The world of independent filmmaking has changed. No longer can a Sundance hopeful raise a few hundred thousand dollars from family, friends, their dentist, shoot for eighteen days with a crew of twenty, and hope to actually pay everyone back and actually see a check on the back end. Those days are over. DVD sales are down. And the chance of your film receiving a theatrical release is about as good as you winning PowerBall. Add to that the fact that almost everyone with a DSLR suddenly thinks they are filmmakers. And it truly seems hopeless.
Unfortunately most of those DSLR-packing Spielberg-wannabes lack the skills involved to actually tell a story with that expensive Canon, let alone make it look good. And most of the films that do get made will never be seen beyond a small circle of family, friends, students of their video production class, and of course the cast and crew involved.
The new model of independent filmmaking calls for much lower budgets and much smaller crews. What used to cost $250 thousand should now be made for one tenth that budget. The crew of twenty, cut down to four or five, or less. A great film can still be made. But it’s a lot more work.
And the fundraising. Back when I began making films in the 80s, indie filmmakers would look for angel investors. Supporters of the arts who had the cash to spare, and were looking more to help create something special, instead of for that quick profit. Not our angels are online. They are mostly strangers who believe in our ability, our story, or perhaps they just like our smile. It doesn’t matter. And instead of writing checks with five or six zeros to the left of the decimal point, they’re pitching in $25 or $50 at a shot through the various crowd-sourcing sites, KickStarter, IndieGoGo, or one of the upstarts. They will provide you with the thousands needed to turn that story idea into reality. And aside from their chosen rewards, a DVD, digital download, signed poster, producer credit in the film, you won’t ever have to pay them pack. And what profits you now make from selling your film will actually go into your pocket.
What a concept. Making money off independent filmmaking. It can be done, if you have the talent, the perseverance, and the personality. And if you actually create a smart crowdsourcing campaign.
I’ve run twenty-five successful campaigns on KickStarter…so far. Over the next couple of weeks I’m going to post some helpful hints on how I do it. And I’ll begin today with tip #1.
I check for new film projects on KickStarter every couple of days. I want to not only know what the competition is, but see if there are any films I personally want to back. Right off the bat, the biggest turn off, and one that will now stop me in my tracks from backing a project, is that the creator of the campaign has backed no other KickStarter campaigns. Basically they want you to give them your money, but they are above having ever helped any other people in the same position. It’s a case of spoiled-teenager gimme-gimme-gimme. And they give nothing in return. HUGE turnoff. Makes you look like a jerk. So, before you set up your campaign, learn everything about the site, study other campaigns, and give some love to a few that strike a chord in your filmmaking heart. It’s good karma. And good karma is something every filmmaker can never get enough of.
More in a few days…