Archive for the ‘financing’ Category

Friendly Financing: How to have a successful crowdfunding campaign

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

Successful Kickstarter Campaign

Crowdfunding has become a viable option for raising money for films as well as start-ups, nonprofits and all kinds of creative projects. Here are a few tips on running a crowdfunding campaign:

  1. Plan, and plan some more.  The most successful campaigns have a powerful call to action and often, great rewards.  Spend six months asking for swag, planning the timing of your email blasts and offers, and getting friends and family to come on board to send tweets, facebook messages and emails, and you can take a lot of the agony out of posting your project.
  2. Change your video and update your funding page several times throughout the campaign. Updates every 1-5 days double the contribution rate. Add new rewards in the middle and near the end of the campaign.
  3. Crowdfunding is about engagement as much as it is about fundraising.  Make sure you thank your supporters, update them on your progress and continue to offer them perks throughout the life of the film.
  4. 90% of all projects that reach a third of their funding are successful on Kickstarter. Ask your key supporters to donate at specific milestones, especially near the beginning and at about half of your goal.
  5. Do a 30-day campaign and ask for the right goal amount. Pick the right rewards for each funding level. You can gauge this somewhat by looking at other funded projects with similarities to yours. 70% of successful campaigns have between 3 and 8 reward levels.
  6. Crowdfunding is an opportunity to do your first marketing campaign. Discover your audience, including blogs, partner organizations and others who might support the film when it is finished and continue your relationship through twitter, Facebook and email.

Crowdfunding won’t hurt you

Monday, June 20th, 2011


At SpringBoard Media, the ever-thoughtfully provocative Brian Newman posits that Kickstarter and crowdfunding may have some unintended negative consequences.

I agree with the premise that film has been a privileged art throughout its short history and that “independent” film (the kind we crowdfund) has usually been the sport of people who didn’t need to actually work for a living.

However, the crowdfunding campaigns I’ve seen seem to have a more democratic flavour, relying more on a reputational economy than a strictly upper-middle-class paradigm. In general I think it’s good to call this out, but almost everything right now in the indie film world is affluent/white. Crowdfunding has potential to shift that dynamic. Plus, it is just way cheaper to realize a well-executed project now that has the chance to be seen by at least as many people as an old-school “independent film” was at a fraction of the cost. The old rules about film length and format can change when films don’t have to go through funds, festivals and distribution to be made and seen.

I have mixed feelings about subsidized arts. On the one hand, as a filmmaker, I could not realistically hire even a tiny crew without finding outside support. Ideally, that support would come from people who felt I could ultimately turn a profit, not an easy feat for documentaries, shorts or indie films. But what Kickstarter, IndieGoGo and other crowdfunding platforms show is that people are willing to pay/donate for the potential of supporting an experience they will enjoy (and feel a sense of ownership of, even if they don’t receive stock or title). Feeling a direct connection to the work being made is the first step to greater power for the artist, as has happened in music.

I’m about to start crowdfunding for my documentary Acceleration and the idea that the project will be judged on the campaign’s merits does feel scary. On the other hand, from a distribution standpoint, I think the more information filmmakers have about the viability of their projects in the marketplace, the better off they are. Kickstarter does not work like a “popularity contest” in which projects are compared against each other. Projects are weighed against the passion of their own specific audience and fanbase, so a more obscure project can still be important to a fanatical if narrow group.

Your Film is a Business >> So What’s the Plan?

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

A key component of any business plan is something called “revenue.” Maybe that’s why so many filmmakers avoid the whole concept when beginning a project. However, if your plan is to break even or more ambitiously, come out ahead on the financial side of filmmaking, a small business-style plan can help to understand what the opportunities and realities are while there is still a chance to cash in.

Here are some resources to get you started. There are also consultants who can help you to create a successful plan for your film, incorporating elements like sponsorship, partnership, crowdfunding, presales, marketing and distribution. In my experience, the more specific and realistic filmmakers are in the planning process, the more they find appropriate partners and supporters.

If you have experience writing a business plan or want to recommend someone who has helped you in the past, please do.

BrightHub’s guide to Components of a Fundable Film Business Plan Package >> has some helpful info specific to film

BusinessWeek.com’s Special Report on Business Plans
>> The ABCs and more

Sample Business Plans
>> from a contest for startups

FilmProposal’s Business Plan Template
>> I’m not sure how valuable these templates are (since there is lots of free info online) but it might be worth looking into if you want something very structured out of the box

How To Write a Film Business Plan >> from Demand Media

A couple of useful books to check out:
Getting the Money: A Step-By-Step Guide for Writing Business Plans for Film

The Art of Giving: Where the Soul Meets a Business Plan

Another great resource is the national organization SCORE. They offer small business counseling for free and affordable classes on how to make a business plan.

Kevin Geiger of Animation Options discusses the Film Business Plan (1/4):