It was a ripe opportunity to meet several newcomers to the Raindance Canada (Toronto) fold and to discuss something I enjoy – crowdfunding and how to successful pursue campaigns – to a small group of industry aspirants, part-time filmmakers, and film students.
What always impresses me when I attend these sorts of events is the opportunity to teach members the skills which industry professionals long-ago have taken for granted.
Mention something like IndieGoGo, Kickstarter or several of the past marquee crowdfunding campaigns to the gang in attendance last night and their eyes light up at the possibilities. Drop the same bomb at some random industry event and observe what happens: their eyes glaze over at something they must have heard dozens of times previously.
You don’t realize how much people don’t necessarily know. You seem to believe what you know isn’t interesting to people, it would shock you to know how much some people find it absolutely fascinating.
To bat around a baseball analogy for just a moment, getting base hits and manufacturing runs the old-fashioned way might seem like a trite pursuit in the overall scheme of things, but it’s what wins ballgames.
Being proficient at the most miniscule realities of your chosen vocation might not look good splashed across a magazine cover or on YouTube’s home page, but it’s the very level of consistency required to enter the ranks of the professionals.
Explaining to Canadian industry freshmen the various intricacies of a crowdfunding campaign, what with media darlings like the (as of this writing) $4.53M PEBBLE campaign positively on fire (!!!), might seem tiresome, but it’s these sorts of fundamentals which demonstrate true professionalism for the craft. As you can see from last night’s video, I was totally jazzed up by the chance to do precisely that (duration: 28m52s, and feel free to skim around).
Here were other things I was surprised to discover…stuff which I and my indie colleagues know well yet which remain curiosities for those with less experience in the matter:
- celebrity crowdfunding platforms are not as “celebrity” as we think. When I asked for a show of hands for how many folks had heard about the all-ubiquitous IndieGoGo before, only one hand shot up! For indies outside the US, this is a critical knowledge breach (given that Kickstarter can only be accessed with a US bank account and US mailing address).
- just because a crowdfunding campaign is theoretically possible, doesn’t mean crowdfunding is for everyone: I’ve observed an education vacuum on the subject of film goals. Why are filmmakers engaging in their creative efforts? What’s the reason behind the making of their films? Depending on what the goals are determines what strategy filmmakers need to pursue. Just shooting a film because cameras are cheap and available is not engaging enough for an audience.
- crowdfunding isn’t simply “found money:” the proliferation of crowdfunding campaigns can only be accounted for by the fact that filmmakers think this is money growing on trees: simply slap up a page on Kickstarter and watch the receipts roll on in! But there’s so much more that goes into waging a campaign than that. Most newcomers are unpleasantly surprised to learn just how much more work is required.
- crowdfunding comprises only a minor percentage of a film’s budget, not all of it: crowdfunded cash generally accounts for no more than 15% of a film’s overall budget. If filmmakers succeed in raising more than 15 points, consider it a bonus not a right. Sure, there are resounding successful campaigns out there majorly which oversubscribed, but they’re the exception not the rule. Doubter? Spend some time over at the Kickstarter home page and browse some of the campaigns on offer and you’ll soon see how skewed the ratio is would-be campaigns to successful attempts.
- not to get all negative, but filmmakers are diving into filmmaking without a plan: money is simply being tossed around with zero accountability for what’s being spent. Filmmakers are still hoping for that miracle, playing the lottery and praying that their film is the next festival darling (hey, it may be, but it’s statistically unlikely). They’re not doing enough research. They’re not working hard enough. They’re collaborating with the wrong people.
Education and course work will fix this, but how soon is the question…
INSPIRATION FOR TODAY’S POST: Derek Sivers’ “Obvious to you. Amazing to others.”
Adam Daniel Mezei, PMD | Producer of Marketing and Distribution
Indie Audience Engagement Services for Independent Feature Films and Documentaries
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