An Invitation is at the Heart of Crowdfunding

Don’t think of crowdfunding as asking for money.  Think of it as inviting people to join your community.  You’ll be a lot more successful 

by Carole Dean


“Invite People to Join Your Community” When Crowdfunding

When you are crowdfunding, you may think you are just asking friends, relatives, your dentist, for donations.  But, you are inviting others to join together to support you in the making of a film.  

Asking people to “join your community to make a film” is a totally different energy than asking people for donations.

This is the energy of inviting.

When Creating Your Crowdfunding Page Write it Like an Invitation.

People love films.  And hopefully, they will love yours enough to join accept your invitation. 

Every film has something remarkable about it. What is remarkable about your film?  What is it about it that will make people join together and make it happen?

Use the concept of a “sticky story” (make this a link to the article) so that people can remember what you tell them.  Create a story with something emotional, something shocking, something concrete and something very credible so they can remember and pitch your film to their friends and earn social currency.

Make a List of What You Need People To Bring

You need more than money to make a film.  The benefit of bringing a community together is gathering together those with different talents and skills.   Talents and skills you need to make your film.

You should list exactly what you need.  That might be people to help you with social networking, a personal assistant, a driver, or someone to help with food on the production, etc.  Think of the things that you want and ask for them on your page.

How to Answer “What’s In It For Me?”

You can’t invite someone to join in making your film without expecting to give them something in return.  Donors always want to know “what’s in it for me? “   

This is where you can get off the charts creative with your gifts for supporting your film.  You could have standard gifts like t-shirts, mugs and social media shout outs, but I really, find these are boring gifts.  

Think of something unusual and exciting.

Gifts That Donors Share With Others

Here’s one great example.  One person on a crowdfunding campaign was very talented with the Photoshop.   He asked people who donated “where do you want to be?” Then,  he took a photo of them and photo shopped them to that dream location. 

One person was put on the moon and another in the South Seas.  Another was place on an expensive yacht.  Of course, the donors loved these photos and they quickly posted them on Facebook, twitter, all over social media.  They also and drove new people to the filmmaker’s campaign and this created new donors.  This is what you want. You want your donors promoting you.

Recently, I had a filmmaker offer a hand-drawn portrait for $100 on her network for good campaign.  I couldn’t resist!  So I donated and she sent me a precious hand-drawn photo.   It was well worth the hundred dollars and the fun of seeing a personal rendering of a photo.

Use Your Creativity

Use that brilliant creativity of yours for your crowdfunding.  Don’t just focus on how you can get money out of someone.  Think about how you can get them to accept your invitation to help you and others make your film a reality.  


Carole Dean is president and founder of From the Heart Productions; a 501(c)3 non-The Art of Film Funding Podcastprofit that offers fiscal sponsorship for independent filmmakers. She hosts the weekly podcastThe Art of Film Fundinginterviewing those involved in all aspects of indie film productionShe is also the author of  The Art of Film Funding, 2nd Edition: Alternative Financing Concepts.  See IMDB for producing credits.

“Sands of Silence” Wins 2nd Roy W. Dean Film Grant of 2015

Documentary Exposes International Underworld of Sex Trafficking

Oxnard, CA Oct 30th, 2015 – The Summer Roy W. Dean Grant has been awarded to director Chelo Alvarez-Stehle for her feature length documentary “Sands of Silence”. Overseen by the non-profit From the Heart Productions, the film grant is the second of three awarded each year to a filmmaker with a unique project that contributes to society.

Sands of Silence 2“Chelo’s dedication to the production of her film, ‘Sands of Silence’ is exemplary” said Carole Dean, president of From the Heart Productions.  “This film will change lives, open conversations and raise the consciousness on many hidden issues.  We are honored to support Chelo in getting this film made”.

The Roy W. Dean Grant is open to all types of film projects including documentaries, short films, features, and web series in any stage of production.  Submissions were received from from across U.S. as well as internationally from United Kingdom, Australia, and Nigeria.  Winner receives cash and donated film services to help complete their film.

In “Sands of Silence”, Chelo records a 15-year quest to expose the underworld of sex trafficking from Asia to the Americas back to the windswept beach where her childhood ended and family secrets began. Documenting the transformation of young women in Mexico and Nepal from powerless victims” to resilient survivors and passionate advocates, the filmmaker undertakes a parallel journey toward personal healing and family reconciliation.

“I still remember the thought-provoking Documentary Trailblazer course I took with Carole Dean over 10 years ago.” said director Alvarez-Stehle upon learning she had won the grant.  “The course spanned over 12 weeks and it was a stepping stone in my path towards documentary filmmaking.”

From the Heart Productions has also served as a fiscal sponsor for the grant winning documentary.

“Carole was there for me through good and bad times and has always been a beacon and an inspiration. So now that my film is finally about to see the light after all these years, receiving the Roy W Dean Grant feels like coming around full circle, a feeling of completion, as if the positive energy that she encouraged me to pour in my film, had manifested. I could not be more grateful”.

Director Chelo Alvarez-Stehle

Director Chelo Alvarez-Stehle

Journalist, documentary and new media producer Chelo Alvarez-Stehle has worked for over 15 years exposing stories of human trafficking through her creative and outreach work. She worked on documentaries for NHK and became Spain’s El Mundo daily correspondent first in Tokyo, then in Los Angeles. Canal+ Spain turned one of her print reportages on trafficking in the Himalayas into TIN GIRLS feature documentary film.

As producer/director she did her first short documentaries WISDOM IN SMOKE and THE POWER OF 2 distributed to 30 countries, in Cuba.  She then directed and co-produced the SOLD IN AMERICA: A Modern-Day Tale of Sex-Slavery (Montreal Human Rights Film Festival.)  She is currently producing/directing a transmedia project that encompasses the feature-length documentary SANDS OF SILENCE: Journey into Trafficking, the SOS_SLAVES social impact videogame and a micro-documentary series on sexual exploitation. She has just produced the short documentary THROUGH THE WALL, about a family divided by the US/Mexico border.

In addition to $3,500 cash given by From The Heart Productions, the winner receives goods, services, and discounts including hard drives from G-Technology, tape stock from Media Distributors (now Filmtools), post production consultation from colorist Sam Dlugach, music post production from Audiokut,  a full scholarship to The Writer’s Boot Camp, and much more from many heart-felt donors.

About the Roy W. Dean Grant

Now in its 23rd year, the Roy W. Dean Grant has awarded over $2,000,000 in cash and donated film services to films that without its help may never have been made.  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 fostering award winning films.  Past winners of the grant that have been completed include the award winning “Heist: Who Stole the American Dream”, emmy winning “Mia: A Dancer’s Journey” 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 $1.9 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.