Kickstarter has helped plenty of filmmakers outside of Zach Braff bring their projects to life. It’s proved to be a great way for independent filmmakers to raise funds when other avenues may be closed off.
If you think you might want to start a campaign for your own movie, then you need to look at some of the best Kickstarter film projects of all time. You can examine their Kickstarter pages for yourself to see how they convinced hundreds or thousands of strangers to give them money and then check out the films themselves to witness the final result.
Which films made the list?
All of the films you see on this list needed funding at one point. Some needed entire budgets while others just needed a bit more money to make it over the finish line.
Some films already had big names attached. Others are smaller works that managed to find an audience.
Along with each entry, we’ll dive into what made each film successful. Crowdfunding for film projects is never easy, but we’ve included some tips to point you in the right direction. We’ll also link to the Kickstarter page, so you can see how exactly they sold the project to strangers.
DID YOU KNOW?As of this writing, a total of 15 films funded through Kickstarter have been nominated for Oscars. This includes Period. End of Sentence., which won for Best Documentary Short at the 2019 ceremony.
Without further ado, here are six Kickstarter film campaigns that went from ideas to beloved movies with a little help from some everyday movie fans.
Kung Fury (2015)Kung Fury (i.e. the most awesome 30 minutes of your life) needed a little help finishing, so the filmmakers turned to Kickstarter for help. The result if an amazing homage to '80s action movies that cranks the insanity to 11. The movie was so well-received, a sequel is slated to come out that will star Michael Fassbender and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
That’s a lot of green screen
What surely sold most backers on this project is the incredible video on the Kickstarter page. David Sandberg talks about how they already have a lot of the film already shot, so to convince backers to donate, they put together a short trailer.
When planning your own Kickstarter film project, you do not want to start at square one. You need to show you know what you’re doing. Even if you can only manage to film a little bit without the funding, you can still show donors what you have in mind for your project. It doesn’t have to involve Vikings riding dinosaurs to make an impression.
Best Kickstarter Film Projects
The Babadook (2014)Despite it being arguably the best horror film of the last decade, most people don’t realize The Babadook was only possible through crowdfunding. They actually filmed most of the movie already, but they needed extra money for special effects and to pay for an art department.
One scary momma
Similar to Kung Fury, the filmmakers here needed to convince donors to give them money for a movie that was already almost done. In the Kickstarter video, Jennifer Kent discusses her passion for old-school horror movies and how she wants to bring those influences into her own film. It’s a great way to connect with backers and let them know why her vision is unique.
The Kickstarter campaign includes some set photos from filming The Babadook, but it also includes a short film Jennifer Kent made years earlier titled The Monster. If you’re a filmmaker, your Kickstarter page is not the place to be modest. By all means, show what other films you have worked on. You may not have anything to show from the movie you want to make next, but you can at least show you have experience and know your way around a camera.
Boy Howdy: The Story of CREEM Magazine (2019)Sometimes you have a story that deserves to be told. Creem Magazine was influential to a number of rock ‘n’ roll acts from the late 60s to the early 80s, and the filmmakers behind Boy Howdy: The Story of CREEM Magazine wanted to bring that magazine to the attention of the masses.
A story not enough people know about
When making any film, you have to ask yourself, “Why does this story need to be told?” When you ask thousands of people to donate to your movie, you have to convince them why a story needs to be told.
The Kickstarter campaign offers a lot of details about why CREEM Magazine was influential, including listing a ton of amazing writers who used to work for it. It gives the audience a sense of the scope the filmmakers are aiming for. It also lists musicians the filmmakers already interviewed or wanted to. For your campaign, you need to convey why your film stands out amongst everything else on Kickstarter and what the audience will learn by backing you.
Kickstarter Film Funding
Anomalisa (2015)Anomalisa is a film about a man struggling with the mundanity of his life. It also comes from the mind of Charlie Kaufman, which was no doubt a big reason why this film was funded.
Behind the scenes stop motion
If there’s one lesson to be learned from Anomalisa, it’s to understand your audience. The Kickstarter page includes your standard video, but it’s in stop motion. Just below it is a video showing the behind the scenes work that went into making the pitch video.
The logline for the film may not be the most exciting thing on its surface, but the film is obviously appealing to movie buffs who want true art from a genius to come to fruition. The Kickstarter appeals to people who want to watch an untraditional film that was created using unconventional filmmaking techniques. You have to know who is most likely to give you money, so you can tailor your campaign toward that demographic.
Crowdfunding Film Success Stories
White Reindeer (2013)White Reindeer is a dark comedy about a real estate agent who comes home to find her husband dead and then slowly realizes he was living another life outside of her. It gets dark, but there’s also a certain hope that makes it an uplifting Christmas movie.
It’s not much of a wonderful life
Unlike other films that are successful on Kickstarter, White Reindeer didn’t have a built-in audience. It didn’t come from a studio with a lot of credits already, and it didn’t have any big names attached. The Kickstarter page was just a genuine plea to have people donate to this small but earnest project.
As you make your own Kickstarter page, you want to be serious the entire way. You don’t want to come across as entitled like your movie will be the greatest thing in the world. You also don’t want to make a video that’s all fluff with no substance. This Kickstarter’s video is simply the filmmaker talking about his vision, and when you approach filmmaking with genuine love and appreciation, people take notice.
Indiegogo Film Campaigns
Gosnell: The Trial of America's Biggest Serial Killer (2018)
Based on a true story
It’s a dark movie and not one you would expect could find an audience via Kickstarter. Well, the truth of the matter is that it didn’t. The film originally sought funds on Kickstarter, but it fell short of its goal. The filmmakers didn’t give up, and they set up shop on Indiegogo where they managed to raise the budget.
As a filmmaker, you will go through trials and tribulations. You may think you’ll raise the budget no problem, but then something happens and you’re back to square one. From this campaign, you should learn to never give up. There are numerous avenues to raise money for your film, including several different crowdfunding platforms. If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.
How to Make a Movie Trailer
The best Kickstarter film projects all have one thing in common. They all contain a video, either a trailer or short explainer, that gives the reader a better sense of the project and the people behind it. If you can make a trailer for your crowdfunding film before launching the campaign, then you will be on even better footing. Check out some of the tips from our next blog.
Up Next: How to Make a Trailer →
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