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Crowdfunding Your Film

Lesson 11 of 13

Incentives with Nathan Williams and Natalie Johns

Emily Best

Crowdfunding Your Film

Emily Best

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Lesson Info

11. Incentives with Nathan Williams and Natalie Johns

Lesson Info

Incentives with Nathan Williams and Natalie Johns

The next thing I want to get into is incentives. I'd like to know kind of How How did you guys build your incentives? Had to do structure them. How effective did you think they were? Natalie, I know that you got brands involved and you had conned you had all sorts of stuff happening in your incentives. How did you structure that? Well, obviously, it was this. It was focused around skateboarding, so I knew that myself key organs were probably going toe love skateboarders or skateboarding in some way, shape or form in again. We had a few influences that I could reach out to and ask for support and a few brands that I could ask for support on. Um, you know, it was just figuring out different tiers of things that we could offer, you know, on the high it is. Well, you know, just offering somebody an opportunity. Teoh actually meet one of thes skateboarders and skate with talent, or Kenny Anderson was, you know, a great incentive. Um, yeah, I did. I put a lot of thought in it and tip, but I ...

can't even remember like it's not, You know where it came from rabbits just like just has to figure it out. You know, to come we had to come up with something creative, like, I think that that's the thing that I learned to about this. And I think it's the thing that I, you know, preach highly about. It's ah you. As much creativity is, you put into making your full. You have to put that into your you're funding your promotion, your distribution, your marketing. It's it's all on an equal, like it's all an equal need. You have to be creative with everything in me. It has to be about creative thinking with everything that you do. It's not a matter of somebody else is going to do it for you or somebody else is gonna come up with these ideas. You have to be thinking creatively at every step of the way. So like to just ask everybody at Creative Live right now to pull that clip and put it on the Internet everywhere. That might be one of the most important things you here today, and what I think is so cool about that is that means at no point are you not a filmmaker at no point. Are you not a storyteller in every single one of these elements? And some of it is filmmaking, and some of it is marketing, and some of it is funding in some of this distribution, you are applying the things that make you love filmmaking to all of this stuff. Toe underline some of the stuff with your So Natalie had a sponsor. L R G. They contributed. I think they donated some, Ah, like hats and shirts. Right. So that was an incentive. There was an incredible incentive where talent and Kenny Anderson would come to your school, right and do escape demonstration. And I think at some point you made it so that the $5 contributors could enter into a raffle. Also for that, which is amazing. Um, but that, you know, that definitely I know, drove a lot of There were tons of $5 contributions to your campaign. Yeah, glad. I think that was also because we had a lot of we had a massive international amount of support. So I think South Africans, $5 for South Africa's. That is a lot compared to what $5 it are for an American So we had. We knew we had contributors from all around the world and we wanted to make it equally as exciting for those people. Teoh Inter as it was for you know, those people locally in America. And how about you guys? Because you're I I spoke a little bit about your contribution or your incentives. Earlier, your incentives were very much a part of the story. Yeah, we It's the challenge of a film where you don't have stuff when you have, like a DVD. Then you have the expanded DVD, and I'm like, What? What do you have after that? I don't have action figures, but the really high level. You know, the one of the cast members would like, give you a call and thank you and stuff like that. But we decided to kind of create a realm of expanded content in part of the movie is about privileged information, so you would get in the form of stuff, so we have kind of like dossiers spot. It's a little bit more Campion in the expanded content world than the movie itself. A little more James Bond, but sort of files on people or you know surveillance photographs or like a wiretap of their phone conversation. And we did some of this Free Aceh part of the campaign. We had these little little videos. Wonder who you mentioned isn't one of them has expanded universe character Andi. I don't know how much that drove contributing, to be honest, like, I don't know how much the incentives made someone go up one level where they would have been. It's hard to get data on that, And the the anecdotal feedback is is mixed the same time. You know, we've created a lot of interesting stuff that again we think we can use to eventually market the film that to create interest of, you know, we will only have one trailer. But we'll have all this like extra stuff to get people's interest when we when we put it out there. So, yeah, yeah, And also just reading through the incentives on your campaign, uh, gives you a sense of how thoughtful a team you are honestly like for Natalie's. If you read through the incentives, you get a sense of what a universe of support she has. You know, Kenny Anderson is on board l. R G is on board like this is legitimizing. This is inevitability of success, right? These air, these air signals and I feel like your incentives are also really cool signals about the kind of team you're getting involved in. I particularly shouted out the $250 incentive, which was like a geo cache location drop just for it was so dead drop of Yeah, so cool. So those are the sorts of things I feel like people don't necessarily consider. Is that their incentives air communicating powerful messages as well, right? That's also part of the story telling whether about the project and the support around the project or about the film itself. Um, so there's a really cool I are we? Can I keep going? Questions? Yeah, let's take some questions. Great questions. Um, so here's we'll start with this one. When the content of the film is serious, can humor