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

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.

 

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

Stand out and get funded with From The Heart and Indiegogo.

No penalty if you don’t reach goal, tax deductions for donors, personal mentoring and support. 

Just apply at the From The Heart Indiegogo Partner Page