Shortly after Stop/Eject‘s crowd-funding campaign launched, I listened to a podcast in which one of the founders of Indiegogo was interviewed. She said many filmmakers target other filmmakers for donations, which is stupid because most filmmakers are broke and will spend any spare cash they do have on their own projects. She reckoned people should target the ordinary man in the street who has never heard of crowd-funding and is excited by the idea of being involved with a film.
That makes a lot of sense but it’s not quite how things worked out on Stop/Eject. So let’s have a look at what type of people did donate.
(Sorry about all the graphs, by the way. I know this site’s starting to look like a maths textbook.)
These charts tell me a few things:
- Filmmakers are keen to help other filmmakers, but are too broke to contribute more than small amounts.
- Doing corporate work has many benefits for filmmakers.
- I don’t have enough social media “friends”.
- Pie charts are fun.
Okay, I knew all those things already. I think the most interesting point to take away here is that three quarters of the money came from people who already knew me to some degree.
Conclusion: crowd-funding is not so different from any other type of financing.
The Dark Side of the Earth has been repeatedly turned down for financing because it’s not based on an existing book, graphic novel, game, theme park ride, Broadway musical, freak alignment of belly button fluff, etc. Producers didn’t want to take the risk on something without a pre-existing audience.
Similarly, people are generally not inclined to contribute to a crowd-funding campaign unless they have an existing interest in some aspect of the film – i.e. they know the filmmaker, or there is an actor they’ve heard of in it, or it’s shooting in their town, or whatever. You need elements!
So, does how much you can raise from crowd-funding really just come down to how many people you know? No, it can transcend this. The Underwater Realm recently raised more than $100,000 from over a thousand sponsors. They managed this because their project is incredibly inspiring and ambitious. Nothing like it has been done before. Presumably they also tweeted about it until their fingers bled.
Stop/Eject is a much more modest project which was never intended to be crowd-funded. If I were writing a script from scratch to be financed this way, I would make it much…. well, “flashier” is the best word I can come up with.
Finally it’s worth mentioning that some people will have their own unique reasons for sponsoring your project. Several people offered me sponsorship in return for something: donating to a charity, promoting their business, promoting their own crowd-funding campaign. I was happy to do these things where I could.
Next time I’ll discuss the things we did to publicise the campaign and encourage people to contribute.