Director Robyn Symon’s first Kickstarter campaign for her documentary “Do No Harm” reached it’s goal. Could she make it happen again?
by Richard Kaufman
Documentary filmmaker Robyn Symon was told it was impossible for a film to have two successful Kickstarter campaigns. Her Roy W. Dean Grant winning film “Do No Harm” raised over $100,000 on the first Kickstarter effort. She needed to raise at least that much again to help get her film finished.
On The Art of Film Funding Podcast , she she shared with host Carole Dean tips on how she defied the naysayers and reached her goal the second time around.
Put Together a Team With Connections
“Do No Harm”, fiscally sponsored by From the Heart Productions, reveals the sad shocking truth about physician suicides. While their jobs are to serve as our healers , they have the highest rate of suicide among any profession.
She knew on her second Kickstarter campaign she would need to reach new supporters and expand her followers to be successful. To do that, she wanted to build a team who could connect with those in medical field.
She sought out those “who had vlogs, podcasts and they had like tens of thousands of followers.” She didn’t want anyone just because they loved the film. She selected 5 or 6 people after “I looked at their backgrounds carefully to know that these people knew how to connect with other people.”
One of them, Dr. Pamela Wible, Roybn called her “secret weapon”. She’s considered “the guardian angel to physicians and medical student suseptible to suicide.” Her vlogs get 50,000 views and a Ted talk she did seen by over 380,000 views.
With a team in place, they were getting word out about the film even before the campaign began.
Have Money in Kickstarter Campaign Before it Starts
“You should have a few thousand dollars already committed.” Robyn suggested. So, as soon as you pull the switch on the campaign, the money is already tallied for all to see.
“No one wants to be the first money in.”
Everyone on her team agreed to contribute $1,000 before the campaign went live. So, right at the start they already had momentum.
Don’t Have a Goal That’s Too High…Or Too Low
“If your goal is too high, you’re not going to be sucessful”, she said. Conversely, you don’t want to have a goal that is too low and easily attainable.
“Once you reach your goal its very difficult to raise more money.” She suggests not to go for all the funding at once in one campaign. Break it up into smaller asks.
“You have to make it very clear what the money is being allocated for” such as pre-production. So, when you go back for more funding, you’re not rejected by those who think you’ve already raised enough to make your film.
Consider Using a Kickstarter Campaign Expert
Because she was concerned about raising money a second time on Kickstarter and finding new supporters, she hired an Kickstarter expert.
From the Heart Productions has one expert they work with who has a fantastic track record of crowdfunding success with their fiscally sponsored films. They hooked him up with Robyn to help her with her campaign.
“I think it was really helpful.”, explained Robyn. “He has done so many of these campaigns that he really made the page look fantastic.”
She regretted not setting her goal higher as she reached it in a week! Her goal was $60K, but she really needed $100k and thinks she could have raised $200k.
“It’s tough, really tough, to go back and say “Yes, we reached our goal and we have 3 weeks left.’”
Fortunately, she was able to refocus her campaign on raising funds for marketing and was able to get an additional $60,000.
Richard Kaufman is a board member of From the Heart Productions; a 501(c)3 non-profit that offers fiscal sponsorship and the Roy W. Dean Grant for independent filmmakers. Richard has over 25 years experience in supplying filmmakers with discounted film stock and hard drives. He is currently a Senior Account Executive with Filmtools.