Three Critical Steps to Take Before Launching Your Next Crowdfunding Campaign

Two filmmakers launch a crowdfunding campaign on the same day; one starts raking in backers, while the other goes nowhere. Why?

If one crowdfunding campaign is more successful than another, it’s not an indicator that one film is going to be better than the other, but rather, that one team didn’t take the necessary steps before launching. That’s the case Richard Botto, the founder of Stage 32, makes in his newly released book Crowdsourcing for Filmmakers: Indie Film and the Power of the Crowd

“You think crowdfunding is about money when it’s really about relationships,” writes Botto in the book, published by AFM. According to Botto, it's not just about raising money on Kickstarter or Seed & Spark, but looking at the bigger picture of crowdsourcing, from beginning to end. And let’s face it, if you don’t have a studio gig or financiers, you need the power of the crowd. Botto’s book is aimed at explaining all aspects of crowdsourcing, from the actual definition of the word, to case studies, and nitty gritty details of your campaign. Below, No Film School compiled three of the most important steps for filmmakers from the book.

Step 1: Identify Your Crowd

The most important first step, according to Botto, is to ask yourself who your audience is, from individuals to groups. Then ask, where do these people hang out online? Don’t reach out to anyone yet, just search the internet, watch, and listen. As Botto describes it, “By virtue of putting in this research and spending time on the chat boards and forums, we will also be able to identify passionate individuals with whom we will eventually want to engage, develop a relationship with and, ultimately, move on behalf of us and/or the project.”

Step 2: Engage Your Crowd

This doesn’t mean spewing the details of your film to every potential Twitter follower, it means first cultivating a relationship. How to do that? It’s basically the same recipe for success as making friends, but let’s face it, we’re not all great at that either! Luckily, Botto walks you through the process of what (and what not) to do when trying to bring influential people into your ‘crowd.’ “You sign up for a social media account and immediately begin blasting people, or to be more direct, complete strangers, with information about your project,” writes Botto. “You’ve built up no social currency, no good will, and no respect.” To win this game, you will need to win the respect of the crowd first.

Step 3: Move Your Crowd

Once you’ve really, truly cultivated your crowd, then you ask for help, in a personalized, tailored-to-them way. “You may try to convince yourself that you’re ready to move your audience,” writes Botto. “Hell, you may have just fooled me. But there’s one group you won’t fool no matter how hard you try or how conniving you think you are: the crowd. The crowd is all knowing, all seeing, and all hearing. And if you haven’t done your job with them, the sound you’ll hear when you go to move them will be the most deafening silence in the history of mankind.”

Whether you’re new to crowdfunding (and sourcing), or you’re still trying to figure out where your last failed campaign went wrong, Crowdsourcing for Filmmakers: Indie Film and the Power of the Crowd offers up a lot of congenial advice that could come in handy. With case studies films like Mile…Mile & a Half and Sheila Scorned paired with stream-of-consciousness anecdotes from a filmmaker’s POV, it’s a fun read for those of you trying to bring your next film to fruition.      

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...this is just advertisement. Contains absolutely no info about anything... :-(

November 23, 2017 at 12:40AM


It explains the 3 most important tenets of crowdsourcing. Also represents everything I did wrong with finding an audience for my short. Disagree!

November 27, 2017 at 9:07AM

Julie Smythe

I had the pleasure of hearing Richard Botto speak at iTVFest. His insights into audience building changed my way of thinking. I picked up his book at a signing that evening and read it in 3 days. It's a vital piece of work and made me realize how many missteps I had made in promoting my film and my sad attempts to build my brand. I have my list, I'm checking it twice and I'm going to launch a crowdsourcing initiative right after the holidays for my next film and in an attempt to brand myself as a screenwriter and filmmaker. I can't recommend this book enough. Glad you are supporting it!

November 27, 2017 at 9:02AM

Julie Smythe

Saw this article promoted on RB's Instagram and felt compelled to say thanks. This book has been extremely helpful for me and my film where my lead character has an anxiety disorder. Gave me a whole new perspective on who to reach out to to help build my audience. Thanks Oakley for recognizing this and thanks RB.

November 28, 2017 at 5:21PM, Edited November 28, 5:21PM


This article prompted me to order Botto's book through Amazon. I was not disappointed. It's packed with practical and useful information. The most pleasant surprise was the delivery of the material: straightforward and fun. As someone who is launching a production company that will produce mostly comedy material (including some I have written myself), I was able to clearly learn how to identify my audience and move toward defining the brand of the company and my own personal brand. Further, the film case studies opened my eyes to new ideas and helped me identify several mistakes I made in the past. Crowdsourcing takes work and time. I tried to rush too much. There are no short cuts. But just reading those case studies proved how rewarding the journey can be if you are patient and do the work.

Thank you for this post!

December 11, 2017 at 8:34AM

Phil D