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.

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