It’s a common question that we ask of independent filmmakers submitting their documentary, feature, or short film to the Roy W. Dean Film Grant. We find that 80% of our applications do not answer this important question.
Do you know your audience?
Some say my audience is “everyone” which I encourage you not to do. Judges will drop your proposal like a hot potato!
Some say “men and women from 18 to 48.” That’s too broad. We want to know everything possible about this audience. If you had a description for your typical audience member like a “soccer mom in Indiana”, we would love it.
Why should you get so up-close-and-personal with your audience? Your money for your film is now in their hands. You will need to get dollars from them for research, for production, and again for post. Plus, they will pay to download your film and probably help you put people in seats for theatrical on demand.
Ok, Carole, then how do I find my audience for my upcoming project? Start by knowing more about your present audience. These are fans of your other projects (hopefully you’ve got their names and emails or kept in touch with them on social media)
On a recent episode of my podcast The Art of Film Funding, Erica Anderson of Seed & Spark suggested to “get the names of 10 or more of your current fans and ask them questions.” Mine your audience.
You want people in your database from different walks of life, who are not filmmakers, and who love the subject of your upcoming film.
Here are some questions to ask:
What social media platforms do you hang-out on?
Where do you engage with people online?
What kind of news do you pay attention to?
What kind of music do you listen to?
What blogs you follow?
What organizations do you belong to?
How do you spend your free time?
When you watch movies, how do you watch them?
Do you go to the theatre?
Do you primarily stream movies to your TV from some device?
Do you watch movies only on your laptop or your mobile phone?
With the answers to these questions, you begin to understand where you will reach others for your new audience.
Now you know where they hang-out online, how to speak to them based on what news they read and what blogs they pay attention to. You get a sense of how they pay attention to things.
Erica said “a headline from New York Times for instance is very different than a headline from BuzzFeed.” Now you have a better way to communicate with your potential audience.
Knowing what organizations they belong to gives you an idea of what organizations you can join. You can begin to chat about your film because the content of this organization should be concerned about the same issues.
This same info can give you names of nonprofits to contact for strategic alliances if you are making a documentary and possibly for a feature.
Erica also says that “The last piece really is where does your audience see their movies? If it’s primarily on their laptop, that could change the way you are going to shoot the film, that could change the camera you choose, and how big your production value needs to be. So, it can ultimately change the budget of your film.”
This mining effort can pay off with valuable information, donations, or investments. Now you know what to put under audience on your grants and now you know what to do for marketing your film, tweeting it and how to write your posts on social media.
You are talking to your audience, so give them a name. I want you to know them like a character in a film.
Creating Ideal Audience Profile is Essential in Marketing Your Film
Jason Brubaker is an expert in independent film distribution. He has put together a new educational site, howtosellyourmovie.com, which offers a step by step distribution system for marketing your film. He’s also a donor to the Roy Dean Film Grants.
In his interview with Carole Dean on The Art of Film Funding podcast, he showed a unique way of how to create an avatar to represent your film’s potential audience. An avatar will represent the likes, characteristics, and demographics of the audience or donors you are trying to reach. He explained how if, for example, your film involved frozen yogurt.
“Once you figured out that, hey, I am going to go after college age women who love frozen yogurt” Jason explained,” that’s even still pretty broad, but once you start to drill down a little bit more, then you start to find these communities, then you can create as you said a database of influencers.”
The next step would be getting out a spreadsheet and finding the top 50 blogs that are geared towards college age women who love frozen yogurt. But, he points out, that it’s better to be as detailed and specific when creating an avatar.
“Ok, I want college age women who love frozen yogurt, who have a preference for chocolate yogurt, and then I would go down even more and say, okay, and they have a sister. All of that kind of stuff factors into the thought process.”
“Once you create an avatar, the next step is to give it a name, okay, like Jo. I am marketing for Jo because Jo loves chocolate frozen yogurt, she is college age and she has a sister. So, how many Jo’s are in this world? Well there is a lot of Jo’s. “
“So, how do I find the Jo’s, and those factors all feed into refining exactly who you are talking to. Because this is what marketing really is. It’s just a conversation where you are connecting with people who have similar interests.”
