Plan of Attack: Starting to Raise Money for Your Film

by Carole Dean

Ok, you’ve got a great idea for a film.  You’ve created a fantastic proposal and you’ve perfected your pitch.  You’re next move should be to create a captivating trailer.

Now, you need a plan of attack because now you need to start raising money.

Your Mission to Get a Great Trailer Needs a Plan of Attack to Get Funding

As I mention in my book, The Art of Film Funding, 2nd edition: Alternative Financing Concepts, there are so many things to do when you start to make a film.  You need to know the order of your priorities because they come at you from every direction.  When you just work with these immediate items you can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

You must have a fantastic trailer to make money.  So, how much is that going to cost you?  For a doc your budget should be around $10,000 and for a feature about $20,000.  This must be your first and foremost goal, especially for a documentary, after you get your proposal and pitch to a brilliant level.

Alright, Now How Do I Get The Money?

Fiscal sponsorship is a great foundation to build your fundraising.  I know because my non-profit, From the Heart Productions , specializes in fiscal sponsorship for filmmakers.  We’ve helped them raise millions for their films.

Under fiscal sponsorship, you will align your project with a non-profit that will give your donors a tax deduction for the money they donate to your film.  That means more and perhaps larger donations.

When filmmakers apply to From the Heart Productions for fiscal sponsorship, they’ve got a choice on how to get paid.   We tell them that if their checks are to be made to them personally we must issue a 1099 at the end of the year for miscellaneous income. Or, they can get an LLC.

The LLC filing at www.ehow.com is inexpensive.  You can get one online under $300.00.  You can also get a DBA (Doing Business As) from the city you live in.  It’s even less money. Both of these take about 4 to 6 weeks to complete.

You Mentioned Something About a Plan? Right?

1. Start by getting your bank account.  Where’s the money to open the account? Try your mother or grandmother and tell them you need this to become an entrepreneur.

2. Now, you’ve got a film bank account and/or an LLC or your DBA, so you are a real company.  Find a fiscal sponsor that you like, that supports filmmakers, will give you help, and be available to answer any questions you may have.

Did I mention that From the Heart is a great fiscal sponsor for filmmakers?  Ok, maybe I’m prejudiced.  But, it does fit perfectly the necessary criteria I just listed because From the Heart Productions was created specifically to help filmmakers get funded.  We’ve done a really good job of that too for the last 11 years.

We are constantly putting information on our web site to help you raise money. We also review your proposal and your trailer and tell you the honest truth about your chance for success and we give ideas to improve what you have.

You really need this. You are out there in a vacuum and you need people who see hundreds of proposals and know what grantors want. This is where a thick skin is required.

I know from talking to hundreds of sensitive artists that we’ve fiscally sponsored or who’ve applied for our Roy W. Dean Film Grant that when you start telling them that their favorite scene in the trailer doesn’t work; most of them just grin and bear it. They don’t have to take my advice, but many do.

In fact many people just apply for the grant to find out what we think of their materials. That’s a very good thing to do. I recommend you apply for lots of grants and get feedback, that’s how you learn to improve your work.

When looking for a fiscal sponsor, say to yourself, “What’s in it for me?” Make sure you feel you are getting something for your 5 to 7% fee.

3. Time to start building an audience and network of potential donors.  Facebook is a must to fund your film. Create a fan page for your film.  Use their landing page to advertise your film and collect fans.  Start a dialogue.  Try out artwork, ads, and even ask for advice.

Use Google to search for organizations, website, bloggers, and forums on your subject matter.  Post on these forums and reach out to the bloggers.  Get information out about your project and send people to your Facebook page and web site. Try to get as many people that are interested in your subject to join your page.

Read my blog, Mining Your Audience for Gold as another way to discover who your audience really is.

4. Create a budget for the trailer. See the chapter on film budgets by award winner Norman Berns that I’ve reprinted on our website.  Check out Norman’s site www.reelgrok.com and Maureen Ryan’s www.producertoproducer.com site for sample budgets for features and documentaries.  Stay focused to get that brilliant money-making trailer made.

5. Set up your email names on an email marketing site.  You want to stay in touch with your donors every other month by always giving them the latest and greatest news on your film.  I use www.constantcontact.com.  They are very helpful. (work with a fiscal sponsor that already uses Constant Contact and you’ll get a discount).

