March 13, 2015

How to Make a Great Crowdfunding Video That People Will Actually Watch

Emily Best, founder and CEO of Seed&Spark, an alternative crowdfunding platform to Kickstarter and Indiegogo with a decidedly different approach, has some words of wisdom about how to make the best crowdfunding video possible and avoid the mistakes so many people make (thanks to Film Courage for another fantastic interview):

Of course there is no right way to do a crowdfunding video, but by following some of Emily's tips above, you're going to be starting on a much better foot. We've seen plenty of crowdfunding videos here at NFS, and there is no question that "show/don't tell" is a much, much better approach than just talking to the camera. By making the video more interesting and including plenty of material that shows what you are trying to produce, you're going to have a better chance of getting strangers to contribute. 

The other big thing is to keep the length reasonable. Just like that short film that's probably too long, there are so many crowdfunding videos that just drag on and on. These are things that live on the internet, and what works best on the internet is material that is continuously driving forward, and gets in and gets out, leaving you wanting more. Your friends might love it or they might feel obliged to contribute, but to really get strangers involved and excited you have to entice them by being brutal in your edit. Keep it short, 3-4 minutes is a pretty good goal, especially if it's more than just talking heads. If talking heads is all you've got, keep it even shorter. 

By being yourself and being honest in the video, and by doing something visually interesting, you'll have a far better shot at hitting your goal. Getting your video out there is a whole different battle and certainly isn't an exact science, but making a great video will help your campaign stand on a solid foundation.

Here's the full interview with Emily Best, where she touches on more than just crowdfunding, and goes into the sustainability of independent filmmaking outside of LA and NY and why you should trust your gut and not work with people who make your skin crawl:

Your Comment

42 Comments

She talks too much... I got tired by the 2 minutes mark.

March 13, 2015 at 10:55AM

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I watched the whole thing.

March 13, 2015 at 11:13AM

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Al Delcy
Filmmaker
88

If you listen to the whole thing that she trying to state here. Maybe you would understand her P.O.V and tips on making a crowd funding films. She does give lot of insight and helpful informative tips. Just listen for moment because once you do. Then you will realize what she actually trying to say to anyone who's watching the interview.

March 21, 2015 at 4:39PM

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Jeff M.
Director/Writer/Editor/Cinematographer
176

@ Jerome Miller - TL;DR

August 2, 2018 at 10:53AM, Edited August 2, 10:54AM

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I made it to 3 minutes, I'd love to know when the interview starts getting relevant to the article, or is it meta-sarcasm? How does this go from suggesting a 3-4 minute limit on interview-heavy footage, to 73 minutes of a "talking head"?

March 13, 2015 at 11:23AM

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She's suggesting that you're crowd funding campaign video doesn't have to be, and shouldn't be, just talking head. This video that you have just watched above is an interview, not produced by the speaker. There's a pretty big difference between trying to entice someone into joining your project and an interview - the latter being that the sole purpose is to get the insight and opinion of the subject.

March 13, 2015 at 12:29PM

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John Hrindo
Editor
164

What is/are the time code/s of any useful bits? After 3 minutes and some skipping around, It seemed to me like it wasn't directly relevant.

I came here to learn; I am earnestly asking for help finding useful info.

March 13, 2015 at 4:30PM

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In that case you just don't seem to get the message. Relevant information doesn't always come in a oneliner. (And skipping around only destroys context.)
She tells it in an ironic way, but there is a lot of information in it about how NOT to make your crowdfunding video. After that she tells you how you CAN do it effectively.
I can tell you what she says is relevant. The question is: did you already know or not?

March 15, 2015 at 7:02AM

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WalterBrokx
Director, DOP, Writer, Editor, Producer
9010

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/getting-out-short-film/x/3752765

Check out my video. Let me know what you guys think.

March 13, 2015 at 11:28AM, Edited March 13, 11:28AM

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I think that you could have taken everything you typed out in text over 2 minutes and said it in 30 seconds. Watching it gave me no insight on who you are, what you are capable of, what your film is about, and why I should care. I'm not trying to be offensive, really, just critical.

March 13, 2015 at 12:31PM

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John Hrindo
Editor
164

I was trying to do something different because I noticed most videos are very generic. The "plea" video! And we have grown so accustomed to it, like you... we expect it. I wanted to bring some originality.

Then, the videos typically get too esoteric. I mean, it's all about buying into a niche or agenda. It's a narrative short film, not a crisis so why treat it like one. My campaign is all about how as artist we need to practice and that is ultimately what a short film is, practice.

March 13, 2015 at 12:51PM

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If you want input -it's bad. Really bad. Your use of stills and text made it seem like little effort was put into it. Listen to the advice in this article and it'd go a long way. Start your video off with a bang, bring your viewer in. You put your test footage in the middle and it felt odd -also the test footage was a guy walking? Kinda boring, try to use something more visually interesting. Technical points aside I didn't learn who you were through your video, I didn't learn who your team was, and I didn't get any detail of the story or reason you want to make the film.

