So here we are, a few weeks before Christmas launching a crowdfunding campaign for money to shoot the teaser trailer for Moderngrumble. This is something that was supposed to happen in late summer, early fall and we were to have already shot the teaser by now so that we could use it in conjunction with our business plan for presentations to more traditional investors so as to raise the more substantial budget for the feature film. All by the time the snow was falling. Several months later we find ourselves soliciting funds for a baroque, artful, horror film . . . during the holidays . . . in this economy. Some may call it bad taste to even think of asking people at a time like this for their hard earned dollars. Fortunately, I’ve never had much taste and so once again, here we are.
My partner in this endeavor thought we should just wait until after the Holidays to launch for the reasons listed above and I clearly see and understand that argument. However there are a few factors that argued for taking action now:
2)We have designed and implemented a rather exciting and I think new idea when it comes to crowdfunding that we call “perks for sharing” that is perfect for our supporters during the Holidays. More on that later.
3)Looking at statistics, it would appear that a significant amount of donations to successful campaigns come from investors unknown to the campaigners, which only stresses the crowdfunding maxim: it’s not so much who you know but who they know.
Personally, all this brings me to a conclusion that others have already made; for this campaign to be successful we have to break that glass ceiling of our networks and reach yours. But how do we do that? Well, in this case Indiegogo has what it calls the GoGo Factor – which basically is a way of tracking the interactions, contributions and shared links related to your campaign on a weekly basis. Raise that factor high enough and Indiegogo steps in and does a little promoting for you; featuring you on the home page, perhaps including you in weekly emails and so on. Great, but first we have to increase that factor using everything in our arsenal.
First of course are the personal appeals made to our closest friends, family and supporters, preferably face to face if at all possible, followed by a phone call, then email and finally online if the other options are not feasible. Second, the inception and maintenance of the projects presence online via periodic but not overwhelming updates on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and other such sites; one a day regarding a new aspect of the project is good with a possible second one regarding something tangentially related to the project but keep these brief, interesting and fun if possible. Third, participation in discussions with others online about issues related to your project or theirs. This is something you should already be doing well before the launch of your campaign if possible. Fourth, support of other projects however you can. Fifth, and actually this should be First but; an official Press Release if you can swing it, and really don’t let that scare you, they are pretty simple to write and you don’t have to get it in a national paper or major online journal to be legitimized though it doesn’t hurt. Your local paper works just fine (and can result in possible interviews or stories on your project) or utilizing a site like feoamante.com which has a wide audience and is very supportive of indie filmmakers especially if your project falls within the realm of horror, thriller, cult and the like. Once you have a published press release you can list the project on IMDB which while the merits of this avenue can be debated does help bolster the seriousness of your project in many people’s eyes, especially in the independent film world. Sixth, updates directly to your contributors, the more personalized the better. Seventh, if you have managed any type of media exposure, be it virtual, print, or television share it!
All of this will help mobilize your network and up the IndieGoGo factor but I’ve left out a big aspect of a successful crowdfunding campaign and that is the Perks. While there are those out there who will contribute without need of a reward, perks are right up there with your Pitch Video in getting people to take the project seriously and contribute. You have to be original, personal and generous with these but there is a fine line you must walk so as not to run across any tax issues (especially if you are actually incorporated, as we are, and not just a lone wolf or non-profit) or worse, unintentionally being found guilty of securities fraud. While the laws for what is and is not considered a security are different in each state (and as an online offering you could very well be subject to any or all of them) it’s a safe bet that if a contributor is under the impression that they will undoubtedly receive a monetarily valuable reward simply for their investment you could be found guilty should someone want to prosecute. This grey area tends to keep most campaigns from going anywhere near offering anything of real value as a perk and that is probably for the best. Such fears drive creativity and help keep perks personal and meaningful.
Lotushead Productions, Inc. has decided however to do both. Each of our perks are related to the project at hand as well as being personal, thoughtful gifts that reflect the inspiration we took in the creation of Moderngrumble, as well as reflecting the pride we take in our home state and its role in the film. On top of that each Perk offers public appreciation, and a chance to earn cool stuff like tickets to music festivals, gift certificates and even an iPad2, not guarantees or promises.
After all of this however, we still face the same hurdle every campaign faces; internet laziness. Perhaps I’m alone in having this problem but I suspect otherwise. In our online world most of us are inundated with so much information, news, and the promotion of someone else’s passion project that the tendency can be to just scan everything, at best. In the online film community it’s a real problem, the number of crowdfunding campaigns that cycle through our community is mind boggling and after a while even if you are an avid supporter, we tend to grow a little dis-enchanted with the whole process, and your average Joe on the street is probably even less interested. So, how do we cross that divide and actually get our network to care and share but your network as well? Just getting someone to share a link on their wall or blog at times seems like a Sisyphean task and yet it’s such an easy thing to do. Call me cynical but I believe the key to crossing that divide is by creating incentives for sharing. Everyone familiar with crowdfunding knows about perks for donating but what if we created perks for simply sharing a link with your network? If we create a simple and workable method of rewarding anyone who shares our campaign widget or links to us with a chance to earn something they actually want at absolutely no cost to them, but based purely on good will, I believe our chance to exponentially grow our audience has much better odds for success. So in service of that theory, Lotushead Productions is offering a chance to earn cool gifts to anyone who shares our campaign widget and interacts with us through a comment or tweet.
It’s an experiment to be sure and may very well fail, backfire or be a success but as I considered running this campaign during the Holidays, I realized that as much as I want to raise the budget we need, I also just want to reach as many people as possible with the project. To see how many would just simply share. For me even if we do not succeed in raising our budget, I will still consider it a success if we have been able to increase our audience, even by a few. To that end I will be keeping track of all statistics, including new fans gained so at the end of the campaign we can return for a campaign post-op for all to see what worked and what didn’t – something that should be quite insightful and helpful for anyone running a campaign in the future.