MovieMaker magazine has a fantastic article mapping out how to crowdfund your film. It's crucial to see the crowd as even more valuable than the funds. Read why and how:
MovieMaker magazine has a fantastic article mapping out how to crowdfund your film. It's crucial to see the crowd as even more valuable than the funds. Read why and how:
We're in post-production on our indie sci-fi feature In-World War and currently doing coloring and visual treatment tests on a few scenes.
As we go through this process, I now see that a supposed weakness in how we shot the film is actually a huge strength.
As a guerrilla, ultra-low budget feature, we didn't have the time, team or tools to do massive lighting set-ups or complex shots. Also, as both the producer and director, I was swamped with production-level details and didn't have a chance to do storyboards or even extensive mood boards (a major error -- next time I'll make the time for both), much less have indepth shot-by-shot discussions with the DP.
The result is that we shot it as fast as we could and DP Donavan Sell lit it in a way that would allow us maximum flexibility in post to adjust the look the film through the coloring process. As Donavan often said, he was shooting it "right down the middle".
However, the dailies came out extremely bland and pretty flat. I was a bit disappointed. I wanted a cinematic indie aesthetic. Something that rang out (cue the trumpets): CINEMATOGRAPHY!
As we created and revised the assembly edit, the same issue kept bothering me. The colors and lighting didn't pop.
Then, we started experimenting with the coloring.
And learned I couldn't have been more wrong.
Donavan was exactly on the money. His "down the middle" lighting allowed us huge flexibility for coloring. By not baking an extreme lighting look into the raw footage, we are able to tweak and push the color and visual treatment of the footage as much as we want.
What I thought was flat and uninteresting was actually exactly what we needed.
And since about 90% of the footage is 4k RED with its deep color space, we're in a great position to do something extraordinary with the visual treatment.
All because we shot it right down the middle.
Life is so precious.
And when we lose someone who blazes bright, igniting a long tail of inspiration and accomplishment, one cannot help but pause in gratitude and loss.
Yesterday, Graham Leggat, the Executive Director of the San Francisco Film Society, passed away after an long battle with cancer. He resigned last month, as his illness resurfaced and reached the stage of no return.
It hit me like a ton of bricks for many reasons. He has a young son (I too lost a parent when I was a child) and he was my secret idol of successful -- and cool -- film community leadership. In his six years as ED at SFFS, he had transformed the organization. And despite being the head of the preeminent film organization in the region, he always had time for a hello and idle chitchat at events.
Who was I, but a scrappy no-name DIY filmmaker? He treated me with the respect and kindness one dreams of receiving for doing any craft or art.
He was a class act that made me feel appreciated as a filmmaker.
And not because I had anything to offer him or the organization (no hot film, no fame, no money, no connections), but because he was an honorable, democratic guy who lived the essense of the SFFS mission: film appreciation (as opposed to celebrity worship: I'm looking at you Sundance).
His financial and audience accomplishments were many. When he took the reins, the SFFS was known only for the renowned San Francisco International Film Festival which took place two weeks each year.
Today, it's a year-round organization and, despite a cratering economy, he was responsible for huge growth measured by every metric: doubled the number of members, increased annual budget by a factor of three (each year balanced too), increased grants, and much more, including a recently-opened theater that shows SFFS-programmed films daily. His year-round programming includes my personal favorites: new small festivals in the fall focused on contemporary Italian, French and Taiwanese films (plus three other new small fests each fall).
Above all, the most important thing he did from a DIY filmmaking perspective -- and the reason why I fell into his orbit and got so involved in the SFFS -- was taking responsibility for the filmmaker services programs of the Film Arts Foundation.
I was one of the many refugees from the financial imposion of the scrappy Film Arts Foundation, the long-suffering, anemically-funded, vital organization dedicated to supporting local Bay Area filmmakers through classes, events, a magazine, fiscal sponsorship, gear rental and more. Looking back on it, who in their right mind would start an organization whose funding was based on fees and tickets sold to wannabe indie filmmakers? By definition, these are filmmakers with no money, with films no one has heard of.