March 14, 2015 at 2:58AM

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Stephen Herron
Writer/Director
1502

I liked it.

March 13, 2015 at 2:21PM

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Tom Holton
UAS Specialist
267

Thanks Tom! Seems like everyone else likes the same old gimmicky video that starts out with a "bang." These videos seem derivative of every pitch video we've ever seen... boring.

March 14, 2015 at 2:58PM

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Not going to lie, the film itself sounds interesting, and something I would watch. Something I would financially support, too, if the "plea video" was better made. Yeah, it's cool to be different, but just because it's different doesn't mean it isn't also unprofessional and amateurish. It would have been better suited to a comedy or something lighthearted, it would definitely have made more sense. But for a drama like this? The transition from the lighthearted 20's music to a dark modern prison was jarring and didn't help your cause in the least. And as Mr. Herron pointed out, we don't know who you are, or your team, and we don't know the story, besides what was typed out below.

Show, don't tell.

March 14, 2015 at 1:06PM

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Torsten Pearson
Writer-Director-Editor
341

This is useful stuff! My whole problem was... I'm really bad in front of the camera. I'm not a performer and that's why I'm behind the camera. So, I shot two other pitch videos and they were terrible because they were too heavy-handed. My personalty is lighthearted so I tried to portray that in the video. The problem is I make dramatic films. Those are the films I enjoy.

It seems like the best solution would be to enlist some of the cast to help with the pitch video. Thoughts anyone? On a new, creative way to pitch a dramatic film?

Also, it would be interesting to get some advice from people that are not in the film industry or interested in film. Because it seems like everyone on this page wants to know about the crew, etc... But I wonder if the average joe is that concerned with that.

March 14, 2015 at 3:17PM

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Sure, get others in front of the camera as well. Especially if you don't like to be in front of the camera: keep it short but good.
Just show more than talking heads: that way you can show what the tone of the movie will be and what you and your team can do.
You are auditioning a movie, not your performance in front of a camera, so show what you can do.

March 15, 2015 at 7:22AM

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WalterBrokx
Director, DOP, Writer, Editor, Producer
9010

It looks like you went to college in the 1920's and can't afford more than 1 frame for each sentence.
Original?
Probably...
Effective marketing?
I don't think so...
More like a bad parody on bad crowdfunding videos.

Although you say you make commercials and promotional videos, you only seem to proof Emily Best's point that most filmmakers don't understand marketing or at least forget that video is a 'show don't tell medium'.

After 0:09 I would at least expect to see what you have made.

Viewers have questions:
- why should I keep watching?
- why should I care?
- why should I believe you can do it?
These 3 are asked on a subconsious level in the first few seconds, so you need to adress your target audience, hook them and awe them in the beginning of your video.
After that they sure want to know more.

March 15, 2015 at 7:16AM

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WalterBrokx
Director, DOP, Writer, Editor, Producer
9010

Its too light. You can cut that whole video down by alot show the test footage and be done. Use a song from the same era just faster. It doesnt work thematically with your film though. Id have maybe made something like a therapy session where you deliver the pitch to both the audience and the therapist in the room. If written well enough it can be funny and get the message over that you want to convey.

March 16, 2015 at 6:35PM

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Chris Hackett
Director, Director of Photography, Writer
979

Hmm...
From the first video: "If you can't make a short movie that will engage people maybe you shouldn't be making the longer movie." But a few seconds earlier she's suggesting making some no-budget snippet of your film, which in all likelihood will look terrible and is not going to help you at all...

March 13, 2015 at 12:42PM

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Karel Bata
Director / DP / Stereographer
516

All depends on how crafty your team is!

March 13, 2015 at 5:56PM

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Taylor Russ
Director of Photography
668

^the truth about filmmaking in 7 words.

March 13, 2015 at 9:58PM

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or 8, oops.

March 13, 2015 at 9:59PM

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Your right, if it looks terrible people shouldn't give you money to make a longer terrible film.

March 14, 2015 at 2:45AM

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Stephen Herron
Writer/Director
1502

Thats something I was wondering too. Double edged sword in my thinking. On one hand you show nothing and hopefully the candor of the pitch wins over people, on the other you could show something but its terrible and would stop people from giving. Showing nothing sounds safer if you dont have all the resources, if you have some of the resources there really is little reason why not to have some kind of test footage.

March 16, 2015 at 6:39PM

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Chris Hackett
Director, Director of Photography, Writer
979

I'm not sure if it was in this interview or a different one but she's also mentioned that you should try to raise 10+% of your film budget yourself. It's absolutely worth it to wait an extra year or two to shoot your film if it means you can scrape together some money to at least shoot a few scenes. It allows you to demonstrate why we should trust you as a filmmaker to be able to actually finish the feature and make it good. Of course it's not a necessity but unless you have a couple of excellent examples of previous work that you can include in your pitch this will make a huge difference.

April 4, 2016 at 1:47PM

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Andy Hubert
Producer
74

why is she talking about "talking" and does not show what she's talking about?

