This post was written by Alex Morsanutto.

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re like the millions of other creatives scratching their head on how to make a short film. The short answer is it’s not easy. The first hurdle that deters almost everyone with a big idea is financing.

Surely, there are the Mark Duplass-inspired filmmakers who will go out and film something with their iPhones, but if you’re like me and wanted to try to make something cinematic, you need money.

A few years ago, I had an idea to make a children’s adventure series called OPERATION: CAVITY. It’s a mixture of Ocean’s 11 meets Stranger Things. But to create the series, I thought it’d be helpful to make a short film as a proof of concept. The short film follows a group of kids who rob the dentist who traumatized their childhood. 

After a successful festival run that began with a premiere at the Oscar-qualifying HollyShorts Film Festival, we’re releasing it today on Film Shortage and Omeleto.

Below is my cheat sheet on how we at Silvermine Productions raised $18,844 from 95 backers to make it.

Do Your Homework

At Silvermine Productions, we create commercials for all sorts of brands from international companies to startups. We created crowdfunding videos for two ultra-successful campaigns, Embr Wave and Daniel’s,which raised $629,856 and $243,918, respectively.

Although there is some marketing magic happening behind the scenes, the biggest thing I learned from working with these clients is the importance of research in order to have a successful launch. 

Through our partnership, I saw how they analyzed and created breakdowns of uber-successful Kickstarter campaigns—what their page looks like, the quality of their video, the length of their video, the ratio of videos to photos, the testimonials, the different levels of perks, and the breakdown of rewards.

For OPERATION: CAVITY, we did the same. I analyzed several projects that were similar to our short film. I created an Excel sheet that broke down the different perks that you can offer backers and what they get in return. Some of my favorites to analyze were Jim Cummings’ Thunder Road and Watch Room from Noah Wagner.

Create a Captivating and Convincing Video

Let’s be real, if you’re trying to convince someone to invest in your movie, you'd better have a great pitch video. Just like these startups needed a sizzling video to make their campaign blow up, so did we.

I created a short mood film using my Canon 6D, my dentist’s office, my kid neighbor, and my cinematographer. My pitch video consisted of the mood film, storyboard art that I had created, film references, and a video of me pitching to the audience directly.

A large part of this video is proof that you can actually pull this off. Whether it be in past work, the team you assembled, or any accolades—you need to show people you can execute your idea.

Screen_shot_2022-09-06_at_12Credit: Alex Morsanutto

Screen_shot_2022-09-06_at_12Credit: Alex Morsanutto

Pre-Launch Backers

A lot of stress falls on Day 1 of your Kickstarter campaign. For most startups, if you’re not successfully funded within hours, it’s considered a failure.

Getting interest from the get-go and becoming funded fast is key in the project getting extra attention from Kickstarter’s Projects We Love. They like when projects raise tons of money too—because, guess what? They get a percentage of it! They also like projects that are buttoned up, so make sure your landing page looks professional.

What’s this mean for you? Instead of waiting for the launch day to start spreading the word, start a month in advance. Try to get a mailing list together of some sort so you can put it on your network’s radar. You want as many people as possible to back the project on Day 1 to increase the odds of it hitting Kickstarter’s front page, because once it hits the Projects We Love page, anything is possible.

Img_6468Credit: Alex Morsanutto

Invest in yourself

This should go without saying, but if you’re not prepared to invest in your own project—how could you expect other people to? At the time, I was like many of you and strapped for cash, so I did what any zealous filmmaker would do. I sold whatever I could, which happened to be my 1999 Ford Mustang.

I put that cash into the campaign and even used the video as part of my daily updates.

Buckle Up—It’s Going to Be a Long Ride

Few people realize how much of a commitment it is to make a Kickstarter campaign. You have to post almost daily updates during the fundraising portion, and on top of that, actually produce a movie.

If you’re wise, you’ll leave a buffer between your Kickstarter campaign and your actual production so that you have some time to breathe. Running a campaign is practically a full-time job.

Once you find people that believe in the project, turn them into advocates for the campaign. Ask them to share the campaign with their network, you never know who is going to see it!

Screen_shot_2022-09-06_at_3Credit: Alex Morsanutto

Keep Them Engaged

This is probably one of the more challenging aspects of creating a campaign without spamming people’s inboxes or social media feeds. The truth is that you should be posting every day to get your campaign in front of people.

The challenge is that you need to create compelling content which can generate engagement. You need to think outside of the box. I already mentioned the video of me selling my Ford Mustang, I also made engaging gifs and clips utilizing my own work and films that I really liked.

Screen_shot_2022-05-06_at_10Credit: Alex Morsanutto

Burn Your Ships

If you want to get this film financed, you need to commit. There’s no half-assing this campaign, at least not on Kickstarter. Take the mentality of burning your ships to heart. Give the project your all, and if it can’t get fully financed, then maybe that should be a sign that the market isn’t ready for it yet.

But I do believe that if you start the parade, people will follow. If you put yourself out there, the universe will respond. 70% of our backers came from absolute strangers that I did not know before I launched the campaign.

If you believe it’s possible, burn your ships and will it into existence.

You can watch OPERATION: CAVITY here.