Film Fundraising: 5 Crowdfunding Mistakes to Avoid

In this guest filmmaking article, filmmaker Brad Kageno shares what he learned with his crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter and provides you with 5 Crowdfunding mistakes to avoid…

Film Fundraising: 5 Crowdfunding Mistakes to Avoid

As I type this, I am halfway through my Kickstarter campaign for my feature I Hate You.  We’re about one-third of the way toward our goal, and we now have $10,000 to raise in about 30 days.  It’s definitely possible, yet even though I can’t declare victory or defeat (who knows what’ll happen?), there’s already a list of things I’ve learned from our campaign:

1.  Do not put off today what you can do today.

Here’s a downer: 55% of Kickstarter campaigns fail.  Keep that in mind as you embark on yours.  Depending on your goal, and the amount of connections you have, expect to be working non-stop on your campaign.  Don’t get lazy, even if there’s a lull in pledges.  Every effort you make to promote your campaign, the better the odds of someone contributing to it.

For I Hate You, we’ve posted weekly videos and have reached out to all sorts of sites and organizations everyday.  And, as you can tell, we’ve also been writing a few blogs to spread the word.  As I tell my team, “It’s not over ’til it’s over,” so prepare to rest only until your campaign is done.  (And even then, you won’t be resting long.)

2.  Do not ignore the power of (free) social media tools you can use to promote.

Don’t wait until you start your campaign to begin creating an audience for yourself.  Start posting videos on YouTube, gain subscribers.  Start tweeting and gain followers.  And if by some chance you aren’t on Facebook yet, get on it and friend everybody who tolerates you.  If you have a blog, great!  If you don’t, either start one or start participating on others.  Get on message boards and post comments.  So what if you’re antisocial?  Here’s a way to gain potential pledgers without having to spend a dime or step out of your abode.

Remember, you cannot succeed at crowdfunding without a crowd!  Even if you find social media pointless, take advantage of it!  Personally, I wish I had been more active in social media before beginning my Kickstarter campaign.  Even though our YouTube videos have gained modest views, they’d be even better had we started posting videos months, even years in advance.

3.  Do not be afraid to bug everybody you know.  And I mean e-v-e-r-y-b-o-d-y.

As your Kickstarter campaign progresses, you may be surprised by the amount of people from your past that pledge.  So far, I’ve had my elementary school teachers and even preschool friends pledge!  It got me thinking that maybe I should contact as many of them as I could, and to my luck, many have supported I Hate You.  So, be prepared to reconnect with faces you never thought you’d see again.  Of course, there’s always family, friends, co-workers, and the usual bunch you must reach out to.  Do not hesitate to ask them for their help.  The worst they can do is say “no.”

Oh, don’t forget to thank them after they pledge.  Gratitude and crowdfunding go hand-in-hand.

4.  Do not put all your chickens into one basket.

Have a Plan B, C, D, E, and F when you run your Kickstarter campaign.  Don’t put all your time and effort into just YouTube or just Twitter or just e-mails to contacts.  Take the time to strategize in case one outlet doesn’t prove as effective as others.

Initially, we thought we’d get most fundraising support from certain organizations, but as it turns out, Facebook and YouTube have given our campaign more traffic and money, so we’ve refocused our efforts towards those two sources.  With so many still suffering from the recession, it seems the odds are overwhelmingly against funding a creative endeavor, but surprisingly, even unemployed pledgers have voiced their support!  That said, always prepare for changes, and be ready to switch gears as you track your project.

5.  Do not give up.

This sounds like a no-brainer, but expect lulls every now and then, and don’t get discouraged by them.  If you are seeking a huge amount, you may not be able to afford too many lulls, so set goals to raise a certain amount a week.  Re-strategize when necessary, but remain persistent throughout.Being a narrative film, our I Hate You campaign has been unpredictable to say the least.  And even though there are a few naysayers who are skeptical, I keep reminding myself of the 89 people who believe in my team and in myself to make a damn good movie.  I have no intention of letting them down.

If you are about to launch a Kickstarter project, I wish you the best of luck, and I hope my tips help!

BIO: Brad Kageno was born and raised in Hawaii, and studied filmmaking at Chapman University under the guidance of directors John Badham (Saturday Night Fever, WarGames) and William Friedkin (The Exorcist, The French Connection). In 2003, he directed Boyz’ Day, a musical-comedy short prominently featured at the San Diego Asian Film Festival and other showcases. He then directed a dramatic short, Cup of Joe, the following year. Out of college, Brad took film assistant gigs and random day jobs to pay the bills, but quickly realized that the only way he was going to make a movie in Hollywood was to do it himself. So that’s what he’s doing now with his upcoming project, I Hate You.

To support his film, please check out his Kickstarter page and pledge.

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