Surviving the Stress and Succeeding on Kickstarter

How our Fiscally Sponsored Filmmaker Got Help from a Kickstarter Expert for Her Crowdfunding Campaign and Hit Her Fundraising Goal

by Carole Dean

Our fiscally sponsored filmmaker, diane estelle Vicari, feared her fundraising campaign was set to fail.   diane (both her first and middle names begin with lower case letters) is the founder of Dites-Moi and winner of the Pare Lorentz Grant for her film Sugihara, Conspiracy of Kindness.  

Kickstarter Expert

“SHADOW MAN: The story of Sammy Nestico”

Her new film, Shadow Man: The Story of Sammy Nestico, needed to raise money to finish her edit.  It had a great story.  It is a feature-length documentary film that explores the music, art, humanity, impact, and life of Sammy Nestico.  He helped mold the careers of many jazz greats.  Sammy recently turned 94 years young. His most recent Grammy nomination came only a year ago, at the age of 93!

But, she only had 3,000 names on Facebook.  You should only expect to get about 1% of your social media followers to donate.  So, obviously, that was not going to get her to her goal.  And, with Kickstarter, if you don’t reach your goal, you get zero.

Her non-profit fiscal sponsor From the Heart Productions came to her rescue.  We hooked her up with our Kickstarter expert.  Working with him as a team, she grew her social media followers, reached a larger audience, and surpassed her funding goal.  She asked for $61,500 and got over $75,000!

On The Art of Film Funding Podcast, she shared with me her experience and what she had learned.

Realizing You Need Help and Accepting It 

diane had 3,000 names on Facebook and knew she needed help to reach her funding goal.  She took the leap of faith to do a crowdfunding campaign with From the Heart Productions and our Kickstarter specialist.  

After speaking with the expert, diane realized he was right for the task as “he knew money and how to get it.”  To make this campaign work, she realized she was the artist and he was the money man. 

She began to feed him stories every day about the film and introduced him to the subject in the film.  He met Sammy and saw his loving, generous energy.  After that, the Kickstarter expert was able to help diane build the Facebook numbers up to 6,000 followers by the end of the campaign.

Facebook to the Rescue

Once she got Sammy on Facebook with the heightened energy from the campaign it was a magical time.  Sammy had never heard of Facebook.   diane had to drive hours to his home and do the postings for him.

Getting him involved on social media attracted lots of followers.   Sammy talked to people all over the world who love music and even some who had read his music books written for schools.  

This participation was the key to their last days where they raised over $10,000.00.   People are more likely to support you when they can chat with you online. 

diane posted a video of Sammy watching his trailer on Kickstarter and seeing the funds come in on the campaign.  People loved it.  She thinks he was the oldest person on Kickstarter.

Choosing the Right Amount for the Goal…Even If It’s Less Than You Need

diane knew from her Kickstarter adviser that she could not raise the full amount she needed for her final edit with her data base.  They set a goal they thought they could reach.  She did not get enough for the full edit. 

She thought she could get at least a few months of editing with these Kickstarter funds.  But after consulting with D-Word’s Doug Block, she realized that was not a good idea.  Hiring someone for 2 months and then terminating them to look for more money might mean you could not get that same editor again. 

He suggested she view all of the footage for the last 16 years and hire an assistant editor.  Then, raise the balance needed, hire the editor, and do the edit all at once.

However, now she has a successful campaign behind her.  She has lots of new donors and followers on which to build her next campaign.  Her trailer was the most watched on Kickstarter and a copy of it is on our crowdfunding page. 

Sammy was the oldest person on Kickstarter and people loved him.  There were featured by Kickstarter.  diane had 511 rewards to fulfill and she had to handle all that herself.

After 44 days of working 10 hours a Day on Her Campaign, I Asked Her “Would You Do This Again…Is It Worth the Stress?” 

Looking back over the ups and downs of the campaign, diane says “Yes, I will do this again, even with the craziness and the stress.”

“Look at the benefits we received.  We found and connected to our audience with Kickstarter.  We now have people all over the world who want to see this film made.   They stayed with us to the very end to see we hit both of our goals.  People are still finding us even weeks after the campaign and they want to donate.”

