BY Alicia S. Writer, Filmmaker at Creedmoria, LLC
Last year, I wrote “My 7-Step Guide to Mastering Kickstarter. I hope” for the Wall Street Journal Speakeasy blog on my expectations and challenges with crowdfunding and guess what? I mastered nothing. Total fail. My goal had been to raise $60k. In the end, unfortunately, 176 wonderful backers who pledged $28,296 (assuming that I reached my goal…which I didn’t) equaled $0.
The money raised was going to enable me to make my feature film, Creedmoria. I had some incredible cast members lined up and was in the process of searching for our lead actress. After ten years of working on the same dream of making this movie, I wasn’t about to throw in the towel. I started researching grants and came across some 501(c)3 companies that support indie filmmakers like myself. IFP (the Independent Filmmaker Project) helps foster indie talent by inviting aspiring directors to join their film community. In addition to providing free screenings, workshops, talks and mixers, and their famous Independent Film Week, IFP also offers fiscal sponsorships for a handful of lucky filmmakers–something that would give a self-producing filmmaker like me the opportunity to raise money for my movie while giving my generous donors the benefit of a tax write-off.
I applied to IFP’s Fiscal Sponsorship Program and, blissfully, was accepted one month after my Kickstarter fail. So, I went back and contacted all 176 backers and asked that they please support my film now, as they did then, and take the tax deduction along with it. As luck would have it, I was able to successfully raise almost $30,000 through IFP. I found my lead actress, Stef Dawson, in July (one week before she was cast as Annie Cresta in Hunger Games Mockingjay) and started shooting Creedmoria in October!
Since the funding model has changed, a crowd—not just one or two investors—can make a movie. The most funded film on Indiegogo to date is a feature called, Lazer Team, and it had 37,490 backers. That must’ve been one helluva wrap party!
The crowd helped us shoot Creedmoria and I feel humbled to report that the crowd will help us finish it because we have a campaign on Indiegogo now. I have learned some things along the way, like the importance of racking up followers on your fanpage, twitter or other social media. I’ve learned to get over the fear of over-posting on Facebook because even if you ask for $1/day, not everyone will see that post in the news feed. And the friends I have left (lol) tell me they are grateful for the reminders because they had it in their mind to give but never got around to it. Oh, and one other thing: digital download perks appear to be the most popular, especially in the $25 range.
For great tips on crowdfunding, check out Bethany Orr’s funny piece, Crowdf@*%ing 2014 for Filmmaker Magazine. I was hoping to include her project, Iceland or Bust, as one of my recommendations to fund at the bottom of this blog but I am happy to report, she successfully reached her goal. Go to Iceland, Bethany!
Here are some other great projects out there that are worth the time and the dime (and not starring Katherine Heigl or Zach Braff). Cars, Aussies, writer/directors and female directors are what attracted me to the projects listed. That, and the fact that the people behind the projects had bios attached (as a rule, I don’t give money to campaigns that refuse to include info about the people raising the money). Check them out below. Share. Email. Give a buck or two if you have the want and the means to do so. And hopefully, in two year’s time, you can watch the end-credits of the film you helped make and see your name up there, forever printed on digital celluloid.
If you like movies about bad boys, tough women and epic road trips, What Lola Wants is for you. Perks range from $5-$5000 and the film features Charles S. Dutton! Post-Production funds needed. Writer/director-made (Rupert Glasson). Campaign ends 8/25.
Cardinal Matter, a modern-day western feature film, made partly by winning the grand prize for the Wyoming Short Film Festival, is about a deadly corporate coverup. Female director, Madeline Puzzo. Post-production funds needed. Perks range from $15-$5000. Campaign ends October 1, 2014.
The name of this feature comedy, How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town, says it all. Writer/Director-made (Jeremy LaLonde). This is his follow up to Sex After Kids. Fun perks range from $5-$7500 including a milestone to shave off his 10-year beard. Campaign ends 9/13.
Creedmoria. Writer/Director-made by first-timer, yours truly. Family is an Institution. Sometimes, you gotta break out. This heartwarming film is about a girl who does just that. Post-Production funds needed. Perks range from $1-10,000. Campaign ends 8/26.