But that's where so many of us started. And it was a hugely important support structure for our local filmmaking community.
And that's why Graham picked up the pieces and gave us shelter at SFFS.
For years, there was a low art/high art chasm between FAF and the SFFS: FAF was dedicated to support the local filmmaker community, a ragtag dysfunctional family making weird film art of debatable quality and limited audience appeal (basically, it was film school for people no longer in college), while the SFFS was dedicated to bringing highly acclaimed films and legendary filmmakers from around the world to San Francisco audiences.
And never (or very rarely) did the two missions cross paths....mostly because the SFFS took limited (some would so say no) interest in local films. (Yes, I'm still bitter they refused to show Quality of Life at the San Francisco International Film Festival-- despite that we were one of only two American films to win a Jury award at Berlin that year. Graham was hired a year later.)
When FAF finally went belly-up, the SFFS stepped in and took over these vital functions. The two halves of the Bay Area film community -- filmmaker support and film appreciation -- were finally joined under one roof, as it should be. Graham was key in seeing the connection and making it happen.
And my life, my new film In-World War, and my involvement in the fimmmaker community have all been so much richer for it.
All the while I've watched Graham do his magic: introduce films, work the room, stop to say hello and generally do it all with the calm panache and easy cool of a Scottish secret agent.
So basically I knew his days were numbered.
I fully expected to one day hear that he was leaving us, scooped up by some bigger razzle-dazzle festival or national arts organization. His trajectory was unmistakable. He was a catch.
Then one day last month, I got the email: Graham was leaving.
But through the door I least expected.
He was resigning because his cancer had returned (I didn't even know he had fought it off a year and a half ago) and it had spread too far, too fast. He had known through the recent San Francisco International Film Festival but kept it to himself, to avoid making the festival about him and keeping the spotlight on the films and the filmmakers.
I was devestated. Graham was not a good friend -- he wasn't even a friend at all. He was more of someone I looked up to immensely and knew in passing well enough to say hello with a moment of recognition. And of course it hurt evenmoreso knowing of his young son and remembering (as I do every day) the loss of my mother to cancer far, far too early.
I reached out to him via email, sharing my gratitude for his work and envy for his seemingly effortless skill and success. As a student of leadership, I told him of my own selfish sense of loss, for I wanted to learn more from watching him do his thing. He replied that he loves to share his thoughts on management, being a favorite subject of his.
So the last time I saw him, at an overflowing "small" gathering in his honor at Tosca a few weeks ago, I took a moment to ask him if he had any bon mots of management advice. He responded immediately:
"If you're going to be hung -- and if you're in management, you will eventually be hung -- you might as well be hung for who you are than who you're not."
Graham's secret of course, is that this isn't about management.
For all the advice I've tried to collect here on this site on how to get your film funded, how to write a great script, how to make a movie that people want to see and how to get people to buy it and see it, I can think of no better admonishment for myself or my fellow DIY filmmakers.
We must make the films that are true to each of us. We must be ourselves and not that which we think others want.
Because at the end of the day, we all leave this tired Earth eventually (some long from now and some far too soon) and that what we touched leaves the only marks that we passed this way. Best that we be true to ourselves, no matter what others say or think or do.
Thank you for that Graham Leggat (and thank you for all the rest too).
Is it me, or is Kickstarter taking over the world?
Well thank goodness.
We desperately need to create a culture of giving amongst our family, friends and the wider audience for indie/DIY film, music and art. Yes, it's great that Kickstarter gives us an awesome platform to raise funds, but more importantly, the concept is gaining traction as a cultural movement.
People are starting to see themselves as micro-foundations, giving small-change donations to support our starving art projects. Hurray for art! Give today dammit!
