How to Crowdfund your Short Film: Part 2

Welcome back! If you haven’t seen part 1 yet, you can find it here

Step 5

Now it’s time to get on with some research. It’s dull, but there’s a big market out there and you can use that to your advantage. Find campaign’s and films that are similar to yours. What rewards do they offer? How do they describe their film? Did they make a trailer or an interview-type video? Find out what everyone else is up to, find out what works and what doesn’t, and then cherry-pick the bits you like best.

I’ve gotten some great ideas from other campaigns: joining forces with another production co or even a charity, for example, is a brilliant way to automatically expand your audience, make a difference and create new collaborative partnerships.

One aspect I focus most on with other campaigns is the video. What works best depends on genre, but whatever you do you have to hook people in to your film. If your film is horror, then a short trailer – around 30 seconds – will be enough. You don’t have to go all out on the blood and gore, you just have to set up the situation, and the problem that your character faces. I’ve also found that a lot of the time it’s better to introduce the story and the problem rather than introducing your character. You’ll pack more drama in that way.

But no one knows your film better than you, so research what will work best for it. Campaigns take a lot more planning than most people think, and the better you plan, the better it will perform.

Step 6

Now it’s time for my favourite bit: creating perks (or rewards, depending on which platform you’re using). You will have seen a huge variety of perks on offer during your research but there are also some steadfast rewards that go down well regardless of your campaign.

Associate Producer, Producer and Executive Producer credits can be found on almost every campaign out there. They’re something that a lot of people want, and they’re usually the ‘top prize’. As a producer, I don’t mind Associate Producer and Executive Producer credits as these are often ‘giveaway credits’, but I don’t like plain Producer credits, as that is my full time job and it’s usually about making the film happen rather than just financing it. Whatever you go for, keep them at the top end of your rewards list.

Generally, you’ll be able to divide perks lists into three main categories: electronic, merchandise and experience. These increase in price, with the experience perks seeming to be rewards that ‘money can’t buy’ (like an exec producer cred).

Electronic is a new but expanding market, and includes a social media shoutout, an e-thanks and a private link to the finished film. This is an easy category, because it’ll be entirely free to create each reward.

Merchandise will be physical objects, but you can also include items that can be sent electronically, such as storyboards and the script. This is where you have to put in the work. Electronic and experience can be pretty broad, typical categories, but merchandise has to be tailored to your audience. What will they want? Would they rather have a T Shirt or a poster? What can I offer them that they really, really want? You also have to factor in the cost of making the perk and shipping it. Once you’ve decided what you’re going for, go back to your budget and add the manufacturing and shipping costs.

Experience is my favourite category. It includes the luxury items which, although they cost you almost nothing, you can charge a lot of money for. It’s the Net A Porter of crowdfunding. As well as a handful of different producer credits, you can also offer tours of the set, invites to premieres and meetings with the main cast or crew. Those are just a few suggestions, during your research you’ll have found a lot more. You do have to be a bit careful with these perks. If you’re only having a two day shoot, then a tour of the set is probably going to be too difficult to include.

As you go up in price of each reward, make sure you include some or all of the cheaper rewards too.

And that’s it!

Step 7

Next you’ll need to decide on the visuals. While most of the campaign is text and perks, the bit people pay the most attention to is the visuals.

You have a few options. First, decide whether you want to have just photos, or a video as well?

If you want a video, then what will it be? Will it be a teaser trailer, will it be a snippet of a scene, will it be the director and producer sat in front of the camera explaining why their film is the best? If you’re struggling to decide, go back to your research. What did other campaigns do? If you still can’t decide, look at your budget. Making a trailer can be really cheap – no one is expecting the full, finished, polished film. Shooting a snippet of a scene can be harder – it’ll be longer than a teaser, you might have to have more people in it, and it’ll be harder to establish the story in a short space of time. Work out how much you can spend on it and then see what you want to do.

If you want photos then you’ll need a good mix. Maybe stage a rehearsal, and get pictures of that. Stage an official-looking meeting and take photos. You want people to know that you’re taking it seriously, and that you really are making something. Again, look at your budget. Can you afford to hire out rehearsal or meeting rooms, or can you do it in someone’s living room instead? Can you afford to pay a photographer? If not, find a student looking for experience.

Decide exactly what you want, and work out exactly how you’re going to do it. You have to be precise about this, it’s not something you can rush through.

Step 8

Last step for today! It’s time to make your visuals. This will be the same as organising a film shoot, but on a much smaller scale. The main goal is to make something short and sweet that will entice people to donate to your campaign. The second goal is to make it as cheaply as possible, and to make it soon (so you can get your campaign going!)

If you’re making a teaser, you should already know exactly what you’ll be shooting. So, at the risk of sounding like a children’s TV presenter, you will need:

  • A location
  • Camera equipment
  • Sound equipment
  • Your cast (try and keep it to a minimum)
  • Your crew (again, keep it to a minimum)

Then you’ll need to set a date for your shoot, and ideally you’ll only need to spend 4 hours (or less) on shooting. Once you’ve got a date that everyone can make, you just need to get on with it. You will have to explain, probably several times, that this is ‘a very small shoot for our crowdfunding campaign’. You can pay people expenses with the promise of hiring them for your actual film, subject to funding, but don’t underestimate the number of times you will have to clarify that, at this point, you have no money. That’s why you’re making this.

The same goes for shooting a scene, or a video with the main crew. As you’ll have decided this in the previous step, this should be a straightforward process.

Pro tip: if you are shooting a scene, try and find a way to incorporate other elements of the story into it to make it feel more like a trailer. Give people a more complete picture of your film.

Pro tip: if you are shooting a video with the director/director and producer/whatever combination you fancy, try scripting it. You don’t want it to feel too prepared, but it’ll ensure that you get all they key info across without going off piste. Aim for making it friendly and inviting. Don’t aim to make a sales pitch, you won’t sell anything.

And we’re done for today, congratulations! Let me know what projects you’re working on in the comments below, and I’ll see you for Part 3 very soon.

 

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