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Old 09-08-2018, 09:03 AM   #1
m-wall
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Question What makes movie crowdfunding campaigns successful?

Hi guys,

Im currently working on a research project for my university. The goal is to find out what potential backers are looking for in movie crowdfunding campaigns and if the crowd responds to certain signals.

As a part of this, I'm doing an online experiment, in which every participant sees a couple of crowdfunding configurations and is asked which one they'd prefer. I'd love for you all to take part: http://www.dev.bwl.uni-muenchen.de/c...iecf&ref=ekQkZ

But Id also love to hear about your personal experiences and opinions on movie crowdfunding. Has anyone of you successfully financed their movie project like that? Has anyone tried and it didn't work out? What are you personally looking for in a campaign? Thanks, everyone!
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Old 09-08-2018, 09:13 AM   #2
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Have you seen any successful ones? Can you list them please? I have not seen any, to me, crowdsourcing works best for things like new inventions, must-have gadgets, etc. I have seen a lot of indie movies ones but nothing happens.
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Old 09-08-2018, 09:35 AM   #3
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Why would I give $100 for someone to make a movie? But if I can get a cool new gadget for my kitchen, sure.

In other words, most people use them for pre-sales but call it crowdfunding. The "perks" of merchandise are simply sales. So what do you get for a movie? The DVD, or a credit? Boring.

It really doesn't work.

Perhaps some star power attached to something that was canned by a studio, or something... like a sequel people really want to see...
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Old 09-08-2018, 09:55 AM   #4
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I'm interested to see that you're in Germany, because I'm aware of one in your country. Laura Thies, who directed my first feature, Surviving Family, successfully crowd-funded the balance of the production cost for her movie Schattenwald (Amongst the Shadows). She DID receive a number of grants, but crowd-funded about EUR 30,000 I believe.

If you want to email her, DM me here and I'll give you her info.
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Old 09-08-2018, 10:05 AM   #5
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Nice!

Yes finishing funds is one way, but imo you must have a fanbase or really good material finished. Easier said for indie musicians really, local bands, etc.

The ones that fail most are the ones seeking full funding where it looks like a handout. Usually young inexperienced filmmakers without even a reel.
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Old 09-08-2018, 10:13 AM   #6
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Thanks for the welcome!
There are a number of successful movie crowdfunding campaigns, check out this Kickstarter link if you're interested. Most campaigns don't raise a lot of money, but there certainly are some successful ones. And that's just Kickstarter, there are many other platforms, as well. Seed&Spark, for example, is focused on filmmakers.

But you're right, it's not easy to get funded. Most bigger campaigns are based around a star or some kind of existing story people want to see continued. However, there's other options than DVDs or signed movie posters. It's also possible to offer your backers profit participation, for example. Do you think people would prefer that?

@miesemann: Wow, that's super interesting. Thanks for the offer, I'll have a look into the campaign.
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Old 09-08-2018, 10:15 AM   #7
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Profit participation would be illegal, the SEC would crack down on you for selling illegal shares to the open market.
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Old 09-08-2018, 10:22 AM   #8
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Not necessarily, since the JOBS act got signed into law. Other countries have similar laws.
In fact, there's already a couple of movie crowdfunding campaigns which are taking advantage of equity crowdfunding, but it's still very much a niche. I wonder, why it's not more popular.
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Old 09-08-2018, 10:28 AM   #9
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This allows for the crowfunding itself, and for the perks, but not profit sharing on the open market. That is totally different and selling stock. Privately is different than the open market. I will assume some are doing it sure, but it's illegal.

For example online raffles are illegal as well, but people still do it.
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Old 09-08-2018, 10:34 AM   #10
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I'll answer your first question directly now. What would I want as a perk? Something tangible. Example, if a new Crocodile Dundee was seeking funds, and the perk was a high quality reproduction of the knife, and I was a fan, that is what would interest me. For indies, perhaps some new gadget you could introduce in the film. So you could partner with a sponsor, and work it into a scene. And they get that perk. You could even partner with an existing kickstarter that is doing well. Contact them for product placement and offer it as the perk.

