Crowdfunding is a major financing component for Indie films today. Typically, crowdfunding campaigns are rolled-out either before the start of filming or during the last leg of shooting when most filmmakers run out of money to finish the shoot and/or to market the film.
Either way, there is a lot of other film production related activities going on at the same time that you are launching a new film crowdfunding campaign. If you have a tight film budget, things become more chaotic because a handful of people are multi-tasking everything – including managing the new campaign.
If you want your newly launched crowdfunding push to hit it’s campaign goals without too many problems the entire duration, you will require very good pre-launch planning, organisation and execution. In short, you have to start preparing an incredible pre-launch strategy!
To help you get ready with crowdfunding, I am going to go through a few of the basics.
Pre-launch strategy: Research Other Campaigns
It pays to research other film campaigns to find out what worked and to recognise what didn’t/doesn’t work. While most filmmakers do some research, the successful ones research thoroughly.
Research a 100 different campaigns – especially the ones launched in the last 2 years. Study all their videos and look at all the rewards and the perks structure on offer. Also pay close attention to the text copy on their campaign pages.
Pre-launch strategy: Put Yourself in the Contributor Shoes
Next, visualise your ideal film audience and contributor and start thinking like them. Ask yourself – what do they want to see and read on your film’s campaign page, what do they need to know and what kinds of perks will get them excited.
This is where knowing your target audience and researching other campaigns will prove beneficial.
Pre-launch strategy: Set Realistic Campaign Goals
It’s obvious but be realistic about the campaign’s financial goals. The funds you’re able to collect will vary greatly depending on the size of your network and connections – both offline and online. Your past film crowdfunding history, specifically your past successes will also play a big part in reaching or exceeding your targets.
So take all of this into account before setting your campaign targets.
Once you have decided your final campaign goal, the numbers need to be scrutinized carefully. You and your team can do this or consult with an expert. By doing this, you can verify whether reaching your film’s crowdfunding target is going to be sufficient to get the ball rolling on your film project or to fulfil the campaign objective.
If the answer is a NO or a maybe, it’s a warning sign and you really ought to pragmatically re-examine your film project’s scale and viability.
Pre-launch strategy: Cost of Producing the Perks
This is a BIG ONE – make sure you factor in the cost of producing the perks you are offering to your film’s campaign contributors.
Fantastic perks might sound cool to you and you might feel chuffed to be the one and only filmmaker to offer these perks. While that’s all well and good, you have got to make sure producing the perks isn’t going to be expensive and way more work than imagined.
To avoid this becoming a problem for you and to get it done on time, ensure that you can actually produce the perks fast and within your budget.
The rewards should be relatively simple for you to put together, so see that everything you need is in place before the launch date. If an external party is doing them for you, get their assurances in writing where possible!
Also factor in what it’s going to cost you to pay for it all – producing the perks, packaging and posting them if you need to. It amazes me everytime I see or hear about over ambitious indie filmmakers who offered over the top perks to get attention and interest, but failed miserably when it came to delivering the said promised perks.
What usually follows in such cases is a grovelling blanket email that makes you cringe. If you got paid, you gotta deliver the goods. No question! If you don’t, it’s unprofessional and even unethical in a way.
Bare Minimum Checklist: Prior to Running the Campaign
1. Know when to update people beforehand – be fanatical about it, especially if you’re the one managing the campaign. If someone else or a team is going to manage it for you, make sure to track the work obsessively using tools like asana.com or similar. (I have used asana, but I am not affiliated to them in any way and don’t receive any money from mentioning them).
2. Set up a tweet schedule for your campaign- in advance. Make sure to tweet out your campaign atleast once or twice a day, without doing it in an annoying in-your-face kind of way. You can either do this manually or auto-schedule your tweets using tools like hootsuite.com (I use hootsuite, but I am not affiliated to them in any way and don’t receive any money from mentioning them).
3. Same goes for Facebook Updates too. Set it up manually or use hootsuite or similar tools. There are plenty of tools out there that are free or close to being free.
4. All of this goes double if you have multiple Twitter and Facebook accounts – a company or personal Twitter/Facebook account and the film’s Twitter/Facebook account.
5. You must also order and build the graphics and artwork you need or will need down the road way ahead of time.
6. Right at the start, set up the campaign to end on a Friday evening, local time as Friday is a payday for many people. Also it gives people enough time to get home to their emails , from their jobs and daily chores.
Remember that you’re conducting your film crowdfunding campaign in full public view, which means that everyone can see what you are going to do by simply searching online. So don’t harm your film and damage your future reputation and everyone else’s by it messing up.
You owe it to yourself, your film & it’s fans and your cast and crew to deliver outstanding results and to keep your promises. A crowdfunding pre-launch strategy will help you do just that!