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How Two First-Time Filmmakers Crowdfunded a Documentary on Crowdfunding

How Two First-Time Filmmakers Crowdfunded a Documentary on Crowdfunding

Folks
are always surprised when they hear how hard it was to get people involved in
the “CAPITAL C” campaign as we were crowdfunding for a movie about crowdfunding.
Considering this, “CAPITAL C” is the textbook example of the fact that people
will not give money just because they like the idea of crowdfunding,
people give money because they like what you have to offer. If they choose to
go down the road of crowdfunding with you to finally get what they want – they
will support you – as long as your project is worth the money you are asking
for.

READ MORE: 10 Social Media Tips for Filmmakers (Especially When Crowdfunding)

It
is for this reason that you have to show your supporters what you have instead
of just telling them about it. While film is a visual art-form, it is
quite astounding how many filmmakers ignore this simple fact when it
comes to crowdfunding. We were no exception – even if our final movie turned
out to be pretty emotional, our Kickstarter trailer didn’t show a thing about
it. We were so focused on our topic that nothing in our pitch video showed how
our final movie would look and, most importantly, feel.

It’s difficult for any first time filmmaker to receive press large enough to move
the needle during a crowdfunding campaign, even the biggest blog feature or
radio interview didn’t do much for us to get the campaign off the
ground. Our funding would have failed terribly if it wasn’t for legendary
game developer Brian Fargo and “Wasteland,” the classic video game he created in the ’80s. His cult hit game, widely ignored by publishers ever
since its inception, was resurrected directly by the fans via a
crowdfunding campaign 20 years later. We loved Brian’s story and passion
so much we asked him to become involved as one of the protagonists in our film.
He agreed and shared the news of his upcoming appearance in “CAPITAL C” on
his social media channels. Because of this new relationship, his 60,000
personal and emotional “Wasteland” supporters were now pointed in our
direction. It was Brian’ involvement that gave us the boost we needed –
regardless of when he joined the campaign.

All
in all, we closed our funding campaign with the support of 586 backers
from 24 countries and raised a total of $84,298.

The fulfillment

We
launched the “CAPITAL C” Kickstarter campaign in 2012 and it took us more than THREE years to get this movie made. During that time, we’ve received a lot of great
support from our crowd: people allowed us to crash on their couches when we
were filming in their city, they gave us legal counseling when things got
messy and they helped shape the sound, style and rhythm of the movie when
we invited them for test screenings. 

As of
today, we have met nearly half of our backers in person and we’ve created long-term relationships with the films followers. There is really nothing better
than meeting one of your supporters for the first time. There is this instant connection
and so many things to discuss right away. 

On
the flip side, there are supporters we definitely lost over time. Some of them
lost faith in the project, some of them grew tired and some of them got mad as
we fell two years behind schedule with our finished product. Of course, we don’t blame them. They have every right in the world to be angry and it’s our
obligation to make it up to them, so we invited our backers to festival
screenings, booked theaters for local supporters in our hometown and granted
them free stuff. We even offered our backers a refund if they didn’t like the
film. Thankfully, only one person took us up on that offer.

The distribution

We
hope international film festivals, distributors, broadcasters and platforms
like Netflix picked up our movie because of its quality. However, in an
overcrowded marketplace where only 1 out of 250 films gets distribution (that
is 0.4% of all films that are getting made), there has to be more to why an
independent film by two guys with no connections in the industry got noticed in
the first place. The reason for that is undoubtedly the crowd.

If
we had known the power of the crowd right from the start, we would have better
utilized its strength. The companies we are working with today are actively
looking for films like ours. They found our project because of our crowdfunding
campaign and the attention surrounding it made us visible very early on. 

We
made a film under the least commercial and most independent conditions
possible. With no broadcaster or investor involved, no one could influence us
to follow certain demographics or local or political sensitivities. This
freedom made “CAPITAL C” a very subjective movie that an intellectual arthouse community
can hate wholeheartedly – the beauty of it is we can allow ourselves to give a
fuck about it. As long as “CAPITAL C” is a movie that we are proud of, as long as
our backers love it, as long as it gets worldwide distribution and as long as
it gets invited to international festivals and wins audience awards, we are all
good.

Looking
back on all the highs and lows we had, we only have one major regret – that we
did not start our crowdfunding campaign midway through completion of our film.
By starting with a crowdfunding campaign in the very beginning, we put the
patience of our backers to the test. 

Crowdfunding
is not the easiest way to raise money, but we can’t think of any other way that
a film like “CAPITAL C” would have been made. And we also never expected to work
on this project for three years. But, in all honesty, it’s been the best three years of our lives. 

Watch the “CAPITAL C” trailer below:

“CAPITAL C” is available beginning on Friday, July 24, 2015 in select theaters and via iTunes, Xbox and Amazon. Find out more here. 

READ MORE: Attention, Filmmakers: 4 Tips to Help you Connect with Your Audience and Build Your Brand

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