Crowdfunding Your Film


Crowdfunding Your Film


Lesson Info

Pre-Production for the Campaign

So you've been building your mailing list all leading up to your crowdfunding campaign, and now you're going to segment it the first is splitting it into segments who do you know who will definitely contribute, right right to them find out what they'll commit on the first day, if somebody says, I'm, you know, I'm going to contribute five hundred thousand dollars, ask if they might consider contributing on the second friday of the campaign as a matching contributor instead of necessarily, you know, day one, figure out what you can count on, right, that will help you understand how much work you have to do, who in your in your list? And this is probably most of the people you haven't a mailing list who will probably contribute with a little personal outreach, right? So this is also dumping, you know, everyone who's in your gmail inbox, really poring over who have you friended on facebook and things like that, who you think will be involved in interested in this film with a little bit of ...

personal touch, and then finally, everyone else so that's the dregs of your gmail, pile them into a male client like male chimp, or send grid constant contact there's a ton of great ones out there and, you know, give them an unsubscribed function, right that part's important the second really important element of direct outreach is we're going to talk about how it will be really important for you to be working with the team make sure that team is in many ways speaking with one voice, so using the message testing that you've leveraged you want to be able to compose really concise, exciting language for your email outreach do not do the thing this is this is sort of like, if those kinds of pitch videos that I just described are this common, this other thing is way more common, which is the intro email about a crowdfunding campaign that for some reason is twenty paragraphs long, right? I decided to get into into filmmaking when I was six and my, you know, mom handed me a camera it's funny because you see these they're like twenty paragraphs of, you know, why did I get into crowdfunding in one paragraph about why you should get involved in what this campaign is actually about what this film is actually about and those twenty paragraphs actually sound like apologizing to me? I'm sorry, I'm sorry I'm sorry this is why I deserve to even be asked no show up and say I am doing this really cool thing here is why you want to be involved let's do this, keep it above the fold, make it visual and compelling, right concise includes terrible language so just cause you're sending somebody in email doesn't mean you can't also ask them to post to twitter or facebook, but if you're going to do that, make sure like pre composed the tweet or use a service like click to tweet and that way every time you reach someone in their in box you could also turn them into an amplifier, right? So you have a concise, visually exciting, compelling short piece of language that your whole team knows they can use and modify as they see fit share a bill language and that's how you're going to send out e mails because here's the deal when you get people to sign up for your mailing list every single time you send them an email, two things can happen they're glad they opened it or they never open it again, right? Those are the choices that you have each time if they if they do open it right, so every time you send an email it is a chance for them to decide whether or not they're going to open the next one. It is as much a part of your story telling us anything else and I think if you consider that consider it that way as opposed to a tour but like another storytelling opportunity, it will be a lot more fun because it's more what you do unless what you don't want to d'oh keep him really short and then consider the direct messaging through social platforms those work very, very well if you are going to direct message through social platforms, just make sure that you know who they are and who you're messaging so that you're not just copy pasting because sometimes I get those copied pasted tweets and it doesn't make any sense what they said to me and it was clear they just were copy pasting I got a tweet just the other day from someone who was like, you know, will really appreciate your support on this campaign, and I wrote back I supported it like four days ago, right? So they weren't totally all kind of driving together and think about wherever else you have direct access to people, you're going to organize all of this and the reason compiling and splitting your mailing list is important is that if you decide who you think will contribute with personal outreach is a list of like two hundred e mails, then break up that work into chunks that you can actually complete so you're not going to send two hundred e mails in a single day and frankly, like gmail sometimes shuts you down for stuff like that break it up, I'm going to do ten a day this is how I'm going to keep up my mo mentum so that you understand the scope of work right and if you compile this all with your team and it's a thousand e mails well then you need to get some more people on board helping you message right on updates so updates every crowd funding platform has an update function it sort of works like a blogged most people don't contribute to crowdfunding campaigns in order to subscribe to a blogger right you have to be careful about that so remember the purpose of the update they've already visited your crowdfunding page and they've taken an action they followed or they funded so this update is about making them glad they did that your updates should work a lot like your emails share a ble visual content your updates are stories so you also want them to show not tell and that means and I see this a lot people using the crappy interviews they did that didn't make the cut in their pitch videos as their updates people still don't want to see those crappy interviews in updates make them fun and compelling interview you're casting crew about stuff we don't expect to hear about show us why they're charming show us why we're compelled by them obviously you want to use updates to announce the inevitability of success so press but don't just post the link give me an image give me a little bit of a tease or give me share a bill language I can use interviews like I just said milestones we just cast this person, we just got to fifty percent and now here's what we can dio on dh then funny and interesting ways your crowd can share your project with their friends there's a fantastic campaign they're shooting now for a film whose name escapes me this is horrifying called auld lang sine, and they often did their updates sort of like hilarious buzzfeed posts so means interspersed with text and all of their updates were so funny and so fun to share even if you weren't yet involved