How to Crowdfund Your Short Film: Part 3

Welcome to Part 3! We’re going to be focussing on actually drafting your campaign and what you can do to make it stand out. Make sure to read Part 1 and Part 2 before embarking on this section.

Step 9

It’s time to find your film’s selling point. If you remember all the way back to step 4 in Part 1, you’ll remember that you refined your film for marketing by highlighting the genre and the storyline. We’re going to take that one step further now. You need to work out the one thing that will make people want to donate to your campaign. What is it about your film that screams ‘we need to make this’? It might be something that makes your film different, or maybe it’s a mini-prequel or sequel to a popular and beloved feature film.

Do a bit of digging and think from another person’s point of view. Why should they care about your film? It could be as simple as them wanting to see it because they’re intrigued by the storyline.

If you’re having trouble, then go in the opposite direction. What won’t make someone donate to your campaign? People usually won’t be inspired to donate on the basis of ‘the director has a degree from …’ I’m afraid to say that people don’t really care about your qualifications. They will care about the story, about the passion, so make it personal.

Personally, I think your selling point is the most crucial step in preparing a campaign. If you do this right, you’ll be able to actually get people to donate (regardless of the rest of your campaign).

Step 10

Team up! This step is optional, but I like it. It can make your campaign more unique and expand your audience. So what is it? Well, literally, team up. You could collaborate with another filmmaker or production company, you could team up with a charitable organisation (or just an organisation) that is related to your film. If they’re a charity then you might consider donating a percentage of the profits to them. Aligning yourself with other professionals means they’ll be advertising your campaign as well, so you might get more interest.

This doesn’t work for every campaign or every project. Some films don’t naturally fit with a charity, and if it’s a small project then collaborating with another company will probably be unecessary.

It can make your campaign stand out though, and your audience might like the idea of donating to a charity at the same time.

Step 11

Okay, now we’re ready. Start drafting your campaign! You have all the elements ready (or if you don’t, go back, get them ready and then start) so it’s time to put them into your draft.

Different platforms have slightly different ways of drafting, so there’s no set order for what to do. Don’t be too stressed about it, you can go back and amend later. When you start drafting, you just want to get all of your stuff onto the page. Make sure you include everything, and then polish it later.

When it comes to writing the body of your campaign – the real nitty gritty part – do it personally. Yes, you probably have a lot of information you want to get in there. But there’s no use in writing it like it’s an essay about a book you read but didn’t understand. Write it as if you’re writing it to a friend – explain what you want to do, and why, honestly and simply. Your audience will engage much more with that. After all, it’s not a sales pitch. If it was, you wouldn’t be drafting a campaign in the first place.

Your audience really is what you have to focus on the most. They aren’t investors, so they’re not interested in budgets, spreadsheets and return on investment. They’re not there for that. They are there for the story, for the passion, for the real life version – not the version on paper. They are there for the enjoyment of film, so that’s what you have to get across.

Step 12

By this stage you should have drafted your campaign and have it done and dusted. Remember to always double-check it for typos (I’ve made some pretty embarrassing typos in my life – learn from my mistakes) and once you’re happy with it you can make a start on the pre-launch phase.

The pre-launch phase is vital. Although you’ve spent hours on this, very few people will know about it, so it’s no use launching it into the ether as no one will be expecting it. Think about big blockbusters and feature films. They release trailers before they release the film, often months and months in advance. And look at the hype they build up! People will actually take the time to dissect and analyse a trailer, and over time the producers create more and more interest in the film. That’s what you’re aiming for in this step.

The second thing you should note is that it is very, very hard to get people to part with their money. Unless they’re buying something they want, people are loathed to give money away. I bet you are too. You worked hard for that money and so you don’t just go throwing it about. So how do you get people to part with it? You build up trust. They have to get to know you, to get to know your project and then they will feel happy about donating.

A good technique for this is drip-feeding. I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid if my Mum ever asked me to do something outright, I usually wouldn’t do it. However, if she put the idea in my head and repeated that a few times (drip-fed it to me) then I would, eventually, do it. It works the same way with your audience.

So you’ll want to build up a relationship with your audience. Your audience, at this point, is anyone and everyone. You also don’t want to make a big deal (yet) of the campaign. Don’t start the pre-launch phase shouting ‘EVERYONE! WE’DE GOING TO ASK FOR YOUR MONEY SOON! GET READY!’ That’s never going to work. Keep it personal. Building a relationship is about give and take between two people, not a campaign page.

Talk about your film, talk about your story. Make videos of you chatting with the writer, director, lead actor, make them interesting and make your film the talking point. These are your trailers, these are what will create interest and intrigue in your film.

Think about what your audience will like. If someone was making a film, what would you like to see? Personally I like a mix of inspiration and getting on with stuff, so I like seeing the writer talk about their inspiration and what they wanted to achieve with the script, as well as seeing meetings or rehearsal or location recces. Make it interesting to your audience so they will want to know more. If you can keep them interested, then they will be more likely to donate.

That’s it for today. Come back next Monday for the last part of the guide.

 

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