Don’t think its way above your level to create a fantastic newsletter, it’s actually easy.

6. Decide how best to use your time. Morrie Warshawski, author of “Shaking the Money Tree” draws a circle and says you usually get 60% of your money for docs from people. So, how much time do you want to put into people?

If you decide to put 50%, then cut the pie in half and write PEOPLE. Next how much time to you want to spend on grants? Is your film a good fit for a lot of grants? If so, put 20% GRANTS. How about Corporate donations? What amount of time do you want to give that? Put it on the chart.

Letter writing is a brilliant way to get money.  Funding parties can bring you people to support your film and money. Chart it out and tell yourself what you will do with your time. If you are making a feature then you know it’s 100% from people.  I don’t always recommend a trailer for features for many reasons.

7. “What’s in it for me?” Crowdfunding platforms like Indiegogo have shown us how much people will give if they get something back. We always knew it was all about, “what’s in it for me” and they are using that gift to the donors to raise tons of money.  So, think about what you can give back to your donors and put it on your web site and your Facebook page.

Example; an Indian man I know was making a film called Bollywood to Hollywood.  In our brainstorming session, he revealed that his mother and brother are excellent cooks. So we set up a price for him to come to your house and cook an authentic Indian dinner for 6 people.  Use the idea of your film as much as possible and create gifts around it to make people want to gi ve you the larger checks.

8. Now you need to collect some sponsors and partners for your film. This means you look for nonprofits that are supporting your same issue. Kitty Farmer was making a film on the healthcare, or lack of, that the US Government promised the American Indians. She calls it her circle of partners. She focused on this for several weeks and each day got on the phone and pitched her film to like-minded organizations and she came up with 20 organizations who want to support her film.

How does this help you? Well, if each organization has 2000 members or more multiply that by 20 and now you have a large data base of people who care about your issue following you. Your job is to keep them informed with your newsletter or email blasts of the status of the film while you are making it.  Your real support will come when they can see some of the content of the film and fully support you.   Always list these names on your grant applications and on your web site as strategic partners.

Finding these people is easy. Start with some of these nonprofit web sites like www.guidestar.org and www.councilofnonprofits.org for the subject matter of your film. Each organization has instructions on site to help you. Then, get on the phone and pitch that brilliant money making pitch you created.

You want them to know you are making this film and usually the first contact is to introduce yourself and tell them about your film.

Remember, they don’t know you from Adam and this is your first contact.  They don’t need you, you need them.  At this point only ask if you can keep them informed about your film as you make it.  Once you have a trailer to show them then send that and keep your contact going until they learn more about you and trust you.  Then they will put you on their web site and mention you in the newsletters, etc

9. Now you need the money to make the trailer. Your platform is set, you have a bank account, a pitch and proposal, sponsors, web site, Facebook page, perhaps a blog and you have people connected to you and your film. That’s perfect.

Review your time table telling you how much time you want to put into each area of fund raising. You may want to focus on the PEOPLE section first. Decide if you want to call people to donate to a yard sale, create a funding party or a dinner funding party or do a letter campaign.   Make plans, set dates for these events and start your first funding adventure.

10. You may want to listen to my online information on Manifesting and creating your future at www.fromtheheartproductions.com it’s very important at this phase to be able to receive. You want to be sure that you are functioning at the highest level possible and as Dr. Chopra would say that you must know there are “infinite possibilities” waiting for you.

11. Before you shoot anything for your trailer, I recommend you have a consultation with a trailer editor and find out just what he/she advises you to do to get what you need before you go out to shoot. Read Bill Woolery’s information on preparing to shoot. www.billwoolery.com to see some great doc trailers.

12. When you shoot your trailer you will have an outline of just what you want before you shoot. After your trailer editor is finished, add this trailer to your web site and post daily about producing the trailer in your blog.

Consider creating a 90 second trailer for sponsors to put on their web site to send people to your site. Now you are really networking.  Remember the people reading your web site and blog don’t know that filmmaking is 90% hard work and 10% filmmaking. So dazzle them with production information so they keep coming back to your site or Facebook  page. Then tell them where you are now in the funding process and make another “ask” as you need more money.

13. Look for development money from places like www.sundance.org or http://www.thefledglingfund.org or  www.chickeneggpics.org and go to the back of the book for a list of funding organizations.

