The New Stuff

Indie Filmmaking: When & How to Use Kickstarter- by Steve Moramarco


Kickstarter, a relatively new tool in the world of fundraising, has revolutionized the process of raising money for your film. However, it is somewhat misunderstood by some of the population, and often misused by the artist/filmmakers themselves.

I successfully funded my first indie film The Great Intervention, using Kickstarter. I’d like to share some of my thoughts and ideas on what is now called “crowdfunding.”

Now if I could only convince all these people to give me ONE DOLLAR…
One thing I have noticed is that there are some people out there who do not like Kickstarter or other similar sites, and may resent you in some way for using it. These people are likely to say “Get a job and pay for it yourself,” or “Stop asking your friends for money.” These people are missing the idea, but good luck trying to change their mind.
Kickstarter was not designed to be used to ask for a handout. A recent New York Times article went into detail about the founding and philosophy behind Kickstarter’s creation.
One thing to know is that not every project is accepted by Kickstarter. You can’t just run a campaign to, say, “Pay My Rent for a Year.” Projects have to have some kind of artistic value and a specific goal. The small staff personally goes through each application, discussing and helping artists shape their projects so they are “Kickstarter-worthy.” If you peruse their website, you will see the variety of projects – from painters to poets – that are using the site to fund their unique visions.
The other concept – and this, I think, gives it a unique twist – is that, if you don’t make your goal, you get none of the money pledged and it is returned to the donors. Why is that cool? Because it adds drama and drive to your fundraising. Sure, there are sites like Indieagogo.com that don’t have such requirements,  but this danger adds legitimacy and urgency to your project. Because, if you DON’T achieve your goal, why should you keep the money – you won’t have the amount you need and the project will be unfinished. Kickstarter is about funding and FINISHING your projects.

Thanks everybody for the donations! Unfortunately, we fell a little short of our goal…
The Kickstarter website is akin to a salon of artists showcasing their dreams and ideas, and the more philanthropic of us can spend hundreds of hours and dollars giving needy projects a helping hand. On their home page and in their weekly emails, Kickstarter showcases various artists, but the truth is, unless you are really clever or lucky, you will rely on friends and family for most of your donations.
This is not a bad thing! If you have a large network of friends/fans already, they are probably aware of your endeavors and WANT to support you. I was personally overwhelmed by the amount of contributions from friends from my elementary school – whom I had not seen in years – that helped me achieve my goal.
So – go forward with Kickstarter, with the above caveats – and follow these guidelines:
1. Keep your goal realistic. I think $5000 is a good number for a first film – it’s not too big to be unattainable, yet, just out of the zone of most people’s personal finances. In another post, I talked about how to make your movie for $5000, so use that as your template. Also, keep your fundraising period limited to about a month. That way you have enough time without it getting “old”.
2. Be creative with your rewards. Although your Kickstarter contact will help you with this, start thinking about it before you pitch your project. You can and should offer a copy of your movie in some format for donors, but think about other fun ways to connect – it will add incentive to your audience to give.
3. Be creative with the campaign itself. Because the majority of your fan base/contacts are on Facebook, you are going to have to beat the drum regularly and loudly in terms of status updates and links. But a link to the same old Kickstarter page quickly gets annoying and boring. Try using links to YouTube songs/videos to inspire your base. For example, a link to the Theme from Rocky with a short reference to your campaign, is a way to keep it fun and light.

Help me people reach my goal… we are ALMOST THERE..!4. If you don’t make your goal, pause and reflect. Was the amount too unreasonable? Is the project vision not fully realized? Was I too annoying with my fundraising campaign? These may be tough questions to ask yourself, but could provide you with some clarity and insight for your next attempt.Asking people for money – whether its your father or a total stranger is never easy. If you have a strong idea for a film or project, use Kickstarter to build up a fan base and, hopefully, make your dream come true.
______________________________________________________________________
Stephen Moramarco is a writer, actor, director and musician. He has been DIY-ing indie projects for over 20 years. His self-released indie CD Hill of Beans was a top-ten hit on college radio and the song “Satan, Lend Me a Dollar” was featured on Showtime’s Weeds. His latest project is his indie film debut, entitled“The Great Intervention”, which he made for $5000. He will be sharing his own insights and opinions on the current DIY revolution taking over… well, just about everything!
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