Well before you do, arm yourself with the difference between the two platforms: Kickstarter is what I call “Reno on steroids.” It’s an all-or-nothing crowdsourcing platform for artists, entrepreneurs, and filmmakers to raise a targeted sum of cash within a delineated period of time, usually a month to a month-and-a-half. If you don’t hit the mark, you don’t keep the cash and all your efforts – usually a month to 45 days – is for naught.
IndieGoGo? Similar to the ‘Kick, but more of a “consolation prize” (at least in the States) for crowdfunding, in that you can raise partial sums of pledged cash for a higher withholding amount (9% as opposed to 5% if you raise your target), but without the cachet of Kickstarter which is a serious proof of concept for filmmakers.
I’ll have another post next week with the critical differences between the two most popular crowdfunding platforms south of the 49th parallel.
Today, it’s about some of the things you SHOULDN’T do in a crowdfunding campaign (on any platform under any circumstances!) if you plan on it all going off with nary a hitch, Mitch.
Don’t crowdfund for ridiculously high sums if you’ve never done it before: I see this happening way too often (at least three times since I’ve been PMDing)…first-time crowdfunders who peg Kickstarter targets at exorbitantly-high targets – somewhere in the neighborhood of $40,000-60,000 – when they’ve never proven their bona fides at crowdfunding before, believing their totally awesome project to be so amazingly popular and obvious to the universe that the target will be a breeze to nail. Unless you’ve been vetted by journalists or have a stack of alarmingly positive testimonials or reviews or have amazing A-List cast or talent attached – in which case you , wouldn’t be crowdfunding, would you? – then don’t be too big for your britches and think a several thousand ducat target is a foregone conclusion, bub, because you may be in for a chilling surprise.
Don’t crowdfund until you’ve got your crack team assembled for the 30-45 day assault: Crowdfunding isn’t about one person, her/his keyboard, a few tweets on Twitter, sprinkled with some Facebook Status Updates, friends. It isn’t about sitting back on your laurels and waiting for the pledges to come rolling in, either, just because your project is so alarmingly ab-fab. It isn’t about a few sign-ins per week, monitoring your campaign’s progress from the Admiralty, and hoping for the best. Make sure you’ve got a stalwart team of staff or interns – including yourself, if you’re the filmmaker, that is – that will man the machines throughout the duration of the entire push – especially towards the final stretch in the final week – so stay on top of those tweets by updating pledgers and prospects how close your target is within reach, and to thank everyone personally and uniquely for their contribution. A good example I’ve used before is (within 140 characters): SoMe | Tales From A Social Media Expert | http://thep.md/GJveTY | @loren1938 (Loren Feldman) | Yes, Loren’s #crowdfunding! or SoMe | Tales From A Social Media Expert | http://thep.md/GJveTY | 64 BACKERS | $4,812 RAISED | 12 DAYS LEFT. As many hands-on-deck as you can bring aboard early on is best. Paying these people can be as simple as offering them a percentage of what’s raised provided the target is reached (if we’re talking about Kickstarter). You can incentivize the team in other ways too, like offering them meaningful film “producorial” credit.
Don’t expect people to pledge money just because you hang a shingle up at Kickstarter/IndieGoGo: With the number of projects crowdsourcing today (egs. asking for feedback/ideas/design opinions and advice, let alone crowdfunding), the space has become astonishingly competitive! Potential donors are becoming inured to the constant appeals for cash and filmmakers (or other artists and business owners crowdsourcing) are being compelled to up the ol’ ante in terms of what they’re offering in return. Also, in certain European jurisdictions, there’s a huge disconnect between, say, filmmakers asking for cash from the public and the expectation of the public has about how it’s the government’s responsibility to pay for things like marketing and distribution or providing a film’s post-production budget. Crowdfunding has made significant inroads in the US/Canada/UK/Australia, but in other jurisdictions there’s still a huge gulf which needs crossing.
Don’t ignore audiences for weeks on end after inception: Here’s another thing I see too often: filmmakers set up a campaign, go through the meticulous schmoo of crafting devilishly excellent pledge rewards or premiums, devoting two full days to pump the stuffing out of the campaign’s existence on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, and elsewhere, then proceed to completely ignore their audience for weeks afterwards, expecting their campaign to pretty much run on its own stones from that point onward. Doesn’t work that way! Consider crowdfunding akin to the relationships you cultivate in your life: if you don’t nurture them and give them the requisite attention they deserve, they atrophy and die. Check in several times a day with your audience (especially those who have already pledged) and be thankful as all get-out that you’re even able to raise, say, $5,000 of extra funds you never would have had in the first place…
Don’t forget to include a revolving slew of engaging extra-diagetics to keep audiences engaged throughout the month+: Filmmakers who have played the extra-diagetic game well (stuff related to your film but not your film itself, egs. interviews, behind-the-scenes, location reccies, etc.): Gregory Bayne and Loren Feldman with their campaigns for JENS PULVER | DRIVEN, BLOODSWORTH: An Innocent Man, or SoMe | Tales From A Social Media Expert. In Bayne’s case, he generally likes to run his campaigns tight and risky at a maximum of 30 days, but somehow always pulls through in the clutch because his publikum loves him. Loren’s in the midst of one now, but can boast of an equally magnetized audience.
Don’t offer been-there-done-that has-been pledge perqs: I see this happening way too often also…filmmakers don’t invest the requisite time to think up really cutting-edge pledge perqs. Remember, it’s the great films which get distribution, not merely the “good” ones. Instead of the usual $10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1,000, 5,000 reward tranches, offering up silly premiums like “associate producer” (which is basically a monkey credit in this business), try a limited edition hardcover copy of the film script in limited quantity (say, 20), bound, embossed, and signed personally by the director, cast, and crew which has a shop value of $100. There are dozens more examples where that came from. But the idea is that you should do your research first by seeing what’s already out there, then crank it up several notches. Take another couple of weeks – a month even – to cook up excellent rewards before you release a half-baked campaign to your public, because you won’t get a second chance to make a first impression. You’ll have already shot yourself in the foot. And don’t believe me? I’ve seen it happen three times before where people thought they knew better than the market…
Don’t leave comments ignored: If someone pledges and then takes the time to leave behind some kind remarks (again, Kickstarter), respond to them immediately and directly. Attempt to do more than simply “thanks for your support, Jack!” type reply. Up the ante and personalize it, okay? It will leave a superb impression and shows you’re on top of things instead of throwing your weight around, sense of entitlement-style.
If a crowdfunding campaign is imminent but you haven’t launched yet, why don’t you take the weekend to rethink those pledge rewards and test them out on a few people in your local community before releasing them to the world. Don’t deep-six the effort before it even begins!
Next week I’ll be coming at you with some more crowdfunding specifics and in the meantime, SOLDIER ON!
Adam Daniel Mezei, PMD | Producer of Marketing and Distribution
Marketing and Distribution Services for Indie Films and Documentaries
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