5 Tips for Crowdfunding a Film or Movie
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
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.
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.
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?
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.