14. Celebrate you have just reached your first milestone. The rest can be a piece of cake.

Remember, it’s the journey not the destination. Enjoy every moment.

Don’t Myth Up Your Crowdfunding Campaign

Let Go of These 5 Myths to Raise Money for Your Film

by Carole Dean

The reward for crowdfunding your film comes not just in money, but knowing that others support you and your work.  At From the Heart Productions, we’re partners with Indiegogo and have helped filmmakers raise over $2 million for their films.

But, that support or money did not always come easy.  We provide lots of resources to create a successful campaign and fiscal sponsorship that allows tax free donations, but it took work and dedication from filmmakers.

And that only happened when we got them to let go of the myths they have about crowdfunding.

Myth 3 – I’ve got 45 days reach my goal so I can take my time.

Myth 3 – I’ve got 45 days reach my goal so I can take my time.

Myth 1 – You build it and they will come. 

Nonsense.  No matter how fantastic a campaign page you create, how important the cause, or how great the concept, you need to bring your crowd to the crowdfunding campaign.  You will probably get 98% of your funds from you own email list.  Not from Facebook, Twitter, or any of your social networks.  Just from people you know.   Focus on getting your list to send to their lists is the first trick of crowdfunding.

Myth 2 – My film’s budget is $85,000 so that is where I need to set my campaign goal. 

Your film’s budget has nothing to do with where you should set your campaign goal. Raising money is not easy so why set your goal for an amount you will have trouble getting.  Break it up into achievable segments.

How to know what you can raise?   Use the number of names in your data base and multiply by 5 for the number of donations you will get.  Example: Let’s say you’ve got 1,000 names.  1,000 x 5 = 50.  So, you can expect 50 people will give you money.

At From the Heart, we have an average of $100 per donation.  That means for 50 donors you can raise $5,000.00 (per those 1,000 names).  Don’t plan on getting much from your name on your social networks.  They do not donate much.  Focus on your data base where you can send emails every 5 days.  These are your prime donors.

Myth 3 – I’ve got 45 days reach my goal so I can take my time.

You may have a 45 day campaign, but it’s critical to hit 30% in first 72 hours.  If you hit that, your campaign has an 80% chance of succeeding.

What amount can you raise in 3 days?  $3,000.00?  You may want to work backwards and use this calculation to set your ultimate goal.  If you think you can raise $3,000 in first 3 days, then you ask for $9,000 and you can probably hit it.

Lots of work?  Yes, but the payoff is more in marketing than you would ever imagine.

Myth 4 – If I don’t hit goal, I still get money so that’s ok, right?

Hitting your goal is essential.  The record of how your campaign performed and how it was accepted by others will be out there forever.  While not necessarily an accurate judgement on how successful your project will ultimately be, it will be seen by some that way.

Distributors want to know you understand social networking.  They think crowdfunding is an example of how good you are at marketing so they judge you by your success.  Be prepared for this.

Myth 5 – T-Shirts make great perks.

I like gifts that are personal and I like you to be part of the gift.  Send me something personal.  John Trigonis, Film Campaign Strategist at Indiegogo, wrote a poem for those who donated to his campaign and he was very successful.

Make your gift something that sets your project apart and makes other take notice.  One crowdfunder asked his potential donors, “Where is your dream vacation?”  Then, he took a picture of you and put you in that location.  He did very well because people posted these items on Facebook.  That got him new leads who eventually donated because of the extraordinary gifts.

Whatever you do on your campaign, let go of the myths and you will be much more successful.

Carole Dean is president and founder of From the Heart Productions; a 501(c)3 non-profit that offers fiscal sponsorship for independent filmmakers.   She is also the author of The Art of Film Funding: Alternative Financing ConceptsHer Intentional Filmmaking Class teaches filmmakers on how to get their films funded.  New classes begin February 29th

From the Heart Partners with Seed&Spark

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.

Seed&Spark Logo 2

“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.

Indiegogo Answers Crowdfunding Questions

The response to the recent Art of Film Funding podcast featuring Indiegogo’s Kristen Konvitz was tremendous.  Kristen shared 3 top tips for Indiegogo success called “The Trifecta”.  These tips were used by a film crowdfunder to raise over $640,000 over 2 campaigns.