There you go. Steal my idea, it's yours.
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Old 09-08-2018, 09:12 PM   #11
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if youre casting an instagram model in your film with 1,000,000 followers then crowd funding might work
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Old 09-09-2018, 01:46 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by indietalk View Post
This allows for the crowfunding itself, and for the perks, but not profit sharing on the open market. That is totally different and selling stock. Privately is different than the open market. I will assume some are doing it sure, but it's illegal.

For example online raffles are illegal as well, but people still do it.
Okay, that's interesting, I didn't know that.

I like your other idea, though. I haven't seen a campaign doing that, but it could be promising. I guess any way to expand your potential audience is probably a good start. The same applies to instagram people. Even if just 0,1% of their 1,000,000 followers backs your campaign, thats already 1,000 backers. Barely any campaign gets that many at all.
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Old 09-16-2018, 11:55 PM   #13
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The old saw is, "Crowdfunding is two words. If you don't already have the crowd, you ain't gonna get the funding." Strangers are not going to give you money to make your movie. You must build your audience before you get to the crowdfunding stage. (Very helpful, I know.)

-- Damian
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Old 09-17-2018, 08:15 AM   #14
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@Damian: Do you happen to know if that's a quote or just a saying?
I totally agree with that, by the way. Already having an audience makes the whole crowdfunding process a million times easier. My research project is more about optimizing a campaign, though, and making sure it's as attractive as possible to potential backers.
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Old 09-17-2018, 12:09 PM   #15
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M-Wall: That's a (more or less direct) quotation, but I can't find the source. It might have been someone interviewed by Ted Hope for his old "Hope For Film" website.

Sorry; it seems I misunderstood the point of your inquiry. Optimizing a campaign to make it attractive to backers, eh?

One thing that my own researches suggests is that most crowdfunding campaigners make the campaign too much about themselves. "It's always been my dream to make movies, so give me money to make my dreams come true." Well, who cares about your dreams? What's in it for me -- and, alongside that, what's in it for movie-making? The people who put their money into crowdfunding campaigns aren't backers, they're donors. They're not loaning you money against future returns; they're giving you money from the kindness of their hearts.

A few things that people I have read or spoke with have said they'd like to see in a crowdfunding campaign:

1) Some kind of plan for distribution. Do I want to give money to yet another movie that will never be seen beyond the family and friends of the creators? That will top out at 29 views on YouTube? "We're going to enter film festivals and hopefully land a distributor," is not a plan. If I believe in a movie enough to donate my limited dough towards it, I want it to be seen and enjoyed by others, not just made and then lost on the director's hard drive.

2) Some of the most successful crowdfunding campaigns have included stars (major or minor). But when it comes to independent movies, the presence of stars can be a negative factor; indeed, it can stir resentment. If you can attract a star, you can attract investors, so why are you soaking up limited charitable funds?

3) Too-grandiose plans can turn off donors. If your idea is an interlocking series of movies like the MCU, I know you have no sense of realism. Marvel has pre-existing fans of 80 years of stories and characters by hundreds of creators, and spends $200 million per movie; you don't have any of those advantages. Ask for donations to this movie you want to make, and I might think more kindly. Likewise if you're trying to raise millions of dollars; that just makes me think you're an amateur with more dreams than practicality.

4) Spending most of the money on capital costs can arouse skepticism. If you boast about how you're going to buy a complete RED kit (it's always a RED), then I'll think either you're a gear-head rather than a movie maker, or you're asking me to fund your business start-up costs rather than your movie.

5) Perks and rewards for donating should be tangible and exclusive. I don't want a link to a digital download; I want a disc in a keepcase (and a digital copy) -- even better if it's autographed to me personally. I don't want my name among dozens (or hundreds) of other donors in the closing credits that nobody will ever watch; if that's what I'm getting, I want a credit that improves my score on IMDb. I want to feel as if the perks cost the creators money and / or time -- that I'm worth the effort. A half-hour phone call from the creator might be valuable, if I'm already a fan; it's my chance to ask questions and feel like a Close Personal Friend, an Inside People. (That's much less valuable if I'm not already a fan.) The suggestion above for some merchandise from the movie is good.

These are just off the top of my head, representing some things that I've gleaned in my own researches (which are ongoing); they're hardly the word of god. Consider them, but (as always) be skeptical -- and remember that my free advice is worth every penny!

I hope you'll report on some of the things you learn from your own research!

-- Damian
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