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.