You can check out the entire podcast below. Jason and Carole Dean also cover:
How to Build Buzz around Your Film
The Importance of Film Festivals in Marketing
Distributing Your Film to Schools, Cruises, and Oil Rigs
Expanded Crowdfunding Opportunities for Fiscally Sponsored Filmmakers Through New Partnership
Oxnard, CA From the Heart Productions, a 5.01(c)3 non-profit which has helped filmmakers raise millions of dollars for their projects through their fiscal sponsorship program and in partnership with Indiegogo, is now partnering with crowdfunding platform Seed&Spark to give filmmakers another great option where they can crowdfund and benefit from being fiscally sponsored by From the Heart.
“We had many of our filmmakers inquire about crowdfunding with Seed&Spark which focuses exclusively on helping filmmakers raise money.” said Carole Dean, president and founder of From the Heart Productions. “Since we share the same focus at From the Heart, this partnership is an excellent match.”
By being fiscally sponsored by From the Heart, a filmmaker is able to use their non-profit status for their project. This gives donors a tax deduction for donations which is a powerful incentive for them to contribute to the project. Working with From the Heart as a fiscal sponsor and crowdfunding with Seed&Spark, affords filmmakers many other advantages to help get their films made:
Guidance and planning in creating a crowdfunding campaign from both From the Heart and Seed&Spark.
In addition to financial contributions, a project’s supporters can also loan or gift the items a filmmaker has listed on their Seed&Spark WishList.
Discounts on marketing services, production insurance, hard drives and more from From the Heart fiscal sponsorship program donors.
Seed&Spark has added From the Heart Productions to their partner page. From the Heart has two projects already working with Seed & Spark. Once they have three projects that are raising or have raised funds with them, Seed & Spark will create a curated crowdfunding page for From the Heart.
Fees are a flat 3% credit card fee and Seed&Spark’s fee is 5%- however supporters are automatically offered the opportunity to cover Seed&Spark’s fee at checkout and the majority of people keep that box checked which means platform fees are usually less than 2%. From the Heart’s fee is 3%. Filmmakers get funded when they reach 80% of their goal and get paid after the end of the campaign.
For more information on working with From the Heart, please email
About From the Heart Productions
From The Heart Productions is a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to helping filmmakers get their projects made. Besides working with filmmakers to crowdfund and raise money for their projects, From the Heart also offers a film grant 3 times each year. For over 23 years, the Roy W. Dean Film Grant has given away to filmmakers $2,000,000 in a combination of cash and donated services. The grant is awarded to films that are unique and make a contribution to society. President Carole Dean is the best-selling author of “The Art of Film Funding” which is now in its second edition.
Many listeners wanted to know more and sent us questions. Kristen, Indiegogo’s New York based Manager of Film, was kind to give us the answers.
How far is press and publicity important for a crowd funding campaign? Filmmakers regularly write blogs and post updates during the campaign, but I am wondering can getting press articles written and video interviews about you and your film help the campaign and how does one go about it.
Press is great for getting eyeballs to your campaign page, however, that does not necessarily translate to contributions. It is certainly better than no eyeballs though! Since there are so many crowdfunding campaigns out there, the best way to get press is if you have a hook (i.e. some sort of press-worthy item attached)
What are the important things as a filmmaker you need to imbibe/ learn/ perform to become successful at crowd funding? Are there any special personality traits one need to imbibe?
Be genuine and passionate about your subject. This is what always shines through in successful campaigns. People give to people – not to projects. Social media is another trait to hone. It can be difficult, but building your audience and engaging with them will only help your career in the long run. Even beyond a crowdfunding campaign.
Does Indiegogo help all projects in their preparation for the crowd funding campaign? How is this choice made? Does the filmmaker approach Indiegogo or Indiegogo chooses projects whom they want to support with feedback and overall preparation for the campaign?
We are an open platform and will help any campaigns that ask for it. Film campaigns can reach out to me at
From the Heart Productions is a partner with Indiegogo and has helped filmmaker’s raise over $1.7 million to date. We offer discounted crowdfunding fees, tax deductions for donors, and campaign assistance. For more information, our Indiegogo Information Page.
How much planning should go into your film’s Indiegogo campaign?
