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7 Things NOT To Do on Kickstarter: A Cautionary Tale

Photo of Paula Bernstein By Paula Bernstein | Indiewire September 16, 2013 at 3:00PM

Here we tell you what not to do on Kickstarter.
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Kickstarter

Film School Rejects has already dubbed it "probably the worst Kickstarter campaign ever made" and with good reason. The Kickstarter campaign for "Kate Allen Is Getting A Life" is riddled with problems, starting with the fact that the campaign's name -- "FILM W/THORA BIRCH, HEATHER MATARAZZO, JENNIFER ELISE COX --  doesn't feature the film's title. We don't mean to pick on this particular campaign since many others make the same mistakes, but given the fact that the campaign was created by Linda Stuart, who presents herself as an industry expert, we think it's fair to use this project as a noteworthy example of what not to do on Kickstarter, or when crowdfunding in general.

With a little over $40 in funding so far, it's highly unlikely that the project will reach its goal. Here are some lessons to take from Stuart's misguided Kickstarter campaign:

1. Don't give your project a generic or vague name. Ideally, you should use the film's title -- and hopefully you'll have a good title. Instead of using "Kate Allen Is Getting A Life" for her campaign title, Stuart called her Kickstarter campaign, "FILM W/THORA BIRCH, HEATHER MATARAZZO, JENNIFER ELISE COX," which is not so catchy.

2. Don't ask for too much money. In the case of "Kate Allen Is Getting A Life," Stuart is trying to raise $5 million. Sure, she's got some name actresses attached, but none of them has the name recognition and/or fan base to carry a $5 million film. Even Spike Lee and The Veronica Mars Project didn't ask for that much money. Film School Rejects calls her goal "insanely high" and notes that "the whole thing could be some kind of outsider art or satirical punch at crowdfunding."

3. Don't complain that you're broke. When a commenter posted advice to Stuart suggesting that she post a video appeal on the page, Stuart responding by saying, "I am not in a financial position right now to make a video, and I just created the best Kickstarter profile that I instinctively could. I didn't know what to offer in the way of gifts, but I do know that if I offer a lot of money as thank you gifts, I won't have enough to make the film. Any funds receive are taxable by the government, so if by some miracle I raised $5,000,000 on Kickstarter, that is considered taxable income. I just want to make an entertaining, funny, QUALITY film with a terrific music soundtrack and realize my dream. That's all. No, I won't reach my Kickstarter goal anyway unless, again, some miracle occurs, but I sincerely THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU." Kickstarter creators should sound confident about their project and saying that it will take a miracle to reach her goal and that she doesn't have money to make a video makes her sound desperate.

The commenter responded wisely: "Not in a financial position to make a pitch video? Linda, some people on kickstarter do the bare minimum and post a video they shot on their iPhone for christ sakes. You're essentially pitching to investors, except on a wider scale. If they can't see a passionate pitch from you, what's to say that THEY have anything at stake?"

4. Don't be vague when it comes to describing the project. People want some information before they back a project, even if it has recognizable names. For instance, Stuart describes the project as a "comedy with romance in the vein of WORKING GIRL and HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING. The theme is never giving up on your dreams." Anytime you're using other films to describe your project, it ends up sounding derivative - and in this case, both of the titles she references are old.

5. Don't compare yourself to Steven Soderbergh. "Steven Soderbergh's recent hit film MAGIC MIKE was budgeted at $7 million and has made well over $100 million, so the financial and creative rewards can be great," Stuart writes on the project's page. But, of course, Stuart isn't Steven Soderbergh and the comparison doesn't reflect well on her.

6. Don't feature a photo of yourself on your Kickstarter page -- unless you're famous. Stuart features a headshot of herself on the page, but no photos of any of the actresses who have signed on to the project.

7. Don't forget about Kickstarter rewards. Even if you don't have a lot of money, you can be creative and come up with fun ideas for backers. All Stuart offers in the way of rewards is "your name in the film credits as a THANK YOU plus $25" for $1,000 donation We've written about the most creative celebrity Kickstarter rewards. Even if nobody wants to buy her old sneakers, maybe she can get some ideas from that article. Surely, she can do better than your name in the film credits and $25. People who support our project want to feel appreciated, after all.

It's not too late for Stuart. Even Spike Lee had to rethink his Kickstarter campaign and take criticisms into account. He improved his approach and his campaign succeeded.

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





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