23 Apr, 2015

Planning to Crowdfund your film project? Here are some important tips to successfully crowdfund your short film, feature or documentary film

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Crowdfund your film project

Filmmaking might still be a business for most filmmakers and well, you certainly can’t argue about that with all the top shot film studios investing huge amounts of money into the projects. Of course with investments comes expectations for returns and with the hard work going around with recent good films all across the globe, it is safe to say that funds make or break the game. However, this isn’t the same for us first time filmmakers whom the world likes to call ‘independent filmmakers.’ For indie filmmakers, the funding is the single most important thing and there are some pretty great reasons why it is different than those studios. In the last decade or so, the independent filmmaking has reached its zenith (well, almost). We have had some really great indie films that were much better than all those crazy flop show Hollywood-Bollywood movies.

donate-nowAnyhow, for independent filmmakers the modern world might have presented some new options regarding funding than before but the truth remains, it is tough to gather funds from your friends and family and the chances of your own personal savings making the cut for all the budget issues isn’t feasible at all, so the only modern option that comes to mind is CROWDFUNDING your project.

Now, this isn’t as simple as it sounds, crowdfunding can be notorious and if you aren’t doing things correctly, the chances of your crowdfunding project being a failure are quite high. I won’t say it isn’t possible at all since we have had some really cool short films, full feature length films and some great documentaries achieve their funding goals, even exceeding them. Some of these examples include:

  • The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Schwartz raised more than $93,000 on Kickstarter
  • Wish I Was Here raised more than $3,105,000 on Kickstarter
  • A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night raised $56,903 on Indiegogo
  • Lazer Team raised more than $2,480,000 on Indiegogo
  • Super Troopers 2 still has 40 hours to go and it has raised more than $3,927,000 on Indiegogo

These are some awesome projects with equally good funding achievements and there’s no doubt that Indiegogo and Kickstarter are the best platforms for Independent Filmmakers trying to raise funds for their ambitious projects, but if you are planning to launch your own project on any of these websites (or any other crowdfunding website) there are some important tips to keep in mind.

#1 Start with a good project

If you are an independent filmmaker who is into crowdfunding for a short film, a feature or a documentary, the first thing to keep in mind is to know whether you’re project is something the audience would love to see. Work on all the aspects you have control on and then move forward.

#2 Make a Funding Budget

Unless and until you are a celebrated individual with good social following or you have some sort of celebrity connection in your project, you aren’t going to make it through. So, for all of us who are simple, normal human beings it is good to start with a funding budget. However, you cannot ask for $50,000 and say that you need to purchase equipment.

#3 Keep it Real and Work on it

It is important to keep your funding goals relative and not to blow everything out of proportion. I tried crowdfunding unsuccessfully before and the only thing I learned was to keep the funding target small. It is quite easy to be over optimistic, but the only result you get is failure. The other thing I learned while learning to be an indie filmmaker is to initially invest something and start your project yourself. The potential funders and your audiences will love to see a short trailer of your short film, feature or your documentary so think about it and present something.

#4 The Pitch and the Story

You win your maximum potential funders with the Pitch itself. While presenting your project, the most important thing to consider and really work hard on is your pitch video. It is good to present a trailer of your story and then during the last minute of the video introduce yourself and talk about the project. You might have heard this before, crowdfunding campaigns with pitch videos succeed more often than those with no video. Keep it real and try to connect with your audience. You could even use two videos in the pitch, one for the trailer and the other your main pitch video.

#5 Think about your Funding levels and Perks

Often neglected, the Funding levels and Perks is the second most important thing on your campaign. You need to sit down and think about what you can offer in order to ask your potential funders to fund your project. Offer really tempting perks so that your funders and your audience have no choice but to support your project.

#6 Ask your Friends and Family

It can be tricky, but most crowdfunding websites advise campaign owners to get the initial round of funds from friends and family. However, this doesn’t work for most of us, plus it needs background work before going live with your project. You can even use your own money to start the funding meter going. Remember, some websites do not permit campaign owners to add money to their own campaigns.

#7 Use Social Media

It’s a no brainer, if you have to go viral, you have to go social. Use your social media accounts, ask your friends on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and other networking websites to sort of offer word of mouth publicity.

#8 Keep your funders connected with all important updates

Most crowdfunding websites will tell you that in order to make your campaign a success you’ll have to follow the basics and one of the basics includes UPDATES. Yes, update your campaign with new perks, new funding levels, new goals, new trailers and even answer all questions your funders ask you. It is good to reply to the comments your campaign receives.

#9 Working on the Project and the Perks

If you have been lucky and your campaign successful, it is time to work on the project itself and then fulfill all the promises you made with the Perks. It is important to fulfill Perks if you wish to do this again. The beauty of being an independent filmmaker is that you are responsible for each and everything, you are in control, you are the producer, the director, the DOP, the editor and almost everyone else(not literally), so if you wish to make more movies and need funds again then you need to make a relationship with all those who contributed for your campaign.

#10 Don’t worry if you don’t succeed

It is quite easy to lose heart if things don’t work out according to our plans, but this is where one has to stand up and improve. Crowdfunding is just like any other DIY project, if it doesn’t work; get back to the drawing table and make changes. All that matters is to reach the finish line.  icon-heart  icon-heart-o  icon-heart

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“So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I'm still trying to figure out how that could be.” -Stephen Chbosky
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7 Responses

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    • Fere says:

      The focus here seems to be about projects that fieald and don’t get enough money to start. That’s really too bad for project starters but no one is hurt by that at all.I’d love to hear, as a topic of discussion, projects on Kickstarter that succeeded, but fieald for all or most of the people who gave money. There are people out there being hurt by Kickstarter because they gave money to successful project that have never returned them a single one of the promised pledge rewards and they show no signs of ever intending to do so. As far as I’m concerned, that’s fraud and Kickstarter plays a key part in it as the host and benefiting party of the transactions.

      • isweetan says:

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