Young Polish producer taps Internet to finance film

By Patricia Koza

    The hunt for funding is one of the biggest issues in the film industries of Central Europe. But an ambitious young Polish director-producer has found a unique way to raise money - by promoting his film on the Internet and promising to make contributors his co-producers.

    Artur Wyrzykowski, 22, a former student at the Warsaw and Lodz film schools who is now studying at the Andrzej Wajda Master School of Film Directing, established a website (www.helpmetomakeafilm.net) to solicit funds about a year ago after he heard about a U.K. student selling pixels on the Internet to pay for his education.

    "I realized the Internet was a great way to invite many people to help with fundraising," Wyrzykowski, who previously was making short amateur films, said in an interview with FNE. "I had no other options."

    The main source of institutional film funding in Poland is the Polish Film Institute (www.pisf.pl), which has a 2007 production budget of €15.5 million, but no specific funding program for short films. However, Wyrzykowski was awarded a special 20,000-zloty (€5,500) grant by its director, Agnieszka Odorowicz.

    "Thanks to that I was able to shoot the film," Wyrzykowski said, adding that most of the 22-person crew and six-person cast volunteered their time.

    The short film is called Wszystko (Everything) - not to be confused with a film of the same name by Gilles Renard, a 1990s Lodz Film School graduate, which premiered in Poland last month. Wyrzykowski says his Wszystko includes love, comedy, is "almost romantic, highly ironic," and is partly autobiographical.

    He's reluctant to go beyond that.

    "The worst question that the director could be asked is, ‘What is it about?'" he says in his website, which chronicles the making of the film. "Films should be watched, not summarized or talked about."

    The film was shot in six days in May. Now the director-producer-screenwriter needs another €5,000-8,000 for postproduction, including making a 35mm-print of the 16mm film so it can be entered in film festivals.

    Each contributor is asked to give at least $10, €10 or ₤10, in exchange for a DVD of the film with English subtitles and billing as a co-producer in the credits - which take three minutes to roll at the end of the 17-minute film.

    So far the website has raised €10,222 - including the PISF grant -from about 330 contributors mainly from Poland but also from the UK, the US and Denmark.