The following is based on our experience of crowdfunding and the lessons we have learned along the way. Everyone will have a different tale to tell, sometimes from the perspective of elated joy and sometimes the feeling of disappointment and wondering what went wrong.
I need to stress that we have only ever crowd funded for short films and not yet a feature. Honestly, we would love the challenge to crowd fund for a feature film but we would only ever raise half the money that way. The rest we would source from more traditional avenues of finance. So here are our tips:
- Don't approach your crowdfunding campaign with the attitude "I have a big family, they will give me money". Crowdfunding isn't about getting money off your relatives. If that is your strategy, save yourself the time and hassle of creating a kickstarter page and just invite everyone you know for tea and pass round a hat.
- Work hard. You will need to post your page on all your social networking sites 3 to 4 times a day at the very least. You need to remind people it's there and you need to show people you will work hard to prove yourself. So before you start, get your team together and agree that all of you are going to work at raising the profile of the project. It is also a good idea that you remind people why you're making the film and what the money will be spent on. Have a budget and tell people '£150 will be spent on these awesome lenses we're hiring' people respond to campaigns that can justify the amount being asked for and how the money will be spent.
- Plan your pitch. Every detail matters - from your poster, to the way you describe yourself, and most importantly how you make your video. If you're making a comedy then make a funny video, if you're making a drama then film in one of your key sets and draw attention to the cinematography, set design, and story telling. Don't film yourself sitting on a couch mumbling to yourself. It doesn't sell your talent, it doesn't sell your creativity, and it won't get you any attention.
- Shelve your plans to make the trilogy/ TV series/epic adventure. I see so many people pitching (and failing) their TV series and so on. If you have no track record, no connections to the film and TV industry, no one - not even your grandma - is going to believe you can make the project. Those sorts of films and series are expensive for a reason and require a lot of experienced crew. Unless you're a seasoned pro with a huge following I would advise you to step away from those illusions of grandeur and focus on what you can do.
- Be realistic with your target amount. Don't try to raise £10k for a short film when you know you can make it for £1000. Crowdfunding isn't about paying yourself and your crew large amounts of money.
- Emphasise Crowd. Lots of people think crowdfunding is about collecting money and reaching your target. I personally don't think this way at all. To me the audience matters the most in everything I do. It matters to me that they accept and like the vision I have for my project. It matters to me that when I make a comedy they laugh and when I make a drama they cry. The audience matters. Full Stop. Your crowd should matter and you should use their energy and enthusiasm to encourage your team and help the project gain attention. Not all that attention is going to convert into contributions but if you have your sights set on bigger things, then these people, this crowd, are your key to making sure all your hard work is noticed and appreciated. So don't forget to take them along for the ride and thank them for all their support.