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Crowdfunding Your Film

Lesson 4 of 13

Specifics of Crowdfunding and Incentives

Emily Best

Crowdfunding Your Film

Emily Best

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Lesson Info

4. Specifics of Crowdfunding and Incentives

Lesson Info

Specifics of Crowdfunding and Incentives

the two most important kind of themes that should run through your crowdfunding campaign. But actually all of your outreach to your audience, about the projects you're working on, our momentum and the inevitability of success. Momentum is really important because, particularly with crowdfunding, anybody who's done it will pretty much tell you the big first week you have to terrifying flat middle weeks and a big final week. Right? And those middle weeks called the doldrums are when we all kind of consider if we should ever have been doing this in the first place and everything falls apart and there are lots of things we'll talk about them actually today about how to flatten that line out from bottom to top. But momentum is really important because strangers tend not to get involved in a project until it's about 30% funded right. And when I say strangers, I mean absolute strangers, you've never heard of you. This is why it's really important to do the crowd building in advance, right so ...

that you're not only relying on your friends for that 1st 30% I particularly want to raise, you know, 100 or $200,000 right? So Ah, lot of this crowd building that you're doing in advance is to make sure that you're confident you can hit 30% in your first week. And then there's an amazing statistic that, like 80% of projects that had 30% the first week or successful something like that, you can't get good data because not everybody feels like Sherry. Um, inevitability of success is the other most important one, and this should be throughout your lifetime as a filmmaker, right? So it's not just join me in this amazing project because it's going to be great and it will inevitably be successful. But when you're finished, obviously with your funding, then you need to give them the sense that there's an inevitability of success, that the film will be finished and then that it will be delivered right. So never really success is a Touchstone along the way and very important thematically. It's also part of why it's really important to me that filmmakers engage in threshold crowdfunding right, because, uh, if you raise $2000 against a $20, project, I feel no inevitability of success around you, producing the thing that I gave you money for right, which is that $20,000 goal? So Threshold crowdfunding is a really good way to demonstrate to your audience. I have what I need to make this work right. And, you know, the thing about crowdfunding that I think is the most important is it? It is a privilege that is bestowed upon us by our audiences. It is not a right. And if we disrespect that privilege, it goes away. Right? So mo mentum meaning? Doing the work to get people excited and inevitability of success, which is demonstrating at every moment that you are going to come through on what you promised. This is how we keep this wonderful privilege around. It's really important to me. Okay, so I get asked this question all the time. How much should I raise? How much can I raise? How much can a lesbian horror film raise? My answer is I don't know. How much do you need? Okay. So, again, along with momentum in inevitability of success, it means you need to ask for what you need to deliver on the promises in your pitch. So first of all the other day somebody came to me and said, Well, you know, how much do you think I can raise? I don't really have a budget for my film yet. I was like, What? You I have no idea. You don't even know how much the film is gonna cost, you know? So the most important thing here is to raise enough to deliver on the promises in your pitch. And that means you should think about how much is a production cost? How much does distribution cost? How much do you need to deliver your incentives? Do not forget about that part to budget for that. Okay, if they're shipping, if there's, you know, labor costs. If there's anything like that, if you're if you're making T shirts, I don't usually encourage that. But that stuff all costs money. And I'm just gonna give you a quick example of how you don't always have to go for gold meaning raising for, you know, production, marketing and distribution. In one chunk, we have ah, filmmaker who started raising money with us, launched when the platform launched a couple of years ago, making a film called Fog City named Liam Brady. And this film is about to premiere at the Okla Film Festival in Dallas. Been Liam went to Tish and Y you look very prestigious film school while he was there. Those three years the entire film business shifted Netflix one digital. We went today in date, you know, the Internet happened to content overall, Everything changed. And so he picked his head up out of school and he was like, Oh, man, this is not totally the world that I was prepared toe live And I was sort of Maurin the Old model. He wanted to make Fog City the best he could possibly make it. This is his N y u thesis film. He'd gotten a grant from this bike leaf fund, so he was really like Spike was breathing down his neck to make this movie happen, and he'd written a script, but he knew that a lot of it was cast dependent, and getting that cast involved would say a lot about the budget in the production schedule. In all of those things that would help him get a full production budget. So, in an effort to, you know, engage the size audience he had, which was pretty small at that point because he was only just kind of coming online into social media. He decided to do a crowdfunding campaign just for development. What I need is to grow the audience and get this thing cast. I'm gonna get a casting director. I'm gonna hold some readings. Gonna pay. The actor's gonna pay for the space, pay the actors. You guys What? Um, I'm gonna produce the marketing materials. I'm gonna throw a party right $6000 crowdfunding campaign. He raises that money. He raises about $6600 in, like, 35 days. Um, And then he sets about doing exactly what he said delivering on every promise in his pitch. And even when things went totally differently than he thought So he thought he was gonna hire a casting director And this movie that is based on an amateur baseball team in San Francisco based on an amateur baseball team on which he plays. He had an epiphany one day that he just needed to cast his baseball team and all of a sudden, rather than necessarily making a fully fiction film, he was making something that walked the line between narrative and documentary and it was really, really