These days, it’s hard to scroll through a Facebook or Twitter feed without mention of a crowdfunding campaign. Artists and filmmakers have latched onto these Internet services to facilitate their projects. Thursday morning, as part of the IFP Independent Film Week, the #ArtistServices presented by the Sundance Institute focused on crowdfunding.
Drawing on their experience with crowdfunding, Dan Schoenbrun, Film Partnerships Lead, Kickstarter, and Danny Yourd, producer of the Sundance Award-winning feature documentary “Blood Brother,” participated in a panel called “How To Win Fans and Influence People.”
Schoenbrun and Yourd addressed the importance of creating a connection with the audience, being discerning about what to crowdfund and the best way to approach stretch goals. Here are 6 tips we took away from their conversation:
1. Think twice before trying to fund an entire project with Kickstarter.
“It’s very rare that projects are, like, in a vacuum, raising money for an entire budget,” said Yourd. “Be specific! Say, this campaign is for color correction, or distribution…that is the much more effective, better way to think about it.”
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2. When it comes to stretch goals, you need to communicate with your audience.
If a Kickstarter campaign does not meet its initial goal, backers do not get charged for initial money they pledged. A “stretch goal” is the term for goals that are set once this first threshold has been crossed. An audience member asked the best way to proceed when this happens.
“You have to let them know when you’ve reached your goal, and what you’re going to do with it after…[Say, for example,] we’ve found our composer. Anything that comes in addition to that will help, but remind the audience that [extra money] is for production…think about how you can continue to engage people. Ask: could we do a new reward release? What’s a way to continue to entice people?” – Yourd
3. It’s hard to say when one Kickstarter isn’t enough.
One audience member was curious about how much is too much to ask for in a campaign. For example, if you need money for color correction and distribution, is it wise to pool them together?
“It’s different for each project,” said Schoenbrun. “It depends on your goal. The thing you really have to ask yourself is whether you have the momentum and connection to engage with your audience.”
4. It’s important to show your appreciation to early backers.
“You’ve got to think about early backers. They’re your base. Send them personal emails and messages. Make them feel special.” — Yourd
5. Just like other kinds of fundraising, don’t be afraid to reach out again people who have already donated.
“If I was working on a movie, and it was almost finished, but we had one last scene, the first place I would go is to the people who has already contributed.” — Schoenbrun
6. But then again, that isn’t always the easiest call (or email) to make.
“I don’t know if it’s pride, but I don’t always want to go and dip back into it again,” Yourd said. “It’s hard,” Schoenbrun agreed.