crowdfunding

5 Ways to Write a Convincing Crowdfunding Pitch for Your Film

By NYFA Guest Contributor Grace Carter

Crowdfunding is a competitive arena; there are a lot of people out there trying to get their film funded by online backers. To stand out from the crowd, you’ll need to believe in your talent and ability to make the project happen — and prove to people that you’re worth their investment.

Here are five tips to help you write a convincing crowdfunding pitch for your film.

Pick the Right Platform

Before you get writing that crowdfunding pitch, you need to decide what platform is best for your campaign. Established sites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo will give you the benefit of high visibility, but will charge you higher fees than a smaller site. If you choose Kickstarter, keep in mind that their campaigns are an all-or-nothing deal; if you don’t reach your goal, you will not get any of the funding you raised. Indiegogo allows you to choose between the all-or-nothing deal or a situation where you receive your funds regardless of whether your goal was met.

Write a Compelling Story

This is your pitch: your chance to convince would-be backers why your film is worthy of their money. Answer the important questions of who, what, when, where, and why. People often forget to answer the why question, but don’t make that mistake. Talk about yourself and your story, and why you’re making this film. What is your film about, what is its message? What’s your timeframe for filming, and when do you expect to have it completed and ready for viewing? How will be people be able to view it? It’s great to show some passion, just make sure you can deliver on the expectations you create with that passion. 

Build up some credibility by talking about past filmmaking success and any relevant experience you have. Don’t forget to include your call to action, by directing people in how they can support your work. You’ll get better results if you use words like “receive” and “offer” instead of “help” and “support.” 

You may also want to go the extra mile to make sure your pitch is well written by using professional grammar, proofreading, and editing services. Be sure to check your pitch’s grammar with sites like ViaWriting or Simplegrad.

Use Lots of Visuals

Since you’re trying to fund a film, you’ll want to include as many visuals as you can. If you’ve started filming, consider including a short clip so people can see what you’re doing. Don’t worry if you’re still in pre-production, you can film a short video in which you explain what you’re doing and what your vision is for your film. You can put together a very clever and low-budget video pitch, like the one made by the makers of I am I.

Ideally, your video should only be a few minutes long, and the first 10 seconds are critical. If you don’t grab your viewer’s attention in those first 10 seconds, they’ll lose interest and click away before you can even get into your pitch. The last 10 seconds are just as critical, and it’s important to leave your viewers with a clear takeaway and call to action.

“Be sure to rehearse your script quite a bit before you get on camera, so you don’t look like an amateur. A few awkward pauses or stuttering are all it takes for a would-be backer to lose faith. Spend some time crafting your pitch script and practice, practice, practice,” advises Roland Ainsworth, writer at State of Writing.

Include Some Nice Perks

Backer rewards are bonuses you hand out to people who support your campaign, usually on a scale depending on the level of funding. Some perk ideas for a film crowdfunding campaign include a thank you shoutout on the film website; access to an online production diary; access to an inspirational playlist used and curated by the director; a download of the film pre-release; and a DVD and thank you in film credits.

It’s important not to overcommit. Put some thought into how much you can actually deliver on should you receive a lot of support. It would be a shame to ruin your credibility and anger your backers by being unable to deliver on your backer perk promises.

Promotion

Once you’ve got a solid pitch and some nice rewards planned, it’s time to get the world watching.

“Start by letting your friends and family know. It’s a good strategy to try and get 30 percent of your funding with a soft launch targeted at people your group knows, before going ahead with the hard launch on a platform,” recommends Doris Crawford, editor at UKWritings.

Make sure you put together your mailing list and send private emails and phone calls at least a month prior to launching the crowdfunding campaign. If you don’t raise at least 5-10 percent of your target goal, it is probably best to postpone the launch.

Post regular updates on your film’s social media accounts to remind your community of how things are progressing. You might want to build up some hype before you launch your campaign, just don’t overdo it and turn people off. Reach out to friends of friends, bloggers, and influencers. Over time you’ll get people tweeting and organically promoting your campaign. Email might seem old fashioned, but a targeted email campaign can still be very effective.

