Three look to crowd for a movie company

In an industry which typically trades in six-figure sums as a minimum, three young men are trying to make their mark with just £7,000 – raised through public donations.

Ben Kay-Coles, Nick Pritchard and David Sermon – collectively known as Positively Shocking Productions – are putting together a short film on a tight budget.

Like a growing number of artists, they have decided to find their money through crowdfunding, using a website to attract donations from the public. To guide them through the legal minefield of the project, they have been consulting with Keith Arrowsmith of JMW Solicitors.

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Mr Kay-Coles, 22, said: “We spent a few months writing, coming up with ideas without cash. You would be surprised how far you can get without cash!

“Crowdfunding was something we had considered because myself and Dave went to a media networking meeting and we met someone who knew Keith. We called him and we went for a meeting and he brainstormed ideas and we fairly quickly agreed this would be the best option.”

Mr Arrowsmith said: “We needed to pull together a framework for their project that gave them a chance to get some funding in but not something that was so complicated that the benefits of the scheme were outweighed by the management or the fees.”

Investing in films is covered by the same regulations as any other kind of investment, so Positively Shocking’s appeal for support had to be done carefully. Supporters can donate a certain amount in exchange for small rewards, such as a credit for their help or an invitation to the premiere.

After the first month on crowdfunding site, the trio’s film, Stalemate, had attracted $4,000 – but after the site had taken its share, that was only equivalent to just over £2,000. However, they have not been put off and are considering further crowdfunding to complete the project.

When looking for sponsorship, public appeal is of paramount importance – and it seems Stalemate may have that.

It is inspired by the famous story of British troops in the First World War laying down their weapons on Christmas Day, leaving their trenches and joining their German opponents for a game of football on no-man’s land. Stalemate features two soldiers playing chess.

Through a previous project they were working on together, Mr Kay-Coles managed to secure former Brother Beyond and Worlds Apart member Nathan Moore for the lead role, opposite German actor Michael Malak.

Much of the organisation is complete, put together through favours and contacts, and a location has been found for filming.

“We’ve had to do a lot of bargaining and search a lot of different places for equipment hire,” said Mr Kay-Coles. “We’ve managed to get some spectacular deals.”

Although they are relying on volunteers and the project is on a very small scale, the same rules still need to be taken into consideration to prevent a minor oversight ruining it all.

Mr Arrowsmith said: “You have to make sure you are doing things by the book as well as looking after the creative elements.

“Normally, in a bigger budget, you’ve got people to do that for you and that’s their specialism and their passion.

“We’ve had to find ways of helping smaller projects to find their way through it without a huge legal bill or becoming completely demoralised.”

With the legalities all taken care of for Stalemate, the trio are hoping to have the funding to make the film in early 2013, after which it may be shown at film festivals and could generate interest from distributors.

However, making the film itself is not the only aim of the project.

“I think I’m seeing it as a stepping stone to our feature film that we’ve been working on for ages,” said Mr Kay-Coles.

“It would be great for people to be able to see it and enjoy it. It builds confidence levels.

“You need people to be confident in you and know you are capable of not just creating a good film but doing it on a deadline and under stress.