When I started my film project „Black Forest“ back in January I would never have thought that after its official public release it would get more than 5000 hits within 48 hours, I would never have thought that I would get sponsored by some of my regions biggest companies or that my project would win the German Nature Conservation Award. In this blog I want to share some of my experiences from this project and I want to take you through the individual steps that made this project what it has become.
It all began in January 2013 when I had this idea; I wanted to produce a film that shows the unique beauty of nature and wildlife in the Black Forest, the beautiful nature reserve in which I live. I wanted my film to include everything from time lapses to aerial footage to macros and wildlife to Steadycam shots and Slow Motion. There were plenty of good time-lapse videos, plenty more aerial movies but there was no single one that included it all.
First of all I created a very basic project website with all the information about the idea and some information about myself. I knew that if I’ll spent countless weeks out there in nature filming, I will also want people to see what I filmed. So I started to contact all my friends, media contacts, local politicians and celebrities and asked them if they wanted to become partners of my project. Becoming a partner meant that they are mentioned on the project website and in all press releases while in return they would share my film. Slowly the group of partners started to increase from local cinemas, to regional TV stations, the regional minister, the list goes on… Please consider that these kind of partners that I raised in the beginning are all what I consider „partners you get for free“. You don’t ask them for money but you only ask them to share your project in return of you sharing their logo and brand. Once this is taken care of you can be sure that suddenly every one will take you more seriously – potential sponsors, the media, just everyone – that’s why I consider this first step to be very important.
In my second step I would now approach the sponsors. After identifying the core elements of my project, which were „nature, water, black forest, etc.“ I then identified the most appropriate sponsors for such a project, which ended up being the regional tourism agency, a local bank, a regional water company and a local brewery. But before I contacted any of those potential sponsors I called Cathy Horn and asked her for some valuable advice. Following her recommendations I created a project outline with the following information:
– Project Description
– About Me (CV with past project experience)
– List of already involved Media Partners
– Project Budget
– Sponsor Packages (small, medium, large)
– Benefits of sponsorships
I then followed one of the procedures that I learnt during the Global Changemakers Summit in London in 2010. First you call the people and tell them briefly about your project but at the same time you say that you can send them an e-mail with the link to the website and a project description. What you now have is the e-mail address of a person who knows you in the company that should sponsor you.
In your first e-mail you now describe the project briefly again and you also mention that a website can only transmit a marginal part of your project and I’d be better if you could meet them to give a presentation about your project. Once you get a meeting, it is up to you to blow them away – make sure to always mention their benefits from your project 😉
Three months had passed, my project had become big with sponsors and media involved and I didn’t even yet start to film. With all the different expectations involved I quickly realized that „it has become serious“. So I went out there and contacted a few rangers, an orthinologist, a pilot, a music teacher and a few filmmaking friends of mine and I can tell you I am glad about the help of every single of team. Thanks to the orthinologist we could film some rare bird species, the pilot took me along for free because he was fascinated by the project and apparently a lot of other people offered me „free flights“ once they heard about my project. At last it was the tremendous support and knowledge of Manuel and Sven Löffler who helped me in the conceptuation, filming and color correction.
You will always have to consider that with all those sponsors and partners involved you will suddenly have a lot of expectations involved. That one sponsor will want you to focus on this part of the project; the other will want you to focus on that… Don’t try to make everyone happy – you won’t! Obviously consider the sponsor interests but also stick to your project idea and aim. The sponsors often prefer to see someone self confident and dedicated about his/her goals instead of someone who runs after sponsors and fulfils every single of their thousand wishes – you are not the sponsors bitch, this is your project!
What I further realized is that your project will only be successful if it is something that makes you wake up at 3am at night and you just have to write that idea down or because you just have to go out and take that star time lapse. I spent countless nights out there and I simply loved every hour of it. I would often come back from clubbing at 1am in the morning, just to realize that it wasn’t time to sleep but it was time for yet another star time lapse. My project didn’t become what it now is because I planned it to become this big. All I did was to start a small project, which then slowly turned into a bigger and bigger project. Live your dream and share your passion – it doesn’t take more than just doing something!
I am happy to share with you some more detailed views on the project as well as my sponsors project outline or any other information. Please contact me (https://www.facebook.com/SimonStraetker) if you need some further advice.