comedy project is even harder. Depending on the kind of comedy it might not come across from the script (I can remember laughing out loud while reading a goofy boys animation script but that’s rare). Communicating the funny can be particularly hard when writing an outline or a concept document. Short clips can go a long way to communicating the funny. If you go that route though, make sure the clips really are funny. They should also be well performed and edited so that the evaluator isn’t distracted by things that can be easily improved in production.
- Be consistent when applying to different funds. While there may be different goals, eligibility requirements and guidelines between different funds the project should still be fundamentally the same. If it isn’t there is a strong possibility that this will be noticed. Yes, funders talk, especially when a project is complicated or brings up unique issues. They also sometimes use the same evaluators so you always run the risk of someone saying ‘hey, I saw this project when it applied over here and it was different’. Don’t do that.
- Speaking of other applications, if you are making multiple applications be sure to have the right name on your documents. Make sure that your cover letter does not say ‘Dear Andra’ if it is going to the Shaw Rocket Fund. Change the footer from ‘CMF Experimental’ to ‘Bell Broadcast and New Media Fund’. Seriously – I’ve seen this mistake made.
- When you are applying to multiple agencies be careful about trying to shoehorn the same documents into each application. Make sure that you address the needs of each application separately. Funders want to know that you have taken the time and attention to focus on their guidelines and addressed their requirements. Sometimes its just confusing when you give a funder information that they haven’t asked for.