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Crowdfunding Your Film

Lesson 6 of 13

Pre-Production for the Campaign

Emily Best

Crowdfunding Your Film

Emily Best

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Lesson Info

6. Pre-Production for the Campaign

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 gonna 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 gonna contribute 500 or $1000. 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 dio who in your in your list? And this is probably most of the people you have on 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 pouring 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 t...

hen finally everyone else. So that's the dregs of your Gmail. Pile them into a male client like male temper, Send grid constant contact. There's a ton of great ones out there and, you know, give them an unsubscribe function right? That part's important. The second really important element of direct outreach is we're gonna talk about how it will be really important for you to be working with a 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 20 paragraphs long, right? I decided to get into cut into filmmaking when I was six, and my mom handed me a camera for its. It's funny because you see these. They're like, 20 paragraphs of you know, Why did I get into crowdfunding and one paragraph about why you should get involved in what this campaign is actually about what this film is actually about, and those 20 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 an 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 ah, service like click to tweet. And that way, every time you reach someone in their in box, you can 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 emails. 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 where 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 storytelling is 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 dio keep him really short and then consider the direct messaging through social platforms. Those work very, very well. Um, if you are going to direct message through social platforms, just make sure that you know, uh, who they are and who your messaging so that you're not just copy pasting. Because sometimes I get those copy pasted tweets and it doesn't make any sense what they said to me. And it was clear they just were copy pasting. Um, I got a tweet just the other day from someone who was like, you know, well, 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 gonna organize all of this. And the reason compiling and splitting your mailing lists is important is that if you decide who you think will contribute with personal outreach is a list of, like, 200 emails. Then break up that work into chunks that you can actually complete. So you're not going to send 200 emails in a single day And frankly, like Gmail sometimes shuts you down for stuff like that? Break it up. I'm gonna do 10 a day. This is how I'm gonna keep up my momentum so that you understand the scope of work, right? And if you compile this all with your team and it's 1000 emails, well, then you need to get some more people on board helping you message right, updates, so updates. Every crowdfunding platform has an update function. It sort of works like a blawg. 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've funded. So this update is about making them glad they did that. Um, your updates should work a lot like your emails share a bill. 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 the updates. Make them fun and compelling. Interview your casting crew about stuff we don't expect to hear about. Show us why they're charming. Show us why were 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 teaser. Give me share a bill language. I can use interviews like I just said, um, milestones. We just cast this person. We just got to 50%. And now here's what we can dio Um, And then funny and interesting ways your crowd can share your project with their friends. There's a fantastic campaign. Ah, there shooting now, Um, for a film whose name escapes me, this is horrifying called Auld Lang sign. And, uh, 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 emails they get from you, or they will ensure that they never open them again. So just make sure to keep them compelling, because later on, you're gonna 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, uh, meets JFK, and you can see there's a dude who just clearly doesn't quite belong there. Um, and he would just post them online, get yours here with a bit Lee link. 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 is world super cool. So when I talk about effective updates and we're gonna 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. Um, we like this so much, actually, building this into the next version of our platform. So that all filmmakers can utilize it cause we think it's brilliant. Um, he also really got his crowd involved in participating in the inevitability of success. Don't let us stall. The great news is worth 86% 2 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 86%. And now we have Star Wars ending at 86%. Do you know what happens? There's, like, still a death star, right? So, um, so it was 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 gonna execute on that stuff? Are you using a scheduling tool like hoot suite or something like that? Um, and if you are organized around all of those things, do you also have time to schedule in person live events, a kick off event. Ah, 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 $1000? Can you dio this weekend on Lee short term incentives That works really well, I think Sean Mannion ins Ah, visual incentives were a first week. Only 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. You're gonna have plenty to dio. And if all of that sounds like a ton of work, that's because it is. And you should not do it alone. Um, 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 am on ah, Wednesday morning is the Wednesday I don't even know anymore. Uh, there's no light in here except for the fake stuff. Um, 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 gonna pay your rent for three months or more. You can't not take that job. But you will lose all your mo mentum 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 gonna 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. Um, you wanna have a plan for your updates for the social media platforms for what video and images you're gonna post? Are you scheduling events? What's happening each day, scheduling your events? What kind of press and organization and blogger outreach 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's for that day? Which should be immediate? Um, 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, if are you going to do to a week or three a week? Are you gonna 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? Uhm, 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. Um, we have had filmmakers get a week into their campaign and really feel like they're floundering. Um, and 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 to 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 at seed and 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 gonna 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 its 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 your 10 or 20 emails 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, cause I know immediately I put this stuff up. And most filmmakers who like to say things like, I'm not good at math, um, want to go to sleep, and I don't blame you. I used to want to go to sleep with the stuff to What's cool is this is actually about learning about the efficacy of your storytelling right, because 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 wow, Facebook is getting by far the greatest number of people to do stuff. I'm gonna 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. Um, I see. Over here, it looks like this black line is your conversion rate. It looks like this is an amazing conversion. We have a 33% conversion rate from this mailing list. Um, 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 and your message testing your learning a ton of stuff from people about, uh 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? They're not theory up threat theoretical anymore. So you're gonna do this original interview, 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 $1000 in storage, for example. Right? There are some creative decisions, creative decisions that can be driven by important information from your audience that simply just make you a more efficient business, right? We don't always have to shoot as if it's gonna go out, you know, in 70 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 their 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 or my very, very best childhood friends. And I was convinced that she would contribute on day one. And she had this, like, high power lawyer job in time. And I was so hurt, and then she contributed. And I was like, Oh, if I had just been like, hey, are you gonna? And then I wouldn't have been mad for three weeks. Maybe that says something more about me. Really? Um, but just really important to find out from everyone in your sphere. How do you want to see this film? Because now you're gonna 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. Um, I met uh, Vincent Law Ferree, the cinematographer who has a gear blawg. When we were crowdfunding four Seed and spark on seed and Spark. This was in and, uh, I met him at the L A 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 Vince and I became friends and ah, couple like a weaker to. Later he wrote, ah, post about why he thought seeding 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 crew. You know, Damian, the cinematographers and the gaffer's in the grips. The people who really followed Vincent were 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 were researching, and I only met Vincent cause I was out in the world. Not all crowdfunding happens behind your computer. That's super important to remember. Using your thank you's is 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 that can become really difficult. Find creative ways to make you know toe 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. 


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.