How to Crowdfund your Short Film: Part 1

Crowdfunding: the practice of funding a project or venture by raising money from a large number of people who each contribute a relatively small amount, typically via the Internet.

In theory it sounds like an easy way to get your film made without putting everything on a credit card and spoiling your chance of ever getting a mortgage. In reality, it’s still that, but it’s not as easy as many people expect it to be.

Some people find themselves stuck at 10% of their goal, and not getting much further than that. Others might have 90%, but lose steam and not get the remaining funds. And others seem to sail through their campaign and get 100% or even more in no time at all. Trust me, they put work in, and over the next four posts I’m going to show you what to do to crowdfund your short film, even if you’ve never done it before.

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Step 1

Determine your schedule and your budget. You’ll need a producer on board to do this, or else you can get a line producer who will make a schedule and a budget for you. You need to do the schedule before you can do the budget as you’ll need to know how many days you’ll have to feed and pay crew – it’ll have a big effect on your budget.

Make sure you’re happy with your script before you start this step. There’s no use making a fancy schedule and budget if you then decide to add in more scenes or characters.

At this stage, your schedule doesn’t have to be too specific at this stage, but it does have to be realistic. The biggest things you’ll need to work out are the number of days you’ll be shooting, and how many hours per day. Then you need to know how many cast and crew members you’ll have on each day, and you can start creating your budget. I’ll be doing an in-depth how to schedule and budget post soon, so make sure you’re getting updates of when new posts are published.

Once you have your budget figured out, you know how much you’re aiming for.

Pro-tip: don’t forget to include a contingency in your budget. I usually include £500 solely as contingency money.

Step 2

Determine your timeline. A campaign usually lasts for thirty days, and it can take up to two weeks for the money to arrive in your account, so ideally you want to be running your campaign two months before you start shooting. This also means that you’re giving yourself more leeway just in case anything doesn’t go to plan.

It will take about two months to plan your campaign and publicise it, as a minimum. There’s no use rushing, or just springing a campaign on your followers, friends and family as people will rarely just hand their money over. Your campaign will be most effective if you dripfeed information before your campaign starts.

Decide on exact dates. Create deadlines and stick to them. After all, there’s no point in shouting about your upcoming campaign if you only have to admit later on that you’ve had to delay launching.

Deadlines include:

  • Deciding on perks
  • Completing artwork
  • Completing a teaser trailer or campaign video
  • Deciding campaign launch date
  • Complete the full draft of the campaign
  • Publicity activities, like social media shout outs, interviews with the cast

Have your timeline, with deadlines and notable dates mapped out and locked. Confirm it with everyone on your team, and make sure you’re all sticking to it.

Step 3

Pick a platform. Filmmakers usually use Kickstarter or IndieGoGo. Have a look at both and choose which you prefer. Personally, I prefer the IndieGoGo layout and I’ve found that it is more suited to films but it’s up to.

Do some research beforehand. Find out whether you want to run an ‘all or nothing’ campaign where, if you don’t reach your goal, you don’t get any money. Make sure you check the site’s fees and include that in your budget.

This can take some time, and if you’re not sure yet, don’t worry. Go to step 4 and come back to this once you’re ready.

Step 4

Refine your film. I want you to strip your film back and find out its essence. What genre is it? Who does it appeal to? What are it’s themes? Does it have any influences? This is how you’ll market your film.

People don’t have a lot of time. We all scroll through Instagram and Twitter at 100 miles per hour, so you have to get people’s attention, and get your film across quickly. Emphasise the genre and make it appeal to your target market.

Genre is a big one – it’s the easiest method of categorising films and everybody knows what they like and don’t like. (I bet you’re thinking about which genres you like and dislike right now). I don’t enjoy watching horror films – although I do like making them – so I probably wouldn’t contribute to a campaign for a horror film. Now, if it’s a psychological thriller made by an all-female crew, that’s something I’d get behind. You see my point?

Don’t see this as a bad thing. Just because I, or a group of other people, don’t like horror films there are plenty out there that do. Horror film campaigns always do well. There is a market for every film, and you have to utilise that.

The idea of a target market gets bit blurry with crowdfunding, because you actually end up with two. Your film might interest pre-teen boys the most, but these aren’t the people that will be donating to the campaign. You have to work out who the film’s target market is, and then who the campaign’s target market is. If your film is about a boy who goes on adventures with toy robots, that film’s target market is boys aged 7-13. The campaign’s target market might be men aged 30-55 who have a passion for robots or are nostalgic for that sort of thing. Your send target market might be parents, who think their children would enjoy the film.

Bonus: this is also a good point to start thinking about distribution. It’s not really enough to just say ‘festivals’. Seriously think about which festivals. Factor their submission windows into your filmmaking timelines, and their fees into your budget.

That’s it for part 1 of how to crowdfund your film!

There’s a lot of information to sink your teeth into, so get started and come back next week for part 2.

I want to know, what are you working on right now? Share it in the comments below. See you next week!



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