How To Crowdfund Like Humphrey Bogart – By John T. Trigonis
Classic movies can teach us a lot about life and the world today. It seems they may be able to teach us a little something about how to crowdfund, too.
I recently went through quite a lengthy phase in which I was watching only Hollywood classics and film noir from the 1940s and 1950s. Of course, I eventually rediscovered the works of Humphrey Bogart and watched just about everything this silver screen legend starred in, from his first major role as notorious outlaw Duke Mantee in The Petrified Forest to his most memorable role as Rick Blaine in Casablanca.
How To Crowdfund Like Humphrey Bogart
One day I asked myself, What if Humphrey Bogart was a crowdfunder?
What advice might he give to people trying to raise money from the everyday Joes and Janes out there?
Luckily, I didn’t have to look much further than to the immortal films he left behind, so here’s a quick trio of how to crowdfund tips that could be the beginning of a beautiful (and lucrative) friendship between you and your indie film’s crowdfunding campaign.
- “Here’s looking at you, kid.” Every successful film campaign begins with a pitch video because it behooves us to look directly into the eyes of our potential contributors when we invite them to join our campaign as funders. There are pitches that are shot like interviews, with the subject staring off at an imaginary interviewer; there are others that are simply movie trailers or sizzle reels, photos of company logos, and other sales tools. These campaigns seldom succeed. The people who make up our audience –– they are the ones who have the power to make or mar our campaigns, so like this most memorable of cinematic moments in Casablanca, “here’s looking at them” when we pitch our projects.
- “You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together and… blow.” Okay, technically this is one of Lauren Bacall’s most famous lines from To Have and Have Not, the film in which she and Bogart fell in love, but (1) it is a Bogart film, too, and (2) the line reveals a most important aspect of crowdfunding: promotion. We’ve got to be proactive about getting the word out about our film campaigns. Today, this means networking on the major social media sites, namely Twitter and Facebook. If we know how to pucker up and sing the praises of our movies, we’ll be that much more likely to whistle up a win, both financially and socially.
- “The only thing you owe the public is a good performance.” Bogie says this in Nicholas Ray’s film In a Lonely Place, and in online fundraising, a good performance is an understated truth. Crowdfunding is a full-time job. It takes lots of hours and hard work to do it right, but we can also have fun with it by embracing the theatrical in our campaigning. When those final days and hours loom large over the horizon, we can use this to our advantage and turn our personal anxiety into a collaborative excitement and bring in more funding. We shouldn’t just give our contributors the film they’re helping to finance, we should leave them with an experience they’ll remember long after we all triumph.
Whether this advice comes from more contemporary crowdfunding gurus or a classic Hollywood icon, it’s worth a listen, and probably more so from Humphrey Bogart since he’s likely to slap you if you don’t; after all, it was Bogie who said to Peter Lorre in The Maltese Falcon, “When you’re slapped you’ll take it and like it!” and then proceeded to slap him. Hard.
Personally, if you’re looking for tips on how to Crowdfund, I’d skip the slap and take the advice.
A behind-the-scenes consulting machine, John T. Trigonis has mentored hundreds of filmmakers worldwide to create compelling crowdfunding experiences that not only reach, but also exceed their goals. An indie filmmaker and successful crowdfunder himself, Trigonis has literally written the book on Crowdfunding for Filmmakers, and puts his prowess to greater use as Indiegogo’s specialist for film and video campaigns.