LYRA, obviously, knows how useful, and liberating, it can be to crowd fund. So we’re very interested in other creative ventures that choose this path, especially if they’ve similar interests to us. We heard about the efforts of Georgia Oakley to raise funds for a short film about women shot by a completely female team, and asked Georgia to write something about the film, and her decision to rely on the crowd.
“We’re in the process of crowdfunding £17k for our new short film, Little Bird. It’s a drama starring Imelda Staunton and Emily Taaffe about a young Irish woman trying to escape her limited horizons by joining the Women’s Royal Naval Service during the Second World War.
So why did we choose to crowdfund? The answer is mainly to do with time. When you’re shooting a short film, and manage to secure an Oscar Nominated actress, there’s not much time for planning. But the bureaucratic nature of public funding means you have to wait months before finding out if you’ve even been called to interview. After that, you’d be asked to develop your script with their help. This could be helpful… but it can also end up in a ‘too many cooks’ scenario or result in a loss of creative control. This seems doubly a shame when such control is often a freedom unique to making shorts. In the past few years this criticism has really gathered momentum, with established Hollywood stars, and respected film makers, using Crowdfunding to ensure creative control of their projects: for instance, Zach Braff with Wish I was Here, Charlie Kaufman’s beautiful animation, Anomalisa and Alejandro Jodorowsky forthcoming Endless Poetry.
The other issue with public funding is that you’re rarely offered more than 3-4 thousand pounds. Film London, for instance, offers about three and half thousand for it’s London Calling scheme – not nearly enough to make a short film as ambitious as Little Bird – particularly as it’s set in the 1940’s. To put the figures in context, 2013 and 2014’s Oscar winning short films were each made on budgets of over £20K. The amount offered by public funding is simply too little.
On top of this, I’ve decided to shoot Little Bird on analogue film. This is unusual for a short because it’s prohibitively expensive, and, because of this, isn’t encouraged by funding organisations. But film has a special quality that, no matter what people say, cannot be replicated. Just as importantly, as the film’s set in the 40’s, the audience will feel much more immersed, and the film more real, if the medium fits with this period. The visual references we’re using for the film come from early street photographers like Saul Leiter and Vivian Maier. Quite simply, theirs is a look we just wouldn’t be able to achieve digitally.
So, we really had no choice.
Little Bird will be produced by Rebecca Cronshey and Emily Taaffe, and the team we’re assembling will be all female. Directors UK just released a new study, Cut Out of the Picture, which shows that the figures for women film directors have not improved in ten years, with women making up just 13.6% of working film directors; this disparity can be seen across all disciplines within film production. Finding women to fill the entire team is proving to be a challenge, but, with a little extra effort, it can, and should, be done.
Raising £17,000 in under three weeks by relying on the good of the general public is a massive risk. But it’s one I believe will have a huge effect on the process of making this film, changing the way we think about making short films for the better.”
You can visit the Kickstarter for Little Bird here, do share the campaign on social media. Follow their progress at on Twitter @littlebirdfilm and on look them up on Facebook. Our thanks, again, to Georgia Oakley for writing for us, her website can be found here.