6 Steps into Successful Crowdfunding

If you’re writing a short film, often it means you’re accumulating several other functions in the later stages of the production. You might be directing, producing, casting, acting, editing, holding cables, all of them or even something else. That’s because it is hard to make a short film, specially due to the lack of cash. This means you have a small group, doing a lot, for little to none money at the end of the job.

Crowdfunding, is a collective effort by people who network and pool their money together, usually via the Internet, in order to invest in and support efforts initiated by other people or organizations.

This resource usually gives a sensation of excitement. an eureka feeling, however it is not that simple. Crowdfunding gives the viability for any project to place itself out there and as any of these, it most be carefully planned to make most of it. Crowdfunding is not a certain solution, it is as intricate as regular funding and doesn’t make your job any easier, just possible.

1. Have a damn nice concept

Concept, story, those are the things that sell. If you have no idea what pitching is, go out and learn. Practice the hell out of it. If you’re checking this blog for the first time because you googled “crowd funding short film”, check the previous posts for an insight in how to develop a great short film script. The first step for your project is having a great starting point, this is basic market: it’s easier to sell a good product, or in this case, a product with clear potential to be good. Stop listening to your family when they say you should film that script, put the critic/bastard mask and knock your project down. Would you put money on this? Regardless of how grumpy you are, your project must be THAT good.

2. Do your budget

I hate doing budgets, that’s why i got a girl whom loves executive production. If you’re not as lucky as i am, grab your spreadsheet software and get things going. Budgeting is getting EVERYTHING you need to make your project turn into reality. Collect prices from at least three different places per product, not only important to get the cheapest around town, but also to have the sense that you’re doing it the best way. Place everything into a gorgeous, organized table. Separate it under stages of development and departments. Expect to spend money on office material and all these little things. Keep in mind that well fed crowd works better. Gas costs money too. You gotta hold tight and keep everything under control from this point on.

After budgeting is done, do the sum. Don’t freak out. That was possibly your ideal budget, start cutting what you feel as not urgent. Total is going down. Save as a different spreadsheet. Now you have your ideal budget and your risky budget. The situation here is that you have the budget you’ll look for and the budget you may expect. Still, don’t make your project on kickstarter yet. Or you expect that crowd funding is giving the value you want and see what happens? Don’t hold your breath, it’s a long road.

3. Decide your rewards

Seems really soon to do so, but it is time to decide what rewards you’re given away for your investors. I recommend you to start with digital things, stuff you may offer and which won’t cost you anything. Start low as well, don’t expect people to back you up if you begin by asking them to give away $25 at first instance. $5 is a good number. Commonly the first thing to offer is a “special thanks” credit in your film. Digital download of the film for $10? Good call. This is also the moment in which you start recalling all you may get by yourself. Is there a friend of you a great designer? Ask him to make a cool movie poster. $20 perhaps? Is your brother a tour guide? Ask him if you may offer a limited number of free tours around town. The rewards don’t need to be specifically movie related, so don’t fight against it. Know what you may afford.

Physical copies of the DVD is a must. But there’s a cost relevant to the budgeting. So does printing. Everything you decide here must go to your spreadsheet. Invite your investor to a lunch, a visit to the set, send a post card. T-shirts? Damn nice. IMDB Credits? That’s something to look for as well. Be creative, offer something symbolic from your film, an object. Wildplume offered bullet cases; Fishbowl had a limited sale for the fishbowls used in the movie. As you raise the prices, you must remember to make things more intimate, exclusive or appealing. Create rewards that only your crowd funding donors will be able to get. Give yourself the work to write some nice things in a postcard. As in a movie set, everyone there is necessary and important to keep things going, so are your donations: don’t make your attention exclusive to top offers, this will break your legs as most projects receive by small amounts. Each backer is important for your project to go on.

There are infinite possibilities, so you must use your surroundings and skills to create cool stuff for your backers. Also remember to never be cheap, always fair. Check successful projects in order to see what worked previously. This will give you a marketing perspective. Include EVERYTHING on your budget.

