What indie filmmakers can learn from the 6 most successful film crowdfunding campaigns
Posted on 16 February, 2016 by Team Wishberry
Veronica MarsVeronica Mars is an American teen noir drama TV series with Kristen Bell as the protagonist. In 2007, the show was cancelled. However, in 2013, the show’s creator along with Kristen Bell launched a crowdfunding campaign for a Veronica Mars film. The film’s target was $2,000,000 but it ended up raising $5,702,153 from 91,585 backers! (Just let that sink in) The campaign went on to become:
- The fastest project to reach $1 million (in 4 hours of launching) and $2 million (in 10 hours)
- The highest funded film crowdfunding project
- The most backed project in Kickstarter history (91k+ backers, you guys!)
Super Troopers 2Super Troopers 2 is a comedy sequel about 4 troopers. The film’s campaign target was $2 million but it raised 213% more than its original target i.e. $4,566,75 from 50,000+ backers. It raised its original goal in the first 24 hours itself. The beauty of the film’s crowdfunding campaign is that it came almost a decade after the first film- a cult favorite- was out. Key takeaway: Super Trooper 2’s crowdfunding communicated to its fans in a way that’s unique and completely true to the film’s style, theme and aesthetic. This helped backers become a part of the experience they enjoyed nearly a decade ago. The entire crowdfunding campaign and its marketing efforts were so entertaining; everyone wanted to be a part of it, just for the experience.
Finding Vivian MaierFinding Vivian Maier is a feature length documentary about nanny who took tens of thousands of powerful photographs that were undiscovered until her death. The film raised its target in a matter of two weeks. By the end of its 90 day campaign, it raised a total of $105,042 (525% more than its original target) from 1,495 backers. Not only that, the film went on to be nominated in the Oscars for the Best Feature Documentary. Key takeaway: While documentaries are often considered niche territory, appealing only to a few, Finding Vivian Maier dealt with a subject that was both unique and extremely intriguing. Additionally, it appeals to various groups of people – photographers, historians, collectors as well as filmmakers. The more interesting and relevant hooks a project has, the more people it can appeal to.
Anomalisa:Written by Charlie Kaufman (Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind and Being John Malkovich), Anomalisa is a unique and poignant stop motion animated film about a man crippled with the mundane motions of life. The film raised $406,237 from 5,770 backers. Key takeaway: What got everyone interested in the film was that it was written by Charlie Kaufman, who is known for his singular and extraordinary works. Additionally, the campaign shared behind the scenes footage of what goes into making a stop motion animated film, making viewers stop, take notice, understand the real efforts of creating such a film and eventually fund it. It always helps to let people know what to expect when you tell them you’re making a film.
Blue Mountain StateBlue Mountain State is the third most funded film on Kickstarter. Yet another film based on a comedy TV series that was cancelled before its time, it raised $1,911,827 from a whopping 24,000 backers. Key takeaway: Like Veronica Mars, the Blue Mountain State film too appealed to the TV show’s loyal fanbase. Additionally, the film relied on the whole crazy college experience to appeal to the younger lot as well as those nostalgic about their heydays. The campaign also offered some pretty exciting and functional rewards as well as ran contests among several colleges to engage with its audience.
The Newest Hottest Spike Lee JointNow called Da Sweet Blood of Jesus, the film is about humans beings who are addicted to blood. And, no, it’s not a vampire movie. Created by Spike Lee who is known in the film community to make films that examine race relations, colorism and so on, the film raised $1,418,910 from 6,421 backers. Key takeaway: Being a filmmaker with a lifelong career and fame under his belt, why would he need to resort to crowdfunding? This was a question Spike Lee faced from skeptics and critics. Spike Lee kept his stance clear, “I’m an Indie Filmmaker and I will always be an Indie Filmmaker. Indie Filmmakers are always in search of financing because their work, their vision sometimes does not coincide with Studio Pictures”. No matter who you are, always justify your reason and motives for crowdfunding.
To conclude, remember the following points if you want to be a crowdfunding hit:
- Build your community even before you think of crowdfunding, and constantly engage with it
- Make your crowdfunding campaign an experience even people who don’t know you would want to be a part of
- Give people a good glimpse into your project, so they know what to expect
- Offer something unique and try to have multiple hooks to lure in different kinds of people
- Give rewards that people would actually want, but cannot buy otherwise
- Justify your goal and purpose for crowdfunding