She and Sammy are dedicated to keeping their audience.  They are continuing to work on Facebook.  They are keeping their fans up-to-date on the progress of the film and Sammy is personally talking directly to his audience. 

This experience took him into a new world. He is writing again.  He has found how much people love and appreciate him. 

I believe this magic of connecting with people personally will insure another successful campaign.

 

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.

How a Hawaiian Prayer Can Help Fund Your Film

Hoʻoponopono, the Hawaiian prayer of forgiveness and reconciliation, can release your creativity

by Carole Dean

Hoʻoponopono

Forgiveness is a higher vibration than love

“My enemy has come to ask me for forgiveness.” 

I was in the hospital with my father who had just had a stroke.  We did not know if he would live.  Dad was staring at the door to his room when he said those words.

I said Dad, you have to forgive him and let him go.  “Darling”, he said, “I forgave him long ago.  He must forgive himself.” 

That was one of the most important moments in my life.  Since then, I have learned that forgiveness is a higher vibration than love.  It is the vibration that we all want to reach while we are on this planet. 

Then, I found a wonderful Hawaiian prayer.  It has been an important tool for healing myself and forgiving others.  It brought balance in my life and I owe much of my success to its lessons.

I teach it to filmmakers in my Intentional Filmmaking Class.  It has helped them move past the frustrations and anger artists encounter. 

It’s allowed them to be heard, be creative, and get funded.

Hoʻoponopono

‘I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you’.

Those are the few and powerful words of the Ho’oponopono prayer.  The literal translation of the prayer from Hawaiian is ‘to put to right; to put in order or shape, correct, revise, make orderly or neat.”

Many people believe Hoʻoponopono to be a mantra of mental and spiritual cleaning that could be compared to Buddhist techniques for clearing karma.  According to the Hawaiian worldview, “errors of thought” are the origin of problems in the physical world.  The prayer begins the process of cleansing them.

When we forgive others, we are really forgiving ourselves.

Money Has Ears

Ok, how can this help you fund your film?  If you feel like you have a strained relationship with money, you can use this powerful meditation to break through personal blocks.  Creative differences, funding falling through, or family issues distracting you from reaching your goals?   This prayer can help get all of that behind you. 

With Hoʻoponopono, you take total responsibility for your own actions and everybody else’s too.   You must let go of your ego when using this prayer.  Connection, clearing, and forgiveness are much more important than ego concerns about who is right and who is wrong.

This will move you out of any feeling that you have been victimized.  It will release anger that is blocking you from moving forward.

Rejection is a Daily Occurrence for Filmmakers

Each of you has to deal with rejection on a daily basis.  Healing and forgiving are partners in this Hawaiian prayer.  When you have been rejected by a donor or a grant, this can help you accept it and move on. 

There is power in release of trauma, power in release of anger, power in the release of frustration.   All of this power you have is now being used to handle, to keep in place, all of these emotions. 

You can heal yourself and remove any unpleasant situations, rejections or loss, with Hoʻoponopono.  This is asking a lot from a prayer and I believe it works. 

Bring up a rejection of a donation to your film or bring up a confrontation with someone.  Then, say this prayer daily for a week or until you feel you are in balance with this person or issue. 

You will begin to heal that hurt and soon you can say their name without any hurt feelings.  That is when you know you’ve forgiven them.

Give it a Two Month Try Out

Those of you who want to try this, please join me and let’s do it for the months of August and September.  This would give us lots of prayers to forgive people including ourselves. 

You might use a memory trick to tie new things to some habit.  For example, like when you brush your teeth, remember your Ho’oponopono prayer! 

Give yourself time to start saying it before the day comes on you or when you go to bed.  Pick someone, some event, that you want to heal and begin your forgiveness prayer. Say it at least 5 times for one person. 

I will do it with you.  This opens up our creative forces.

Look Online for a Guided Ho’oponopono Meditation

There are prayers on line from 7 minutes to over an hour that you can use.  I suggest you find one that works for you.

I am a long-time meditator.  I put myself into a quiet place or I do this when I go to bed.  In my mind, I bring up the person or event.  Then I say Ho’oponopono, their name, and then I slowly and sincerely repeat these words:

I am sorry, please forgive me, I love you, I thank you. 

I suggest you do this 3 to 5 times for each person.  I send them forgiveness with each prayer, even when I think I am the wronged person! It does not matter, I know I must forgive them and I must forgive myself.

