Crowdfunding has become such a wide open playing field that it’s important for independent filmmakers to study up and make sure we’re fully maximizing all the benefits of this new equalizing factor. We now have the ability to connect directly with a broad audience and pitch our original content without needing to go through a studio, financier or other “gatekeeper.” This presents enormous possibilities for an independent content creator. Here are my tips for running a successful Kickstarter.
To give you some background, we ran the More Than Human Season 1 campaign for a total of 30 days (July 6, 2013 through August 5, 2013) with the goal of raising $15,000 in funds to film and edit 5 new 10 minute webisodes. Our ending pledge amount was $15,929. For reference, you can view the campaign on Kickstarter.com by searching the title. It has the pitch video and the teaser trailer we released duringthe campaign. I believe strongly that both of those pieces contributed greatly to us achieving our goal. To learn more about the series, you can visit Facebook.com/MoreThanHumanSeries.
Here is the first of many things I learned while putting together and executing the successful More Than Human Kickstarter.
TIP #1: CHOOSE YOUR PLATFORM WISELY
We ended up choosing Kickstarter for our project because we felt it had the most name value of all the crowdfunding platforms. Approximately 47% of all donations came from individuals with no prior knowledge or connection to our project before the Kickstarter campaign went live.
A. Criteria We Considered:
• Where is our desired audience? For “More Than Human” we wanted as mainstream an audience as possible. It is a young adult show with mainstream appeal, so we went with the platform that had the most out-of-the-box name recognition.
• Do we need the full amount? In our case, yes we did. To complete the web version of Season 1, we needed the full amount we were asking for. A set-up like IndieGoGo where we could get flexible funding might have backfired on us by not allowing us to produce all 5 episodes we needed to. You can see an upcoming article in this series to see how the goal backfired on us anyway.
• Who is my desired audience? IndieGoGo seems to appeal to the artist/filmmaking crowd, whereas Kickstarter felt like a more mainstream platform. Our goal was to bypass other media professionals to reach out to the audience for our show through a crowdfunding campaign. It was part marketing and part crowdfunding (some might argue that they always are). I mean, I didn’t turn away other filmmakers, actors, etc. who wanted to contribute… but they were not the primary audience. Our primary audience was to reach out to young adults and the sci-fi/superhero fan community. We wanted them interested and invested in More Than Human.
• Which platform is easiest to use? Even with an “easy” sign-up process, we still had a monumental task of educating our families, our team and our audience on what crowdfunding is and how it works. Three weeks into the campaign, my own sister still didn’t understand that Kickstarter is an “all or nothing” proposition. This is a crucial fact to relay and I’d say we were only about 50% effective at conveying that and educating our audience.
B. Investigate other possibilities apart from Kickstarter and IndieGoGo! There are quite a few that cater to the creative community. Just a few of the available crowdfunding platforms (only creative project centric platforms listed) are:
• SeedandSpark.com (filmmaker-centric, with distrib built in)
• Mobcaster.com (TV shows only)
C. Above all, remember that not every project is suitable for a crowdfunding campaign. Some projects are better served by private equity investment or self-funding. It just depends on the individual project. The bright spot is that today, more than ever, there are so many paths to monetization for content creators.
To be sure, there are a ton of additional things I left out… I figured this tip was as good a place as any to start. Feel free to comment and to discuss… I would love to hear feedback from others.
Also note, that this is the first in a series of articles about crowdfunding based on what I learned from the campaign, so there are still multiple discussion points that are forthcoming including which marketing tactics worked and which didn’t, where the majority of our contributions came from, which perks seemed to work and which didn’t and above all, what I will definitely do differently next time.
Best luck and best wishes to you on your own crowdfunding adventure!
This blog post was originally published on FanboyFilmmaker.com. It is being republished here with some revisions and updates to benefit the CreatorUp community.
Filmmaker, Writer & Student Minister. Creator of “More Than Human”, an action/sci-fi original series for teens. Blogs about Professional Video Production, Crowdfunding, Filmmaking and Web Series. You can read more by Carlos at FanboyFilmmaker.com.Tags: funding, how to, kickerstarter, success