Crowdfunding and A Life’s Work: Advice from a Consultant

Back in the summer of 2010, when the A Life’s Work blog was just a mere baby blog, a reader took advantage of the Ask the Filmmaker feature to ask about crowdfunding:

Dear Filmmaker,

Have you considered using Kickstarter for A Life’s Work?

DP

I get asked this about once a month, and the answer I gave then and the answer I’ll give now, even after working as a “crowdfunding consultant” on two films, Out on a Limb and Humble Beauty: Skid Row Artists (happening now!  campaign ends 11:59pm, Sept 15, 2012!) are pretty much the same.

Yes, but…

I still believe people are more willing to help out when the film is closer to completion. Or perhaps even completed and marketing and distribution funds are needed. That stuff costs a bundle and filmmakers are notorious for not budgeting for them. And the amount I need to get the film near completion is well above what I can raise via crowdfunding.

Crowdfunding Lessons Learned
David Licata, crowdfunding consultant
David Licata (right), crowdfunding consultant.

When I tell friends about my crowdfunding consultant hat (I’m available, email me), they often comment that I must be learning a lot that will come in handy when  I’m ready to fire up A Life’s Work’s campaign. And they’re right, I have. Here’s the short list.

  1. Start early. Like, yesterday. The one good thing about the pace of A Life’s Work is that it has allowed me to build an audience. (You, dear reader!) It’s also given me time to collect materials and jot down ideas that I might use during the campaign.
  2. Don’t even think of doing it alone. Enlist three, four, or more people to help, and those people should have skills that fill certain needs. Get a person who’s good on the phones to make calls to foundations and corporations. They sometimes have discretionary funds and if your project fits nicely with their mission, you might get lucky. Get a social media wizard, or two. These people know how to spread the word. Get a writer who can produce updates and eblasts (this is usually my role). All of these people  should be social media savvy and have large networks they can appeal to. And please pay these people. Well.
  3. Give away good perks. Every filmmaker gives away DVDs and posters. Try to think beyond that. A sci-fi graphic novel I recently gave to offered to name characters after donors of a certain level. A friend of mine who crowdfunded an upcoming artist residency to the Arctic Circle offered to send postcards from exotic stops on her way to the top of the world.
  4. Use a lot of images. On your fundraising page and in your pitches on Facebook, etc. A captivating image is more likely to be shared on FB than any text. The writer part of me dislikes this. The filmmaker part of me thinks this is just fine.
  5.  Make a great pitch video. Don’t be afraid to show your personality. Don’t go over five minutes. Do tell the viewer why your project is different and awesome and what the world needs now!

This is my starter list. More to come in a future post.

And Remember

Even though A Life’s Work is not crowfunding at the moment, you can still support the film monetarily. You can contribute as little as $5 and as much as $15,000 online, and since A Life’s Work is a sponsored project of the New York Foundation for the Arts, whatever amount you contribute is tax-deductible. To donate, click here. It’s super easy. Any amount is greatly appreciated and helps in many ways. And I’ll send you something nifty in return.

 

 

 

 

Ask the Filmmaker: Kickstarter?

Dear Filmmaker,

Have you considered using Kickstarter for A Life’s Work?

DP

Dear DP,

I have, and I’m supporting a Kickstarter project, Planet X, right now. (I interviewed Planet X director Jacob Hensberry about why he chose Kickstarter to fund his film. You can read about it in a post I wrote for ExtraCriticum.com). I like the crowdfunding idea, and I hope it takes off, but for me, now, it’s not practical.

Kickstarter seems to work best when you’re trying to raise a little money (a few thousand dollars) and when you’re near completion with the project. (For an excellent account of one filmmaker’s experience with Kickstarter, go here.) I haven’t ruled Kickstarter out, but if I do use it, I suspect it will be when I need to raise the last few thousand dollars, as opposed to what I need to raise now.

But even though A Life’s Work is not a Kickstarter project, you can still support the film monetarily. You can contribute as little as $5 and as much as $15,000 online, and since A Life’s Work is a sponsored project of the New York Foundation for the Arts, whatever amount you contribute is tax deductible. To donate, click here. It’s super easy. Any amount is greatly appreciated and helps in many ways.

Thanks for your most excellent question, DP.

Sincerely,

The Filmmaker.

Do you have a question for The Filmmaker. Just leave it as a comment and he’ll answer it. Think of The Filmmaker as Google, only not so big and creepy.