Forgiveness is the highest vibration on the planet and that’s where creatives want to live, where we are vibrating with the resonance higher than love.

 

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.

 

How to Get Your Film Funded with New Tax Law

Hidden in New Tax Law are Incentives For Film Donors and Investors That Could Help Finance Your Entire Film

 

by Carole Dean

Get Your Film Funded

Did you know that when President Trump signed into law the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in January, 2018, new incentives for film investors were created that could help get your film funded?  I didn’t and I’m pretty sure most filmmakers we work with at From the Heart Productions did not know either (and since many in Congress had not even read the new law before it was enacted, they may be clueless as well).

Corky Kessler, Esq. is one of the top film attorneys in the US and he knows better than anyone how filmmakers can take advantage of tax laws.  When I interviewed Corky on The Art of Film Funding Podcast, he brought this incentive to my attention and revealed you can use it to get your film funded.

Bonus Depreciation

The part of the new law that relates to film, television and theater and is called “bonus depreciation, section 168.”  Bonus depreciation means when a film is first shown, at the end of that year, the investors get a 100% depreciation.

As a result, that means the investor can take a loss of 100% for the amount invested.  For example, say your donor invests in 2017 and in 2018 you have your first screening.  At the end of 2018, your investor can get his 100% depreciation for the total amount of his investment.

What a great way to attract major donors or investors to your project by giving them a massive tax deduction.

Take Advantage Before They Put Restrictions on This New Law

Before there was bonus depreciation, there was Section 181 of the tax code.  Enacted in 2004, Section 181 allowed you to eliminate your investor’s tax bill by what they’ve invested in your film.  

Corky says that, when section 181 was introduced,  it had no rules or regulations until February 2007.  Those first years were wonderful.  It was like the wild, wild west with lots of opportunities to help film investors.

This new law replaces Section 181.  And, just like the early days of that law, there are no rules and regulations for the new law.  So, the field of how to interpret things is wide open.  This is good for filmmakers.   

Putting Your Film “In Service”

Your film needs to be “put in service” to get the depreciation.  But, right now, there is no definition of what that exactly means.  We know it has to be shown somewhere.  The law just isn’t clear on where that somewhere needs to be.   A festival could qualify.  You could rent a theater, charge people a dollar, and the film is “in service.” 

But, wait.  The law does not say if it has to be shown in a theater.  It does not even say how long the film has to be shown.  

Corky says it could also be shown on YouTube or social media. The law is triggered when the film is “put into service” meaning the time that a film is first shown.   For television, it is the year it is first aired, for theater it is the year of the opening night of the theater.

The Sky is the Limit

Under  Section 181, said you could expense up to 15 or $20 million.  This new law has no limit. It could be $100 million.  Better yet, the law is retroactive and begins in 2017.   The law ends on Dec 31, 2020.

The New Law is Excellent for International Co-Productions

One carryover of Section 181 is that 75% of your service wages of the film have to be performed in the United States.  25% can be in any country you want.   

So, in theory, let’s say we have a $10 million movie.  You could spend $2,500,000 in service wages in Canada or England and take advantage of their excellent tax incentives for filmmakers. Plus, you could shoot in France with their 25% incentive or the Dominican Republic with a 25% incentive.

We can go any place that we want and spend the 25% and still qualify for the US incentive.

Bonus Deduction

Part of the new tax law is Section 199A.  It gives you a 20% deduction on taxable income for money coming back to you.  If I return a dollar to you, you pay tax on only $.80.  So, you make 20% on the incoming funds.   I believe you can write off a maximum of $350,000.

Get a Good Accountant and Lawyer

There are limitations on what you can do under this.  So, please make sure to talk to your accountant to understand them.

A good lawyer to guide you through this is advisable as well.  Corky Kessler works at Rubenstein Business Law with his partner David Rubenstein.  He can be contacted at   From the Heart highly recommends him and his services for filmmakers.

He’s been in the business for many years and he is intelligent, creative and a lot of fun to work with.

 

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.

 

 

How Does Seed&Spark Get an 80% Success Rate with Crowdfunding Campaigns?

