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5 Tips for Crowdfunding a Film or Movie

Published by Salvador Briggman. Find him on Twitter.

Film, video, and movie projects are some of the most popular types of crowdfunding campaigns on sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. On Kickstarter, these types of projects have raised a whopping $203.54 million to date. In addition, it might come as a surprise to you that Indiegogo actually started with a focus on film projects before branching out to other verticals.

There is a huge opportunity for producers, directors, and actors to take advantage of this new financing route and involve fans in a film project from day one. Before taking advantage of the tips below, you need to choose the best crowdfunding platform for your film project. Once you have, check out the advice that I’ve compiled to get a jump-start on the planning process for your film fundraiser.

1. Assemble a Team Ahead of Time

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Lucky for you, unlike most crowdfunding project creators, a film project has a built-in team. From actors to costume designers, every person who is going to play a role in your film should be involved with the crowdfunding project.

According to the Indiegogo Playbook, “Campaigns run by two or more team members raise 94% more money than campaigns run by single individuals.”Read more.

Although there will likely be 1-3 individuals who are in charge of getting the materials together for the campaign (video, text, reward cost calculation), reaching out to the press, and responding to comments, every member of the team should be be emailing and Facebook messaging their friends and family once the campaign goes live.

Keep in mind that you can’t expect all members of your team to be excellent salesmen or saleswomen. I’d highly recommend preparing a document ahead of time that your teammates can use to explain what crowdfunding is, why they should be a part of the project, and how they can pledge their support. Failure to do so is a common mistake, that many creators have regretted in the past.

If you have a large team and are having trouble coordinating social media actions, you could use tools like ThunderClap or HeadTalker.

2. Estimate Costs Carefully

For most film projects that I’ve seen, aside from a digital download of the work, creators will offer rewards that include posters, t-shirts, DVDs, signed pictures, and more. The best campaigns also find a way to include the fans in the project, like giving them the chance to meet the actors or director via skype, or to even have a character named after them in the movie.

Coordinating the costs that go into producing and shipping these rewards must be done with care to avoid unexpected expenses that make it harder to finish the film or that force you to seek additional financing.

I’ve put together a short guide on this topic that might help if you are thinking of running a Kickstarter or Indiegogo. Don’t forget to include tax calculations! This is often overlooked and can really come back to bite you.

3. Study Successes and Failures

If you haven’t already studied a few successful and unsuccessful film crowdfunding projects, now is the time to do so. I also recommend pledging to a few so that you can see how the process works and how creators communicate with their backers.

Pay attention to:

– The length and structure of the pitch video.

– The rewards that are most and least popular.

– How creators do updates and respond to comments.

– The layout of the project text (titles/images) and what information is included and omitted.

– Where the project was posted online and how much it was shared on social media.

If you’d like to learn what it’s like to actually run a Kickstarter, be sure to check out my ebook ‘How to Succeed on Kickstarter.’

Tools that you can use to help with research:

KickTraq – This tool will give you day by day analytics on Kicstarter projects including backer count, pledge amount, and number of comments. I highly recommend installing their chrome app.

Google Advanced Search – You can use google advanced search to filter results by time or type to see which websites/blogs mentioned the project or linked to the project.

Twitter Advanced Search – This is another useful tool that you can use to track mentions or keywords on Twitter. You can use this functionality to see which accounts tweeted about the project or shared it on social media.

BuzzSumo – I like to put articles that have been written about film crowdfunding projects into this tool to see how many shares they got and from which accounts. Aside from estimating traffic to the PR hit from the website’s Alexa ranking, you can use this tool to get an idea of how well the PR benefited them on social media.

4. Create a PR plan.

Since going live, 40,765 film-related projects have been launched on Kickstarter. When you launch, you will be competing with other film projects for the attention of the backer community on your crowdfunding platform. In my experience, and from listening to thousands of creators on KickstarterForum and CrowdfundingForum, the best chance for you to gain the attention of strangers on your platform is within the first 3 days upon launching.

At this stage, you will be in the recently launched tab and if you hustle and get supporters early, you can become a trending project. It’s much harder later in the game.

Having news articles written about you will not only give you a leg up on other projects in terms of credibility, but it will also send external visitor to your project, who may turn into supporters. I recommend beginning to develop a relationship with journalists as early as possible.

Aside from creating a PR pitch and media list, you can also contribute content to news websites sharing your filmmaking expertise. This is a good way to get your foot in the door and make contacts at a larger publication.

For more advice on crafting a pitch, I recommend this article and reading through these outreach mistakes.

5. Give Fans An Inside Look

I think a good example of a mainstream movie that draws fans into the story, along with getting them excited about the actual filmmaking process, is Les Misérables. Check out the video below.

I remember being in theaters watching this infomercial style movie advertisement and thinking “wow, that’s a cool technique they used, I want to see it!”

In the old days, there may have been one movie trailer and then the film was released into theaters for a relatively long duration. Now-a-days, there are teaser trailers, multiple versions of the actual trailer, and then films must make a bulk of their money in the first weekend. Anticipation is built up and performance occurs over a shorter duration.

You need to consider how you can seed your audience with multiple bits of content to get them excited about your upcoming project. This can include photos, short videos, interviews with the cast and crew, and more. This is great content to share on social media and to eventually include in your campaign.

