Crowdfunding comes with its own set of myths and legends…
Some of the legends are the obvious ones: Veronica Mars, Video Game High School seasons 1 – 3, Gosnell the Movie. But there’s only one myth that still exists about crowdfunding that always proves disheartening. The myth goes something like this: If I launch my crowdfunding campaign, random people are going to fund my indie film.
Unfortunately, this just isn’t the case.
I’ve written many times that crowdfunding begins with us, the filmmakers. But before the crowdfunding starts, there exists another, more important but less finely honed aspect of online fundraising for independent film that can lead us to the kinds of success stories that these myths are based on.
I call it crowdfinding.
Now some of you may think I meant to type “crowdfunding” with a “U” instead of an “I” but if you placed a bet on that assumption, you’d be paying up. Crowdfinding, as I define it, is the stage that comes before the crowdfunding. It’s when we go out and find out whom our community is made up of and whom our audiences are.
And it doesn’t stop with just finding them. We then have to engage and interact with them on a higher level that is more meaningful that a quick retweet of an article they posted on Twitter. This is the time to chat with them about the things we have in common; the time to get to know these folks; ask them questions about who they are and what they’re up to; and it’s a time to open ourselves up to answering their questions about who we are, too.
It’s a time to get witty with our replies and have fun with the things we say and share on social media.
In short, this is the time to be ourselves –– our 100% authentic selves.
Because it’s in you whom those folks will ultimately invest their time, attention, and money once you move from crowdfinding to crowdfunding. And you’ll find that it’s much easier to triumph over your fundraising goal once you’ve put in the preliminary legwork of building real relationships with both your community and the particular audience for your indie film. And they are not necessarily one and the same, but that’s a topic for another blog post.
Just take a look at all the crowdfunding legends –– the Don Cheadles, Spike Lees, and Wong Fus of the world –– they all identified and interacted with their respective crowds years before they ever had the notion of inviting them to take an active part in creating more of what those audiences want to see. Don did it by making a name for himself as an actor; Spike did it by making a splash with Do the Right Thing and continuing to make films that his audience wants to see; and the guys at Wong Fu Productions spent years creating YouTube content before inviting their 2.3M subscribers on the journey to create their first feature-length film.
And before we play the “but they’re celebrities” card, let’s debunk that myth too. The only difference between these folks and us is that they’re raising funds from the crowd on a grander scale than our standard $10,000 – $50,000 “truly indie” film campaigns, and the reason is simple: they’ve already done their crowdfinding and have built lasting relationships with their fans, and this is something we can all accomplish, too –– by focusing our time, energy, and genuine efforts at really getting to know who the people are who want to watch our films and make every interaction we have with them count for something deeper than a single crowdfunding transaction.
Do this, and we’ll always be able to count on them to never “get lost” once we find them.
Want to hear more from John T. Trigonis? Check out his tweets for some top tips for filmmakers!