No Other Crowdfunding Platform, Not Kickstarter or Indiegogo, Can Claim This. What is The Secret to Seed&Spark’s Success?

by Carole Dean

Seed&Spark

Web Series “One True Loves”

The films that get fiscal sponsorship at From the Heart Productions have consistently received the “green light” on Seed&Spark.  This means they hit their crowdfunding goal and get the funding they raised.  This occurs more often at Seed&Spark than other crowdfunding platforms.

Recently, I welcomed Gerry Maravilla, Head of Crowdfunding at Seed&Spark, to my The Art of Film Funding Podcast.  He revealed the advice they give to filmmakers on how to have a successful crowdfunding campaign. 

Goal Setting on Seed&Spark

This is a crucial part of the entire crowdfunding campaign.  Getting this right is a one of the keys to success.

It begins with a surprising statistic and comes down to simple math.

“There’s traditionally a 1% conversion rate from social media share to a donation.”Gerry states.   This means, if you have 1,000 Facebook followers, you can expect only 1% of them to donate! 

He says that you can get 20 to 30% from your email lists.  This must be a personal email to each person, not an email blast that would bring you much less.  Personalization is the key to getting the highest percentage rate from your list.

 

 

Gerry suggests you ask your crew for their email lists.  Ask your family too for any names they will let you use to crowdfund.  Put all your names together.      

So, how much can you can raise?  The most popular donation amount is $25.00.  So, consider that 30% of the list will give you $25.00 each.  Multiply the number of names on your list by 30% and then by $25.00.  This is a goal you know you can hit.

“But this is nowhere near my budget,” you say?  Yes, but setting a goal at $100,000 when you can only expect to raise $1,000 will result in a failed campaign and no money. 

Take what you can get from this campaign.  Use the money move forward with the film and begin expanding your email list for your second campaign.

Don’t Be Afraid to Make an “Ask.”

Seed & Spark recommends that you reach out early to your list long before you start crowdfunding.  Let them know that you are planning a campaign to fund your film and give them the start date.  Say you need them to commit to make a donation for you in the first few days as that is the critical time.   

“Once you hit that 30% in the first week you can easily hit 60% in the second week,” Gerry says. 

Get your list excited and committed.  Ask them, “Can I count on your support?”  Let them know how much you need them. 

Be sure that each email you send is full of gratitude.  Gratitude is a key word in crowdfunding.  Donors appreciate this and the energy in that email will be totally different with your heart on the page.

Creating interesting emails is key to keeping people motivate.  Even if they have donated, you want them to be involved and you want them to read every email because you want them to donate again.  Use creative titles in your subject line, that will get you a higher opening rate.

Seed&Spark

Our Fiscally Sponsored Film “Two Weeks” Hit Their Goal and Were Able to Start Filmming

Campaign Preproduction is a Key to Success

Sounds crazy?  Right?  Yes, you have to treat a crowdfunding campaign just like a film.  Gerry believes this preproduction work is another important key to their 80% success rate.

You need to prepare by building your email list and putting it on a mailing platform.  (We like Constant Contact at From the Heart Productions, but there are other good ones as well).   

Find the “uniqueness” about your film.  What makes it special?  Start marketing it with that in mind.  Send links to the film or your campaign video to your list.  Let them know you will be crowdfunding soon and ask if they can share this on social media to support you.

Contact Seed&Spark early and discuss your film with them.  They’ve got great instructional videos on their website.  Learn how to build your audience.  Get your social networks and your email list ready for your campaign. 

Give yourself several months.  Study successful campaigns and learn from other filmmakers.  Don’t rush into this, plan the campaign and it will bring you a greater return.

Give Your Donors an Immediate Tax Write-Off with From the Heart Productions

Our non-profit works closely with Seed&Spark.   We are a partner with them and offer the lowest fees of any fiscal sponsor when using their platformHaving fiscal sponsorship allows donors to the campaign to get tax deductions for their donations.   That creates a powerful incentive to donate.

Gerry says you want to be sure to mention your nonprofit name on your page.  This shows your donor that a nonprofit has reviewed your film and accepted it. 

Many donors like the fact that a nonprofit is involved to see that you use the funds for the film.  They feel that you will finish the film.  We believe that sponsorship gives you more credibility with donors. 

Gerry Maravilla is available for more information at .  Anyone wanting information on crowdfunding can email

 

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.

