Fundraising For Success

People give money to People, not films…. The Art of Film Funding first edition 2005

Crowdfunding is in! Everyone is using Indiegogo or Kickstarter. What’s so magic about it? Is it really working? Those are the questions I plan to disclose in this chapter. Is this the right way or do you work with your fiscal sponsor and do a well-thought-out funding campaign through the fiscal sponsor or just use a fiscal sponsor that Indiegogo allows you to use or forget the fiscal sponsor? What’s right for you?

One excellent reason that crowdfunding is working is because they took the basic concepts for film financing and put them together for you. They are teaching you how to raise money. You still do all the work but now you have a list of proven things to do to create your platform. You can show your trailer and make an “ask” online with thousands of other filmmakers. I wonder if people sitting at home with their first cup of coffee are thinking, “I should donate to a good filmmaker today, so I will go on Indiegogo and find some place for my money.” I doubt it.

It’s getting something in your inbox that is very personal, from the filmmaker. It is a heart-felt plea saying we are close to our goal, please help us. We need this money for my film, In Search of the Sacred and you can help us finance our trailer with your donation. That’s what is working. It’s the emails flying from one person to another. It’s people reading your compelling “ask”. The donations are coming from people in their comfortable homes where they can click a button and send you money very easily. It’s the filmmaker being able to tell us the essence of their film from a short pitch and a brilliant trailer. This is opening pocket books across the globe. I bet that the largest dollar donations are in the $20 to $50.00 range per donation, but we will ask Danae in our interview.

What is outlined for you by the crowdfunding organizations is what some experienced filmmakers know and do. However, the crowdfunding people have put it all together
for you and are telling you exactly what to do and when to do it. You still do all of the work if you have your film on the crowdfunding site or on a fiscal sponsor’s site, it’s up to you to drive people to make the donation.

Can you do this with your own web site and get the same amount of buzz and money? That’s a good question.

Let’s outline what you need to do to raise money with or without a crowdfunding company.

First you need to get an outline of your film created, preferably a proposal as outlined in chapter 4. Now you need money for your trailer, that’s in “The Plan” and
in “raising funds from individuals.”

Ok, Carole, we know all this, where are the tricks to funding?

  1. Never ask for the full amount of your budget from small donors or individuals.
  2. Set yourself a reasonable amount to ask for and cut your budget into chunks. Let’ say you need your trailer first. Perhaps you want to raise $10,000 for the shoots, the editor consultations and the final trailer edit.
  3. See Sara & Jesse’s trailer budget. What did it cost them? Compare your needs to theirs and get on the phone (as Norman Berns will tell you in his budgeting chapter) call and get your own prices for everything. Have a “kitchen sink” budget and a “bare bones” budget. You want both.
  4. Remember how creative you are when working on the film; well use that same creativity in raising money. Make it a fun thing, not a difficult one. It’s the life blood of the film.
  5. Using a fiscal sponsor lets your donor take their donation as an immediate tax write off and donors like this, especially for gifts of $250.00 and over.
  6. People want to know who you are and why you are making this film. Get up close and personal with an “ask” for what you need and how you will use it. Remember people give money to people, not to films—“Art of Funding” 2005
  7. Touch their hearts
    with a compelling story telling them why you are making the film. Then tell them what you need now, never alluding to the other $290,000 you may need. People can’t understand these numbers. They just want to make their house payment this month and your film may cost as much as their house.
  8. Give them a sticky story pitch. That’s under the chapter on film proposals. You need to tell them a story they can tell their mother, brother, father, boss and brag about donating to your film. Then those people may want to donate too. Keep your story short and simple. It must be easy to remember and repeat. “You are the carrier of too much information” says Dan and Chip Heath, authors of “Made to Stick.” Just give them the facts ma’am, just the facts. (If you can tell me which old TV show this quote is from, without looking on Google) I will give you a copy of my E book, the Art of Manifesting!
  9. In my chapter on getting discounts and donations from people in our industry, I tell you that the most important thing to remember when making an “ask” is “what’s in it for me.” The person you are asking is listening carefully to your “ask” waiting for you to tell him/her what you will do for them. You need to give something to get something.
  10. Make a list of things you can give people who donate to your film. If your film is like Amanda Mazzanti’s Seeds of Inspiration you may wantto cook deserts with the long-lost Maya seed that is found on the jungle floor and free to women in Central and South America. You bring those goodies to my house for desert and tell us about your film. For that we give you $300.00 or more. Let people have a dinner party with you as the desert maker. You can find more money at that dinner party than you can imagine. Money travels with money, they are close friends!
  11. Make a long list of perks from $20.00 up that you will give to donors. If you are a


