Crowdfunding for theatre: What theatre can learn from film
Posted on 7 June, 2017 by Team Wishberry
Theatre like all other performing arts, takes place in time as well as space...
You might wonder why a blog post on crowdfunding has been initiated by hinting at this obvious fact! But, bear with us, for there is a reason. Theatre as a mode of entertainment and education has survived since millennia. However, what has been extraordinary in the case of this form of art is the shrinking of space when it comes to it being displayed. Therefore, both ‘time’ and ‘space’ are scarce if has one to look at brass tacks when it comes to theatre. Another aspect that has definitely dented theatre’s grounding in the popular consciousness is film. With the advent and of course, ever-growing popularity of film, theatre has today become constrained and available only for a ‘certain’ audience.
However, when it comes to crowdfunding, the game is completely different! If you have a project that has merit and if you are sure that your network will turn up for you, then you will succeed. And this is what successful crowdfunding campaigns for films bank on. They get their research right. They set their sight on an achievable target and they put all that they have in the campaign. Therefore, we decided to pick up a few successfully crowdfunded film campaigns on Wishberry and see what they did right and how theatre can learn valuable lessons from them!
Local Fung Fu 2
Kenny Basumatary’s sequel to his earlier film of the same name was testimony to the fact that if your community backs you then you will succeed. It all began with the fact that Kenny is a well-known artist in Assam. And he banked on that. If you look at his pitch video, it almost looks like a home movie made with a lot of heart. He appealed to the moral consciousness of every Assamese individual. And it worked. During the crowdfunding campaign, our tech support would receive calls from people living in the interiors of Assam, who had never conducted an online transaction, wanting to contribute! Local Kung Fu 2 rode the wave of ethnicity with aplomb!
Here's an interesting fact about Local Kung Fu 2's backers: Out of the total 481 backers, 391 people didn't even know Kenny personally!
This animated film was the labour of love of NID students. 9 animators got together to create a film on climate change with special focus on environmental refugees. With skill being their biggest asset, Wade went on to make crowdfunding history at Wishberry. Their target was Rs. 4.5 Lakhs and they received Rs. 1 Lakh within the first 15 minutes. Their target was achieved in less than 3 days. What worked in Wade’s favour was the fact that these animators created positive buzz around their film on social media even before the campaign went live on Wishberry. Their official page highlighted key aspects from their film such as crucial plot points, the reasons behind making the film, as well as the artwork from the screenplay. This gave their followers a clear idea of what the project was all about and also enabled them to get a better understanding of the makers, not to mention the fact that Wade, the film gained popularity even before it got made!
Faraz Ansari’s second independent short is being hailed as India’s first silent LGBTQ love story. The film is on an awards’ winning streak: its international premiere was at the Wicked Queer: The Boston LGBT Film Festival and it won the Audience Award for Best Short Feature at the festival. Since then the film has represented India at numerous film festivals. Here’s what Faraz did right during the crowdfunding campaign: he milked his social media presence! Faraz made sure that everyone knew about his crowdfunding campaign! With a target of Rs. 3 Lakhs, the campaign managed to pull in over Rs. 4 Lakhs. Coupled with the fact that the story had unique appeal (a silent film on a love story that is essentially frowned upon in India), Sisak’s unyielding social media interaction really helped the crowdfunding campaign.
FELUDA: 50 Year’s of Ray’s Detective
With a target of Rs. 15 Lakhs, Sagnik Chatterjee’s documentary on master auteur Satyajit Ray’s favourite sleuth ‘Feluda’ was a successful campaign simply because Sagnik tapped into two things: his community of fellow filmmakers and ‘Feluda’ and Satyajit Ray fans. Almost every Bengali has watched Ray’s cinema; Ray the filmmaker makes them feel proud of being a Bengali! This worked for the campaign wonderfully! The film raised money from 214 backers, 50% of whom didn’t know Sagnik personally!
Here are a few things that one can learn from these successfully crowdfunded film campaigns:
- All the campaigners had unique ideas: If Local Kung Fu 2 was the remake of a DIY cult classic; Wade was about environmental refugees (a very-approaching reality for many human beings in light of rapid climate change).
- The campaigners readily asked their network for funds. They went all out with their social media campaigns and kept the buzz going.
- All these campaigners had interesting pitch videos. These videos play a very important role when it comes to asking for funds. All the videos were crisp, laid out the plan of action clearly and were very honest in their ‘ask’.
- Finally, these campaigners ensured that they believed in the system of crowdfunding. They were sure that their ‘backers’ would make good on their promise of supporting their art!
Crowdfunding for theatre can be successful — all you need to do is learn the tropes and play the game right!