Back in 2010, I was desperate to make a feature film.
I wanted to grow as a filmmaker and move on with my career. I was hoping and dreaming that making a feature-length movie would help me to accomplish just that.
You may already know, but if you don’t, beware, filmmaking is a costly endeavour and needs a lot of resources and capital. So, after being turned down by institutions and private investors with my script titled “2 People,” I decided to turn my attention to crowdfunding, of which at that time I knew very little about. I simply knew it existed, and I knew a few people had used it successfully to finance their projects.
The biggest inspiration behind my first crowdfunding campaign and my first ideas for merchandising to finance my film (I wanted to do hybrid financing) came from a movie called “Iron Sky”. In my eyes, the team behind that project was a bunch of geniuses.
They created merchandising based on the mere idea for the movie, offering investors and fans packages to encourage people to get involved. The team researched well and knew from the very start that their niche audience (science fiction fans) was willing to take action by either financially supporting the idea or using social media to spread the word.
The cleverly run crowdfunding campaign combined with social media marketing resulted in securing over €1M. Of course, this wasn’t a one-person job. To create a campaign as they did, you need a dedicated team of people who know what they’re doing and someone coordinating the campaign accordingly.
I was aware that the genre of my film, a romantic drama, was very different from that of “Iron Sky”. My perspective niche audience would most likely not be as active and vocal about the project as the fans of “Iron Sky” were. But being an optimist, I didn’t think it was going to be of great importance (rookie mistake).
It turned out I made not one but at least two cardinal errors during that campaign.
1. I ignored the basic rule: professional social media presence and a large social media following are VITAL to any successful crowdfunding campaign. Without a solid social media following finishing any campaign successfully is unlikely and, unsurprisingly, that was the end result of my first campaign.
2. I wasn’t willing to be the face of my campaign. I was so insecure and unsure of myself that I didn’t even record a video of myself pitching the project.
I gave up fairly quickly; once I realized I was going nowhere with my first campaign and went back to my cave, scratching my head and wondering how to crack the magic behind crowdfunding.
After I crawled out of my secure and cosy cave, I knew I had to start at the bottom. So firstly I got over my social media insecurities and started reaching out to people and slowly learning how successful crowdfunding campaigns were run (all of this was still very new, so not much was written about crowdfunding). I was looking for the missing ingredient, which was pretty simple: be active on social media.
Luckily my research coincided with attending quite a lot of film festivals with my short film “The Man with the Spying Glass”. That year crowdfunding was the buzz word on everyone’s lips, and minds and film festivals (including Cannes Short Film Corner) were organizing panels and talks about using this “new” and “exciting” way of raising funds for projects. So, after six months of researching and gathering knowledge, I decided it was time to implement my new-found wisdom into action.