be used effectively in like an update? So your films serious? You want to convey a serious message like, would you tweet funny stuff about just to build that audience? And there's, um, there was a campaign on seeding spark recently called the average girl's guide to Suicide. And it is a film about suicide, right? And about somebody contending with a very, very serious depression. Their updates and there thank you's were a mean called Hang in There, cat it XYZ tabby, kitty kitten. That's like hanging on to, ah, curtain or something like that. And it's a mean that's become very popular. And they managed to use something very humorous. You know, hang in there like, Don't you know, don't let the demons get you but it's it's, ah, hilarious little name and they managed to really make hang in there cat A really sweet, fun, lighthearted part of a very heavy handed film and heavy handed, heavy subject matter film. Um, so I think the answer is absolutely yes. I mean, because you guys definitely had really fun, humorous updates. And it wouldn't say it's a comedy that you're making. Oh, not remotely a company. We had the goofiest crab. I mean, I was gonna I was gonna shave my head at one point. Nobody give enough money. So our film is? Yeah, she did appreciate it. It's not about something like teen suicide or the Holocaust or something. It's a serious thriller. I mean, my feeling is you confined kinds of humor inappropriate for anything, especially when you're promoting something. It's not the movie itself. What were somewhat were some other examples of goofy stuff, and we're going to get into, uh, the funder games here in a minute. The Thunder Games was a little goofy and very successful. Um, you know, the I think you showed the Star Wars joke earlier. I mean, jokes are get people's attention on their light, and they, you know, when you have a relentless message, you want toe, mix it up and give people things fun. And it isn't just like we need your money. We need your money, your money, because that's boring. Cool. It's born during Yeah, I think, mixing it up in even in tone, right? So tone is not necessarily restricted to ah, single emotional tone. Right tone is like approach, so you can you can make really dark films and approach it humorously, and you can approach it darkly, and you can approach it sadly, and you can approach it in a scary way, you know, with with tension or with sarcasm or with all of these things and that still fits under kind of the same banner of the the approach of a certain team. I think it's also important, like humor really helps humanize you to the people you're working with, because ultimately they're giving you their money to make something right. This is a relationship that requires trust, And one of the ways is do I know that you're a human in the world that does? It's No, you're not like, uh uh, a new are Tom Aton right where you're only thinking in sort of in war terms. And that's the only thing you're making. No, you're like a human with lots of different influences. Which is why I think the Star Wars joke played so well because it's also universally recognisable at this point, right? That's a joke that everyone will get. My cat was a producer. I would have liked pictures of my chat or my brother. I'd be like posting update and my brother. Come on. And there were up to me and humanizing thing. He co wrote the movie too, but, um, yeah, I think cats. You guys, cats air really effective? Yeah, just general. Really, really. Retweeted re shared a lot. Yeah. I mean, humanizing the team as people and making a film, however serious, it's still like you want to see these people having fun? Yeah, like they love what they're doing. Yeah, and showing that somewhere. Yeah, definitely. The message of, like, it's hard to be a filmmaker. People are not that into that, right? Because part of the reason they get involved with us in the first place is that we're doing something we're really passionate about, and that's really compelling. And getting involved with people who are passionate about what they're doing is really compelling and demonstrating that in lots of different ways is always a really important part of that messaging. Natalie, what about you? Uh, yes, I agree. Being a being a sub story doesn't work on. And you know that we we could have gone sort of more of the, you know, poor us rat. But we chose toe, keep it more positive. I think throughout I wish I was better A comedy. I'm better it laughing at myself and making a joke and making out the people last. But we just, you know, we hit. We kept the the update. I think people were just rooting for tenants. That was just, you know, people. People just wanted to see us succeed. We were very lucky in that way, although we did have this like, awful platter and the one thing that I did wrong and I would really like to, you know, make sure people really think about the timing off the campaign because I've run my campaign of a Christmas and the very, very stupid idea. Because Christmas and New Year people aren't a work. People are at home with their families. People are buying their families presence. It's really not. And it's not an awesome time to be crowdfunding Way still managed to succeed in spite of that. But it was definitely, uh, I think I think we actually had to get an extension so that we could dive into a little bit more of this sort of January time when people were coming back to work and andan people were stills. People had changed their minds about supporting the campaign. That was just, you know, they needed to get back to work and back to laugh, and you know, back toe reality a little bit and they need a little inspiration Come January time. You know, you're the January blues. So it was just about positivity and really rooting for talent. E nos Timing is important. We actually we learned a lot from their campaign, and we now actively discouraged filmmakers from crowdfunding over Christmas because no matter how good their ideas are, and no matter how compelling they make their arguments, we've looked at the data and we don't. We just, you know, people are distracted and they're buying stuff for other people. So it was. It was it was tough not to take that one person, because I really did think like the campaign was sort of tanking. But data made a remarkable comeback in January. Sure did. Sure did.

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.