in the movie so that's a really good example and also just again understand what's at stake. So your updates will either entice your supporters to read all of the future e mails they get from you, or they will insure that they never open them again. So just make sure to keep them compelling because later on you're going to be using this update function to tell people where you're screening at festivals and where they can watch your film online or where they can download your film. You really want them to open those emails right? That's a really important and don't worry we will send you a check list. This was a really fun social media update that sean mannion from time signature posted, which is he would take the photos that he'd photoshopped this one is of my friend max who asked to be transported to the fictional moment in time when forrest gump meets meets jfk and you can see there's a dude who just clearly doesn't quite belong there and he would just post them online get yours here with a bit lee like right and that was so enticing to people they would sort of get sucked in like what is that what do you mean mine who's that guy click now you're in sean mannion cz world super cool so when I talk about effective updates and we're going to talk to nathan williams later he had great ones there were two things he did that I thought were super exciting the first is he would occasionally post this graph which showed us their mo mentum and in doing so was demonstrating the inevitability of success it was the blue line is actual and the red lines were targets and you can see that they're beating it right totally awesome way like this so matter actually building this into the next version of our platforms that all filmmakers can utilize it because we think it's brilliant he also really got his crowd involved in participating in the inevitability of success don't let us stall the great news is worth eighty six percent two goal amazingly close to making the campaign successful the tougher news is the last few days have been the slowest of the campaign so far don't let us get stuck imagine if this movie only made it to eighty six percent and now we have star wars ending at eighty six percent. Do you know what happens there's like still a death star, right? So so is a really fun way to kind of demonstrate why he needed this last push and rally his troops and getting them involved in that inevitability. So if all of that stuff that I just talked about sounds like a ton of work and don't forget, you've got to get your social media lined up and a plan for who's going to execute on that stuff. Are you using a scheduling tool like hoot suite or something like that? And if you are organized around all of those things, do you also have time to schedule in person live events, a kickoff event, midway event contests? We're going to talk to nathan williams later about a brilliant contest that they came up with matching contribution campaigns like I talked about before. Did somebody say I'm in for a thousand dollars? Can you d'oh this weekend on ly short term incentives that works really well? I think sean mannion tze visual incentives were a first week on ly thing, partially because he knew he didn't want to be sitting behind his computer, making those things for an entire month, right? So can you create sort of mo mentum and inevitability of success also with things like that and all of this takes forethought you don't want to be scrambling to do this mid campaign they're going to have plenty to dio and if all of that sounds like a ton of work that's because it isthe and you should not do it alone it takes a team I'm gonna go ahead and guess that a vast majority of people who in the creative live audience are freelancers right? If they've got time at nine a m on ah wednesday morning is a wednesday I don't even know anymore uh there's no light in here except for the fake stuff yeah, you're probably a freelancer, right? And at any moment you might get the job that takes you out of commission for two weeks but is going to pay your rent for three months or more? You can't not take that job, but you will lose all your momentum and inevitability of success if you don't have somebody there to help keep up the momentum of the campaign so it's really, really important to have a team or at least like a right hand and then and then a you know, first mate or something like that and the way that you do that the way that you could make it possible to share this responsibility is you take all that stuff you need to plan, you put it into a schedule leave some room for new elements you are going to be making a lot of adjustments during your campaign because you're going to learn from your crowd and this is what one of those templates looks like and don't worry, this is available on the site to download you don't have to reinvent the wheel there's a teeny tiny little boxes this is ah campaign uh so we made a schedule template for pre campaign for the six weeks before your campaign and this is for a four week campaign you can extend it to six or eight if you want you want to have a plan for your updates for the social media platforms for what video and images you're going to post? Are you scheduling events what's happening each day scheduling your events? What kind of press and organization and block out reaching you doing that day or when is a certain article going to go live? And what are you doing about that who is handling the thank you for that day which should be immediate who's doing direct emailing and messaging? How many are you sending per day what's happening in the newsletter and mailing list? You know, are you going to do to a week or three a week? You're going to do fewer than that and who's doing the message testing who's, looking back over all of this and seeing what successful and what's not the cool thing is because you're doing this for four weeks or six weeks or eight weeks, you do not have to stick to stuff that isn't working that's why message testing is so important and should be done really every day we have had filmmakers get a week into their campaign and really feel like they're floundering on dh what's really fantastic is they've come to us, they've come to their friends, they've said, I don't know why the pitch video isn't working, my messaging isn't working, I need help and we've gone out tio our crowd and asked for a bunch of feedback on the pitch video. They re cut the pitch video and come back to be successful sometimes, you know you missed something, right? It's even spark we work with all of our filmmakers, we review your pitch videos, we review all your materials and we really don't let you launch until we feel like you're in a place where you're ready to launch. Now that being said, we're not always the audience for your film, so there's going to be stuff that we miss, too, and that will happen in the first week or two the campaign and then we work with our