    cameraperson, Offer to take interviews for .00, or you will film a family dinner. If
    you love to cook, offer to personally cook them a meal; or cook a meal and see your
    trailer for an evening’s entertainment! Do creative unusual things. If you have a friend
    who is a musician or even a band that will help you offer to play for someone’s party for
    dollars, or give them dinner and a violin concerto… A handmade dress, a knitted
    scarf, stay in that creativity that brought you to the film industry.
  1. Give them credit. What if your budget is only $150,000.00 and someone wants to give


    you $10,000? I would make them an associate producer for that donation. Watch the TV
    shows and you will find 6 to 8 associate producers on one show! You might give an
    Executive Producer credit to someone who gives you 1/3 of the budget. You want these
    large chunks of cash. Remember most documentaries get 60% of their money from
  1. Everyone has to have urgency. I need this money by this date because….
    Find an


    urgency, if you don’t have one, make one. I can get a 40% reduction on my editing
    because they will do it over Christmas/Chanuka when things are slow. So, I need my
      donation by November 30


    to pay my editor. One of the films that won my grant in New
    Zealand was about a man 83 years old. We used his age as our “urgency” and it worked.
  1. Make a trailer just to raise funds is one idea that can work for you. Tell people you need


    to go on location and film your subjects and you will need a sound person, a DP and you
    as the director. Pull them into the Hollywood scene and let them get a taste of
    “filmmaking.” Most people love Hollywood so encourage them to be a part of it. Be sure
    to talk from your heart when you tell them why you are making this film and let them see
    and feel your passion for the project.
  1. Don’t get caught up in money because there are many other things out there that you



    too. People who want to help you can do so in many ways with free gifts that
    support you and the film. Always stay open for any donation. For example if you need
    to buy airline tickets ask people for their air miles.
  1. What is the core message of your film? What is the subject matter?


Be clear on these then look for partners and sponsors to join you, read the article about

creating partners and connect with their members to expand your outreach numbers.

  1. Once you think you know your core audience, get on chat rooms and talk about your


    film. Be open to communicate with others about the subject matter. Ask for information,
    be open for input on your subject, listen to people and you may find that you have other
    markets that you didn’t realize from conversations with interested people. Follow all
    leads. The more people who know about your film the better it is for you in marketing
    and monetization.
  1. You might let them come to the set, watch an editor or join a planning meeting. Let them


    have a piece of Hollywood! They think it’s so glamorous, offer to let them meet your
    crew and learn how you’re making your film. These are things they can talk to people
      about and may be happy to be part of your film by supporting you financially.



  1. Create a list of friends, family and people in your data base


  1. Create an email with your “sticky story.”


  1. Ask friends and family to send this to 5 people they know.


  1. Tell them your personal reason for making the film.


  1. If possible have a personal trailer online they can see.


  1. Drive them to the Facebook page and web site to comment.


  1. Ask for the donation based on your current goal.


  1. Give them urgency. I need my trailer by 3/15 to get into Sundance.


  1. Give something back to them for supporting you. A rolling credit, etc.


  1. Then keep in contact with them as you get closer to your goal. Let them
    hear from you


    when you have something wonderful to tell them. Like a press release, a large donation, a
    new person to interview, a new Producer is onboard, the trailer is finished, go here to see
    it…give them current, interesting info. Did you know that the movie industry has your
      number? They know if you see a preview 4 times you are not likely to go see the film,


    but if
      you see it 6 to 8 times your likely to go and if you see that trailer 8 plus times

you will see that film



    So use that concept to keep your contacts updated, the more they hear from you,
    the more money you will raise. Try to hit that 10 number with really interesting, important
    information on the progress of the film during your goal period. Set your web site to take
    comments or use your Facebook page to respond to people.

Remember, you are building a community. This community around your film is for your marketing and distribution. It’s why you are making the film, to get the
word out.