Creating a 2nd Successful Kickstarter Campaign for Your Film

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.

Robyn Raised $131,313 on Second Kickstarter Campaign

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

How to Find and Engage Strategic Partners for Your Film

Strategic partners are key to crowdfunding and marketing your film.  Connecting with them is a key to audience building for crowdfunding and selling your downloads.

by Carole Dean

Strategic Partners

You May Not Need to Stand On Your Head to Land Strategic Partners, But You Need to Make a Concerted Effort

Strategic partners are groups or nonprofit organizations online whose members would be interested in the subject matter of your film.

Because I run From the Heart Productions, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, I’m quite aware of how careful and protective nonprofits are of their mailing lists. We never give it out.  It’s hard work getting donors who’ve gained your trust. 

Most nonprofits live off of their mailing list.  They are very familiar with their top donors and take good care of them. That includes only sending them pertinent emails regarding their mission.

But, if you follow these steps, you can build a group of strategic partners of your own. 

Start Small, Finish Big

I suggest that you make a list of the top 20 potentials for strategic partners.  Some of these will be the largest organizations online that are interested in the subject matter of your film.  

However, I wouldn’t start with any of the largest in this group. I would start with some of the smaller nonprofits.  Find out what works and what doesn’t with them.

Calling Strategic Partners – What Not to Say When You First Call

When you call these nonprofits or organizations, who can become major “connectors” to your audience, don’t say “Hi, I making a film that your members would really love.”  You will not be quickly received. Expect them to immediately close ranks unless you do this right.

They want to know a lot about you and the film you’re making.  Also, they will want to know how it will be received by their members.  You want to create a long-term relationship with the organization.  What you say and how you introduce yourself is most important.

Build Trust

It might take you more than a year to gain the trust of strategic partners.  I suggest the first call is to introduce yourself.  Tell them who you are and what you’re doing. Make it short, sweet, and engaging.

The goal is to be able to communicate with them on an on-going basis, like every 4 or 5 months, to keep them informed of your film’s development.  You know that this nonprofit’s audience is interested in the content of your film.  What you want to do is to create a relationship.  Begin building trust so they will share your film with their audience. 

Create a Script

Before your first call to potential strategic partners, get prepared and write down what you want to say and how you want the call to go.  Do not read it.  This is to remind you of the highlights you want to say.  

Establish credibility.   You want to introduce yourself as an award-winning filmmaker or someone who graduated from film school or someone who is very passionate about the subject matter.  Make clear you are determined to create this important documentary or short film.

Next, you want to give them an under a two-minute pitch of your film making sure that they get the “essence” of your film. Consider using sticky story content so that you leave them with key elements they can remember.

Don’t Ask for Help…Yet

Get the person’s name and title and ask her if you can continue to communicate with her on the progress of the film.  Don’t ask for anything else.   Hopefully, you’ve introduced yourself and your film in a charming way to create a long-term relationship.  That’s what you’re after.

This is why I want you to only contact them once you have committed to your film.  This is a key to increasing your audience for you personally as a filmmaker and for the film.

Stay in Contact

Every 3 to 5 months find something wonderful to tell them.  Call after 2 expressos and be upbeat.  Convey that you are excited about your film.  Make a good impression of you as a filmmaker and how important your film can be to their audience. 

Keep it under 3 minutes.  Your budding strategic partners will appreciate your concern for their time.  If it is hard to get them on the phone, then send a brilliant email.  Don’t expect to get a reply because you probably won’t get one. 

But, they will read it.  I know because people who apply for my grant email me all year with updates.   I read them and enjoy them but I don’t always respond because of time.  However, when they do call me or apply again to the grant, I remember them and the film.  That’s what you want.

When to Get Them Involved

After about a year, you will begin to hear the interest they have for you and the film in their voice.  This is when you can begin to decide when you can ask them to get their audience involved in your film. 

Don’t ask too soon.  You should be able to know when to ask them to post something about your film on their website or drive their audience to your website to see your trailer and you get their email address.

This is a Worthwhile Endeavor

I spoke to filmmakers who created such a great rapport that the nonprofit actually introduced him to their top donor who helped fund his film.  Anything is possible.  Create a vision of what you want from them and move towards that.