So for a look under the hood at how Kickstarter chooses their "Projects We Love" and other insider tips, check out this fantastic article:
New York Times Magazine: The Trivialities and Transcendence of Kickstarter
And in case you missed them, we've also had two lengthy previous articles about Kickstarter, IndieGoGo and crowdfunding best-practices:
Longtime DIY filmmaker and friend Mark Stolaroff is teaching his legendary No Budget Film School again in August in Los Angeles. If you're down there or can travel to LA, it's worth it.
Between Mark's experience and the impressive speakers he's assembled, this is just about the best way to turbo-charge your ultra-low budget filmmaking projects. Even if you can't be at the class, you should join his list, since he sends out great insightful info (he's already been a guest writer on this blog once).
If you're through talking about being a filmmaker and ready to become one, this will be the most practical filmmaking course you will ever take.
Sign up today since spots are limited:
Have you ever been in the TV section of a big superstore and noticed a flat screen TV (or 20) showing a Blu-Ray DVD that made the film look like it was filmed at a local TV station? Everything looks really video-like and not at all filmic. As you're watching, you notice that the special effects don't match the rest of the picture while everyone seems lit for the local weather report.
Perhaps you've even seen this happen on your TV at home and noticed it when watching films or shows on your HD cable or DVD. Yikes. Is this what HD's gonna give us: crappy home-video quality blockbusters?!?
The first time I saw this, I literally stopped in my tracks, horrified. I was at Sears walking by a huge HD flat screen TV. A VERY expensive model. They were playing the first Spiderman movie. Instead of a multi-million dollar film, it looked like a student video project. Or a behind-the-scenes video. I prayed this wasn't the HD future we've been promised.
Well, it's not. Basically, it's all about the settings on the TV itself. So if you have a TV that's ruining your movies this way, you should definitely read this and change your settings immediately:
In order to get people to see your film, you need to have a target audience and know how to reach (and how to talk to) them.
There are two paths to reach your audience, both of which have a proven track record:
You can study, research and intimately understand your target audience.
- or -
You can just copy what works from people who've already done it.
I recommend number two: copy what works from people who already know how to reach the same audience.
Who has the time and money to do the type of research needed to fully understand a given audience? Who even among us DIY filmmakers has this training to be a market researcher? (Okay, okay, you should try to do the research nonetheless. It's good for you to learn the marketing skills.)
But, the easiest way to tell your target audience about your film is to copy from the masters.
It's a pretty straight-forward approach. First, you find out what movies (and other stuff) that your audience likes already. Second, you look up these projects and take notes on what works and just do something similar.
Remember, it's not stealing if you don't use their footage, logos, images or text. All you need to do is find out what other films that your audience already likes (and tv shows, and books, and music, etc.).
Most likely, you already are a member of your film's target audience (after all, why go through the painful experience of making a film you're not passionate about?), so you can probably make some good guesses about favorite films for your audience. These are the ones you like most. Easy.
If you're not a member of that audience, or if you just want to go the extra mile (highly recommended) to discover what films your target audience likes, Facebook is your friend.
Here are two tricks on how to use Facebook to do market research on your target audience. It assumes you have at least a few hundred friends on your own personal Facebook page and/or at least a few hundred fans on your film's Facebook page.
Option 1: Your Facebook friends
Use your own circle of friends as a free market research bank.
Since like attracts like, you probably have Facebook friends that are in your target audience too. (If not, well, this won't work.)
- Click on Friends
- Click on Edit Friends (don't worry, we won't be editing anything)
- Click on Recently Interacted to see the other options...
- Click on Search by Interest
- Enter the name of a (major) film that you already know appeals to the same target audience
- You'll get a result of people who say they like that film and are your friends
- See what other films come up often in those people's interests
Now that you have a list of film, check out those trailers (even if the film is old -- see if you can find the trailer online somewhere). Study how they convey the story, the feel of the film and how the marketing for the movie says "hey target audience, this film is for YOU."
Option 2: Your film's Facebook page
If you already have a Facebook page for your film (with a minimum of 100+ fans -- and ideally not just your own friends and family only), you can do this separate cool trick.
