How to Crowdfund an Oscar Winning Movie

Crowdfunding has become a successful strategy for filmmakers to raise money to make their movies. If you were paying attention, you probably noticed that the 2013 Oscar ceremony awarded two films that benefited from Crowdfunding. With this I believe we can finally say that Hollywood has jumped on the crowdfunding bandwagon.

In March 2011, Andrew Napier co-produced a short film with his friend Shawn Christensen titled Curfew. Needing to cover post-production costs, they turned to crowdfunding site Indiegogo to help offset impending bills. At the time, crowdfunding had not gained traction and the filmmakers, knowing little of the service and its benefits, put minimal effort into their campaign.

Movie Crowdfunding – How to Crowdfund an Oscar Winner

The campaign raised over $1,200 and Curfew went on to win an Academy Award two years later in the Best Live Action Short Film category. Although they only raised 10% of their campaign goal, Napier recognized the opportunities Indiegogo could provide. He returned to the site to finish post-production on a documentary titled Mad as Hell: Rise of The Young Turks in the fall of 2012.

The campaign surpassed its initial goal, raising almost $70,000.

John T. Trigonis is the author of Crowdfunding For Filmmakers and he is the Vertical Manager of Film at Indiegogo. He stopped by Filmmaking Stuff to share some exciting tips on how filmmakers can raise movie money with a successful crowdfunding campaign.

Jason Brubaker
What is Crowdfunding?

John T. Trigonis
Crowdfunding is a revolution in the way films are funded. It’s pooling together funds for a film you want to make directly from the people who want to see it.

Jason Brubaker
How many followers and contacts on various platforms are needed to reach a reasonable fund goal?

John T. Trigonis
Of course, this depends on various factors, including the target amount. But in general, a crowdfunding is possible primarily because of social media, so you need to have a strong following of committed individuals before you even launch.

Jason Brubaker
What about email marketing? Is that better than just social media?

John T. Trigonis
Statistically, email is where most contributions tend to come from, though filmmakers need to have a solid following on Facebook (either friends on their personal pages or “Likes” on their film’s page) and followers on Twitter. Google Plus is coming in at a close third, followed by LinkedIn.

Jason Brubaker
Are there any metrics that say: I’m a filmmakers with 10,000 people on my mailing list. How much money should I go for? What are reasonable fundraising goals?

John T. Trigonis
The fact is that it’s not about metrics or how many people you have on your mailing list and social media sites as it is about engagement with those people. The more engaged your audience is before you launch, the more likely they’ll be to contribute to fund your next film.

Jason Brubaker
Like any business, you have to start somewhere.

John T. Trigonis
It’s about building your foundation so you can construct an amazing crowdfunding and film experience on top of their current level of engagement.

Jason Brubaker
What is the best way to acquire contributors?

John T. Trigonis
I always suggest what I call my “Three Ps of crowdfunding.” That is, your Pitch, Perks, and Promotion. Each is enhanced by a high level of Personalization.

Jason Brubaker
Talking about promotion, which works best for creating interest in your project, a trailer of your movie, or an informational video or both?

John T. Trigonis
People give to people, not to projects. The bottom line is a trailer for your film does not work. A trailer is a sales tool, not a pitch tool.

Jason Brubaker
So what do you feel is most essential in a pitch video?

John T. Trigonis
A pitch video is the thing that will endear someone to contribute to your campaign. Sometimes the contributor doesn’t necessarily like the project, but they like the person behind the project.

Jason Brubaker
Someone can see that you’re serious about your project.

John T. Trigonis
And in this case, the filmmaker is looking the prospective contributor directly in the eyes in his or her pitch video and shows so much passion and drive for the project, that someone simply can’t not contribute.

Jason Brubaker
What are examples of great perks filmmakers can offer their audience?

John T. Trigonis
A great perk, by my definition from my book Crowdfunding for Filmmakers, is one that is geared toward the audience and is relevant to the film project at hand.

Jason Brubaker
What are some perks that are memorable to you?

John T. Trigonis
The Indiegogo campaigner behind the short film Sync gave each of his funders at the $33 level a record from his own personal collection –– the film is about vinyl. Other great perks include a certificate of e-marriage (Hello, Harto!) and personalized choose-your-own-adventure stories (Twenty Million People). A great perk is one that stands out in terms of creativity and innovation.