When you are going about creating this kind of content, you should think “infomercial,” like the Les Misérables video above. How can you inform backers about what is unique about this film project, but also get them excited about the storyline and characters? How can you give them an inside look and make them hungry for more?

Conclusion

I hope these tips will get you started on the right path! Let me know what movie you are raising money for in a comment below! I love hearing about the projects you guys are starting.

For further reading, I recommend these steps for crowdfunding a movie and the helpful amazon book ‘Crowdfunding for Filmmakers.’


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  • Great and insightful information to guide those looking to get funded in making their dream an reality!

    • CrowdCrux

      Glad it’s helpful!

  • FBK

    Filmmakers have a unique advantage because there team is already in place and this includes all who are a part of the film (actors, extra, production assistants, makeup and hair artist, and the list is endless). A good tip you shared is to provide those promoting the crowdfunding campaign with a guide or script to follow.

    • CrowdCrux

      Very true. Thanks for your thoughts 🙂

  • Spoolee

    We were quoted 7k-10k for a professional video. We did are research and this article along with others helped us create our own awesome video! Check it out. http://kck.st/1yCQZwV – Spoolee is 135% funded, $10,857 raised with 34 days to go! Thanks Crowdcrux – @GoSpoolee

    • CrowdCrux

      Congrats on reaching your goal! Also, happy to hear you found a way to bootstrap the video!

  • rossboone

    Whoa this is awesome info! I love the idea that having more people involved in the project and the promotion gives more credibility and reach! Totally makes sense.
    It helped for my book project: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1318693714/book-miracles-in-ethiopia
    @rossboone

    • CrowdCrux

      Yea, more people is good as long as they are all committed to helping out (promoting to their friends and family) and there is one organizer to can coordinate activity.

  • Trevor Lehmann

    This is very good information. I have a cousin that is looking to fund a kickstarter project and will definitely have to share it with him.

    As a side note, I am currently I am running my own Kickstarter for Crop Cycle, the game of competitive farming. You can check it out here:
    here http://kck.st/13fOdn6 or at @GamesCg

    • CrowdCrux

      Thanks for sharing it with your cousin! Good luck with your project 😀

  • Matthew Tubbesing

    I’m not doing a film, but there is some stuff here I can definitely use; info I wish I had before I started. But I can still implement this stuff.

    • CrowdCrux

      Happy to hear it’s also helpful for non-film related crowdfunding projects!

  • Peter Whitcroft

    Can’t believe there’s been over 40,000 film projects on Kickstarter…Really emphasizes the point you make about making contacts in the media as early as possible.. I’d say most forget to do this and dive in with both feet, not realising that the first few days are the most important.. As Seneca said, ‘luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity’, and I can’t remember who it was who said, ‘by failing to plan, you are planning to fail’.

    • CrowdCrux

      Good quote. When Kickstarter and crowdfunding was first emerging, I think it was novel enough for movie or film projects to stand out, but now there is more competition and you need more selling points than just the fact that you are raising money via this new crowdfunding medium.

  • Robert Jonsson

    Great article!

    As I read through it, it really dawns on me how useful the tips are even if you’re not funding a film there is much in the article that would benefit your campaign. For example, prepare in advance and study other campaigns success and failures.

    One thing that did surprise me was how beneficial it is to have several persons then just a single person. That is something that really stuck with me and something I will definitely think of in my next campaign.

    • CrowdCrux

      Yea, having multiple people for a crowdfunding campaign can help tremendously. It magnifies your social network and also running a campaign is a ton of work, so it can be nice to assign roles.

  • Great guidelines. A movie is also about a compelling story. One that would make you dream, laugh, sit on the edge of your chair 🙂

    • CrowdCrux

      Agreed. In the same way that the movie will move an audience emotionally, creators should take that same approach with the campaign/video/message to improve sharing and pledges.

  • Martin Reese

    Love the PR tips. I will definitely be implementing them on my Kickstarter campaign. Thanks.

    • CrowdCrux

      Glad the PR tips were helpful!

  • Reko Moreno

    Another Great Article. We used a lot of your tips during our campaign (Newlywed and Broke), now we’re starting our show on Youtube and here I am again, learning some new ideas.

    Thanks Salvador.

    Reko

    • CrowdCrux

      What’s your youtube channel link? I want to check it out!

  • It was nice to see a post that wasn’t as generalized. I like how this specifically focused on film or movie funding! Glad I found this site!

    • CrowdCrux

      Thanks! I hope it was helpful for your project :).

  • Is there such a thing as a campaign to assemble a crew? I found a musician/composer and a couple of voice actors for my video, but still need animators, artists, and apparently a PR person.

    • CrowdCrux

      You could do a fundraiser to help you hire a crew, but the main pull of a kickstarter campaign is the ultimate projects and the rewards that you can offer. If you’re doing a crowdfunding campaign in more-so the conceptual phase, I think it will be more difficult.

  • Syed Zubair Ahmed

    Hi This article was really helpful but i have couple of questions when assemble the Team for the Movie project,hiring the particular person who actually knows the field for e.g if we hire sound person or writer he or she should belong to that particular field? if yes, then we might need to pay them or tell them whatever the movie gets the benefit, you will get your share. I mean how it will be beneficial for the team to build it as they might looking for some catch! Secondly, my region don’t support KickStarter is there any other platform apart from that.