You’ve built your community online; you’ve locked on your film’s concept and you’ve even figured out who’ll be a part of the dream team. Now you think is the right time to crowdfund to get the funds you need to take the film to fruition. Awesome! But before you jump into it blindly, here are a few things worth knowing that’ll guarantee your success.
Remember: Preparing for your crowdfunding campaign well in advance is mandatory. It takes at least thirty days to set the ball rolling. Here’s what you should be doing during these thirty days.
Set a realistic budget We cannot get tired of saying this: ALWAYS crowdfund for the must-have budget. The best way to ensure success is to keep your crowdfunding target as barebones as possible. Define exactly what you want the money for (production or post-production or both?), include extra costs like tax deductions, platform commission etc. For instance, while crowdfunding for Punyakoti, Ravi Shankar decided to crowdfund only for the animatics and music of the film, in order to keep a more achievable crowdfunding goal.
Make a mailing list Make a list of everyone that you’re friends with (even if you haven’t spoken to them in a while) on Facebook and Twitter. Do the same with your email contacts. Next, dip into your professional and social networks (for e.g. workplace contacts, alumni associations, any clubs that you may be a part of and the like). Segregate all your contacts into specific groups like- family, best friends, friends, colleagues and acquaintances. Your communication, i.e. tone and frequency, will vary from group to group. Be prepared to send more than a dozen emails to each of these groups. For Punyakoti, a total of 2020 email addresses were collected and almost 20 newsletters were sent.
Engage with the community Crowdfunding is incomplete without a flourishing community. The only way to consistently strengthen this community and get them to fund you is by engaging with them. Keep them regularly updated on the goings on of the project. Involve them in feedback sessions, hold contests, ask questions and make it a fun process for everyone involved- that’s how they’ll keep coming back to you and bring their friends along too.
Maintain a content calendar You’ll have to send multiple newsletters regularly, promote your campaign on Facebook and Twitter, contact potential funders, think about online and offline activations, get good PR and much more- and if you don’t have a schedule in hand before the work actually begins, you’re likely to have more food on your plate than you can digest and we know how that ends. If you can’t set up a whole month’s content in one go, you can always do it on a weekly basis. Check out the free tools that’ll help you with this!
Build a database The process of building a database should begin before you start the crowdfunding campaign and continue during and after too. In addition to social media contests and calls for collaborations, one good bet to get email contacts is a landing page. It becomes a one stop shop for visitors (curious cats and potential funders) to find out about not just the crowdfunding campaign, but also everything else related to your film. Most importantly, it makes it easier for you to collect contact details, so you can continue to stay in touch with your audience much after the campaign is over. Punyakoti got 24% of its pledges (which later converted into funding) via its landing page.
Set worthy rewards People mostly fund out of three motivations - they love the idea, they want to support the scene or they love the work you do (more on this HERE). Therefore, it becomes all the more important that their generosity is acknowledged and rewarded well. It doesn’t matter how little the funding amount is, make sure you give rewards that’ll stay with your funders even after your film is over and out. It doesn’t have to be anything expensive. Even intangible, experiential rewards like a private screening, invite to a day on the shoot, naming a character after the funder etc. go a long way. Here’s a list of some of our favourite crowdfunding rewards.
Have a pitch video A pitch video helps people get clarity on what exactly your film is about as well as cement its importance. Moreover, a video is a faster and better way to emotionally connect with your potential funders. In fact, crowdfunding projects with a pitch video are 35% likelier to succeed than those without one. (More on why you need a pitch video, HERE). But, remember to not confuse the pitch video with the trailer. The pitch video should be a healthy mix of a mini-trailer, behind the scenes, you talking about why you’re doing this, why you need the money and how much of it you need. Check out some of the best pitch videos on Wishberry here!
Get insight from those who did it right The more research and clarity you get about crowdfunding for your film, the easier the process will be. The best way to get credible insight is to talk to fellow filmmakers who crowdfunded successfully in the past. Ask them the challenges they faced, how they got strangers to fund, how to get and maintain press contacts and so on. Additionally, also ask the crowdfunding platform you choose for some of the best practices in crowdfunding as well as resources you can refer to (success stories, tips, guides, etc.).
Make a PR list Do not underestimate the power of press! One good article from a major news house is all it takes sometimes for something to go viral! Press coverage from credible news portals (in print as well as digital) will help you reach out to strangers and convert them into funders. It will also lend your crowdfunding campaign credibility. Make a list of publications that are relevant to independent films. If your film is cause or community focused then look at websites and media portals that are popular in these circuits. Talk to fellow filmmakers to help you get press contacts.
Got any more questions or want more insights into how to successfully crowdfund for your film? Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.