Most filmmakers hate the idea of crowdfunding. While nobody likes constantly having their hands out and asking their friends for money for a whole month straight, it’s something that most filmmakers are going to have to do early in their careers. It’s very possible that most filmmakers will have to do it more than once. But the reason you crowdfund isn’t just about the money. There are lots of other reasons crowdfunding can be a boon for a filmmaker’s career. Here are 4 of them.
1. It’s one of the Most Viable Ways to get First Money in.
The first money in is always the hardest. In the past, the most common way to get the money was from friends and family. More recently, this has been replaced with crowdfunding, although in practice it’s still primarily a friends and family round, it’s just a scaled up version of it that handles taking in the payments for you. It’s also something you can do even if you don’t have a rich uncle.
But keep in mind, nothing worth having is free. While this is one of the most viable ways to get first money in, it’s far from easy.
2. It’s one of the Quickest Ways to get Money you don’t have to Pay Back.
But wait Ben, haven’t you said in the past that a crowdfunding campaign’s preparation starts a whole year in advance? Like in this blog linked right below this sentence?
Related: Indiefilm Crowdfunding timeline
Well incredulous voice in my head that sometimes comes out in the form of content on my website, I did indeed say that. Not only did I say that, but I stand by it. I stand by it due to the fact that the real, hardcore prep only starts about 3 months prior to the campaign, and the work before that is primarily engaging your community (which you should be doing anyway.)
Generally, grant money isn’t very fast, tax incentives both tend to be rather slow and come with a lot of strings, and product placement tends to not pay out until the film is completed, and often isn’t even money that’s directly given to you. Pretty much every other form of financing are things you have to pay back.
Although it should be noted that you do have some pretty big responsibilities to your backers. You need to fulfill the rewards you promised them, and you need to keep them up to date on your progress as you move through the various stages of development.
3. It’s a way to Engage with your Community at an Early Stage
One of the biggest things that sets successful filmmakers apart from hobbyists in the current landscape is the ability to cultivate community around themselves and their work. Crowdfunding can be a really powerful means to support this end. Crowdfunding is a great way to identify and engage your early adopters and the core of your community. It’s a great way to stay involved with them and make them feel like they’re an important part of your project. In actuality, they are important parts of your project.
But engaging with your community is about far more than getting crowdfunding backers. Your core community of backers can become your most vocal advocates from early stages. If your work comes out well, they’re likely to share it with their friends and start your word of mouth marketing when it comes time to distribute your project. They’re a lot more likely to do this than the average person, since they’ll have been around since the beginning. Their friends might even join your community the next time you crowdfund.
4. It’s Validation for your Project
One of the biggest things investors look for in a project is also one of the things that’s the hardest for filmmakers to provide. Especially in the early stages of their career. Having a successful crowdfunding campaign proves to investors that not only is there a market for this project, but that you know how to reach them. This is a huge hurdle to overcome when approaching angel investors.
That being said, it’s important to keep in mind that the reverse is also true. If a project fails its kickstarter campaign, it’s incredibly difficult to convince an investor that there is an addressable target market. Or, at least that you have the ability to address said target market. So with that in mind, you should only try to raise what you know you can get via crowdfunding, and then plan to get the remaining sources via other financing methods.
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My name is Ben, I'm an Entrepreneur, Producer's Rep, and Author. I'm the founder of Guerrilla Rep Media, Co-Founder/CMO of ProductionNext, and founder of Producer Foundry. Together, the organizations seek to help make filmmaking a more economically sustainable endeavor. I am dysic, I have capitalization issues, and the blogs are often unedited. opinions all my own.
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