Crowdfunding Tips from 8 Films
Crowdfunding changes the way filmmakers fund their movies. The power of crowdfunding helps filmmakers take control of their destinies.
Independent filmmakers like seventeen year-old Emily Hagins, who wrote, produced, directed and successfully raised more than $16,000 on IndieGoGo for her film My Sucky Teen Romance. Emily and her bedazzled laptop crowdfunded the costs of production and post-production, and now she’s considering using IndieGoGo to support distribution costs for her film. Crowdfunding is helping every step of a filmmakers’ journey but it’s up to the individual auteur to make it successful.
At Tribeca Film Festival 2011, IndieGoGo is excited to have supported three amazing films:
- The Bully Project – raised $25,000+ to date
- Give up Tomorrow – raised $7,000+ to date
- Love Hate Love – raised $5,000 goal
Since its launch in 2008, IndieGoGo has distributed millions of dollars to more than 25,000 campaigns in over 159 countries. Not only have we been a part of this magnificent crowdfunding movement but we’ve been analyzing the data closely for insights as well.
For example, our research tells us that people donate $80 on average to support an independent film. We also know that 1000s of IndieGoGo campaigns raise more than $500 while dedicated campaigns can raise significantly more. The biggest mistake a filmmaker can make is assuming they can simply upload a campaign and walk away. If they do that, they will not reach their goal. They have to be as dedicated to their crowdfunding campaign as they are to their movie. Like Jeanie Finley, whose UK campaign for her film Sound It Out raised more than $12,000 on IndieGoGo from 267 people in eight countries. Jeanie indentified her audience and developed a following that supported her all the way to SXSW. With her $12,000, Jeanie was able to finance her film, fund her trip to Austin and support marketing costs.
A solid trailer and a good premise won’t get you there on its own. But a personal, engaging video (which can help you raise 122% more funding than not having one) and including your fans throughout the entire process of your storytelling will. The beauty of crowdfunding is people want to be a part of the ride, not just the finished product. Jeanie ran three separate Sound It Out campaigns on IndieGoGo and posted 281 updates to keep contributors and potential contributors updated as to how the film was progressing, being accepted and the costs involved in making and showcasing her film. At IndieGoGo we see everything from documentaries to features to shorts…and it’s the ones who really use the share tools and involve the audience with frequent updates, total transparency, and the costs involved, who make it rain, win awards and get distribution.
Julie Gould’s short film 8 raised $3,300 and won “Best Documentary Short” at this year’s SXSW Film Festival in Austin, TX. Julie used her crowdfunds to pay for her SXSW presskit, travel, lodging and entry fees. She wasn’t at pitch meetings or meeting with bankers, she was updating her fans on IndieGoGo and raising her own capital to make her dream a reality.
So, if you’re like Julie and have a passion for film and always wanted to get involved, now is the perfect time to try. With crowdfunding, you can overcome one of the biggest hurdles in filmmaking – raising the money to do it.
Now, I’d like to share what’s working for today’s filmmakers when it comes to crowdfunding and generating excitement for their individual projects:
- Get Out from Under the Curtain: All too often filmmakers feel like they can remain in their creative bubbles and miraculously the world will fall in love with their poetic genius. Do that and you will fail. Today’s filmmakers have to get out and approach their films like it’s a business and learn how to take off their artistic hats and play the role of marketer, social media manger, researcher, PR pro, etc. A great example is Jon Spira from the UK with Anyone Can Play Guitar, which raised $32,000 from 633 funders.
- Relationships, Not Transactions: You’re not just selling a DVD like you’re Amazon.com. You’re creating relationships with real people and are in direct contact with your audience. Foster these relationships and let them know you appreciate their support.
- Effectively Use Tools and Data: Utilize online tools (like IndieGoGo’s dashboard) to uncover zip codes, emails, geographic locations where funding is coming from to getter a better understanding of who your audience really is. It’s who you know, not what you know.
- Take Fans on a Journey: You’re selling fans on the entire experience of getting a film to market, so keep communications open and involve fans from beginning to end. It’s not the premier they’re interested in, it’s how they helped you get there. Look at New York-based Happy New Year as an incredible example, having raised $26,000+ dollars.
- A Great Perks Experience: While you don’t have to offer a walk-on role, offering fans things like advance autographed DVDs, posters and credits in the film help provide an experience beyond transaction.
- DIWO (Do It With Others): A crowdfunding campaign that involves friends, family, fans, influencers and strangers gains momentum a lot faster than doing it alone. Pretend your film is running for office and all these people in your network are a part of your campaign, delivering your message and driving new visitors to your campaign page for support.
- Treat it Like a Business: Don’t beg or expect money to just be given to you. Earn people’s trust and compassion by being completely honest, transparent as to how you will use their funding and overall, keep your fans engaged throughout the entire process.
- One Action, Many Touch Points: Funding is the one call-to-action and that single message should be delivered throughout multiple channels, such as: website, blogs, Twitter, email, Facebook, friends, press, conferences, etc.