 

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

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

Inviting

“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.

6 Key Tips to Help Win a Film Grant

Need to win a film grant?   Carole Dean shares her wisdom and experience on why it helps to know your audience, nail down your story, and never give up! 

By Carole Dean

Win a Film Grant

Roy W. Dean Grant winner Leslie Neale and From the Heart Productions founder and President Carole Dean

Having overseen the Roy W. Dean Grant for 26 years, I’ve read thousands of grant submissions.  Through my non-profit, From the Heart Productions, I’ve helped our fiscally sponsored filmmakers apply for and win hundreds of thousands of dollars in local, state, and foundation grants over the last 25 years.    

I know what makes our judges and others seriously consider a grant application.   Here are some tips on how you can improve your chances to win a film grant for your project.

Film Must Fit Criteria for the Grant

Grantors say this is the number one reason for denying a film a grant.  So be sure you have a chance to be accepted before you put in your time.

One woman filmmaker I worked with applied for 5 grants and won 4!  This was Rebecca Dreyfus and her film “Stolen” won the Roy W. Dean Grant.  How did she win so many?  She did not apply for hard to win grants that might have been a reach for her project.  She chose carefully and put her energy into grants she felt were the best fit for her film. 

Story, Story, Story

At the Roy W. Dean Grant, we fund stories.  Other grantors look for great stories as well.  Brilliant, heart-felt, revelatory, life altering stories with strong characters.  So when creating your application for the grant, you will need a visually written proposal.  It needs to let me “see” the film as I read your proposal. 

For Documentaries, Tell Us What The Film Will Be About

I realize you don’t know what will happen when you turn on your camera to make a documentary.  In fact, many times you are taken into an entirely different film.  However, you have to tell us what you think the film will be. 

We know you often don’t know and that’s ok.  The filmmakers behind the award winning “Virunga” thought they were just doing a documentary on an park rangers at an animal preserve when a civil war broke out.  But, we want to know that you have thought it out carefully and you “think” you know where it is going. 

I can say that most of the documentary films we funded, where the filmmaker did not know what the film would be about in the end, turned out better than any of us imagined. 

Why Are You Making This Film?

I want to know this up front.  This information tells me if you are there for the long, hard times that may lay ahead.  I want to know:  Do you have the tenacity to finish?  You have to allay my fears in the beginning of your proposal with your passion.

Who Is Your Audience?

Do you have any idea who the people are who will want to see your film?  Do you know how you will reach them?  I want you to tell me that.  All of the grantors want to know this.  Just making the film is not enough; you have to identify who will support it.  Attach your audience to the film as you are making it.  Tell us how you are doing this.

Never Give Up!!!!

It was the motto of the Suffragettes and I want you to adopt it.    Know that rejection is part of the process and that you will learn each time you are rejected.  Know that each grant you enter, you get better and so does your film.  And, you now know the people at that granting organization and in our industry.  Who you know is an asset to you.

 

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.

6 Tips on Crowdfunding Your Film

 

From the Heart Productions has helped indie filmmakers crowdfund over $3 million for their films.  Here are some key tips on crowdfunding your film to help you successfully raise money. 

6 Tips for Crowdfunding Your Film

Don’t let crowds scare you. Get them to help you raise money for your film.

1. Emotions Fuel Donations

Among the most important of the tips on crowdfunding your film is one won’t find on the internet.  But, I can promise you that it is most effective when raising money to use emotions.

Let’s go back to some of the earliest Indiegogo campaigns that were quite successful.

First, there was the campaign for a bus monitor named Karen, who asked for $3,000 to go on a vacation. She was responsible for the children on the bus going to school. 

Someone took a camera inside the bus and recorded the vicious, demeaning, bullying statements made to her by students. She was in tears. When we saw this, we felt embarrassed and ashamed that she was being so poorly treated. 

We were touched and moved and glad to donate as a way to apologize to her.  Soon she had over $100,000 and then $200,000.  She ended up with over $700,000.  Nice vacation. 

My second favorite campaign for eliciting emotion is one that did not have a trailer. That’s right, just copy on a page. However, it was professionally done with various font types and a great choice of words.

The campaigner was an admitted geek and he said that we had forgotten Tesla, the greatest geek that ever lived. He wanted to buy back the Wardenclyffe tower, Tesla’s old laboratory, and make it a museum for Tesla.  He also used emotion in his campaign.