Are the perks you picked going to attract donors?
Have you created a plan to share interesting, relevant content?
To get answers on these questions and how to create a successful crowdfunding campaign, Carole Dean interviewed Indiegogo’s New York-based Manager of Film, Kristen Konvitz.
About The Art of Film Funding Podcast
From the Heart is a partner with Indiegogo and has raised over $1.7 million to date for filmmakers. Hosted by the president of From The Heart and author of “The Art of Film Funding”, Carole Dean, the weekly podcast focusing on bringing to filmmakers the best advice, knowledge, and expertise on film funding and filmmaking.
In this latest podcast, she interviews Indiegogo’s Kristen Konvitz. Her role at Indiegogo includes acquiring projects in varying stages and overseeing them through all stages of their campaigns. She is instrumental in building relationships between both established and up and coming talent.
Kristen reveals the three top tips to a successful crowdfunding campaign as well as details on Indiegogo’s new partnership with Vimeo.
You can listen to the entire podcast here
Three Top Tips for Success on Indiegogo
Kristen draws on the success of the Indiegogo campaign for Iron Sky for her 3 tips. Iron Sky has run two very successful campaigns on Indiegogo. The first raised over $160,000 while the second raised over $480,000.
Iron Sky called their three tips the “trifecta” (although, maybe after realizing its importance to their success, they now call it “The Holy Trinity”).
To stand out, you can’t just offer hats or t-shirts. Those are standard items and won’t really generate any excitement or buzz about your project. Offer perks that are very personal to the film, filmmaker, or story. Think of what would tie in to the film that you could not get any were else.
Some perks that are experiential will create interest in your project. Iron Sky offered a part in the film where you would be chased by a dinosaur. Even if you did not choose that perk and donate, it was shared by many on the internet creating awareness for the project.
Prepare yourself as much as possible for the campaign. That includes mapping out a campaign strategy for the content you will share. Plan out different photos, videos, interviews, as well as new perks that you will release during the campaign.
The content you plan and share for your project can’t be spam. It can’t be “support my campaign” or “donate now” over and over. It can include that every so often, but the content should be interesting and make people want to share it. It can include stories about the cast and crew. Photos of the project in pre-production. Also, include articles about events or news related to your project (Doing a documentary on fashion? Include related stories on fashion industry)
Iron Sky prepared videos in advance featuring a character for their film. It was like a mini trailer, but each was unique and increased interest in the project which lead to increased donations.
Indiegogo’s Partnership with Vimeo
Announced in January, this partnership was created to give filmmakers who raise funds on Indiegogo a chance to be seen. Indiegogo realizes that most films will not get a traditional theatrical or VOD distribution. This partnership allows eligible films to shown on Vimeo and get needed exposure.
Vimeo’s new Creator Fund will commit up to a million dollars in matching funds for select Indiegogo film campaigns in 2015. Vimeo will contribute digital marketing spend and social promotion for campaigns in the matching funds program and other selected Indiegogo film campaigns.
For these funds, Vimeo will get a 60 day digital exclusive for that film. It does not preclude the film later getting a theartrical release, for example, at a film festival.
The partnership is off go a great start. It has received 166 submissions so date. You can read more about the partnership at Indiegogo and Vimeo Partnership.
“Not The Same: Families After War” addresses the emotional challenges faced by those who care for their loved ones wounded in the wars of Iraq and Afghanistan. It is about military men and women who must now rely on their families to heal and to function.
The goal of this documentary is to create awareness of what it is like to care for our wounded, illuminate their “new normal” and celebrate the unsung heroes of war
“Stephanie is a passionate and very talented filmmaker who cares deeply about the subject of her documentary” commented Carole Dean, president of From The Heart Productions. “It is wonderful to honor her work and assist her in getting this important project to the screen”
The Roy W. Dean Grant is awarded to films that are unique and make a contribution to society. The grant offers cash as well as discounted production services and goods to help filmmakers get their projects started or completed. Over 200 filmmakers applied for the Roy W. Dean Fall Film Grant. The yearly deadline for submissions was September 30th, 2014. Projects submitted included documentaries, narrative features, and short films.