- Go to your film's page, logged in as one of the admins.
- Click on Use Facebook as Your Film Name (where "Your Film Name" is, um, your film's name).
- You are now logged in as if you were your film, rather than your own personal account.
- Click on News Feed.
- See the section called "Recommended Pages" on the right of the page? It will tell you a list of other movies, TV shows and other fan pages that your fans like. (Don't bother clicking on "See All" though -- it's best to see the info about how many of your fans like each recommended page -- and you can't see that on the "See All" page unfortunately.)
- Additinally, you should be able to reload the page and different "Recommended Pages" should come up, with the specific number of fans that like those things too.
Keep notes with the films, TV shows and other fan pages that people Like. Obviously, you're more interested in those with highest number of Likes amongst your fans.
Now that you have a list of what your target audience is into, go to these other films' Facebook pages and visit their actual websites -- and study them. Look at how the film sites talk about their projects, the style of design/art they use, and basically how they present themselves to the world.
You'll also want to research HOW these films reached the audience. This will be tougher, but perhaps you can dig around online for articles and discussions about how a film marketed itself (an easy search via Google: "movie name" marketing). Did they just buy ads or did they do local events or did they print up temporary tattoos and hand them out at Comic-Con? See if you can find out more about their marketing and outreach and PR plans.
For films, definitely take a look at their trailers and the posters -- see what elements they use and try to emulate the look. People have one second to make up their mind about a project when they see a poster or in the first few seconds of a trailer. Help them by being similar to what they like already.
And then take your notes and use similar strategies for your film. Basically, create a DIY and cheap version of their marketing plan for your film. Don't steal taglines or images -- just the underlying ideas and strategies: you're not trying to copy WHAT they say, but HOW they say it.
Why does it matter how other films are marketed?
These films (from your Facebook research) have attracted people who are interested in your film (or in things like your film) and if you learn their tricks, you can better attract to your film an audience composed of like-minded people.
While you're at it, why don't you check out the Facebook page for our indie sci-fi film, In-World War, and become a fan by clicking "Like" on our page. Seriously, look at all this free stuff I write for you: my gentle, good-looking, highly-intelligent reader. The least you can do is Like our film's Facebook page. Think of the children.
Shooting a DIY indie film with multiple cameras may actually save you money -- and help avoid painful headaches in editing.
Sure sure, you're thinking, I'd love to shoot with two, three or ten cameras. But who can afford that?
Though it goes against the DIY ethic, shooting too fast, too cheap and too on-the-fly can get you into trouble.
Please, learn from my mistakes.
Recently, I've been editing together a rough assembly edit of a new scene for our DIY sci-fi film In-World War and I'm pulling my hair out. It's a walk-and-talk scene on the street that we shot as a 2nd unit pick-up, with characters stopping as they make points to each other in the conversation.
As pre-pro on the scene prior to production, I storyboarded it out, but honestly the scene scared the crap out of me. How could we get the CU inserts to match the wider walking shots without creating a really tightly choreographed blocking of the scene? I was afraid -- even if that detailed choreography were possible given our time constraints -- that the scene would look too stiff and too contrived rather than loose and natural as they walked and talked.
Sure enough, on location, the blocking got mixed up and it was compounded by the frantic nature of DIY filmmaking: too many shots (and locations) to get in one day and not enough time to plan them out.
On top of that, since we were shooting in partial sunshine in the mid-morning, the light kept changing. It would have been smarter to shoot on the shady side of the street (it was NYC, so the buildings were tall). That meant that some shots just couldn't match.
Still, we got some great performances and a ton of coverage and I figured we could just cut around the problem areas.
Oh sweet hubris. Enter the cruel iron law of indie filmmaking:
In the end, the edit room reveals all.
And it isn't always pretty.
The footage -- shot by shot -- looks awesome. It's visually impressive work by our 2nd Unit DP Dane Brehm and the actors' performances were great too.
But the shots. Just. Don't. Cut. Together.