“Let’s build a Goddamn museum for Tesla.”, he wrote “We overlooked him and we owe it to him!”

He raised close to $1,300,000  That’s using only written words and the right attitude.  He was demanding that we make up for our lack of attention and respect to Tesla.  It made people feel sad and remiss that we’ve overlooked such a great man. 

“Touch my heart and I’ll open my pocket book.” is one of my favorite expressions for fundraising. I think that people communicate through the heart chakra.  

What’s unique about your film? How can you elicit an emotion with your words and your trailer? That emotion could be joy, happiness or guilt, shame, or any strong emotion that you believe will create an action from your audience. Hopefully, that action is a donation.

2. Setting the Right Campaign Goal 

Finding the right dollar amount to ask for is a key to a good campaign. After running many campaigns, I can say that this is the most important part of the campaign.  You need to get the goal amount right so that you can have 30% to the goal within three days of the start of the campaign.  This is a must for a successful campaign.

It’s very important to create a special group of funders that can help you reach that 30%.  Give them a name, like your “founding Indiegogo or Kickstarter sponsors.”  You will build your crowdfunding page and send the link to only this founding sponsor group first in what we call a soft launch.  You have already spoken to these people and you know exactly how much money you will raise. 

Now, you launch your campaign to your entire mailing list.  Post and chat on social media about the benefits of your film, why people should donate, and thanking those that do.

Sometimes you set your goal based on the amount you know you can raise in three days.  Example, you talk to your family, friends, and staunch supporters and realize that you can get $6,000 in the first three days. Then, set your goal at $20,000 because 30% of $20,000 is $6,000.

Now, you know you have a very good chance of hitting that goal.  That is,  assuming that you have done the work needed to create a large database of people interested in the subject matter of your film.

3. Finding Your Audience for Crowdfunding

What is unique about your film? Find that and be able to talk about how special your film is because of this uniqueness.

Start listing the various audiences that your film addresses.  For documentaries, it’s much simpler than features, but let’s just take an example of a documentary on organic food. Go online and start looking for organizations and groups who fit your film like vegetarians, vegans, organic consumers, benefits of organic food, etc.

Find those organizations through Facebook and Google. Make a list.  You want to find the top 40 organizations and set a goal to connect to at least 20.  Hopefully, they will have a minimum database of 5,000 members each. Your goal is to get them to support your film. Get them to post about your film on their database, or newsletter, or ask them to tweet about your film.

You can drive them to your website where you can collect their email address is by giving them a nice gift, something they can’t live without. Create short three minute trailers.  Then, put them on your YouTube channel to drive people to your website.  Once there, they can’t resist your gift and will sign up to be part of your film community.

4. You Need Connectors

Connectors are people who will help you increase your audience. Your audiences will fund your film and then come back and buy the download. You can find your audience online in groups and organizations.

Take the key words that describe your audience and search those on Facebook and Google. Then, contact the top 20 largest groups and organizations. You want to create “strategic partners ” by contacting organizations and groups that are interested in the subject matter of your film. Connecting to them is most important.

You must take your crowd to the crowdfunding. They don’t find you, you find them. My statistics show that on Indiegogo 99% of the donations come from the people who you have in your database or on your social network. In my opinion, Indiegogo does very little to bring you new donors.

Kickstarter campaigns do increase your data base.  We work with a crowdfunding expert on Kickstarter campaigns who really understands how Kickstarter works and does quite well raising funds for our filmmakers. As a result, he helped raised $120,000 for a film on sound, $64,000 on a film about a music composer, and over $100,000 for another film. I highly recommend him.  If you are interested, email me and I can introduce you to him.

5. Give Them a Sticky Story

A Sticky Story is one that has the elements of surprise, emotion, and it has something credible and something concrete.  Give your audience a sticky story, one they can remember and repeat.  One that will allow your donors to pitch to people for you and expand your data base.  

6. Stay in Touch with Donors

Set up a community with your crowdfunding audience after the crowdfunding. It’s very important for you to keep them engaged and attached like family to you and the film.  You’ve probably just raised money for a part of your film, maybe just pre-production or part of post-production, so you want to keep them close by to raise more money.

