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Crowdfunding Your Film

Lesson 12 of 13

Campaign Execution with Nathan Williams and Natalie Johns

Emily Best

Crowdfunding Your Film

Emily Best

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Lesson Info

12. Campaign Execution with Nathan Williams and Natalie Johns

Lesson Info

Campaign Execution with Nathan Williams and Natalie Johns

Okay, so I want to talk about campaign execution. I want to get a kind of nitty gritty about a couple of things I want to start with. I think I can advance this myself. Um, So, like I said before, you guys had these great sort of, like, weeklong themes, and you really you made each week feel different and fun and exciting. And I just learned today that the funder games, which I have been talking about in every class I've ever talks, I thought it was so clever. Was was something that you learned, uh, from your time for from friends you made on the Obama campaign. Okay, you know way. Um, I worked on the Obama campaign and thank you. It's what is, um it was fun. And I have a good number of friends that stayed in that world. I went back and said, I'm gonna make my little movies. Um, but really talented, really driven, really smart people. And, um but they make government salaries a lot of money to support my movies. So they're all, like, how can we help? And this this concept came about af...

ter we already launched. This wasn't part of the plan that my good friend Joe Koepka had this concept of, Ah contest that that, you know, people are competitive, especially campaign people, kind of tapping into that world that if we set up a contest of different teams and we decided to do it based on city of Who raised the most money per city, you know you declare your allegiance. We didn't like find people's credit card zip codes and things that they would get some, you know, extra incentive, but ultimately was about bragging rights. So, you know, we recruited sort of team captains, uh, different parts of the country. De ultimately came down to D. C. Minnesota in Indiana, which are not like, you know, funding powerhouses for for the arts necessarily. But that's where you chose them. It's just where we had a nucleus of people, you know. And ultimately we needed that one person to be the captain that you know one thing in a way, way always learned was you don't just get someone a volunteer, get someone to then recruit volunteers for you to be to empower them, to become leaders on DWI. We constantly were trying to find other ways to do this, but this was the most successful. So once this launched it, really, I didn't do much, you know? I mean, I hustled a lot in this campaign, but this is one thing I can say. I made the little dumb little graphics and updated every now and then, but so just people owned it. Walk us through the structure of this campaign. So what you guys can see right now is that is the first half of the update or the 1st 3rd of the update that announces the funder games. And but this also happened, like, right around the time that hunger games was out. So is top of mind for people. You mean the concept? We didn't have a name for it. I think one of the captains and Martinez came up with the name. We had a little contest. You name it. So, uh, yeah, thank you. Crowd source. Everything. Yeah. Source. All the thing. Yes. Assumed that other people have better ideas than you do. Absolutely. That's how we name the stay in detour I took to Twitter, and I was like, What do we call this thing if we're going everywhere Yeah. Um, so, yeah. I mean, we just We we had the teams recruited and we kind of talked about basically what would be involved. And then we set a launch date. So we did all this behind the scenes. We didn't start promoting it till we had it all in place. And then then we just launched and they ran. And they had, like, a a little running email list that they, you know, talk trash to each other and on, I would just be like, All right, Next word, guys. Keep it going. Um, it was it was awesome. And it was a way to engage people in a different way. You know, people that are necessarily into indie film. But they were into indie film through this portal, right? You know? Well, so there's so many things that are cool about this. The 1st 1 is crowdfunding has been around for a long time before it came to the Internet. You guys and we don't have to learn everything from other filmmakers who crowd funded campaign managers. People who run political campaigns listen to an NPR or like a public radio station drive. They know everything about how to make a matching campaign work about how to create short term incentives to get people involved. Learning from other fundraising, uh, experts, is really important. So I I love that I learned this today, and that's going to affect how I talk about this in the future. Also, I was saying Wisconsin, not Minnesota. I know in Minnesota, one crushed and we did our The thing they one was they got to see the movie first. So we did. Our test screening a couple months back in Minneapolis in the dead of winter was very cold, But this is super cool. They set out different prizes, so the gold prizes for most raise the silver's. For most supporters, that bronzes for most followers, and that meant everybody was a winner to see what they did there. This is this is one of the greatest things about this contest is that there was not a chance not to get something for participating. The other thing about this was I mean, as you said, empowering, What do you say volunteers to become leaders? It's about how do you incentivize somebody to become an evangelist and you pick three cities where Maybe you have that 1st 30% like we talked about. You want to know who your 1st 30% is? So you focus on places where you know you have people. And how do you get them to get their friends? Is friends friends involved in the campaign? And it's a risk, right? It's a risk to focus a week of your campaign on three cities. You don't think of his film or fundraising capitals, right? That's a risk. But it really paid off for you guys, which I think is just so it was such an exciting thing. Toe watch. And we actually got one of our equity investors through it through the contest. Okay, Like, hey, I want to give more top thing. I'm like you and I talk. Yeah, you should come. Let's get on a call. Thank you. Yeah, well, so that I mean and that's another one of those incredible ancillary benefits of crowdfunding is if you're demonstrating creativity, you're demonstrating audience. That's actually what gets equity investors excited. They want traction, right? Our films have to play like tech companies thes days in order to get funding. You know, Angel investors are being trained by the tech industry that what you want to see is traction. Well, crowdfunding is a great way to demonstrate attraction can. I mean, like we I said we had our equity level, but it wasn't. We raised all that money, and we're done like we were. We thought this is what we could do, and we were doing it. But the all the investors were super interested in the crowdfunding campaign. Some of them donated through the crowdfunding campaign as well as investing. But it was an incredible asset, so it led to more more of our budget than just the amount we raised through suits part. You didn't get a cut of that part. That's fine. I'm fine with that. You made a beautiful movie. That is all the thank you that we need for that. Um, Natalie, this, um, I wanted to talk to you because you did some live events stuff, and I'm curious about because this is we're in the campaign execution part. Talked to me about the live events and how you plan them and how they played out. Well, it was way had a live event back in South Africa, specifically at the skate park with talent used to sleep for used to live, and it actually came from the crowd. They came to us a couple of guys. What you think was a mutual idea. I got this. Once we launched the campaign. I got this incredibly beautiful letter from one man who was just, you know, so unbelievably grateful. He just said that he had known telling for so many years he'd wanted to help You didn't know high. He had his own family. It was very difficult to take talent in, um and so I said, Well, here's one way you could help. Maybe we could do something together back in South Africa because I knew there was a whole level of funders that couldn't really back there that didn't really access that crowdfunding campaign because they were either two years old. Not that I was capitalizing on kids, but you know, there was there was a level of support that, you know, they just didn't have the same sort of connection or understanding how to participate or the finances to participate at the level that, you know, we were asking everybody else to participate. So we talked about with this guy who was so, you know, excited to be here about telling success. We talked about setting up a bent back there where people could contribute cash donations and they could run competitions. And basically, a sponsors were really excited. But we had a huge crab. We had maybe, I don't know, 2 kids come down and they rabbinical petition and they had their own video is And I took a bunch of stills And what talent couldn't get there? I actually was back for a visit with my family and tell it was still in L. A. And he stepped in and he talked to everybody. And it was It was incredibly moving because, um, you know, the kids started doing this thing at one stage where they were going, you know, waving to him and just saying I am talent. I am telling, you know, there was such a They were resonating so much with his story, and he's such a There's another mural up on the wall back there. But it was such a beautiful day with such a celebration. I mean more than the money we raised, you know, in South African money versus American money was, you know, small, but that their support and the the opportunity for locals back home who knew him and had known him for a long time to participate was I think it was a great opportunity for their men. He just has such a huge following back in South Africa. Serves it helped us generate press and people. Yeah, and tons more assets, right? You had all this video you had all the social media reach you had. Ah, bunch of stills. And, like, let's take it up a level and say, what did storytellers do? You know, when what have they done? For thousands of years, they rallied the community together. They've unified us in different ways. And what I think is so cool about what you're describing and how crowdfunding campaigns, and particularly live events during the execution of the campaign, demonstrate to people there is a riel physical community gathering around this story teller. Right? We're sort of gathering around the campfire together and we're learning about each other, and we're connecting with one another. And it, like I think, in some sense, is this. This is a good example of how we are reminded of the power of storytelling beyond, Like I'm gonna make a movie and, like, get it into a big festival and be famous. It's like, No, I'm doing something that is profoundly and deeply meaningful to the lives of people, even if it's I mean, as you said in your video, Nathan Toe entertain you right? But it is also to unify all these people in Minnesota and Indiana and decent around something they don't normally think of its introducing a bunch of people who, you know, I think you brought a lot of the independent film community into skating. To be perfectly honest, Um, and certainly a lot of the skate community into the filmmaking process, you know, because they could really understand something about what you were doing.

