Short films are an excellent way for a screenwriter to get one of their scripts made, for aspiring writer-directors to get their work out there, and as a sort of proof of concept for a longer-form project you’re aiming to create. Film festivals, various online platforms, and even streaming services are places short films can be featured and find an audience.
Screenwriters often start by writing short films and then producing them to learn the ropes. More now than ever, there are opportunities to get your short film out there into the world, but can you make money from it? Yes, you can earn cash from your short films, and below I’ll tell you how!
Local Brand or Sponsor
Don’t be afraid to reach out to local stores and brands to see if they’re interested in sponsoring your film. Sponsoring can be done in various ways, such as shouting out the company at the end of the film in the credits, featuring a store location, or even utilizing product placement in the film itself.
You can also think broader and reach out to online companies in search of sponsorship! Is there an excellent internet company with a solid social media presence that you’d love to work with? Reach out to them!
Doing a crowdfunding campaign isn’t just helpful for raising money to afford to have your film made, but it can also allow you to earn a profit. When you’re creating your initial budget and trying to figure out how much money you’ll need for various aspects of production, be sure to account for your own salary! Balance your budget accordingly so that you’ll be able to walk away with a paycheck for all of your efforts.
Sell or License to a Streaming Platform
Streaming platforms such as ShortsTV buy and license short films. ShortsTV is a well-known company that focuses specifically on short films from filmmakers across the globe. ShortsTV plays these shorts on their cable network channel and also streams them online. They pay a couple of hundred dollars per short, which isn’t much in the grand scheme of things, but you’re getting paid and getting exposure. It’s a win-win!
It can be challenging to find a streaming platform interested in shorts. Prime Video Direct (part of Amazon Prime) recently ended their long-standing policy of accepting shorts and documentaries, making ShortsTV a unique opportunity.
Sometimes cable channels may be interested in shorts. Think Adult Swim on Cartoon Network or IFC. Cable television can be another avenue to pursue when looking to sell your shorts.
Upload and Monetize
Host your short film on YouTube or Vimeo and enable monetization. It’s not easy money, but if your short gets enough views and generates enough ad revenue, you will see some profit from it. You can also do this on a website of your own that’s ad-supported through ad networks such as Google AdSense and Viewdeos.
Contests that Offer Cash Prizes
Keep an eye out for any online contests that are looking for short films that have a cash prize. You may also be interested in submitting your short to various film festivals. Film festivals can be a great way to gain exposure for yourself and your work; however, not many offer cash prizes. Or if they do offer a financial incentive, it may only be for the top prizes. Some film festivals that have offered cash prizes in the past include The Berlin Film Festival, The Toronto Film Festival, and The Seattle Film Festival. Festivals offering cash prizes can often be challenging to get your short into. You have to do your research and think strategically when trying to earn money from the film festival circuit.
I hope this blog was helpful if you’re someone who’s hoping that your next short film will be more than just a calling card, but something that you can use to earn cash. It’s not easy figuring out how to monetize your short-form content, but continuing to work on your craft and keeping yourself open to new opportunities is an excellent place to start!