Jason Brubaker
I have heard that all campaigns should have a one-dollar perk. Why?

John T. Trigonis
The real question why would anyone want to limit that person who truly loves the project but only has a single dollar to offer? If you start at $25, you’re expecting only a certain level of contributor to give to your campaign.

Jason Brubaker
What are your tips on how to properly manage a crowdfunding campaign?

John T. Trigonis
First and foremost, research. This is something which no one truly does. Second, be realistic with your goal. If no one knows who you are and this is your first film and it’s a feature and you absolutely need $100,000 to make your movie, well, no one’s gonna give you a dime.

Jason Brubaker
This is further indication filmmakers need to start building an audience with short films.

John T. Trigonis
If you’ve been making films for ten years, have screened at film festivals worldwide, and need some additional funds to make your next short film even better than your last ones, and you’re only asking your contacts, Facebook friends and Twitter followers for $5,000 or $10,000, then you’ll be more likely to make over your goal, as was the case with me and my short film Cerise.

Jason Brubaker
So you should probably plan your campaign based on realistic expectations.

John T. Trigonis
I recommend that filmmakers have a strategy from beginning to end, and leave room for innovation and creativity. Without those two elements in place, your campaign will simply get lost in the oceans of other campaigns out there.

Jason Brubaker
How do you feel the Jobs Act will impact the campaigns?

John T. Trigonis
Once equity crowdfunding comes into play, the entire landscape of film financing and funding will shift for the better, allowing not only those of us who want to contribute to a film campaign for a DVD or a role in the movie to contribute, but also allowing investors put larger sums of money into projects for a return on their investment and a piece of the film.

Jason Brubaker
I think this development is exciting for indie filmmakers.

John T. Trigonis
I predict we’ll see a major power shift in the industry, giving rise to a whole new breed of filmmaker who can make a sustainable living raising funds and shooting films.

Jason Brubaker
What are some differences between Kickstarter and Indiegogo – and why should filmmakers choose Indiegogo?

John T. Trigonis
The prime difference between Indiegogo and Kickstarter is that Kickstarter offers an all-or-nothing fundraising model. And Indiegogo offers flexible fundraising model, in which filmmakers keep whatever amount they raise whether or not they hit their target goal.

Jason Brubaker
What if you are not based in the US? Can you still utilize Indiegogo?

John T. Trigonis
Indiegogo is also a truly global crowdfunding platform. Anyone, anywhere in the world can contribute to a project via Indiegogo. Our platform has no gatekeepers who say yes or no to projects like Roman senators; we believe in democratizing fundraising for everyone, and it’ll never be up to us to say what should or shouldn’t be crowdfunded on Indiegogo –– that’s up to the crowd to decide.

Jason Brubaker
What should filmmakers do if they want to find out more? Is there someone they can talk to?

John T. Trigonis
We have a cut-rate Customer Happiness Team that is there to answer any questions campaigners may have, as well as what we call vertical leads who active aid in helping campaigners craft a winning campaign, which is something that no other platform offers except Indiegogo.

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John T. Trigonis is the Vertical Manager of Film at Indiegogo, a published poet, writer and storyteller, DIY filmmaker, freelance professor, and author of Crowdfunding for Filmmakers: The Way to a Successful Film Campaign. Additionally he is a cat lover, coffee aficionado, wine enthusiast, and comic book geek.

Comments

  1. says

    I have a Music concept for funding on indiegogo. “Fantastic Evening of Music”. I have had trouble getting funding funneled to the campaign, but I will re-launch the program in a few days.

    Thanks for the tips, I will use the info to better market the new campaign.
    Question. Does indiegogo offer promotional assistance or distribution advertising for individual fundraisers?

    Thanks

    Phil

  2. says

    Thanks for the great interview. John is amazing ly helpful. He gave invaluable advice during my film campaign on Indiegogo. I would personally add that Twitter would seem to have more reach than Facebook and has a vey active film community (but then you know that).
    Thank you both, I learned some great new tips for Crowdfunding

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