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How They Funded It: ‘Cowspiracy’ Shares The Secrets to Crowdfunding Success

How They Funded It: 'Cowspiracy' Shares The Secrets to Crowdfunding Success

Your initial goal was $54,000 and you ended up raising over $117,000 with nearly 1500 backers. How much planning went into the campaign?

There was definitely some planning. For just a couple of thousand dollars, we hired a small PR team to help out. The project definitely had a big appeal to the people in the animal rights community. Any time you have a demographic, for instance, LGBT or golfing, whatever your certain demographic is, you have to reach out. We’re fortunate to have one of the most passionate communities there is. Then the PR team that we chose – they were a part of that. If you’re working with someone who knows the community that your film is a part of, that has connections to, say a golfing community if you have a golfing documentary, someone who either knows professional athletes or different magazines. See who your core demographic is and see if you can find a PR person who works in that industry and can tap into that. That was a huge, huge push for us.

In some ways, every film has a target audience or core demographic to tap into it, right?

If you’re just a normal movie about some love story, it is harder. But if it’s just a “normal movie,” if there’s some emotional thing that bonds the person to this film – say it’s a love story and someone died of cancer, then there’s your demographic, the cancer part of it. If you can find something in your film that has a real emotional appeal, target that community.

How did you determine the initial goal of $54,000, which obviously isn’t a round number?

We didn’t even think we’d get that much! One of my favorite numbers is 108, if you look up 108 in Google, you’ll see, that’s what you use when you do a mantra, it’s always 108 mala beads, and 54 is half of 108. We were initially going to do 27, which is one fourth of 108, but we said “let’s go for it, let’s go for $54,000, then we’ll really be able to do what we want to do.” Even if we didn’t get it all, that’s the cool thing about Indiegogo, which is a huge bonus of Indiegogo over Kickstarter which is that even if we didn’t meet the goal, we would keep the money. Whereas if we did Kickstarter, we probably would have only gone for $27,000 since we wouldn’t want to risk not reaching the goal. 

So is that why you went with Indiegogo?

Well, that and also our study of the demographic of Indiegogo seemed more suited to us as well. We had a marketing guy who helped us, a friend of ours, who did a very quick study of their demographics, but he showed us that the demographic of people on Indiegogo are of a certain age range and more female than Kickstarter, which is more male. He also said it was more progressive, which would fit in with the environmental angle of “Cowspiracy.”

How did you determine backer rewards and the perks?

We simply reached out to other people who were successful. That’s a huge tip. Look at other videos. All we did, we just looked at the page of the most successful Indiegogo campaigns and we just went through them. It’s like anything you do, if you want to be a good baseball player, study good baseball players and what they do at bat. We just looked at every part of it. How they did their videos, what they said in their videos and what their rewards were. We just did a couple of tweaks, but we based it on that. We didn’t necessarily reinvent the wheel, we just really studied how the best wheels were made.

Was there anything about the process of crowdfunding that surprised you?

One bonus we discovered is that it’s more than making money, it’s also building a community. It wasn’t just my co-director Keegan [Kuhn] and I making a movie. It was a whole team of support. Everybody who engages in making the film is now engaged with promoting the film. Our supporters feel that they’re part of the film now. It’s not only money. It’s marketing and creating a movement create and support system. It becomes almost a family as well. That was a nice surprise.

Do you have any tips for others who are crowdfunding a film?

Reach out to people in advance. Don’t wait until day one to start doing it. Definitely plan ahead.

Editor’s Note: The “How They Funded It” series is presented by Indiegogo. Indiegogo has the largest, independent film fan base in the industry, all eager to discover new movies, new genres and new film projects. To learn more visit www.indiegogo.com.

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