In the end, I think we'll be fine and the scene will work. I massaged the current edit by stringing together what matching motions I could find. Given all we shot we should have had many more options. Still, I'm considering doing the whole scene mostly in the wide master shot as an alt choice -- cutting to tighter shots when they fit but staying with the master as the spine of the scene (rather than just establishing wide and then cutting the whole scene as Med/CU back-and-forth, which is my pref).
The tighter shots just don't match well enough with the action and lighting in the master.
How would I do it different next time? Consider these two approaches for scenes with significant movement and interaction between characters, particularly over a large distance and when you need to match different shots (i.e. walk and talk scenes, fight scenes, etc.).
1) Plan ahead and go slower on set.
All this work in pre-production and production will take time (and even on DIY film sets, time = money), but it's the best way to make sure you have footage you can actually edit together sanely.
No problem, see?
Yeah right. Most of us DIY filmmakers live in the real world where we have no time for extensive pre-pro and rehearsals, the DP isn't available during rehearals, the production schedule is overloaded and there's no time for the perfection of detailed choreography.
2) Or use mutiple cameras.
Crazy? Yes. But that's DIY filmmaking for you.
For those self-distributing their film: this is a bat-shit crazy idea that surfs the wave of goodwill that happens at the end of a showing when you do a filmmaker Q&A.
Here's what you do: Give cash away at the beginning (your cut of the ticket sales) in denominations that don't match what people payed ($1 in some cases, $50 in others) -- and then ask them at the end to return the cash if they liked the movie, and add a bit extra if they really liked it.
Or they can keep the cash if they didn't and if they don't support the film.
Not quite a money-back guarantee but based on one guy's experience (for a theater show), people clearly are more generous than not. He actually earned more this way than he would have through ticket sales alone.
It makes sense: people don't want to be seen as jerks and want to support indie artists and performers. I would only do this if you're doing a Q&A at the end of the film, so they can see you're a flesh and blood person, with feelings and hopes and dreams.
Give it a try and let me know how it goes.
BTW, I doubt it works if you don't show up. Without the pressure of the filmmaker (or someone from the filmmaking team) standing right there, people are more likely to just leave after the movie is over and then that's that.
Our recent post about Kickstarter and IndieGoGo just scratched the surface on the topic of how to fund your projects through these sites. Today we have a guest article from filmmaker Mark Stolaroff focused on what he's seen work for successful Kickstarter campaigns.
He sent this article out to his list and he agreed to let us repost it, since so many of you are interested in crowdfunding for obvious reasons (i.e. few of us DIY filmmakers are filthy rich already).
Is Kickstarter right for you?
Building a better Kickstarter campaign.
by guest filmmaker Mark Stolaroff
The secret to making a no-budget film is pretty simple really, and not much of a secret. If you make a no-nonsense resource assessment and build your project completely around those resources you already have available to you--if you write a script for ONLY what you have in props, vehicles, costumes, locations, etc.; if you cast actors and hire crew who will work for free; use borrowed or owned equipment; and so on, then your film doesn't have to cost one penny. The devil, of course, is in the details, and what happens generally, even for the most diligent no-budget filmmakers, is there is something or someone that they really need or want and they don't have access to it. For most of you, this is the situation you will be in with your no-budget projects. You're going to need a little bit of cash to fund the gap -- the difference between what you already have and what you need.
Kickstarter, the relatively new internet platform designed to help artists raise money for their creative projects, might be just the solution to your cashflow needs. Like other crowdfunding sites, (Indiegogo is another popular one), the Kickstarter concept relies on contributors receiving something tangible for their donation. You provide various rewards at different funding levels. Your contributors are not investing in your project, so no worries about Blue Sky laws and other securities regulations; and your contributors are not donating per se and getting a tax deduction, so you don't have to achieve non-profit status or necessarily find a fiscal sponsor, (though with Indiegogo, you can include this kind of approach).
