Tonight I attended the Kickstarter Panel hosted by the Avrec Art House , and boy was it a treat. With five wonderfully diverse film makers and their individual stories, I felt someone could have written a book with how much was shared. Instead, I am writing this dinky little blog post to share some takeaways from my personal experience, but also to help me personally review what I learned.
1) Create Something that they can’t find in Hollywood
The media consumption of our modern day is staggering. We watch so much video content it’s staggering. With this in mind, there are many unspent dollars out there because no one is making the films that serve their tastes. Often these are the Niche markets that are underserved by mainstream media producers. These markets have already created their own communities that you can tap into when sharing your campaign, and if it sits right, they will pay above average dollar for a film that caters to them instead of the general populace.
2) Prepare for your campaign
Tonight there were multiple films that prepared months and sometimes even a year for their Kickstarter campaign. Here are some ways they prepared:
- Find and commit backers before you even start the project
- Create a shortlist of people who are waiting to donate the minute - you launch. No one likes to see that $0 have been donated, so make sure you have several backers to fund the campaign minutes after launch.
- Plan Page layout
- Write/rewrite campaign content
- SHOOT A GOOD VIDEO
- Shoot BTS Photos
- Shoot BTS Videos (way more effective than photos)
- Enlist your actors to share the campaign with their following
- Prepare exclusive Actor BTS videos speaking directly to their fans
- Plan out a daily posting schedule of BTS content for the campaign
- Establish and plan out attractive rewards
- Seriously plan out a legitimate fulfillment date
- Establish your Reward fulfillment costs
- And so much more…
3) Establish Pre-Backers, Match Backers, and Angel backers before you even launch
Did I touch on this in my previous point? Yes. Its that important. So many of the successful films had people lined up at the start of their campaign launches to donate money right out of the gate. That way whenever the campaign is shared, no one sees that they are being asked to be the first backer. That is a bigger barrier than if other people are already successful. People like being on a winning team, so ease their fears with Pre-backers.
Also, talk with people throughout the campaign about possibly doing “match backs” where they will match the amount of donations over a certain period (day, weekend, week) and donate that same amount to the campaign. This pushes you to double down and win on certain periods.
Angel backers are typically backers who will donate the necessary funds at the end of the project to see it through to being successfully funded. Instead of waiting till the end, some filmmakers had several angel backers set up for certain checkpoints along their Journey so that they can hit their goals. An example would be the Angel backer committed to make sure the project would be 20% funded after the first day, or 60% funded at the midway point. Find willing parties and spread the load so it's not all riding on one person at one time.
4) Get On the “What’s Popular” Page - Join the Winning Team
With Kickstarter, the most number of clicks will be generated from the “most popular” Kickstarter home page, or sub page of your category. Kickstarter has a “Staff picks” email they send out every few days, but no one really reads those, self included. Getting on the homepage however is HUGE, as when people see that a project is on its way to being funded, they will want to join the winning team and see it through to the end. The “What’s Popular” sections are where a majority of your traffic, clicks, and investors will go first with their biggest dollar. Get on this page by blitzing your campaign the first day and getting ALL of your pre backers to back the project the first day. Once the Kickstarter crowd sees its first day success, they in turn will back it and keep the “popular” ball rolling.
Also, at what window in production you are fundraising is incredibly important. All the films presented shared how they ran Kickstarter campaigns to help them finish the film, and not start it. People are more likely to donate if they can see a peek at what they are getting, and if the film is nearly done and just needs a little bit more help. This goes back to the “winning team” principal. While it isn’t impossible, the cards are certainly stacked against you when you are trying to fund a film during pre-production. The material needed to advertise, promote and capture an audience simply pales in comparison to films that that already filmed and are in editing/sound/vfx.
5) Deliver, Deliver, Deliver
This is the mixed bag of thoughts to wrap up the post. What is most important is to deliver what you promised. Make them most entertaining narrative with awesome BTS. Touch their hearts with the most enlightening documentary. Use your passion and hard work and get them what they have paid for. Get them the BTS, the DVDs, and do it on time! Kickstarter is all about creating a community that supports and invests in each other, and by burning down bridges, you pee in the pool for everyone.
You can do this by firstly having realistic goals, and basing those goals in the costs required to deliver backer rewards, and also pay for your time and effort of the campaign. It has to be worth it. Also, establish a rewards system that fits your needs. Some offer Digital, DVD or Blu-Ray, while others don’t because of possible grant or award qualifying issues. Whatever it is, DO YOUR RESEARCH and set realistic goals, rewards, and expectations for each party.
I hope you found this useful. Once again thank you Kynan Griffin, Kristi Shimek, Scott Christopherson, Erika Cohn, and Jenny Mackenzie for sharing your experiences with us, and thank you Avrec Art House for hosting this incredible event! Check out their page for more upcoming events just like this one.