Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Show.. Me.. Your Crowdfunding Plan

Indie darling, director Charlie Kaufman recently broke all fundraising campaign records via crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, doubling the target amount for the animated adaptation of his play ‘Anomalisa.’ The result was a whopping $400k that saw Kaufman laughing - past all the Hollywood studio big guns – and straight to the bank. At the heart of the debate that ensued on social media platforms Twitter and Facebook was whether Kaufman’s success was a positive influence on the omnipresent lack of faith in crowdfunding.

Working for the argument was that a name like Kaufman’s can only help solidify conviction in the capabilities of crowdfunding. Opposing views expressed concern regarding the potential lack of willingness to contribute to campaigns without a recognised name attached and if directors with leverage like Kaufman’s even needed to explore crowdfunding as an option. With valid points being made on both sides, the smartest option would be to equip you with the top industry tips on how to launch – and hopefully, complete – a successful crowdfunding campaign:

·         Pick the right crowdfunding platform. No, they’re not all the same. Different platforms are aimed towards different projects. For example, aforementioned Kickstarter and IndieGoGo are geared towards the creative arts, whilst FirstGiving is a strongly non-profit engine created to benefit charities and worthy events, etc. Find your niche.

·         Set an achievable target. We’d all love to make enough for a feature film, its marketing campaign, all of our merchandise and maybe a little round the world trip as a treat. However, a sizeable target is both intimidating for contributors and could potentially become the downfall of a campaign where rules re hitting a target prior to money claim are concerned.  Keep your numbers manageable – after all, you can always go in for round two.

·         Make your campaign irresistible. Although there will be plenty of space for you to describe your film at length, the most impactful campaigns are the ones with memorable videos, and better yet, juicy rewards. Where your video is concerned, make those precious minutes count. Be personable, pitch the project’s strengths, set the theme and most of all inject a dose of fun. The rewards are the contributor’s perks and tangible objects (as opposed to electronic links/videos) are always high appreciated – it’s almost like online shopping, but for a cause.

·         Have a spending plan. There is nothing worse than ambiguity where crowdfunding is concerned. Moreover, there is a growing fear regarding scamming threats, which have become a reality time and time again. Explain why you need to raise the money and where you plan on using it. Post-production? Renting a 7D? Do you want to hire a top-notch SFX wizard? Note it all in your campaign plan.

·         Let’s socialise. Setting up your crowdfunding page, video and all, is only a very small percentage of the effort you can expect to put into raising that cash. Leveraging your social media presence – including Twitter, Facebook and potentially, blogging – is essential during your campaign period. And by social media presence, we are definitely not talking about spam bot behaviour, i.e. “Please help me make my film!” several dozen times a day. Engage, inform and entertain. This is your chance to sell your product, make valuable connections and liken yourself to the public.

·         Follow through. Updates are an essential. Use that spending plan to your advantage and show people what you’ve accomplished. If you’re smart, you can use these updates to your as a grassroots marketing strategy and also as a visual/written guarantee for contributors about the process of the finished product. Send those perks out on time and build a loyal fan base.

Note: You can find the edited version of this article on the Doha Film Institute website, here.

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