Kickstarter and Indiegogo have revolutionized the way indie films are financed. That’s not up for debate.
Now that Spike Lee, Zach Braff, and the producers of Veronica Mars have each raised millions of dollars to finance their respective projects, it’s safe to say that every aspiring filmmaker at least considers using a crowdfunding site to get started.
But you need to invest a lot of effort into your campaign, lest your project go unfunded, or worse – end up on a website like “Your Kickstarter Sucks.”
The reason these celebrity Kickstarters seem to rake in millions of dollars overnight is because – you guessed it – celebrities run them. If you’re an unknown filmmaker, you’re going to have a much harder time. Don’t worry! Crowd funding was invented to give a fighting chance to projects that otherwise wouldn’t see the light of day. You just need to be aware of the pitfalls that other, less successful campaigns fall into.
First off – don’t set an unreasonable goal! Very few projects actually raise millions. Also, Kickstarter has a time limit – and if you don’t meet your goal by that time period, you end up receiving a grand total of $0 (Indiegogo doesn’t operate like this). Set a realistic goal and you’ll be more likely to meet it.
However, you’re not likely to get any donations if your project doesn’t hold people’s interest. Even if your indie film is far from finished, you should at least have a trailer or introductory video to prove that yes, you are a real filmmaker, and that your finished project will be a film worth seeing. Asking people to fund a film when they have no visual evidence that it’s actually being made is ludicrous.
On a related note, don’t keep your budget a secret! Backers will want to know what their money is going toward, and they definitely want to make sure you’re not bilking them for more money than you actually need.
Kickstarter is all about treating your potential backers with respect. As long as you offer them something they want to fund, and show that you care about creating a great project, there are no limits to what you can accomplish.