Conclusion

Writing a convincing crowdfunding pitch can be tough. You’re competing with a lot of other people and a lot of other films. You need to make yours stand out and is backed by a solid plan. Write a compelling story, for what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Use lots of visuals, giving your backers a taste of your filmmaking talent. Follow these five ways to write a convincing crowdfunding pitch for your film.

Ready to learn more about film and media production? Check out our Producing School programs at the New York Film Academy.

Grace Carter is a writer and storyteller at Essayroo and Boom Essays service. She edits, proofreads, writes various types of papers, and helps the content marketing team. Also, Grace is a tutor at Academized educational website. 

How to Use Crowdfunding Sites Like Kickstarter & Indiegogo to Fund Your Film

Nothing speaks to the independent filmmaking spirit quite like crowdfunding. Not only can you get your project made without relying on traditional top-down sources, but also a successful campaign demonstrates your film’s marketability to potential distributors. Not all crowdfunding campaigns have the built-in fan base of the wildly successful “The Veronica Mars Film Project,” so we’ve gathered some tips and resources to help you make sure your crowdfunding campaign reaches, or even surpasses, its goal.

Do Your Homework

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As we mentioned in this article comparing crowdfunding sites, you need to know the particulars of the platform and choose accordingly. Kickstarter and Indiegogo both have track records of funding successful filmmaking projects, and looking at their film and video specific project pages makes clear that trending projects include feature films, documentaries and shorts. GoFundMe, on the other hand, has gone in another direction with the majority of its campaigns being personal rather than creative. Also, keep in mind that Indiegogo allows users to collect and keep funds as the campaign proceeds, while Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing game, where you must choose a deadline and a minimum goal that you must meet in order to collect funds.

Hit the Ground Running

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Do your research and have everything in place before your campaign starts. Whatever platform you choose, spend some time perusing projects, especially those that seem similar to your own. Both the successes and failures can help you.

Also, try to line up PR before launching. Doing the work before the campaign clock starts ticking will give you a better chance of success. According to this article at CrowdCrux.com, gaining the interest of strangers is most likely to occur within the first three days of launching: “At this stage, you will be in the recently launched tab and if you hustle and get supporters early, you can become a trending project.” After that window, it gets much harder.  

Never Underestimate the Power of a Good Story

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Setting up your project page with a clear, concise, and compelling story including visuals and a realistic budget is vital. According to Kickstarter’s Creator Handbook, “there are some basic questions you should answer including: ‘Who are you? What are you planning to make? Where did this project come from? What’s your plan, and what’s your schedule?’” In other words, you want to transmit your passion and excitement to potential backers, while assuring them that you are qualified and capable of bringing the idea to life.

Attract the Low Rollers

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Remember that the beauty of crowdfunding is that many backers with shallow pockets can take the place of one or two execs with deep pockets — but, they will also want return on their investment. According to this Entrepreneur.com article, the most popular pledge amount at Kickstarter is $25, so you want to make sure “the affordable perks don’t run out too fast, or you risk losing potential backers who can’t afford steeper offerings.”

Filmmakers are lucky to have built-in social media minions in the way of cast and crew. However, don’t rely on them to come up with their own mini-campaigns. Give them shareable items that they can customize for their own network. Most Kickstarter campaigns don’t go viral, but that doesn’t mean they don’t succeed. Don’t be shy to reach out to friends, family, coworkers, acquaintances and everybody you can think of that might be interested.

Have you managed a successful crowdfunding campaign? Tell us your experience in the comments below. And learn more about filmmaking and producing with a variety of short- and long-term programs at the New York Film Academy.

Producing Movies in 2015: Subcultures and Niches

As mentioned the last time we covered the role of the producer, it’s a very fluid role that is extremely hard to sum up with a two-line job description. Throw into the mix that the industry is evolving at a rapid pace—forcing the role itself to change with it—and it’s little wonder that so many people are struggling to find their feet.