fascinating. Added a whole other layer. And he talked about this to his audience. He was like, you know, I was gonna go hire a casting director and cast a big actor. No, we're casting this, you know, this team and this is how it's gonna go. And we got to be part of that process. And during that process, some of the folks who have gotten involved in the original campaign and some new folks stepped up and said, I'd like to get more involved in, like, a more meaningful way in the next campaign. Well, now, because he knew who his cast was any new, it a shooting schedule could be. He put together a solid budget about $33,000 for production. And five months after his first campaign, he launches a 30 day, $33, production campaign, and he was very specific just for production. I'm gonna come back to in Post right, um raises $35,000 in those 30 days and then sets out making the movie, doing everything, writing these beautiful, beautiful block posts, returning back these beautiful images from the shoot, and then nine months later, After all of that happens and he's part way through the edit, he comes back and runs a $6000 campaign for, uh, for post and festivals and all that stuff, which at that point he could run by himself because he really understood his crowd and were the 1st videos about this sort of contemplative film about a veteran trying to find his place back in San Francisco. He his third video, was incl credibly irreverent and almost silly. Um, and the fascinating thing about that was he knew his crowd well enough at that point that he could communicate with them that way. Um, so 35 6 and six is are we getting to like, 52 $52, for a short film in three stages? And that was because he knew that he just needed to raise enough to deliver on the promises in his pitch. And in some cases, you know, he reached like in the production, and in some cases he scaled back what he was promising in order to really successfully fund and make sure that he was, you know, proving the inevitability of success So now there's this big audience who really believes that filmmaker leader Liam Brady will do what he says at a very high level, right? And he really respected that relationship. So when you think about how much also think about it in this way, right? Also think about what if I just scaled back what I was promising for this phase of the campaign. Okay, Incentives. This is a big thing that everybody wants to talk about. Um, if you're communicating with your crowd and you're really chatting with them and you really sort of understand them and they understand you, this part should be relatively easy, cause you can ask them right about what is the stuff that they think is really cool. Some pro tips. Think about stuff that you're doing, um, or stuff that you need. Anyway, So you're already gonna need your arguing You on set meals, you need walk ons. You need extras. You guys, the extras who have paid to be there through the crowdfunding campaign will usually show up on time and have better attitudes in the extras that you paid to be there from experience, rap and premiere parties easy for filmmakers. We do this all the time. Super fun If you're not a filmmaker, Um, exclusive behind the scenes videos and images specialty screenings you could do in partnership with your local indie cinema. All of these are available to you. Another thing you can think of for incentives is stuff you're good at, right? What are the things that you're really good at? Can I, uh, edit for you? Can I cook for you? Can I help you move? Can I volunteer a day on your set? Can I? What are the things that you are particularly expert at? And that could really Ah, a woman named Hey Yun offered to cook Ah, Korean hot pot meal for six. And unfortunate. That incentive is only limited to New York City, Or I would have been all over that one, right? You have skills that you don't necessarily consider that are really appealing to people that allow them to get more involved with you. The 10 to $25 incentive is the most common one, and this one is very, very important to consider because that's the one you're gonna be giving away the most of we think the most effective ones we've seen are personalized visual share, a ble and immediate. And I will give you the following example. Which is a little embarrassing for me. Sean Mannion making the short time signature. I contributed $25 to his campaign. He writes to me and he says, Emily, thank you so much for your contribution 10 minutes after I made the contribution. By the way, thank you so much. Your contribution. If you could go anywhere in time, where would you go? And I Because I'm apparently really boring. Fired back without even thinking I'd like to go to the signing of the Magna Carta. I don't know why I said that. Uh, about 25 minutes later, I get a Twitter notification that says we found at Emily Best at the signing of the Magna Carta. Where will we find you? And then, if you I don't know who can see what where, But on the right side of this photograph is my dumb face looking out over the signing of the Magna Carta so expertly Photoshopped it took me a minute to understand was happening. He had he had gotten, like, my LinkedIn profile picture and shopped it in. And I was so tickled by this, I think it's still my Facebook background picture. Um, I showed I shared this everywhere, and I know I am personally responsible for seven other contributions to that campaign, right, because I get to see who's contributing to stuff on scene spark, right? So I know that it was seven of my friends that contributed and got their own personalized visual share, a bowl and immediate rewards. Now what's cool? So he made a gallery of these on his films Facebook Page, and we were all checking back into his films Facebook page to see which new ones had been uploaded. And that was us now seeking out what kind of momentum was coming into this campaign. It was a fantastic way to also demonstrate the momentum, as as this gallery was getting bigger and bigger and more and more delightful, and some of them were so funny and so much cooler than what I thought of and you can. So this is an example of how to deep in the story and Nathan Williams, a filmmaker of If there's a Hell below, which is an N s a thriller. He also used his incentives to deepen the story. So this was an actual $250 incentive from his campaign. Ah, late night dead drop of physical Intel files pore over surveillance photos of and insights on each character. These items will be dead. Drop to you at a geo cache location that only you know about. We cannot risk our agents in a face to face meeting. So if you have any desire to get deeper into a North thriller, they're giving you the opportunity super cool.

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.