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Crowdfunding Your Film

Lesson 1 of 13

Crowdfunding to Build Independence

Emily Best

Crowdfunding Your Film

Emily Best

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Lesson Info

1. Crowdfunding to Build Independence

Lesson Info

Crowdfunding to Build Independence

crowd funding to build independence is very specific class. Right? So we're going to be here, and we're gonna learn all the tips and tricks off exceptional crowdfunding. So, uh, pitch video prep incentives, campaign execution, what you have to do after your campaign. But honestly, if crowdfunding um, if the only thing you get out of crowdfunding is money for your movie, you're doing it wrong. This course assumes something very specific, which is that you would like to make an independent, sustainable living making movies. Um, and that means having a much longer view. Then how do I get money for my single film? Because, of course, once you get money for a single film, you got to make the film. You've got to finish the film. You got to get the film into festivals. You got to distribute the foam. There's a lot longer there, but longer even than that is the life cycle of your relationship to your audience. So this is really about using crowdfunding toe, understand how to build and grow a r...

elationship with your audience that will sustain you not for a single film, but for your entire career. Um and so that's really the purpose of today's course. I am not doing a two hour time share sale of seed and spark, but I think it's important for you to know what we do so that this makes sense. And there's some context. Seed in Spark is a crowdfunding platform works a little bit differently from some of the other platforms. Our platform takes the form of like a wedding registry. It's called the wish list. You list the individual items you need and your supporters can contribute money towards those items or if they have them, they can loan them to you directly. Um, in this case, they listed expendables in camera lighting, makeup and wardrobe location sound, and then, in addition to that, we are built for staged financing. So if you want to raise money for your film over multiple crowdfunding campaigns, which we see a lot of filmmakers doing, you do it inside one page and you gather all of your funders and what are called your followers, which I'll explain in a second to one page over the life cycle of your film. Again, this is about audience growth. Followers are people who maybe don't have money or stuff to give to your campaign, but they want to give a little digital high five. Essentially, they want to sign up for your mailing list, keep up to date with what's happening. They're showing their early support. They're probably sharing your campaign with their friends, their very, very important people and followers. You congrats er throughout the course of your campaign, but also long after. And this is really important because your crowdfunding job is not done once your crowdfunding campaign is over, which is going to be the point of today's class. Um, why it's important to gather followers is that we put together AH, whole wide distribution pipeline. So if you crowd fund successfully on seed and spark and you gather a minimum of 500 followers, which is basically just the world saying to you, we really need to see this movie, you can qualify for distribution. Teoh, Netflix, ITunes, Comcast, Cox, Time Warner Bright House seeding spark Ah, voodoo files, Emerging pictures. That's theatrical distribution by the way Amazon Google play, and we're adding more all the time. The idea being it isn't the festival programmer, and it isn't the distributor's job to tell us whether or not there's an audience for this film. The audience will tell us if there's an audience for this film, and if they do, then you should be able to deliver it to them and make your money back. This is about sustainable life cycle, right? Um, we also publish the world's only North American film journal called Bright Ideas. It's a nine by 12 high design magazine. And because I don't have anything to do with its physical production, that's all in the hands of James Kalen and Blessing Yen, the creative team behind it. I feel like I can brag about it. It's beautiful. It's distributed at all the top North American film festivals. It's ah, national news stand. You can subscribe if you like. Essentially, it is about the new, dangerous voices in the old geniuses. And why we think this is important is that the current universe of stories that need to be told versus the ones who are getting a lot of the spotlight, we think is still really out of whack, and I don't think we necessarily needed the A C L U Action against Hollywood to demonstrate it to us. But we're glad they did, because they're pointing their finger at something that's been going on for a long time. This is about really helping first time filmmakers who have kicked the door down on the independent film business get a really big, uh, platform to talk about what they do. So our first cover went to Ryan Coogler, the incredible filmmaker behind Fruitvale Station. The Second toe. Ana Lily Amir Poor, whose first feature was a crowd funded, uh, black and white Farsi language vampire skateboard. Western right. These are the sorts of movies we think a lot more of should be made. Um, and so this is just a place where we really want to highlight the ways in which we think independent film is an important cultural force on and where we want to have a conversation with you about it. Um, Tug is a totally separate company from seed and Spark, but we have joined forces with them to put this course together because tug, which is a crowd sourcing platform for theatrical distribution, right, You put your film on tug and anyone in any city where there is a theater that cooperates with tug and that is almost every city in the US I think, um, somebody can say I want to see this film in one of my