FilmFuel – The Life-Changing Film Funding Secret by Josiah Stendel
Review by Beverly Nault
What a title, right? I was skeptical, and my immediate question was, who does he think he is, this Josiah Stendel, to be so extra? What can his one book have that others who’ve been in the industry for decades don’t already know? What does he promise, and how can I know he’s for real? (Some of you know I was robbed by a production company who never made their promised film, so I’m super aware of how scammy and wild west Indie filmmaking can be.)
I reached out to Josiah on behalf of PSA with all the skepticism, and by return email, he sent me an advance .pdf of the book and also agreed to answer my questions.
Here’s what I learned. Josiah practically came out of the box a filmmaker. By age 16, he’d already practiced what he still preaches. Without setting up lemonade stands or filling a penny jar from pocket litter, or worse, pitching producers who sat on his project for decades, he paved a new way. He’s got a pretty impressive track record (see his bio below), and as far as I can tell, FilmFuel is already a movement, not just a book launch. (see the Q&A for more about that)
Josiah’s book is written in an easy-to-read style and outlines practical steps in fifty-seven chapters divided into seven parts. Sounds heavy, but I read it in a few hours. And his advice seems legit and actionable, y’all. By building a network of folks who want to hear about your next project instead of making frenemies who turn and run when they see you coming, you can actually give back instead of take take take.
With the market for indie films exploding, Stendel’s advice could be a crucial cog in the wheel for those who never imagined producing their own screenplay projects. If funding is within reach after all, even niche, rare, or experimental genres could find their way to the screen. I find that exciting and encouraging.
Josiah’s model is “Movie + Movement = Momentum.” My brain added another M for Marry your Movie to a Movement, and you’ve got Momentum. I’m already thinking of ways to connect my screenplay about kids in a group foster home to real non-profits and foundations following Josiah’s advice. You really need to read through the steps for yourself. I think Josiah’s onto something.
More than just a book author, Josiah lives out his advice by paying it forward. He shares multiple links to resources for fueling strategies and an interactive assessment tool to brainstorm how to apply the concepts to each specific project, whether narrative or nonfiction. Also, Josiah will send you a package full of resources like pitch ideas, one-page layouts, templates for fundraising letters, and more.
The book will be available for purchase in the next several months, so keep a lookout. Follow Josiah and FilmFuel on social media, links below.
I reached out to Josiah with more questions:
PSA: Josiah, it looks like you broke the internet with your “pay it forward” and “win big” promo because the site crashed for a few hours. How’d it go?
Josiah: Haha, we sure did! The most up-to-date number I have is that we’ve raised over $40,000 for charity. By my estimates, that means between 4,000 and 5,000 people got a copy of FilmFuel in their hands this week.
PSA: It seems you’ll do more with FilmFuel than launch a book. Are you going to be offering anything else, like classes or a YouTube channel, etc.?
Josiah: Initially, getting this book into the hands of filmmakers everywhere was my finish line. However, the response and feedback I’ve received have made me realize that FilmFuel will go far beyond that. The ideas presented in the book are already striking a chord, and many filmmakers have begun expressing interest in other ways to engage with these concepts.
Some have proposed the idea of a podcast or YouTube channel where I delve deeper into the process and share practical insights based on the principles outlined in FilmFuel. Others have proposed training and workshops, which would provide a more immersive learning experience for filmmakers seeking funding. In fact, I’ve already started consulting on several feature films in an effort to provide guidance throughout the fundraising process and help them leverage FilmFuel most effectively. It’s incredibly rewarding helping filmmakers turn their movies into movements.
While I am still exploring the most effective model for expanding FilmFuel, I strongly believe that the concepts discussed in this book have implications extending far beyond filmmaking alone. They can be applied to funding all kinds of artistic endeavors. Publishing FilmFuel marks just the beginning, and I am genuinely thrilled about the potential this process holds for creatives everywhere.
If you are interested in exploring any of these ideas, feel free to reach out to me at email@example.com. I am eager to connect and continue this journey with fellow filmmakers and creatives who are passionate about making a positive impact on the world through their art.
PSA: MANY of our members are obviously just writers and haven’t considered producing their own films. (Me, for one) You have me really thinking because I have a screenplay that may be perfect for the strategy; it’s about foster kids aging out of the system and how they really need lifelines during the process… but finding a director, actors, locations, etc. SCARES me.
Josiah: Venturing into the production side of the industry can be extremely intimidating. However, I want to emphasize that screenwriters actually have a distinct advantage when it comes to applying FilmFuel. In my book, I state that the earlier you can integrate this approach into your project, the more you set yourself up for success.
By making your project FilmFuel-ready from page one, you stack the deck in your favor. As a screenwriter, you have the unique opportunity to take the lead in setting your project on the trajectory toward successful funding. Integrating the principles and methods of FilmFuel from the genesis of your project can significantly increase your chances of attracting the necessary resources and support.
If you feel fear about making the jump into production, let me encourage you. You can do this! An easy first step is building a team. Don’t be reluctant about entrusting your “baby” to strangers. I firmly believe that the secret to creating something remarkable lies in surrounding yourself with people smarter than you. Collaboration is king in the world of filmmaking.
FilmFuel can help you overcome that fear by making your project magnetic to the right people. People who will care about your project almost as much as you do. By attaching a meaningful cause to your screenplay about foster children, for example, you can attract individuals who share the same passion. As I discuss at length in FilmFuel, networking with directors, producers, and actors who are committed to the same underlying cause will greatly propel your project forward.
Additionally, my advice would be to connect with those who have walked a similar path before. Seek advice from those who have made the jump from writer to director. Ask questions and learn from their experiences. Incorporating their insights into your own journey is the ultimate shortcut. It may look intimidating right now, but by connecting with others, drawing from their experiences, and applying the FilmFuel blueprint early, you can transform your vision into a life-changing reality.
PSA: Thanks, Josiah! We look forward to more from FilmFuel. I think the model fills a need in more ways than one and will revolutionize Indie, and even tent pole productions.
German-born filmmaker and video marketing expert Josiah Stendel has spent the last decade on breakout television hits like The Chosen, commercials for Fortune 500 brands, and some of the highest-performing YouTube channels of all time. His viral successes total over a billion views and have been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and many others. Josiah is a passionate champion of video’s life-changing potential, prompting critics to call him “the next generation of filmmaking talent.” He lives with his wife and daughter in the southeastern United States and is currently perfecting his dad jokes. Connect with him at www.josiahstendel.com.
About Beverly Nault: Beverly Nault was a technical writer for an aerospace software company before she began writing creatively for publication. In 2011, her first novel, Fresh Start Summer, and memoir Lessons from the Mountain, What I Learned from Erin Walton, written with actor Mary McDonough, both released. Since then, Bev’s had ten novels and several short stories published. She’s been a freelance editor for fiction and non-fiction writers, a first reader for a literary agency, and staff acquisitions editor for the literary journal, Eastern Iowa Review. Bev lives in Mesa with her husband Gary where she dabbles in tennis, and excels at spoiling their three grandchildren.