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Is Crowdfunding Right for You? One Filmmaker Crunched the Numbers So You Don't Have To

By James Cooper | Indiewire August 21, 2012 at 12:30PM

Last year, James Cooper completed a successful Kickstarter campaign for his short film "Elijah the Prophet" and decided to write about his experience. In his new ebook, "Kickstarter for Filmmakers: Prepare and Execute Your Next Crowd Funding Campaign," Cooper has clearly done his research.
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Interestingly, the number for successful feature film campaigns in the same year is drastically lower: 309. The features break down like this:

KICKSTARTER GRAPH 3

Successful Feature Films by Financial Goal - Kickstarter 2011
(Source: James Cooper)


One thing that's certainly worth noting here is the popularity of the $10,000 - $19,999 range. 73 successful projects fall into this goal range, while there is a 64% drop in successful projects once you break into $20,000 - $29,999 territory. Definitely something to consider when determining your own goals.

The lower range budgets ($1,000-$6,999) are split up fairly evenly, which should be good news for anyone planning to hit a target in this range.

Once you pass the $30,000 mark, though, success becomes scarce. Only a few projects succeed in each of the goal ranges beyond $30,000, which may be indicative of the limits of crowd funding for a film project.

It's interesting to note that the $100,000 + range has just as many successful projects as the $30,000 - $39,999 range. Without knowing how many projects were attempted with these goals, it's hard to know how those numbers correlate exactly, and unfortunately, Kickstarter was not willing to play ball with me when I requested their cooperation for the book.

While you can use crowd funding to raise money for any aspect of your film, from production to marketing to festival fees, the numbers I provide in these charts are strictly for production. I thought it best to streamline for the aim of the majority: getting the film made. That being said, crowd funding your festival fees is a great way to make sure your film gets out there in the event that you run out of money making it.

How long should the campaign be?

This is a hotly contested question many have when setting out to begin their campaign. Most just set the campaign length at the maximum allowed (Kickstarter: 60 days, Indiegogo: 120 days), somehow thinking that maximum campaign length correlates to maximum odds of campaign success. This is not true at all, actually.

Campaigning takes a lot of time and effort to pull off properly, so consider the energy you will expel by the time your campaign is over, and you’ll start to rethink defaulting to the maximum length. To that same effect, people will get tired of you pushing the campaign on them. As we’ll see in the case study portion of the book, it is nearly universal that crowd funding campaigns see a lull in the middle of their life. They start with a big boom, and end with a final push, but things tend to die down in the middle. The longer your campaign is, the longer the middle is.

Kickstarter claims that campaigns with a 30 day timeline have the highest rate of success. The sense of urgency pushes people to action, whereas people will tend to procrastinate if they feel like there’s a lot of time before your deadline.

This article is related to: Filmmaker Toolkit: Crowdfunding, Kickstarter , Filmmaker Toolkit





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