I was having a conversation with a film/tv contact recently who generously agreed to meet me for coffee and impart some of her wisdom with regards to getting started in the industry. We got talking about making your own films and she had some interesting advice about film festivals standards, where to put in the most effort, and crowd-funding. In her experience crowd-funding for the post-production of your film can be the best way to go about it, as this is often the part that takes the longest and can end up being the most expensive, especially if you want to colour-grade and have good sound design.
It got me thinking about what some of the Pros and Cons might be of having a crowd-funding campaign for your film. I’m no stranger to supporting them as many of the directors I feature on the blog often have crowd-funding campaigns. So what are the benefits and when is it not the right choice for your project?
Pro: Artistic Freedom – Not Tied to Financial Obligation of an Investor
Of course one of the biggest benefits of crowd-funding your film is the artistic freedom. You are pitching what you wanna make, how you wanna make it and people give you funds based on that pitch. You don’t have a big studio or investor who can come in and change around the script or tone because it’s wholeheartedly your project. This is one reason why a lot of people are saying crowd-funding is reinvigorating the indie film scene.
Con: You Might Not Reach Your Goal
Unfortunately with the uncertainty of crowd-funding sometimes you may not reach your financial goals. Depending on the platform or the type of campaign you chose this sometimes means that at the end of the day you will get nothing for your trouble. Marketing and spreading the awareness of your campaign in order to get the funds you so desperately need takes time and effort. If you don’t reach enough people then you won’t raise enough money.
Pro: Find Your Audience Before All The Blood, Sweat & Tears
A great pro to having a crowd-funding campaign is the ability to sense the interest in your idea before filming or before submitting to festivals. Whilst making the film you want can be liberating as an artist, a big part of the industry is having people actually watch your film. This is a business after all and being able to physically see if people are interested or not before you commit can be a big plus.
Crowd-funding websites have fees. They may not be as horrific as bank fees when taking out a loan, and they don’t come with interest, but they will take a percentage of your potential income. Each service seems to have different amount but most with charge you a flat fee for using their platform and then take a percentage of each donation, total amount raised or both. Definitely something to keep in mind when setting a target goal for your campaign.
Pro: No Competing for Limited Funding Initiatives
Whilst there are many funding initiatives out there (we recently did an article about them you can find here) it can often be competitive. There is never any guarantee that your application will be successful leaving you with an un-financed project and normally another year or more to wait to apply again. By crowd-funding your film or even part of your film, perhaps on top of applying for funding, it can provide the boost needed to get off the ground. That way you don’t have potential projects never seeing the light of day.
Con: Rewards = Extra Work
Often with tier based crowd-funding the assumption is that if you donate more, you receive more. Adding a name to your films credits or sending donors the finished film before anyone else are easy rewards, but if you really want to intrigue your audience enough to have them finance your project by paying the bigger $$ you may need to think about creating merchandise or exclusive content; things that will take extra time to create on top of trying to make your film. It can be worth it for many of the pro reasons mentioned above but just make sure you understand what you are getting into before you start and plan your time accordingly. If you can’t deliver on what you’ve promised chances are you won’t get the backers you need.
Do you have a film with a crowd-funding campaign that could use a shout out? Send us a message via the contact us page so we can give you a plug on our social media and maybe even give you a featured post on the blog.