I recently embarked on a Kickstarter campaign for my new film Pig, which is set to world premiere in London and Nashville next month. We're finishing the film now and using Kickstarter to raise funds to help us complete it. I did an awful lot of research before launching my campaign and while my journey is far from over, I've gathered a few useful tips for any of you who might be contemplating a Kickstarter run. (You can check out my page here: http://kck.st/hILgAs)
1.) Kickstarter can really pay off. The conventional wisdom used to be that Kickstarter was only good for raising small amounts, start-up costs or finishing funds, amounts in the $10k-$20k range. Well, so first of all, if you're a no-budget filmmaker, that can be your whole budget. Second, bigger amounts are being raised every day. Check out Kickstarter's Hall of Fame.
2.) Kickstarter can be a bust. While some folks are raising over $100k, I've seen several struggle to raise even $3k. You have to know your own strength. Do you really know 100's maybe 1000's of people who will give you money? Is yours the type of project that will get passed all over the internet and funded by strangers, (like this Indiegogo Hava Nagila project)? Do you have the time and intestinal fortitude to mount a successful campaign? Set your fundraising goal conservatively and accordingly. Remember, it's all or nothing.
3.) Kickstarter is a lot of work, and it's not for the feint of heart, the lazy, or the easily discouraged. I thought my film's plot was a mind fuck; Kickstarter is the biggest mind fuck there is! Some of your closest friends will ignore you. Others will give you hardly anything, even though you've always been there for them. People with money will not share it. These are universal constants in the world of fundraising. Still, others you don't know at all will support you, and many folks will surprise you in a good way. Get your self esteem in it's best possible shape before attempting. See #11 about the hard work.
4.) The conventional wisdom changes every day. In other words, there are really no rules. Every time there seems to be a rule or a principle to follow, a new project comes along and breaks that rule and succeeds fabulously. The bottom line is, it's just too early in Kickstarter's inception and things are developing too quickly for many hard and fast rules to take foot.
5.) Actually, there are some rules, at least I think there's some, (and of course, that's why I'm writing this). I've visited countless Kickstarter pages and have donated to around 14 or 15 projects so far on the two sites, and I've observed some good and bad practices. I will have more observations surely when this is all done.
6.) Make a video. There's nothing less impressive than going to a Kickstarter page, where there is the option to post a pitch video, and there is nothing but a still image. Personally, it just makes me think you're being lazy. But more than that, you're missing a huge opportunity to reach out and grab your potential donors by the balls. I can tell you with certainty that some of the most successful campaigns were successful due in a big part to their videos. One of the most successful campaigns I know of, I Am I, which is being produced by a couple of friends of mine, raised well over $100k. Yes, they have celebrities in their film and yes, the filmmaker worked her butt off to get the word out and establish relationships with donors, but it's no coincidence that this project also had one of the most creative and impressive videos I've seen on Kickstarter. The first thing I did after seeing it, (actually the second thing I did--the first thing I did was sigh at how much better their video was than the one I was going to make), was pass it along to friends. I'm certain that most people passed it along. The filmmakers reported that over 80% of their donations came from people they didn't know! So make a video, put yourself in it, (no matter how bad you are on camera--see my video!), and be sincere. Talk directly to the camera, to your audience of potential donors. Don't just run a trailer or a clip from your project. If you can come up with a clever idea or make it look great or blow people away in some other fashion, then great. But if not, then be yourself and tell your story. Scrappy, earnest videos go a long way on Kickstarter.
7.) Money is the third reason to do Kickstarter, not the first. You will get money from people you don't know, which is why money isn't the most important reason to launch a Kickstarter video. According to distribution strategist and crowdfunding expert Peter Broderick, the first reason to do Kickstarter is to get feedback on your project or on the way you talk about your project. If you're about to spend $100k on a film that no one seems to give a shit about, you may want to re-evaluate that decision. The second reason to do Kickstarter is to build awareness for your project and to build a network of people who, as Peter says, want your project to succeed. I've heard many stories of Kickstarter supporters providing valuable resources to projects, going way beyond money. And what I'm discovering about Kickstarter myself, is that you can raise "stranger dollars" from the platform--money from people who just discovered you on the site. These are the best dollars because they represent folks who were moved by your material so much they gave you money to see it succeed. No arm twisting of friends and relatives; these are true fans.
