Sun Tzu, Machiavelli, and the Art of Preparation for Crowdfunding Filmmakers
By John T. Trigonis
I am noticing a trend with crowdfunding filmmakers: Many people are rushing into crowdfunding to finance their indie film projects without fully understanding the numerous challenges that await them.
It’s as if these people are going out for their first skydive, but they didn’t bother to take a skydiving lesson or get a few practice jumps in first. They close their eyes and hope for the best.
And then they realize they forgot the parachute.
For indie filmmakers (turned first-time crowdfunding filmmakers), consider the following advice to be the sort of the trusty crowdfunding parachute to help you land safely, at an appropriate target without too many bumps and bruises.
If you are scrambling to come up with new promotional ideas because you’ve hit a lull in your fundraising, chances are all the best advice on the Internet may not help you with that particular campaign, especially if you need to make changes. . . Especially as the clock ticks down to zero.
You’ll have some solid knowledge with which to cement together the foundation for the next crowdfunding campaign.
But why risk it?
Why not go into crowdfunding as fully prepared as possible before realizing this inevitable truth: crowdfunding is hard work!
Yes, people like Zach Braff and Don Cheadle make crowdfunding look easy, and it may be a bit easier for them simply because their names are what’s selling their campaigns and films. But take a look at other truly independent film projects and you’ll notice that a well-wrought campaign is a time-consuming venture. It will require that you constantly focus on keeping one day ahead of the clock.
This is where proper research comes in handy.
And this is where we can borrow a tactic authored by the Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu. In his book The Art of War, Sun mentions that “those who do not know the conditions of mountains and forests, hazardous defiles, marshes, and swamps, cannot conduct the march of an army.”
In other-words, as a crowdfunding filmmaker, you gotta know your terrain and have a plan!
Italian historian and philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli, in his pamphlet The Prince, calls this virtu, knowing the nature of what you’re working with and its (and your) limitations.
And in my own book Crowdfunding for Filmmakers, I repeat the most important thing about crowdfunding anyone needs to know:
Crowdfunding is a full-time job. To do the job right, you have to be prepared, have all your perks in a row, perfect your pitche, and construct a social media strategy that will last for the duration of your campaigns.
And even then you’ll encounter some troubled waters here or a short-winded lull there, but you will be more prepared to deal with them without sacrificing the integrity and quality of our campaigns themselves.
Perhaps my father said it best regarding sickness and well-being: “Prevention is better than curing,” he’d say, and I’ve found this is true in life, and especially in the world of crowdfunding filmmakers.