How do you make ends meet?

This is a question we’re often asked when people learn we choose not to take conventional funding routes and make most of our films free to view.

Happen Films is funded in four ways: Patreon supporters; YouTube ad revenue; our Store; philanthropic funding of major projects. Because we’re often asked this question, we’ve gone into more detail about each of those on the FAQS page.

How are funds used?

If you’re considering donating to Happen Films, you’re probably interested to know how your money will be used. Is the way we run Happen Films aligned with the messages in our films? Or do we spend money on fancy gear, cars, and nights on the town? 🙂 This is a summary of our major expenses:

Film and computer gear. We operate with a fairly limited range of film gear and prioritise buying secondhand for all of our tech, except for hard drives and batteries. The conflict between our films’ messages and the high energy/mining/waste involved in creating the gear we use is not lost on us and each purchase is thoughtfully made. (If you’re in film yourself and have a geeky interest in the gear we use, we’ve added the list on the FAQS page.)

Our wages. We choose to live fairly simply in regard to the big things in life – we’re still renting but we’re saving to buy one day; we have a small veggie garden; wherever possible we buy our furniture, clothes, bikes, car, etc secondhand; we limit long-distance travel and so on. Choosing a more simple lifestyle means we don’t need to fund a great deal beyond the necessities, and we can make our low-budget films without needing to compromise on content and quality in order to acquire funding. Our dream is to eventually purchase a small piece of land and plant a food forest so every spare penny goes to that fund 🙂

Contractors. Whenever possible we pay people to work with us, in particular contracting out some of our editing, and on major shoots bringing on a sound recordist and second camerperson. As of mid-2020 we have committed to two paid employees: Anna is with us 6 hours a week managing our social media and distribution (what a relief!) and Nick does 4 hours a week, currently helping us deepen our thinking about who we are and what we’re about in order to ensure we stay consistent in our filmmaking, and long term to help us develop written content and resources in order to expand our audience and add depth to what we offer. It’s a priority for us to pay our contractors and colleagues a very good hourly rate.

Subscriptions. Online platforms that enable the maintenance of this website, cloud file storage, plus our accounting programme and all that fairly boring stuff, which inevitably mounts up!

Shoots. Hitting the road to make our short films, we travel in our small box truck which we’re converting into camper. This makes accommodation low-cost, and we take a veritable pantry of food on board to maintain our zero-waste approach to life. We’ve limited our personal flying to once per year to visit family in Australia, while decisions about flying for a major film project are thoughtfully made and kept to the minimum.

The Future

We’re looking forward to a time when we can afford to have two more full time members on our team, enabling us to reach our goal of releasing a new film every month. It’s that old Catch-22 – to offer paid employment we need to be releasing more films so that we’re raising more funds; to release more films we need more people alongside us taking up some of the workload. We think we’re getting there though, so watch this space!


Photos by Wild Feet Productions