Crowdfunding For The Very First Time
By: Heather Taylor
The landscape of film production has been rapidly changing over the last 10 years. The introduction of lower cost digital media and smart phones that acted more like a camera than a phone, have allowed greater access to more filmmakers who may not have the funds to make their film.
But it still costs money. Yes - we can now make a film with a smart phone with only $300 and pay no one and send it to our family and friends. But I believe in creating a work environment that not only supports my creative pursuits but that of all the people who are working with me. And I try to stick to that as much as I can.
That’s why with my latest horror film, Pay to Stay (http://www.seedandspark.com/fund/pay-to-stay/), I’ve decided to try my hand at crowdfunding.
Crowdfunding isn’t a new thing. Publishers have been soliciting subscriptions for hundreds of years, only printing a book when there’s enough interest, and in 1885, when the government funding fell through, 160,000 people pulled together to pay for the base of the Statue of Liberty. Without that funding, lady liberty would’ve been shipped back to France.
Now there’s nearly 2000 different crowdfunding sites and it’s shaping the innovation of every service, product, project, investment, cause and experience. Even universities are launching their own crowdfunding sites like UFUND, American University’s new platform, which allows students, student organizations, and faculty to raise money for projects and events through alumni donations.
Most filmmakers (not all) look to three main sites for their crowdfunding efforts: Indiegogo launched in 2007 and Kickstarter opened it’s doors 2002. The most recent contender is Seed&Spark which launched in 2012.
When looking for the best platform for my campaign, I wanted to make sure I had the right support to get the funds that we need to make Pay to Stay. I was nervous about the pressure of raising money from my network so I knew I had to choose wisely.
I chose Seed&Spark even though it’s the youngest network. Over the past few years, Kickstarter seems to be dominated by products and game development. I didn’t want our campaign to be lost amongst a wide variety of projects, especially when it’s all or nothing. Indiegogo is interesting as you’ll get anything that you raise but the network doesn’t seem to be as large, or engaged as a Kickstarter one.
Seed&Spark allows for more flexibility for indie filmmakers. Yes, it’s a nearly all or nothing approach. If you get to 80% you’re greenlit and get the funding you’ve raised so it helps get you most of the way there. And funding doesn’t have to all be monetary. Other filmmakers can loan equipment or time instead of money.
The biggest consideration is how able you are to activate your network. You need to raise 30% in the first 3 days or your success rate plummets. You also need to have the time to prepare before the campaign even starts. It’s definitely a full time creative pursuit on top of pre-production that I didn’t quite anticipate.
But having freedom to create the work that I want to make without asking for permission is something crowdfunding is giving me. It also gives validation from my audience that what I’m making is something they want to see. It’s a great way to reach them and build a larger following for my work.
If you want to follow and contribute to our current project, you can see us on http://www.seedandspark.com/fund/pay-to-stay/ and more of our work on redonblackproductions.com.