4. Search for local sponsoring

If you’ve never done any kind of financing for an artistic project, this will be a great experience. You’ll hate it, of course, but you’ll carry it forever. This will be the first moment where you’ll realize how hard it is to sell something people aren’t looking for. It will also tell you the weaknesses of your pitching. Time to break your face. Check on your budget what can you get from local stores. Does your uncle have a restaurant? You may ask him to sponsor the meals for your short film. Did you decide to give away a movie poster of the film for your backers? You need a good quality paper and good printing, so it might be a great idea to see if a Printer company doesn’t want to help you out. Be aware that your film might need furniture, so it is a good time to prospect for stores which you could borrow from. The objective here is lowering down your financial needs, so you’ll demand only the essential for your crowd funding project. Always remember to offer something in exchange of the sponsoring, it often is a placement of the logo in the project. Major sponsors get a logo in the beginning of the film, minor in the ending credits. Don’t sell yourself so easily, you must talk to the manager with everything structured, but with the flexibility to change if requested and negotiate properly. You can’t clutter your film with logos in the beginning of it.

5. Prepare yourself for the project

It’s about time to start developing the content of your crowd funding presentation. Always keep in mind that you’re selling something. Call it pitching as it looks less capitalist until you lose your naivety. Usually the sites offer you plenty of space to include text, pictures and video, so it’s not time to be lazy. You must make people fall in love for your project and, much more important, make clear that you’re passionate about it. The first questions to answer are:

  • What is this all about?
  • How important is this to the world?
  • Why should i help you funding this project?
  • What makes this short film unique?

Crowdfunding is not about charity, is about making people believe that you have something great in hands. Is convincing them that YOUR project is what is missing on their lives. What you have right now? Is there a cool location you’ll shoot at? A storyboard? Some graphic design? Is it based on a real story? Is there a social influence on your project? Take the time to make a great video to introduce your idea, there are better odds people will watch the video instead of reading your description (doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put effort on the writing, don’t be lazy). Be creative, effective and simple. Sharp as a brand-new paper sheet. Make a micro-documentary of what inspired you to develop this story or a testimonial of your reasons. Remember that sincerity is the best call, ALWAYS. You must declare yourself, drag from the bottom of your careless heart, that this is something to commit for. Showing people what made you interested in this project is always the most effective way to make them interested too.

Cutting the emotional crap, you must also organize yourself. Based on your budget, you must draw your crowd funding goal. Thanks to your local sponsoring, your expenditures dropped, yet you’re never comfortable to ask for the full budget. Trace a value you’re cool with. Thinking about the midpoint between your minimal-budget and your maximum-budget is commonly the way to goal. Keep both feet on the ground.

Your backers will spread the word to their friends, whom might back you up and increase your network. So you must keep in check that they have the maximum amount of information available for them to sell your project. All the informations about it; Pictures, anything people may visualize; What’s your financial goal? How is your schedule? How will you spend the money? Everyone whom support your project must know these things. As Maxime Leroy says:

What crowdfunding offers is to see your project supported by individuals who really believe in it. Who are ready to pledge anywhere from a symbolic to a substantial amount of their own money to make your idea happen. They all have a reason to do it: they will get a nice example of your product, they will brag about it to their friends, you blackmailed them, or it is your mom. Their common goal is to get your project crowdfunded or their investment will have had no impact, even if they get their money back. So they are not just backers, they are ambassadors. They will talk about your project, share it through their networks, and in the end, convince their friends to support it too. What you should be working on is helping your first backers, giving them the tools and materials (information, visuals, goal, agenda) to efficiently convince their friends. They will reach them better than you will with your random, send-to-all tweets.

6. Develop your network

After making your crowd funding project, you must review your environment. You need a crowd to fund your project, anyway. It’s time to inspect your project and your connections to make the best of them into your project. Use your social network to spread the word, still, you need closer contact to get all the support you need and you may not manage to do all of that by yourself. Make your best friends aware of your idea, they can’t be short of information as they’ll be selling your project to their closer friends. Tell everything to your family, they’ll talk about your venture to their friends at the bar or yoga class. A network you possibly wouldn’t be able to get otherwise.

Improving your network is the work you must keep after releasing your project. Dedicate a few hours of your day to update your project with pre-production status. Keep your hypothetical supporters posted. This will make clear that you’re really dedicated to this project, as your crowd funding platform is the place where they’ll find you mostly. And don’t give up, as said here:

Many people, including in your close circle, will wait ‘till the end of your campaign to support your project. They will wait until you have reached 50%, or will only seize the opportunity to support you because there’s only 2 days left before the deadline…we continually see projects take off like a rocket, then enter into a slow phase, and then pick up again at the last minute, until finally reaching the target.

As shown by Leroy’s article, particularly using Kiss Kiss Bank Bank as subject, there’s no linear fundraising, this means that even if things are running low, you must not give up, because these tiny amount you get at midpoint will make the difference later.

Gap crowdfunding

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Hope you enjoyed and best of luck with your projects. See you next time!

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