Indiegogo's Kristen Konvitz

Indiegogo’s Kristen Konvitz

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.

Three Top Tips for Indiegogo Success

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.

You can check out all the podcasts at The Art of Film Funding on Blogtalk Radio.

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”).

Unique Perks

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.

Constant Updating

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.

Good Content

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.

vimeo indiegogo

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.

 

What’s Your Hook? Brilliant Strategies for Developing An Audience That Follows You, Not Just Your Film

By Elizabeth England

Carole Dean’s The Art of Film Funding on Blogtalkradio interview of Sheri Candler is another nugget of solid gold for independent filmmakers seeking to crowdfund or distribute their films.  Sheri is on the emerging edge of marketing independent features and documentaries in the internet era.  A digital marketing strategist, Sheri consults with filmmakers to develop an identifiable brand and audience that follows them from project to project.

As Director of Digital Marketing for The Film Collaborative,  she helps filmmakers find strategies for retaining the rights to their work, and much more.  She has co-authored two books on film marketing and distribution: Selling Your Film Without Selling Your Soul reveals strategies for US distribution of Indies; Selling your Film Outside the US tells the compelling stories of two case studies of film distribution in Europe.

Sheri CandlerSheri’s Message to Filmmakers:  

  • If your only way you to connect to an audience is through the filter of the funder, you are in a weak position and dependent on someone else’s audience to see your work.
  • The way of the past was to make a name for yourself and then you would be ‘picked’ to do more work for a studio (or a producer.)  It’s time to use new strategies to create your own audience and retain the rights to your products.
  • The studio/producer model is always subjective in its choice of projects – there is always a hot new thing to draw their interest!   A mindset change is required for filmmakers to achieve success now, not just for a film but for their creative work to be recognized and generate sustainable career options.
  • You don’t have to measure your success by the mainstream box office.  Most filmmakers want to express their passion, change the world or connect with an audience that loves their work.
  • You can build an audience around you, as an artist, and make the films you want because you have developed a fan base for your work.  You can make what you want as long as you are reconciled to this and can be happy with niche success rather than mass success.

Finding an Audience

Rick Dean Crop

A “name” attached to your film doesn’t need to be mainstream star. It could be a YouTube celebrity or a blogger with a large following.

How you will find your audience is key to getting your film seen, distributed and profitable.  Indy dramas will attract marketing dollars and distribution offers when they have big names attached unless the content is edgy enough to attract a major film festival or distribution offers. Or you can develop your own audience during the project that supports successful release and distribution.

A big name has a big following, but don’t limit yourself to the mainstream entertainment world. What about YouTube celebrities or blogger with a million followers? Or a film tied into an iconic figure with millions of fans.

These have an audience that wants to see their work and it’s likely you won’t have to pay top dollar for their name. A big name in mainstream entertainment may attract the marketing dollars needed to find the audience, but a huge audience isn’t required to make a film a success. Check out the case studies for examples of that.

What’s Your Hook?

Without a big name or festival, having a hook to connect with a target audience creates an audience that will show up to see the film.  When the big name and marketing dollars aren’t there to attract the audience, Sheri’s two European case studies prove that focused effort finds the target audience by getting the word out to them through social media, community, and news channels. In each case, the filmmaker developed warm, substantive relationships with their target audience and surprising success followed.

Each had one or more ‘hooks’ to defined audiences they developed with great success—one over years and the other rapidly (in the year after the film was completed!)  Both films were dramas with defined target audiences: a UK-based filmmaker with an ethnic, low budget, coming of age drama; and an India-based filmmaker with a drama released in a regional Indian dialog, with lots of interest from Europe, especially the UK.

So what’s your hook and how are you connecting with the community that will care about your story?  Does the community trust you and know your work? If they do, they will want to help when you make your ask for funds or support during release!

Connecting with this audience from the start of your project and asking your audience to be part of the process engages and invests them in buying and sharing the final release.  Sheri gives some great examples on how to engage your audience during the process.  YouTube is a way to connect with your audience but she warns that people understand social media for relationship building and usually find it a turnoff when used for marketing so use it wisely.  It is valuable for some topics…like sharing about a project on an iconic star or engaging fans for their feedback on the direction you’re taking in your story or soundtrack.

