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K Lorrel Manning & Michael Cuomo on “Riding The CrowdFunding Train To SXSW”

K Lorrel Manning & Michael Cuomo on "Riding The CrowdFunding Train To SXSW"

We all one know how to do more with the very little we have. This is the year the indie film world turned to each other for help. And people responded. It is so exciting that we are working together to get the work done. Indie / Truly Free Film has never been more of a community!

In just the first half of this year, eleven films that raised money on IndieGoGo appeared in the world’s leading film festivals. From Tribeca to Sundance, intrepid filmmakers learned the ropes about what it takes to make a splash in these festivals. This is the first in a series of posts are from the teams behind some of these films.

–Adam Chapnick, IndieGoGo


by Happy New Year Writer/Director K. Lorrel Manning & Actor/Producer Michael Cuomo

In January of this year, we received a call from the great Janet Pierson (Head Honcho of Film for SXSW) informing us that our film Happy New Year had been accepted into the Narrative Competition at the 2011 SXSW Film Festival.

Based on the critically-acclaimed Off-Broadway play, then an award-winning short film of the same name, Happy New Year tells the story of Sgt. Cole Lewis, a wartorn Marine who returns home after four tours of Iraq and Afghanistan to face his fiercest battle yet – the one against himself. The film is an entertaining yet hard-hitting look at the perils of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).

We reviewed our budget and quickly surmised that we needed about $25K to not just make a decent splash at SXSW but have the additional funds to attend upcoming festivals as part of continued promotions. Though the news of our acceptance was huge, we were forbidden to publicly announce it for nearly 6 weeks. We had a group of investors but how in the hell were we going to raise $25,000 and not share our biggest news? Many stepped forward stating that they were not in the position to invest but wanted to help out in any way that they could. IndieGogo became the answer.

After studied several studying other campaigns on the IndieGoGo website and bombarding, Slava Rubin (one of the Founders), with dozens of questions, we began to plan our campaign.

Here were the milestones:

Shoot short behind-the-scenes pitch videos
By involving different cast members talking about his/her real life connection to the material we created a human element to the campaign. These scenes were interspersed with some scenes featuring them from the movie.

Announce the video roll out via email, Facebook and Twitter
We posted these videos every two weeks, an idea that proved to be extremely effective. It was a way to excite and inform our fans .

Turned our entire team into evangelists
Everyone from management to each of the featured actors became spokespeople for our campaign, each one going out of his/her way to spread the word. This won the project more support and created an in-built audience for the film.

Identified tactics for our last days of funding
We timed our last video to be posted an hour after the SXSW Festival announced the 2011 competition lineup. In hindsight, saving the biggest news for the final push actually turned out to be our best move.

We decided to parody Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues” video by shooting our SXSW announcement in the midst of a snowstorm in a discreet NYC alleyway. This was a more celebratory video in comparison to our more serious videos and it turned out to be a game-changer. The shift in tone worked perfectly – we raised $26,390!

Our decision to join forces with IndieGogo was invaluable. The campaign forced us to become more aggressive and savvy in the area of social media. The pitch videos allowed us to exercise the creative sides of our brains that were often stymied with the challenges of post-production and festival strategy. And we were able to see that with a lot of hard work and faith, anything is possible. Would we do it again? Definitely!

HAPPY NEW YEAR – www.happynewyearsfilm.com

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