Producing school will naturally put you way ahead of the game, but the question of what to produce lies squarely with you. One thing to consider as you traverse this exciting terrain is how subcultures and crowdfunding can provide a tried-and-tested path to fund and produce a great work of passion, and it’s that which we’ll be discussing today.

Crowdfunding: More Than Just The Cash

It won’t have escaped the notice of anyone reading this that crowdfunding has, at long last, come to be taken seriously as a means for funding productions (and at a scale which has really silenced the naysayers.)

Obviously, raising enough capital to do justice to your vision is a very important concern for any producer. But it has to be said that, as many have before you have found out the hard way, crowdfunding is not a big pile of cash that anyone can dip into at will.

If you look at just about any successful crowdfunding project—even outside of the realm of filmmaking—you’re likely to notice a common thread running through them: they identify a very specific demographic, then figure out how to best serve the people within it.

Movie production is no exception. Free from some of the restrictions of traditional, big studio-fuelled productions, a filmmaker in 2015 no longer has to try and appeal to the largest swathe of potential moviegoers and can instead hone in on very niche subjects.

Consider the likes of Indie Game: The Movie, which pulled in over $70,000 in crowdfunding and went on to huge critical acclaim, or the Bronies documentary which smashed its $60,000 target and ended up raising over $320,000. The success of both lies with excellent marketing to an extremely passionate (and pre-existing) audience who were happy to pay to see a film that wasn’t even released yet.

But this brings us onto the golden rule of producing a movie for a specific subculture:

You Can’t Fake Passion.

Circling back to the aforementioned message about crowdfunding not being a method of making a quick buck, trying to take advantage of a subculture you’ve got no interest in is a very quick route to failure. A producer with no passion or reverence for the subject matter will not be able to create a quality film that does it justice, and those who are passionate within the subculture can spot a fake from a thousand miles away.

And anyway, you probably already learned very early on into your career that there is barely enough time to do justice to the interests you are passionate about, never mind the ones you aren’t.

In short, pick a niche that really interests you. It’s virtually guaranteed that you’ll find a group of like-minded individuals who will happily invest in what you have to say on the topic via the medium of film.

The Importance of Branding and Subculture in Production

To further demonstrate the efficacy of keeping the potential audience in mind first and foremost when scouting for a potential production, let’s examine the trend for marketing to pre-existing audiences on a huge scale.

Studios are increasingly turning to—and snapping up—intellectual properties that come with their own inbuilt audiences. If we look at the top grossing movies of 2015 so far, you’ll notice a common theme:

1. Jurassic Worl($1.6bn)
2. Furious 7 ($1.5bn)
3. Avengers: Age of Ultron ($1.4bn)
4. Minions ($1bn)
5. Inside Out ($734m)
6. Fifty Shades of Grey ($569m)
7. Cinderella ($542m)
8. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation ($509m)
9. San Andreas ($469m)
10. Terminator Genisys ($435m)

By and large, the above entries already come from strongly-established franchises or had a huge amount of anticipation and almost guaranteed audience attendance before release (such as Pixar’s Inside Out and Fifty Shades of Grey). The same went for 2014, a top-grossing list made up almost completely of sequels, reboots, and comic book movies with already eager audiences (namely Guardians of the Galaxy.) The only anomaly this year was San Andreas, and the only brand new intellectual property last year was Interstellar

… and obviously, directly following the success of the Dark Knight trilogy, it wouldn’t exactly be a risky gamble to predict the success of any Christopher Nolan release.

Even  this year’s Pixels movie—which performed poorly from a critical perspective—has doubled its budget at the box office, likely owing to its tapping of a strong and rising crowd of indie game enthusiasts.

The Takeaway for Indie Producers

Of course, this is all a very scaled-up example from the very top of the box office for demonstration purposes. You don’t have to compete at this scale and nor should it be deemed a failure if you don’t make millions or double your budget—remember, it’s all about making serving a subculture or niche with a strongly branded work that you can be proud of, and the principles behind this work at any level.

Go find your niche. Discover the audience that is already out there and waiting, then make sure you create something that truly speaks to them.