Don’t Worry About Distribution If You Have Your Audience

With all the digital distribution platforms now available, distribution is no longer a challenge.  But who’s going to watch it?  Marketing to your audience must be your focus from the start. Filmmakers can plan audience development and marketing at the beginning of the film.

With the speed of change on the internet, distribution agents simply aren’t able to keep up with the new digital distribution strategies. Online film review publications are now incentivized (The Guardian, The Times of India) using strategies like Distrify to earn royalties on the film reviews that result in click-throughs to view a film.

When you have a hook and plan audience development into your project, magic happens.  In one case study, the audience was so invested during the process that, when the filmmaker offered an affiliate program at release, 130 affiliates signed up immediately to help market the film and earn royalties on distribution.

He used Distrify to offer and host the film for streaming, providing affiliates with unique affiliate embed codes. Affiliates ‘prebought’ the film at buyin levels that increased their royalty with higher prebuy values – even up to 75% royalty.  WOW.  Affiliates made thousands and so did he.

There are Hundreds of Digital Platforms for European DistributionSelling_Your_Film_Outside_the_US

European distribution requirements are similar to US – they are looking for celebrity names (that are known in Europe), or films shown in a large festival, or films that have a record of large domestic distribution. Some genres attract distribution regardless of names or festivals because they have large demand, i.e. horror, thematic, sci-fi and family films. Straight drama and comedy don’t always travel well to foreign markets.

The sheer number of Video on Demand services in Europe is staggering – 447 – so many more than in the US.  That means that with some acclaim, your film can reach many viewers.  However, these revenue streams are paying less for a title so you’ll have several deals for distribution in Europe rather than one big deal as in the US market. European catalogs are looking at buying slates so these may only pay a license fee, not a transactional fee.  Collaborating with other producers to present a slate increases your film’s chance of being sold in bulk this way.

US Distribution

The Film Collaborative has a great program for US distribution.  TFC is an ‘aggregator’ for premium platforms like Amazon and ITunes.  For a flat fee, your film will be encoded and uploaded to premium platforms and you’ll receive royalties directly from TFC as a direct pass-through – no transactional fees are charged.  This is a great way to get your film into domestic digital distribution.

Be sure to listen to this great show 5 Creative Ways to Sell Your Film and check out the links below.

8 Tips from Film Funding Masters Marc Hofstatter and Carole Dean

By Elizabeth England

Did you know that 89% of IndieGoGo campaigns that reach their goal will overfund by 30% or more?

Or that 1/3 of IndieGoGo’s donors are international contributors from 70 countries?

These are just a few of the juicy tidbits I picked up listening to Carole Dean’s interview of IndieGoGo’s Marc Hoffstatter, Head of Film (@theoriginalhoff) on The Art of Film Funding on Blogtalkradio.

From The Heart Productions has been a partner with Indiegogo since 1991

Partnered with Indiegogo, From The Heart Productions has helped independent filmmakers raise over $1 million for their films

From the Heart has a unique partnership with IndieGoGo.  As a 501(c)3 non-profit, From The Heart provides filmmakers with fiscal sponsorship which allows donors to get tax deductions.   Filmmakers also get flexible funding.  That means they get paid even if they don’t reach their goal.  As an Indiegogo partner, From The Heart has helped filmmakers raise over $1 million to date.

I was delighted to pick up these expert insights and master tips, and give you an overview of the road map they shared.

Build Your Film Contact Database:  90% of your crowd funding comes from your list and their friends.  During pre-launch, leverage your database to create excitement and get commitments for 20% of your campaign goal from funders.  Then have a plan to get your committed funders to donate in the first two days of your campaign.  Reaching 20% of your goal in the first 72 hours will get you noticed beyond your list by IndieGoGo fans and create momentum to fund to 100% of your goal ahead of schedule.

Aim Low – Fund High: Marc and Carole recommend being conservative in selecting your

Marc Hofstatter - Head of   Film at Indiegogo

Marc Hofstatter – Head of Film at Indiegogo

goal to fund faster and stronger.  Hitting that 20% in the first few days is crucial.   It shows you’ve got support and creates momentum which attracts more donors.   So, even if you want to fund your entire feature at once, it’s best to start by funding just part of it.  Besides, 89% of the campaigns that hit their goal overfund by 30%.