local theaters. They set a minimum threshold of tickets that need to be sold that satisfies the theatre and the film maker and the promoter. And if you sell the minimum number of tickets, you get a theatrical screening of your film in that city. And the reason that we really wanted to partner with Tug is that we think between crowdfunding and the distribution pipelines that are now open to you because of things that we've and many of our partners. I mean, there's no shortage of other places video v A checks, Um, and with tug, basically, you can take care of the entire pipeline of your film through the technological tools that are available right, And that means there is no more excuses. They didn't pick me. The festival didn't pick me. The distributor didn't pick me. This is now up to you to build the business that sustains a sustainable career that you want. And that also means sometimes acknowledging that you might have an idea that people are not that excited about right when you go to the crowd with your stuff. If you apply the methods that we're going to talk about today and the crowd simply doesn't respond, you actually might have to go back to the drawing board on that idea. This is about understanding that when you are, um, going directly to your customer right as a filmmaker whose somebody who wants to watch a movie and the customers like No thanks, I'm not buying that either. You're talking to the wrong customers where there's not a market for this movie, and I think that's OK because what super cool that's happening right now is that it's not the next Katherine. Hi girl Romcom. That does amazing crowdfunding. No, In fact, that campaign failed, Right? Um, it is Ana Lilia Mere pours vampire skateboard Western in That's really, you know, meta commentary about the role of women in Iranian society, those of the films that are killing it and crowdfunding. So what crowdfunding and this direct audience distribution is really demonstrating to us is that the audience is way more daring and I think, often smarter than sometimes those decision makers, because those decision makers air now really participating in a lot of groupthink, which says we still really only want to distribute stuff, too, you know, 18 to 24 year old white men. It's not that interesting anymore and that that's not actually what the crowd is into. So I think this is a really good thing. Um, the reason that we call this course crowdfunding to build independence is specifically because the only path to independence that has ever been proven out is a direct connection to the audience. If you own the connection to your audience, that is what an independent career looks like. You get to decide what's made, how you make it, how it gets to them, and then you reap the majority of the world. Rewards coming back to you. If you had looked at the business as it was 15 years ago, when really the only proven path to success, monetary success as an independent filmmaker was to make a film, take it to a major festival, sell it to a major distributor. So let's say we go to Sundance because I know we all want to go to Sundance. I think that's great. Everybody want it's super fun to have a film at Sundance, I'm sure. Right. Um, then you want to get picked up by a major distributor, like a wine scene or a Fox Searchlight. Also sounds amazing. Get picked up by Weinstein Will probably get an Oscar campaign rad. Uh, and then what? And then what? You write a studio movie? Do you think you're writing what you want to write? You, Uh, you Your film does really well at the box office. Do you think any of that money comes back to you? These air rhetorical questions, just in case you are wondering, the fascinating thing to me is that independent film has always been a calling card for the studio system, and the studio system doesn't really want to see but a very, very narrow band of stories. And, you know, they used to make 12 pictures a year. The studios used to pick a script up out of the Sundance Labs called 3000. That was a very dark script about ah ah, prostitute who gets picked up by a millionaire and then cast out on the street. And Disney buys that script out of the Sundance Labs and turns it into a movie that you know no is pretty woman, right? That does not happen anymore. We live in a different time, and that's okay because we also live in a time where I don't have my cell phone on me. Um, the authoring tools that belonged to the most famous people, like Beyonce's on Instagram. And so am I right. The president of United States just joined Twitter. I have. I'm also on Twitter, right? Like so what we have is a connection to our audiences and an audience participation. That's never been true before. So whereas before we needed Weinstein to get to the audiences to get to the theaters, we don't necessarily anymore. And there are models available for all different kinds of stories at all sizes and audiences for those, and it's really up to us to build and maintain the direct connection. If what we want to maintain is our independence, right. And that is, of course, what I am an advocate for If you want to go make movies for the studio system, you do, you boo boo. You may not need to watch the rest of this class, however, if you do what we're talking about here and you grow a giant audience. The studios will come knocking. Just ask Issa Rae, who did you know, misadventures of awkward black girl on YouTube grew such an audience that now she's developing a show for HBO, so there's lots of ways to skin a cat in this case.

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. 

Class Materials

Bonus Materials

Social Media Handbook.pdf

Crowdfunding Prep Schedule Template.pdf

Crowdfunding Campaign Schedule Template.pdf

Education Deck.pdf

Homework Incentives Worksheet.pdf

Homework Audience Worksheet.pdf

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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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.