“Carole Dean and From the Heart Productions have been my fiscal sponsor for my documentary. In that time, Carole has gone above and beyond to guide me through the documentary process and has always been there for advice… and some great “cheerleading.” said winner Stephanie Howard.
Stephanie is a co-producer of the award-winning documentary “Refusenik”. She is a television news producer and writer based in Los Angeles and has worked at local television stations as well as the L.A. bureaus of Fox News Channel, CNN, NBC News and Reuters. Stephanie is winner of a commemorative Los Angeles Area Emmy for her work as associate producer of the news magazine program “L.A. Roundtable”. She has also been nominated for Emmy awards as a segment producer at KTTV News and KNBC-TV.
About the Roy W. Dean Grant
Now in its 23rd year, the Roy W. Dean Grant awards filmmakers with great stories, told with passion, the funding to get their projects started or completed. Films submitted to the grant can be short films, documentaries or features from early stages of pre-production to those needing help in post.
The grant has been integral in making sure that talented artists with great stories get their films produced. Recent past winners of the grant include the award winning “Heist: Who Stole the American Dream”, “The Winding Stream: An Oral History of the Carter and Cash Family” which was featured at film festivals in , and “Mia: A Dancer’s Journey” which just premiered in New York this February.
About From The Heart Productions
From The Heart Productions is a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to helping filmmakers get their projects made. Besides providing funding through the grant, they are also a fiscal sponsor which allows donations made to films they sponsor to be tax deductible. From The Heart has raised over $1.6 million for crowdfunding films as a partner with Indiegogo. President Carole Dean is the best-selling author of “The Art of Film Funding” which is now in its second edition.
Front Row Insurance is a Leader in Film Production Insurance
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E&O, Errors and Omissions, insurance covers legal liability and defense for the production company against lawsuits alleging unauthorized use of titles, formats, ideas, characters, plots, plagiarism, unfair competition or privacy, breach of contract.
It also protects against alleged libel, slander, defamation of character or invasion of privacy. This coverage will usually be required by a distributor, broadcaster or financier prior to the release of any theatrical or television production. Production financing will usually not flow until E&O coverage is in force.
“Getting this program has been a dream of mine for some time.” said Carole Dean, President of From the Heart Productions, “With tight budgets, independent filmmakers a need a break on the cost of essential insurance.”
“Thanks to Kent Hamilton of Front Row Insurance and the tremendous work he put in to make this program a reality. It shows his dedication to these filmmakers and to helping them out however possible.”
To get more information on preferred pricing and to get a quote, qualified filmmakers need to email Carole Dean of From The Heart Productions at .
About Front Row Insurance
Front Row is an Entertainment Insurance Broker specializing in: The Film industry, The Music Industry, Fairs and Festivals with offices in Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and Los Angeles. Front Row negotiates to obtain the best coverage at the lowest premium from the insurance companies. They are a top choice for: filmmakers, musicians, photographers and festival organizers.
About Kent Hamilton
As Executive Vice President of the Truman Van Dyke Company for over 25 years, Kent Hamilton insured thousands of films, commercials and television productions. Joining Front Row Insurance Brokers LLC as President, Kent helps producers solve problems and obtain the proper insurance coverage for the best price.
About From The Heart Productions
From The Heart Productions is a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to helping filmmakers get their projects made. Besides providing funding through the grant, they are also a fiscal sponsor which allows donations made to films they sponsor to be tax deductible. President Carole Dean is the best-selling author of “The Art of Film Funding” which is now in its second edition.
Winners of Summer and Fall Grant to receive 40% discount on editing for trailers
From The Heart Productions welcomes video editor Aaron Garcia as a donor for the Roy W. Dean Grant for Summer and Fall. Aaron brings 15 years of experience as a video editor to the grant. The winner of those grants will receive a 40% discount off his services for editing their trailers.
Aaron has worked with companies such as Apple Computers, Comcast, HGTV, and The Recording Academy. He is comfortable in Avid, Final Cut Pro 7 and X, Premiere, Motion, After Effects, and Photoshop. Besides trailers, Aaron also edits narrative, reality, documentary, and corporate videos.
