After a decade of working on their documentary "The Dog" about the real-life character who inspired the notorious bank robber memorably portrayed by Al Pacino in Sidney Lumet’s "Dog Day Afternoon," co-directors Allison Berg and Frank Keraudren turned to crowdfunding to raise finishing funds on Seed&Spark prior to the film’s premiere at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival. Here’s what they learned through the process:
Frank Keraudren (FK): The only thing I would say about that is that it’s the first and only time that Allison and I have ever done it. And having done it, I don’t have many comparisons to what it would it would have been like otherwise.
We came at it thinking that it would be hard and it would be work, but we really started a month before, and to be honest, we were in the editing room trying to deliver the film to Toronto. Looking back, I would say to other filmmakers to think of it as a full time job for a month, and you might need two people. So our experience was good in that we were able to raise funds, but it was excruciatingly painful because you come at it and you’re very hopeful, it’s a great tool for any filmmaker to be able to crowdfund, but you also realize after a week or so that you’re only going to get so far with your friends, so how do you reach other people? As a friend said, it’s like losing a popularity contest every day. You take it personally and you’re not prepared for that emotionally, and it’s not that people are letting you down it’s just they have other things to do.
We were successful because we had a lot of people who gave larger amounts, which is a huge lesson. What you don’t realize is that if you’re going to do $25 a person, you need a lot of people in your life. That’s the kicker and we just pulled it off. Seed&Spark was a really cool platform for us. Allison’s first film was on there and their platform is a very interesting structure. You can raise funds on the site and have it on their theater online.
Allison Berg (AB): The thing about our crowdfunding, what I would just say, is that it was a hellish experience. We were trying to finish a film on a deadline at the same time as we were trying to do crowdfunding.
Last summer, when we were finishing this film and doing the crowdfunding campaign, we were literally walking into walls, falling down on streets, getting emergency root canals and getting bit by mysterious mosquitoes. We were in another world of pain. That combination of pulling off something so huge as we were trying to pull off something even bigger was a mess, but we’re so glad we were successful. It wasn’t a fun experience because we weren’t prepared for it.
FK: And ultimately I will say that without doing this campaign on Seed&Spark we would not be there. We could not have gone to Toronto without that money. It is a successful campaign, but I think any filmmaker coming out of crowdfunding will have a top 10 of things they wish they had known beforehand.
AB: Or things they would have done differently. Because I don’t think it was a Seed&Spark thing. It was us as filmmakers. I wish we had done it at another time.
Released by Drafthouse Films, "The Dog" is in theaters now and hits VOD on August 15.