filmmakers toe help them rework their campaign, you do not have to stick to a failing plan. Right so you can build momentum after week one or week to it's hard don't get me wrong it's hard but it's really really important information to pay attention to so your campaign execution is you want to stick to your schedule even as you're replacing the elements in that schedule you have to persist you're ten or twenty e mails a day your updates when you said you're going to do them continuing to review your messaging continuing to make adjustments it is a lot of work it really is ah full time job that you're gonna have to split with a couple of people along the way this is where we think data is your friend and don't be scared because I know immediately I put this stuff up and most filmmakers who like to say things like I'm not good at math I want to go to sleep and I don't blame you I used to want to go to sleep with this stuff too what's cool is this is actually about learning about the efficacy of your storytelling right that's all you're doing on any of your social media platforms so we provide rough and dirty graphs like this that show you here's how many people visited from facebook and here's? How many people visit from facebook mobile and the green is how many people actually bought something right? How many people contributed to the campaign as a result so it shows you that while facebook is getting by far the greatest number of people to do stuff, I'm going to really push my messaging there I'm gonna look at who's contributed I'm also going to try to look at who's visited and probably hasn't contributed which you can do because that's your facebook community I see over here it looks like this black line is your conversion rate it looks like this is an amazing conversion rate of it thirty three percent conversion rate from this mailing list except that three people visited in one, people one person contributed so you do actually have to get a little bit intelligent around you know how to make decisions from from your data, but I do also think this is about becoming a more effective storyteller about making meaningful conclusions from where people are visiting and why it could be that you know they're doing really well on facebook not as much conversion from twitter they might need to go it's not that people aren't visiting, but when they get there there's something that isn't matching up right so that's where we need to derive some of these learnings and you're going to do this person to person as well, not just reading dashboards it's really important so when you go out in the world in your message testing your learning a ton of stuff from people about what they like and how they like it and where they watch stuff, but when they've actually contributed to your campaign now is when you get the really good information because these are the people who are definitely interested right there, not theory up throughout theoretical anymore. So you're going to do this original interview? Oh, you know, where do you hang out online to try to find more people like the ones who contributed what made you contribute? What kinds of other things would you feel cool for having shared? And most importantly, where do you watch what you watch, right? Because this is where you're going to start to learn where you should be thinking about distributing, and if you haven't made your film yet and everyone is saying, you know, I stream to my laptop, you might not need to shoot in six k raw, you can save yourself a couple thousand dollars in storage, for example, right? There are some creative decisions, creative decisions that can be driven by important information from your audience. That's simply just make you a more efficient business, right? We don't always have to shoot is if it's going to go out, you know, in seventy millimeter theatrically, there are not even that many places it can show that movie. It's also important to ask people who haven't contributed who you were sure we're going to contribute because you might discover, for example, that that message you were sure was going to reach them, hasn't you might discover that they're broke right there like, yeah, I really want to, I just can't right now. Cool. Do you mind just tweeting this? Do you mind just sharing this on your facebook page? Or you might discover they're just lazy like my friend jessica, who waited until the very like last two days to contribute to my campaign when my very, very best childhood friends and I was convinced that she would contribute on day one and she had this like high powered lawyer job in time and I was so hurt, and then she contributed, and I was like, if I had just been like, hey, for you going toe, then I wouldn't have been mad for three weeks. Maybe that says something more about me, really, but just really important to find out from everyone in your sphere. How do you want to see this film? Because now you're going to go into data gathering mode around, how are we going to distribute this film most effectively ongoing planning during the campaign? Keep up your message testing that's obviously so important do research for new elements I met vincent la ferree, the cinematographer who has a gear blawg when we were crowd funding for seed in spark on cnn's marcus was in twenty thirteen and I met him at the film festival for the indiewire influencers thing he took a shine to me because I had too many glasses of wine if I have to be perfectly honest and mouthed off to a warner brothers executive who was being really snotty about independent filmmakers and a couple of vin tonight became friends and a couple like a week or two later, he wrote a post about why he thought season spark was important and it drove thousands of dollars into our crowdfunding campaign from all over the world from people we didn't know and all of a sudden I was like, I need to research all the other gear bloggers because I discovered that our messaging wasn't reaching people who really considered themselves gear true teen attaining the cinematographers and the gaffer's in the grips the people who really followed vincent, we're not responding to our messaging. It was such an important learning experience for us as a company to really understand that about our messaging very humbling, but also, you know, then all of a sudden we're researching and I only met vincent because I was out in the world not all crowdfunding happens behind your computer that's super important to remember using your thank uses more outreach everybody should get a shout out on your social media who contributes to your campaign. You know, when it gets into the thousands of contributors, that it can become really difficult. Find creative ways to make you know, tio publicly demonstrate your gratitude to people, support others along the way. We'll talk about all this creative outreach in the next segment.

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.