Currently, Aaron is the director, editor, writer, and cinematographer of the web series “We are Angels”. It’s a web based fantasy series with a unique blend of storytelling, surreal imagery, and dramatic performance. It offers a new modern take on the world of Angels and Demons. The series was an official selection Marseille Web Festival 2012 and winner of best cinematography at Hollyweb Festival in 2014.
For over 23 years, the Roy W. Dean Grant seeks films that are unique and make a contribution to society. Submissions for the Summer and Fall Roy W. Dean Grant begin May 1st, 2015. Submissions are now being accepted for the Roy W. Dean Spring Grant. Deadline is April 30th, 2015.
Winning documentary explores director’s search for the mother she never knew through their shared love of photography.
From The Heart Productions, the film funding non-profit that oversees the Roy W. Dean Film Grant, has awarded the 2014 Summer Film Grant to director Rachel Seed for her documentary “A Photographic Memory”. Rachel will receive nearly $30,000 in film services and cash to help her complete her project.
Contact Sheet by Sheila Turner-Seed
Thirty years after the death of her mother, Sheila Turner-Seed, photographer Rachel Elizabeth Seed discovers her work—interviews with some of the greatest photographers of the 20th Century, including Henri Cartier-Bresson, Lisette Model and W. Eugene Smith—in her father’s garage. When she threads the audio reels and presses play, she hears her mother’s voice for the first time since she was a baby. Rachel finds it familiar and comforting, and is transformed by the experience.
Wanting to know more about her mother and to revitalize and honor her work, Rachel revisits the photographers, as well as her mother’s friends and family, to learn who she was while also looking at how photography can help preserve memory and reconnect us with those we have lost.
Rachel Seed and Mother
Through this process, Rachel reconnects to her mother by discovering how much they have in common: their looks, ambition, career paths, and desire to settle down and have a family. However, in order to move on with her own life, Rachel comes to realize she must set herself apart from Sheila, and to do that must find out if she has the same genetic predisposition to early death that took her mother’s life. Rachel’s ability to forge her own path hinges on these medical results.our country.
“In A Photographic Memory, I go on a journey to learn – through our shared profession – about the mother I never knew but whom I so desperately need to know.” Rachel explained on her Kickstarter campaign page for her film.
“I am blending my mother’s 1970s interviews with my own footage, creating a posthumous mother-daughter collaboration that connects me to my mother while re-examining the course of the careers of some of the most influential photographers in the history of the medium.”
Growing up surrounded by photography, Rachel Seed became a photographer nearly 20 years ago and has run a successful freelance business for the past few years, while also earning an MFA from Indiana University (in progress since 2009). Since 2006, she has conducted 35 video interviews internationally of women and men whose mothers died when they were young, also photographing them.
This work has been supported by several grants including the Artist Enrichment Grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women, The Yarka Vendrinska Memorial Award at the Maine Media Workshops, and a World Affairs Council Association grant for international travel, and exhibited in Russia and the United States. She was also named a Top 25 Artist at 3rd Ward Brooklyn’s annual contest in 2010.
About the Roy W. Dean Grant
Now in its 23rd year, the Roy W. Dean Grant funds unique films that make a contribution to society. It gives filmmakers with great stories, told with passion, the funding to get their projects started or completed. Films submitted to the grant can be short films, documentaries or features from early stages of pre-production to those needing help in post.
The grant has been integral in making sure that talented artists with great stories get their films produced. Recent past winners of the grant that have been completed include the award winning “Heist: Who Stole the American Dream” and “The Winding Stream: An Oral History of the Carter and Cash Family” which is now showing in film festivals around North America.
About From The Heart Productions
From The Heart Productions is a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to helping filmmakers get their projects made. Besides providing funding through the grant, they are also a fiscal sponsor which allows donations made to films they sponsor to be tax deductible. From The Heart has raised over $1.5 million for crowdfunding films as a partner with Indiegogo. President Carole Dean is the best-selling author of “The Art of Film Funding” which is now in its second edition.
The 2015 Roy W. Dean Spring Grant is now accepting submissions. Cash value has increased this year to $3,500. If you’d like to submit your project, please go to the Roy W. Dean Grant Application Page and follow instructions. The deadline for submissions is April 30th 2015.