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Financing / Crowdfunding : Does it work? by Dave Thomas

Dave Thomas

Does it work?

Hey there. I did try crowd funding for a short film and it was a bad experience. I had some PR people assist me, and I do have experience of PR plus producing, but my first attempt to crowd fund was a disaster because I didn't have a large enough network of people to encourage to donate. So does it really work? If you don't have a large network, is it really worth trying? I did offer Perks and all sorts of incentives so it wasn't 'give me your money and only get your name in the credits' - What is the best method to raise funds? I will be exploring this again in January but not keen to try a crowd funding site again. Any thoughts and/or advice?

(I want to raise the funds for this short film "The Journey" poster attached)

Gregory Mandry

I think unless you have a large following already the crowd funding horse has long bolted.

Willem Lodewijk Elzenga

Dave, If you need a sponsor you'll have to go out and look for one. Crowdfunding is as you describe it. Further, I produced over 5 short films without any budget at all. It was a lot of fun to do and very creative. Its also a way to meet new people and expand your network and following. You just have to commit to the final result which is obviously that of a movie without a budget.

Anthony D Paul

I suggest you buy RB's book. Crowdsourcing is imperative before you crowdfund. And for heavens sake don't rush. I was unprepared and rushed on my last short film. Though I made the film, I had no knowledge of crowdsourcing.

Erik A. Jacobson

Have you considered making a short video in which you and your crew share your passion and vision for the film? Or a trailer which features one or two key scenes? Or a combination of the two?

Anthony D Paul

And what's the movie about?

Dave Thomas

Originally I shot a short video and a scene for the film, plus did a lot of PR, but the return was dismal from crowdfunding. However, with that specific film, we did secure funding and it is being shot in January with a fantastic crew and cast. The funding came from a Film Grant Scheme in Ireland. For 'The Journey' I wanted to try raise the funds without having to go through a government scheme again. I also want this short to be a quality production like my other one will be. 'The Journey' logline is "A mystical woman appears with a very important message for a Train Station-Master - a message he refuses to accept." - It is mostly shot at a train station with a total of six key characters.

Anthony D Paul

Next time know your audience and crowdsource to that audience. Have fun shooting!

Christopher Birk

Crowdfunding WAS a good idea when it first started out - but now everyone and their mother is doing it. YES, if you have (or can find someone to help you who has) a large "following" on any social platform that definitely helps. I did crowdfunding on my own and it was a disappointment. Unfortunately it is all about getting it out there and only through people with connections will that happen, no matter how great a campaign you have and how awesome a project it is. My advice (also to myself) is to make very small, clever projects (with great, relevant and interesting stories) and then put those out there either on YouTube etc or to film festivals and slowly but steadily you will get some attention. This will not happen overnight though. Patience, perseverance and a solid belief in your own work and vision will eventually pay off!

Shannon Tharp

Crowdfunding works. You just need to do a project that is a Crowdfunding Worthy Project. Your marketing deliverables need to look awesome. Then develop a Marketing Campaign. If you need more details then inbox me.

Dan MaxXx

Pay for it yourself. It is your dream. How much can the budget be?

Dave Thomas

Dan MaxXx Filmmakers don't generally pay out of their own pockets to make films. For my documentary I paid for the full production. With the film 'The Journey' we are talking a considerable budget for a professional high quality production (cast and crew), so it's not feasible to pay for the film myself. I'm not a rich person.

Shannon Tharp

Dave is correct. Even a short film with a small crew depending on the vision of the film can be $100,000. That's why raising the funds is important as well as ensuring the product (Film) is a great one.

Willem Lodewijk Elzenga

The problem with shortfilms is that they have, even when done on a high professional level, hardly any return on investment. There might be an exceptation or two, but for a sane investor a shortfilm has no return. In Europe all this goes through government funding.

Dave Thomas

I agree Shannon Tharp . Even if some (if not all) crew were to work for free (and who likes working for free?) there are still costs such as insurance, food, travel, equipment, post production etc., it can all add up. I agree with you Willem Lodewijk Elzenga there is virtually no return for an investment other than an investor supporting the film industry and/or gaining positive PR if the film goes well, and that's the hook many crowd funding campaigns use - but it's often not enough if you want decent investment. Also true about government funding in Europe - that's how I am able to get my short 'Aretha' made in January. Even that is an extremely competitive process, often the funding is still not adequate to cover all costs, but it's at least a good start if you can win the funding. I was lucky with 'Aretha', my script seemed to impress the Judges.

Erik A. Jacobson

If you can get funding from your government, that's probably the best way to go. Most short films here in the States are shot for under $5000 and many for $1000 or less. Unless you have a track record demonstrating that you can get a return on investment for short films with a much higher budget, it's a waste of time seeking investors.

Sorry to disagree, but Dan Maxx has long experience in the trenches and is correct. The majority of shorts are self-financed through family, friends, credit cards, personal loans, getting a second job, tutoring, selling an old car, etc.

Dave Thomas

Erik A. Jacobson I Ireland, if one is lucky enough to win the Government funding, it ranges from €10,000 ($11,365) to €15,000. But just like you said, many shorts are produced for less especially if you can't get the government funding. I produced a short documentary for €1,000 from my own pocket. It's extremely tough to get the funding for a short film, it seems, everywhere!

Erik A. Jacobson

Very true, Dave. Hopefully, you made a decent profit on your documentary. The important thing is to build a track record of responsibility with OPM (other people's money - Ha!) so that investors are eager to be involved in your projects.

John T. Trigonis

Chiming in here as a bit of an expert on the topic of crowdfunding. First, yes, it does work. How much did you set your initial target? I tried Google searching the project on both Indiegogo and Kickstarter and nothing came up, so part of the issue might have been the title and use of keywords. But typically, folks make the same mistakes, which I recommend you watch me spout off about in this video: https://goo.gl/HkTSxe –– goal's set too high, they have less-than-creative rewards, and they haven't taken the time to build an audience prior to "asking them for money." Remedy these, and you'll do much better. And a word about PR for crowdfunding: it's a hard game in 2018, and will only get harder in 2019. You need a bigger story than "awesome film crowdfunding" –– otherwise, no one's picking it up. But more than that, you need this baby to be over 30% funded before any PR will have any impact.

I'm happy to help out with some advice, if you like, prior to the launch of another crowdfunding campaign, if you choose to go that route. Just let me know and I can send you my consulting rates and we can go from there. And I would recommend you give a read to my book, as well: https://goo.gl/xZmls4 Hope this helps a bit, Dave!

Dave Thomas

Thank you all. I am not interested in Loans at the moment, certainly not for a short as they are not going to make a profit if anything at all. Barry Sobel Thank you for the offer. John T. Trigonis Thank you - the campaign is long gone now, and I had a professional PR company working on it for me, but they proved incapable of handling it correctly. I am not in a position to pay fees at the moment, as I am trying to raise funds to make the award winning short (screenplay) above, before I move onto a Feature Film. I just shot one Short (written and directed by me) and now eager to make The Journey (above) asap for some major festivals approaching. I have almost all locations secured for the new short, just need some funds to pay the crew and cast. Thank you all for the feedback.

Raquel Deloatch

Your short should not exceed $2000. You ready should focus on making it without raising funds. It is difficult to raise much larger funds because people are making features for $ 10K and up. Also ready don't want to burn out your network asking for such a smaller project. Once you ask money the 1st time , it is less than likely they will give money the second time.

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