So you have your project ready, you know who you want to cast, you've picked out your dream locations...but you have no money to make this brilliant film concept that you have. Fortunately for those who are unlucky to not land film funding, there is another option available for independent film makers...crowd funding!
But it isn't an easy way out! It requires a lot of work and there's always the risk that you won't raise the funds that you need for your project. Over the past two years at Rianne Pictures we've successfully raised over £4,000 through crowd funding for our films Why Are You Sad, Demi and most recently Foxhole. But this wasn't simple, so we've broken down 10 tips that may help you for your crowd funding campaign.
1 BUILD A CAMPAIGN TEAM
In order to keep up with a crowd funding campaign you're going to be doing a lot of preparation and promotion. For both of our funding campaigns for Demi and Foxhole, we had a team of 4 people who helped with the social media management, researching for perks that we should offer our backers, reaching out to people to donate and general maintenance of the campaign page.
Ask your friends, ask people you usually work with and remember that many funding websites offer some guidance. Indiegogo offers an 'Essential Crowdfunding Calendar and Checklist' which can guide you on which tasks to complete at which point of your campaign, something that helped us out.
2 Create a pitch video
For our Demi campaign we made a 10 minute long video of behind the scenes footage, interviews from our director and the cast sharing their experiences...but this was too long! So we cut it down to a 2 minute video of our director Caris Rianne talking about why the project meant so much to her, which was a much better fit!
With Foxhole, we wanted to give people an idea of the kind of film we wanted to make, so we got together some members of the cast and created a 'prequel' sequence to the events in the final film, along with an opening message from our director Caris again.
If you are creating a video, be precise and keep it short! Talk about why you need help with funding the project and why it's important for you to make it happen. This is your pitch to your possible investors, keep it personal so that you stand out from the hundreds of other crowd funding pages out there. Check out our one for Foxhole below.
3 Cut down on your pitch text
It's not just your video that you'll be pitching with, you'll need to detail your project in written form also. Break your text down into small sections and keep it interesting! Talk about the project, which areas of the production the money will be going towards, the cast and crew that are involved and why you need the help getting the money together.
Don't discuss the perks, they have their own section on your page and try not to repeat anything you mention in your video. People will want to identify on your page why they should donate without having to spend a good hour reading so!
4 Think carefully about your perks
You'll need to offer different perks for different donation amounts, the bigger the donation - the better the perk should be.
But what merchandise should you go with? If your film has a certain unique element to it, perhaps offer it something from that. One of our favourite campaigns was for the short film Disabilities by Director Becca Palmer. They offered crystals as perks to go with the theme of their witchy genre short.
Popular perks to offer would be a special thanks mention in your film credits, invites to a screening party, signed copies of the script and posters. T-shirts and hats are great but expensive to purchase as thank you gifts so maybe save these for your higher donation perks.
Always remember to research how much your perks are going to cost! For our Foxhole campaign we really wanted to offer tote bags as a perk, however when finding out the cost of purchasing these would be 25% of our budget....we went with some better suited perks that fit within our budget, such as these badges we offered during the Demi campaign.
5 Reach out to organisations for promotion
People may not always be able to donate, but a simple re-tweet or a share on Facebook of your campaign link and your page could be seen by other people who can! We formed a connection with the Twitter page WomenOccupyHollywood who kindly promoted our page every Tuesday as part of their Crowdfund Tuesday campaign, this opened up our campaign to an American audience and landed us a place on the Most Popular Campaigns in New York List....along with some large donations.
6 SAY IT WITH A PICTURE
In the digital age of people quickly skimming over information on their phones, you want your campaign to stand out. Unfortunately 140 characters on Twitter or a lengthy Facebook post where your pour your heart out about how much this project means to you isn't going cut it, especially when people spend around 3 seconds per post on their phone.
So say it with pictures! When we held our rehearsal day for Foxhole we ensured that we took plenty of pictures for our campaign page, people want to see that the project is realistic. You can also post photographs of concept ideas you may have for locations, costumes, props! Even films that you feel have influenced your project.
7 Update your progress
Many crowdfunding websites offer an Updates section that not only new visitors to your campaign will see, but also your backers who have already contributed. Having a log of events about the progress of your film show that there is some organisation behind it and a strong possibility of success, people like to follow this to ensure that their investment is being used well.
Once your campaign is over the updates continue, record how you shoot went, share posters, the trailer and hopefully any festival success.
8 Create a countdown (most people donate at the end)
Running a funding campaign can become tiring, especially when you go through a few days where no donations are received. It's actually normal, most donations are at the beginning and end of a campaign, just look at our graph below for Foxhole... we received £700 of our final figure within the last 48 hours of the campaign.
So create a countdown! Our team put together info graphics for the final two weeks to post on our social media pages, we saw that within an hour of each post we received a donation. But not only that, people shared the posts which lead to more exposure.
So don't see the last week of your campaign as a ticking bomb towards failure, use it as an opportunity.
9 Get your CAST AND CREW involved with promoting
Spreading the word is key with your crowd funding campaign and when you have a big team about to work on this film with you, ask them to help promote it! Reaching out to different circles especially in the independent film community could open doors to not only donations but further collaborations.
One of our actors Mumbi Ramoni and producer Charlotte O'Driscoll reguarly kept their followers updated with the campaign.
10 Send personal thank yous
As people donate to the campaign remember to thank them directly, whether this is through a shout out on social media, an email through the crowdfunding page or if you know them very well - drop them a personal message!
We've been very lucky to have been supported by over 150 generous investors in the past 3 years and our projects that went on to premiere around the world and win awards would never have happened without that generosity. Many of the backers for our Demi campaign came to our London premiere to celebrate how far their investment had gone.
So that's our 10 tips for crowdfunding. It's a long journey and can sometimes feel more stressful than actually making your project! But if you put the work in, you'll see the results and be able to make your project, just like we did this year with Foxhole!