If you’ve been reading Filmmaking Stuff for any length of time, you’ve probably noticed I talk a lot about “sourcing an audience.” And after having a discussion on the topic with one of my clients, it occurred to me that most filmmakers have no idea what I’m talking about.
So let me break it down.
In the old days, making, marketing and selling your movies required that you knew someone in Hollywood and had a gazillion dollars. It also meant that you waited around forever for some traditional distributor to validate your existence and hopefully pick up your movie (with something other than a crappy deal.)
But that was then. These days, you don’t need to know anybody in Hollywood. You don’t need a gazillion dollars. And (thankfully) you no longer need some traditional movie distributor to give you permission to make, market and sell your movie. And while these changes make this an awesome time to make movies, the new challenge is finding people willing to pay money to watch your movie.
So how do you a source an audience? I’ll give you one word: Crowdfunding.
What is crowdfunding? According to Wikipedia, “crowdfunding describes the collective cooperation, attention and trust by people who network and pool their money and other resources together, usually via the Internet, to support efforts initiated by other people or organizations.” In short, this means filmmakers finally have a new way to raise money.
Filmmakers can set up profiles at various crowdfunding websites and then easily promote their movie project via their social networks and ask for money. In exchange for money, filmmakers offer tiered incentives to prospective sponsors. For example, in exchange for ten bucks, you might offer a promotional t-shirt and and a DVD. For five-hundred bucks, you might offer a flight to the premiere.
Crowdfunding in this context is not the same as seeking equity investors. Which makes this a very uncomplicated way to find sponsors and raise money. But outside of this obvious use, the little known secret of crowdfunding is this – Let’s say you’re a filmmaker with an idea for a movie. And let’s suggest that you aren’t sure how many people would be interested in your movie… So you set up a crowdfunding campaign.
If successful, your crowdfunding campaign will allow you to raise money – but as an important ancillary benefit, your campaign will also allow you test your movie concept with a built in, responsive focus group. Assuming you reach your funding goal, you will not only generate your initial buzz – but you will also source the early adopters for your movie… And these early adopters will grow into a group of fans who will help you spread word of mouth about your movie.
Depending on the scope and scale of your movie, once you have successfully completed a crowdfunding campaign, you may choose to leverage this success to seek out traditional investors. But instead of having an untested movie idea, you have a little POC. What’s POC? Proof of concept. (I credit writer Craig Spector for teaching me about the importance of POC.)
Crowdfunding helps you prove your concept. In the unfortunate event your campaign is not successful, this knowledge will help you go back to the basics and refine your concept before you take the next steps in you movie making process.
Here are 3 crowdfunding sites that are worth investigating: