Crowdfunding Films: Part 2 — Prepping Your Campaign

Get the essentials in place before you start crowdfunding

Crowdfunding Films Part 2: Prepping Your Campaign

So you want run a crowdfunding campaign. You’ve already done your homework of identifying the best crowdfunding platform for your film project. Now what? In Part 2 of our series we’re going to explore the preparation required to organize a successful film crowdfunding campaign.

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1. Consider All Post-Production Expenses Up Front

It’s not enough to just raise money for production. You need to factor in the entirety of expenses associated with the lifecycle of a project. From perks to fulfillment, post-production costs to website hosting, and distribution.

Editing, Grading, Sound Design, VFX, etc

post-production - editing

No matter how great your film may look, if you don’t have the capital left over for an editor, sound designer, composer or any other key post-production services, nobody will see your project! Don’t forget to incorporate post into your budget and crowdfunding campaign.

Perks & Fulfillment

post-production - editing

When offering tangible perks (i.e. mugs, t-shirts, branded stationary supplies), it’s important to factor in the cost of manufacturing, taxes and shipping. This can commonly add up to cost as much as 30% of the capital you raise. Fulfilling tangible goods takes time, energy and capital; from design to packaging to shipping. Instead, think creatively about offering digital or experiential perks.

Ideas for more affordable perks:

  • Exclusive digital downloads (i.e. storyboards, animatics, or behind-the-scenes footage)
  • Phone or Skype call from the director or key talent
  • More prominent name placement in the ending credits
  • Incorporate creative feedback from top donors into your script or post-production choices
  • VIP invite to red carpet premiere

Distribution

post-production - editing

You will also need to save room for distributing the film beyond just your network and donors. One of the most common forms of distribution are film festivals. Most festivals require submission fees, often ranging between $40-$100 each. Sign up for Without a Box or Film Freeway to peruse the various film festivals and their fee structures. Remember, the earlier your submit, the more discounted the submission fee.

Web Hosting

Verb Website Builder

It’s a good idea to create a website dedicated to your film project to highlight the trailer, team, and contact information. It’s super easy to create portfolio-styled websites on the cheap these days. Services like Virb or Squarespace provide great starter templates and easy drag-and-drop editors so you can turnaround a website with ease. Hosting expenses for these services fall within $10-15/mo.

2. Enlist Your Team to Help

Teamwork Film Collaboration

Kickstarter says the hardest part about raising is getting the first 20% of donors. Funding tends to accelerate after that. If you get your cast and crew’s network aboard, you can generate more donors up front, and potentially cross the 20% chasm, which in turn can, in theory, generate more donors.

Invite your Talent & Crew to Help Promote the Campaign

To ensure a successful campaign, it is critical that everyone involved takes personal ownership in meeting the goal. Recruit your talent and crew to help generate that initial bit of traction.

Cinematographers, editors, actors, and other key creatives can be pivotal in this process. Consider asking them to be a part of your campaign video and/or feature them prominently on your campaign page. At the very least, get their buy-in to share the campaign with their network. Make them feel like their involvement is not only pivotal to the production, but also the fundraising process.

Keep your Team Excited by Incorporating their Ideas

When you meet with your team members before (and during) the campaign, discuss ways in which they can help your promote the project.  Not everyone on your team will bring in a major backer, but a bunch of $25 contributions can add up quickly – that’s why it’s called crowdfunding!

Allow the team to contribute to the process, if they have good ideas about perks or promotion – implement them. If they seem unenthused, remind them that without the campaign there may be no film. In an ideal world, you will have a core group of people who are each passionate enough about the film to want to personally promote it.

3. Plan Your Campaign Updates in Advance

Teamwork Film Collaboration

Before starting your campaign, it would be a good idea to map out a timeline of updates you’ll be posting along the way. Every update gets sent directly to backers, and can optionally be viewed by the public as well.  Updates are a great way to reassure your backers that they have made a good investment. This could become especially important when you’re approaching the homestretch of your campaign, and need completion funding to reach your goal.

Here are some ideas for updates:

  • Funding status and big news
  • PR and write-ups about your project
  • New talent or crew hires (showcase the benefit)
  • Individual video blog from the director, producer and/or talent.
  • Location or equipment announcements
  • Storyboards, animatics, and artwork

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Wrapping Up

The general idea is to measure twice, cut once. By preparing thoroughly, you’ll be well on your way to building enthusiasm amongst your production team and backers.

However, even if you prep a great campaign, if you choose the wrong crowdfunding platform, you might be sabotaging yourself from the start. If you haven’t checked it out yet, read Part 1 of our Film Crowdfunding Guide: Choosing the Right Film Crowdfunding Site.

What do you think? Did we miss anything in regards to prepping for a campaign? Let us know in the comments below!

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H. Nelson Tracey

H. Nelson Tracey

Denver, Colorado native. Passionate advocate for independent filmmaking and movie watching. Lover of writing and finding new experiences in all kind of places.
H. Nelson Tracey