March 13, 2015 at 12:58PM, Edited March 13, 12:58PM

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Because this isn't her video, she's being interviewed by a third party — in this case Film Courage.

March 13, 2015 at 8:14PM

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Joe Marine
Camera Department

Well, while she talks about the bad crowdfunding videos, she is showing it :-p
Talking head with bla bla ;-)

An interview is not the same beast as a narrative, a commercial or a crowdfunding video. Although showing it in interviews can be very helpful.
BTW, as said before: she is being interviewed by a 3rd party who uses this easy talking head concept.
And honstly, that is enough to get her point across. She doesn't have to show what she will make, because she's not selling a movie. :-p

March 15, 2015 at 7:26AM

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WalterBrokx
Director, DOP, Writer, Editor, Producer
9010

shes right tho

March 13, 2015 at 1:07PM

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Max Ciesynski
Gaffer
646

It's not impossible to come up with a good teaser only using the pocket change, props, and people you already have.

March 13, 2015 at 3:47PM

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Caleb E. Carrow
Director of Photography,
176

"Come on the journey of my film! You'll be alongside me all the way! Your $20 makes you part of the big family that bring this film to life!"

(CUT TO: a year later, just as finished film gets into Sundance)

"Sorry, who the f**k are you? Stop bothering me on Twitter, I'm about to have lunch with Megan Ellison."

March 13, 2015 at 2:05PM

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Jon Mills
Filmmaker
755

Who are you quoting? They sound like a jerk.

March 14, 2015 at 2:42AM

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Stephen Herron
Writer/Director
1502

I have a campaign going right now with Seed&Spark and they have been really great about helping us maximize our chances. It is definitely tough. And our goal is a bit lofty (not as many people care about a movie shooting on film as much as we had hoped), but I do think that their great guidance has gotten us as far as we have gotten so far. Since we launched we have replaced our original pitch video with newer test footage, but I would love to hear the opinions of you all here.

http://www.seedandspark.com/studio/neither-shadow-turning

Original pitch video: https://vimeo.com/117825198

Media lookbook: https://vimeo.com/119738003

March 13, 2015 at 2:53PM

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Adrian Centoni
Writer, Director, Photographer
91

Im not for drama, but the new pitch video is beautifully shot. Definitely feeds into anyone looking for a romance drama.

March 16, 2015 at 6:44PM

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Chris Hackett
Director, Director of Photography, Writer
979

Allright, let's put this to the test. Let me know what you think about the following video
kck.st/1CL0c9c

March 13, 2015 at 4:10PM, Edited March 13, 4:10PM

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Christopher Applegate
Web/Motion Graphics
74

Completely true, it's like going for a job interview with nothing to show the employer. I would never give money for a film without a sample of the work.

If the team is not resourceful enough to get a camera and shoot a short video, they probably won't get the feature finished anyway.

March 14, 2015 at 6:51PM, Edited March 14, 6:51PM

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Ryan Gudmunson
Recreational Filmmaker
626

hmm, my post disappeared...

We did a crowdfunding back in 2014 to finish up a fan film webseries, we didn't ask for a lot cause we got most donated already, however it was very scary, especially trying to promote a fan film.

We did a very basic video to show what we have in our resources and then push it out via social media once a week. We had a lot of strangers helped, but mostly were people we know.

One of the thing when we do social media push, is to say "for just a dinner out, you get to support this fan film" mentality, but still it's quite interesting to find out some people prefer to spend $ for 2 packs of cigarettes than to help. lol

At the end, we over reached our goal and here's the link if you are interested: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/t-r-a-c-e-a-doctor-who-fan-film-webis...

Now we are pushing out another film, this time an action one, and we learned from our mistake and made this a slight different: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1185118621/project-e1337-feature-film

Johnny

March 15, 2015 at 7:53AM, Edited March 15, 7:53AM

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Johnny Wu
Director, Producer, Editor
392

I actually just recently finished a crowdfunding video for a local non-profit here in Detroit.

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/keep-detroit-s-youth-transit-alliance...

March 18, 2015 at 3:51PM

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She makes some really great points here, although I think there's a balance to be struck - crowdfunding videos need to allow the viewers to feel like they have got to know the team and tell the story of the project thus far - why are you crowdfunding and where do you want to go with it next? And something over-produced with lots of gfx for example, or with too many cutaways to clips of the series/artwork etc can mean we don't feel like we are getting to know the production team. In my opinion. (Caveat - i'm yet to make a crowdfunding video, and am in the middle of prep for one) Do people agree?

August 18, 2015 at 8:40AM

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Steven Bloomer
Writer/Director/Editor
81

I would love to get her analysis of my non-talking-head video, and why it is not getting as many responses as we want: http://bit.ly/oz-dwacon

August 18, 2015 at 8:54PM

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Dwayne Conyers
Producer
74

Check out this master class with Emily Best: Crowdfunding Your Indie Film Like a Pro http://www.indiefilmhustle.com/crowdfunding/

November 13, 2015 at 5:28PM

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Alex Ferrari
Director / Producer
841