One woman I was mentoring said that she was writing her Kickstarter group to give them an update.   She said “I don’t know what to say because I am behind on my production schedule. I told them I would be much further along at this date.”

I said why not tell them the truth? Quote Orson Welles by saying “I spend 95% of my time raising money and 5% making the film.“ She did just that and someone called and ask her how much money she needed.  She told him, $120,000 and he sent her a check!

You never know how much money is available to you from this group of new people that you get through Kickstarter. Taking good care of them is paramount to future donations.

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.

Roy W. Dean Grant Finalists for Summer 2017 Selected

Roy W. Dean Grant Finalists for Summer 2017 Selected

Winner to Receive $30,000 Grant to Complete Their Project

 

Roy W. Dean Grant Finalists for Summer 2017From The Heart Productions, the non-profit dedicated to helping indie filmmakers get funding, has selected 21 Roy W. Dean Grant finalists for Summer 2017.  Now in its 25th year, the grant seeks films that are unique and make a contribution to society.  The winner will receive $30,000 in a combination of cash and donated services from film industry professionals and companies which support independent filmmakers. 

“It’s so wonderful to see that great indie filmmaking is alive around the world” said Carole Dean, President of From the Heart Productions. “Submissions included entries from a record 22 countries.”

The grant is open to documentaries, features, short films and web series.  Every filmmaker that applies to the grant gets a free consultation on their project. 

That along with the cash and production services awarded has made the Roy W. Dean Grant one of the top grants to apply to for new filmmakers.  Just some of the nations represented in the applications include Sierra Leone, Ireland, Great Britain, Israel, Thailand, Japan, and India. 

About the Roy W. Dean Grant Finalists for Summer 2017

View overview of project summaries and filmmakers with loglines for the 21 Roy W. Dean Grant Finalists for Summer grant.  These films (some of which do not have web or social media sites set up as yet) include:

419: How Nigeria Was Scammed Out Of Its Rightful Identity (Documentary)

American Justice on Trial: People v. Newton (Documentary)

An Act of Terror (Short)

Axe Cop: The Documentary (working title) (Documentary)

Daughters of the Revolution (Documentary)

Finding Kai (Documentary)

Free Spirit (Feature)

In the Executioner’s Shadow (Documentary)

Ken and Alex (Documentary)

MANRY AT SEA ~ In the Wake of a Dream (Documentary)

No Man’s Land (Documentary)

Parallel Chords (Feature)

Pick (Short)

Restoring Balance: Autism Recovery (Documentary)

Salt Water (Feature)

Stone | Fruit (Feature)

The Rukus (Documentary)

Troubled Water (Documentary)

Untitled Witchcraft Project (Short)

Women of the Holocaust (Other)

Ashes To Eden: an Immigrant’s story (Documentary)

From this group of Roy W. Dean Grant Finalists for Summer 2017, a smaller group of 4 to 6 finalists will be selected by our judges. The winner will be chosen from that group and will be announced in late October.

This year’s grant winner will receive $3,500 in cash provided by From the Heart Productions and donations of film services and products from film industry professionals and companies.  Some of which include a 1TB G-Drive from G-Technology,  $1295.00 Scholarship to Writers Boot Camp , 35% discount on lighting from Paskal Lighting,  Discount of rental of screening room from Raliegh Studios, and much more from heartfelt donors those who care about helping independent filmmakers. 

About the Roy W. Dean Grant

Founded in 1992, there are 3 Roy W. Dean Grants awarded each year.   There is a Spring, Summer and Fall Grant.  The Fall Grant is now accepting entries and closes October 14th.  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 helping talented artists with great stories get their films produced.  Recent past winners of the grant include the award winning “Heist: Who Stole the American Dream”, “The Brainwashing of My Dad”, and Emmy winner “Mia: A Dancer’s Journey” which just won an Emmy award.  

About From The Heart Productions

Carole Dean founded the 501(c)3 non-profit when she saw how many filmmakers with important, new, and often controversial stories were having trouble getting financing for their films.    From The Heart offers fiscal sponsorship for films which allows donors to get a tax deduction for their donations.  Their Intentional Filmmaking Classes which teaches filmmakers the tactics on how to get funded is now open for enrollment.  Classes start September 30th