Introduction to Kickstarter & Indiegogo Crowdfunding for Filmmakers

Nowadays, funding a film has become easier for aspiring film makers through crowdfunding. Crowdfunding is a tool to achieve funding for a project through donations from many people. Sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo provide a platform where film makers can do just that. This is a great tool for film makers since they are more easily able to fund and produce their masterpieces having gained the public’s interest and support.

Crowdfunding has significantly influenced the film industry as film makers are now able to fully fund their movies with the raised donations. And the great thing about crowdfunding is that it is not limited to film genres or categories. Many different kinds of movies have turned out successful through their crowdfunding campaigns, including the narrative film “Dear White People,” the internet-based film “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night,” and indie movie “The Foxy Merkins.”

Each of these movies used unique strategies to raise enough funds for their movie. But they all share one trait in common—targeting a specific audience.

dear white people“Dear White People,” a satire about being black in a white community, was successfully able to raise $41,405 by targeting African Americans and attracting them and viewers like them to their social media. “Dear White People” primarily used twitter and Indiegogo in order to engage the online community. By updating social media sites, “Dear White People” was able to maintain audience support and draw even more public support.

But a film simply can’t raise money by attracting viewers. They must also entice them to donate. And that’s just what the film team did. Those who donated ten dollars received a shout out on twitter. By the end of their campaign, “Dear White People” had managed to wrangle in more than 1,300 backers.

Another narrative film, “A Girls Walks Home Alone at Night,” was just as successful, raising $56,903 on Indiegogo. However, unlike “Dear White People,” this film had a significantly less number of backers—around 240. So, how exactly did they achieve their monetary goals? Firstly, they marketed their film as a mix between the Iranian and American culture. This is both an intriguing and unique concept. And when you add vampires, prostitutes and drug addicts in the mix, many become more curious and interested. Additionally, some donated $500 in order to attend a Hollywood-sponsored private party.

Despite each film having different numbers of backers, each one was able to successfully reach their fundraising goals. So, it’s more important to keep in mind your particular audience, rather than how many people you can attract.

Internet based-films work slightly differently to attract their target audience. Aside from targeting mostly programmers and computer savvy individuals, the film teams use digital film copies as perks for donors. Turns out digital downloads are three times more popular than DVD hard copies.

CloudsThe film, “Clouds,” took a similar approach. “Clouds” is an interactive documentary, so rather than simply providing digital copies, they provided application downloads of the film for Mac and PC to allow the audience to interact with what’s on screen. More than 320 took them up on this offer. You could say this feature was a hit. In addition to the application, “Clouds” had an “Easter Egg Perk,” where backers who donated $200 were able to add their own concept into the application. It’s simple, fun, and a great seller. In the end, the team was able to raise ten thousand dollars over their goal—raising more than $34,000 with the support of 765 backers.

And then there are movies that use celebrities for public support. “Wish I Was Here,” about a lost father searching for his identity, attempted to raise over three million dollars, and accomplished their goals using celebrity Zach Braff for publicity. Not only is he the director of the movie, but he is also casted in as well—so, you’re getting a two for one deal. The film also offered perks to further entice audiences, including film and production diaries and t-shirts. Almost ten-thousand people took the team up on this offer. Wow. Look how one celebrity can dramatically increase publicity and funds. The team reached its fundraising goals and accumulated 3.1 million dollars with the help and support of forty-six thousand individuals.

600full-the-foxy-merkins-posterAnd lastly there are indie films. The indie film, “Foxy Merkins” took a more quirky and strange approach. The film, a comedy about lesbian hookers, translated the same quirkiness into their campaign. One of their perks was titled the “Hand Job Level,” fortunately, meaning that backers received a hand-written and signed postcard from the team in exchange for a twenty-five dollar donation. With their quirky story and genuine appeal, the campaign drew in 325 backers, including indie enthusiasts, and raised $12,800, surpassing their fundraising goals.

As you can see, each movie is different and even attracts supporters differently; however, they all relate to each other since they reached out to a specific audience. It’s important to hone in on target audience, since they will more easily relate to the film. So whether your audience is African Americans, Persians, computer-savvy individuals, or indie enthusiasts, keep in mind that your film must speak to them. And foremost, have fun and be personable, since that is what people relate to the most.

So, inspire, and invest in storytelling through crowd-funding, since no one should be limited to producing a film due to funds.

By Shruti Patrachari

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