8.) Have low donation levels, like $1 or $5, and put something really attractive at $20 or $25. Most people, even your bestest friends, are not necessarily going to give you a thousand dollars. The most popular level is around $20, so make it count. If people are thinking of giving at that level and you don't offer anything good there, they're going to give you less. On the flip side, if you have something great at $30 or $50, then they might be temped to jump up to get that prize. I know I've given more than I thought I would to get either a DVD or a t-shirt. And try to be creative with your rewards. Come up with stuff that relates to your film's subject matter or is fun to talk about. Or if you can offer something of value that doesn't take money out of your pocket, offer that. Maybe you're a wedding videographer or a graphic designer. I'm offering free attendance to one of my weekend seminars and also free one-on-one consultations. Some of my favorite fun rewards were in the The Catechism Cataclysm project, (which didn't have a video, but they were in the middle of shooting their film and people ran to their aid).
9.) Prime the pump before you really get the word out. Before you start blasting your link all over the internet, send it to a few very close friends and essentially tell them to donate to you, (rather than ask them to donate). You want to have some backers and some bucks before you start sending to people who know you less and might be doubtful about contributing. There's nothing less impressive than clicking the link and seeing "1 Backer - $50 pledged of $100,000 goal." Most people will just assume you're never gonna make it and go about their business.
10.) Have an angel standing by. As I mentioned above, Kickstarter is all or nothing. If you only receive $14,500 pledged of a $15,000 goal by the deadline, you get nothing. Have a deep-pocketed angel investor standing by to drop in the needed bucks to make your goal. That might be your parents, that might be you. Yes, it will cost you 5% (that's what Kickstarter charges for their service; there are also additional credit card fees), but it's better than losing everything. Of course, the recommended form of action is to push your lists to jump in and save the campaign. That's why there's a time limit in the first place, to create the sense of urgency. Make this work for you rather than against you.
BONUS TIP 11.) Be prepared, be really prepared before you start. Start collecting names and email addresses of everyone you've ever known. Know how to speak to all the different groups of people you appeal to--you'll speak to your best friends from high school differently than you would to your poor artist friends, or your parents' friends. Spend the time to craft these different messages. Also, take the time to write personal emails to your best prospects, rather than include them in a mass email. And get on the phone if you need to, or visit people in person. I was able to do this when I went back home before launching. I showed my temp video to a number of friends for their feedback and those were the ones who came through with support first. Realize that it's a war--you will win some battles and lose some, but the goal is to come out ahead in the end. You will probably have a flurry of activity at the beginning and ending of your campaign, and lag in the middle, so don't let that lag discourage you.
That is my report so far. I hope to send a follow-up when the campaign is done to cover any additional points I learn along the way. Please feel free to email me if you have specific questions about doing this kind of thing. And visit my page as if you were a donor. What parts do you respond to and what parts leave you cold? What would you copy and what would you do differently? You might also visit the page for the project Lost To Love, from one of my former students. I think if you ask Stephen Les is this worth it, he'd say, Yes. Kickstarter is hard work, but it's valuable work, and it just might get your project off the ground.
About Mark Stolaroff
Mark Stolaroff is an independent producer and the Founder of No Budget Film School, a unique series of classes specifically designed for the no-budget filmmaker. He is currently in post on his third feature with award-winning writer/director Henry Barrial, Pig, which will be premiering in the Nashville Film Festival and Sci-Fi-London in April.
Mark will be in attendance at our WonderCon indie sci-fi event on Sunday. Henry Barriel, the director of their film Pig, will be on the panel. Join us if you're in SF and interested in seeing previews of a bunch of new sci-fi film projects. Bring your Kickstarter and other DIY filmmaking questions. Details are here.]