Class Description

Raising money and gathering resources is crucial for making movie dreams a production reality. In Crowdfunding Your Film, Emily Best will lay out your options for getting early support and identifying the fundraising sources that will bring your work to life. 

When her film Like the Water needed a last-minute infusion of capital, Emily was inspired to start Seed&Spark – the crowdfunding platform she runs as CEO today. In Crowdfunding Your Film, she’ll share both her front-line fundraising expertise and her years of experience helping others raise the money needed to make their films a reality. 

She’ll teach you how to: 
  • Create an effective social fundraising strategy 
  • Crowdfund your film 
  • Crowdsource gear and supplies 
  • Create incentives for the audience during every stage of production 
You’ll learn how to develop a community of contributors and supporters that ensure you have the resources you need to make your vision come to life. You will also learn to build momentum so your audience will follow your film creation from beginning to end and your film has an audience from the beginning. 

Fundraising and acquiring all the necessary filmmaking materials can be a tremendous source of pressure, but it doesn't have to be. In Crowdfunding Your Film, you’ll get real-world insights and practical approaches to funding your film without fear. 


a Creativelive Student

Excellent source of information re crowd funding for films (docs & narratives, short & long form.) THANK YOU Emily Best!!! You were great, love what you are doing with Seed & Spark. THANKS Creative Live. Love how you bring creative learning to your audience.


This was my introduction to Seed & Spark. Since I have read a number of articles on the same presented by Emily Best and her business partner. So impressed with what they are doing, I have recommended it to all of my readers--all of whom are filmmakers. Emily's approach to crowdfunding as explored in this video series is top notch. I would recommend this series to everyone whether the novice or the more experienced crowdfunder. David W. King, Michigan Movie Media 2.0


So happy to have found, AT LAST! a comprehensive approach to fundraising. Information on this subject is often contradictory and sketchy. Emily brought it all together. Thank you.