Plan to Go Beyond Your Goal.  Carole pointed out that many filmmakers reach their goal early and are at a loss as to what to do for the rest of the campaign.  Marc suggested creating pre-planning stretch goals to keep the momentum going.  For example, imagine telling your fans how stoked you are that you’ve reached 100% of your goal early and now you can do what you had only dreamed of…shoot that scene in 3D with another $2,000 (or whatever your first stretch goal is.) That early success is the juice keeping your fans engaged and your campaign exciting.

Don’t Forget The Pictures:  Marc recommends that you make your Indiegogo campaign page a strong visual representation of who you are, what you are doing and your unique style and talent.   It should not be a page filled with words.   Potential donors must be visually drawn in by your campaign page.  They want to see your style and get a taste of what your filmmaking will achieve with their help!

No Time for Trailers.  Carole and Marc agree that at the start of a campaign a Pitch Video is more important than a trailer.  You need to show donors why you are making the project and why it needs to get made.   Don’t forget to have an “ask” and a call to action to ask them to donate.  But even your pitch video MUST represent your filmmaking vision and style AND give them a reason to click ‘Donate NOW.’  Chances are, they aren’t coming back, so close them NOW.

My own two cents? Consider this – Make a pitch video with two endings:  One for pre-launch promotion and the second for the campaign ask and close.  Another key element on your campaign page is your team: who is on board with you and what are their roles?  Your team inspires confidence in your ability to get the job done with their money, so let your funders know you have quality business and creative talent on board to finish the project.

Pre-planning is Critical: Marc suggests to plan what you are going to do to maintain momentum and excitement at 5, 10, 17, even 22 days into your campaign.  Work out predefined benchmarks for stretch goals, pre-written social media content for both during and beyond your campaign, and new and exciting perks that stimulate new funders.

Out With the Old Perks. Plan to introduce exciting new perks during your campaign that stimulate funding.    Some funders may prefer a credit over a premiere ticket so changing up the perks will attract new funders.  Choosing smart perks like digital downloads and experiences are easier to fulfill and have less impact on your budget than a perk you have to pay for and ship.

Your Crew is Your Team.  Mark recommends having a team on your campaign of at least four.  1- outreach to those organizations and individuals aligned with your project to get their support; 2- provide regular updates, responses and new perks on your campaign page; 3- email campaign management and response; and 4- social media content and interaction.  Carole and Mark emphasize that you are marketing your film already at this early stage–building a fan base, and hopefully attracting the attention of sales agents, distributors and advocates so treat it that way.

Other key points covered:

  • Campaign sophistication will jump in the near future with the entry of major players into the crowdfunding arena as seen in the recent campaigns for Sharknado and Rooster Teeth—this is great for getting your project noticed now by serious film fans and funders.
  • Crowdfunding blogs and thought leaders are interested in your campaign and your project—so add PR outreach to your planning.
  • Your success at funding your campaign is directly proportionate to retaining creative control of your project.  Crowdfunding averages 10% to 35% of a film’s total budget funding, with the balance from grants, equity financing, foreign sales agreements.
  • Crowdfunding is still relatively unknown and is poised for tremendous growth as market awareness explodes and the impact of recent Title II and Title III rulings make room for crowdfunding equity financing with both accredited and unaccredited investors.

The bottom line is that crowdfunding is far from maturity and is the best tool available for filmmakers to simultaneously get exposure for their talents while marketing and funding their projects.

From the Heart’s unique partnership with IndieGoGo gives you a powerful advantage:  a flexible and continuous funding platform combined with decades of experience mentoring filmmakers. Take advantage of this priceless access to this winning combination now.

Here are some cool links I found researching this article that I’d like to share with you:

June 24th Google Hangout with Marc Hofstatter:  http://www.indiewire.com/article/attention-filmmakers-learn-how-to-crowdfund-successfully-in-upcoming-google-hangout-with-indiegogo-kickstarter-and-seed-spark-20140619#.U6SBOREN9Ec.twitter

IndieGoGo’s Essential Tips:  http://go.indiegogo.com/blog/2014/06/essential-tips-for-running-an-indiegogo-campaign-part-ii.html

Title II and IndieGoGo: https://go.indiegogo.com/blog/2013/09/update-on-the-jobs-act-title-ii-and-crowdfunding.html

Rick Dean Crowd 2Don’t get lost in the crowd

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Just apply at the From The Heart Indiegogo Partner Page