One of my best friends recently gave me an old photograph from our university years in the late 1990s, back when I studied creative writing during the day and rocked out in a few bands by moonlight.
Looking at this particular photo of me strumming my guitar for a local Jersey City band, I remembered how much hard work went into packing the floor of that venue in Hoboken, NJ for that particular gig. How many flyers I had to hand out to random folks and how many times I had to remind friends and family to be sure to show up and support us.
And the folks who showed up were mostly our friends and family, with a few people we didn’t know personally.
This got me thinking about crowdfunding for indie film, and how it’s really no different that a band of musicians getting ready to promote a their next gig. We need to start with our innermost circle –– family, friends, and in the case of independent film, diehard supporters of your previous work –– and get them 100% on board with us before any random people will listen to our stories enough to help us pay for the making of those stories.
It all goes back to the concept of an empty restaurant. No one wants to eat at a place that doesn’t have at least a few folks inside enjoying a warm meal. And no restaurant wants to hear the inevitable question that surfaces from being devoid of customers: “Are you guys still open?” (This all in spite of the neon sign outside advertising “Open 24 Hours.”)
That’s why savvy restaurateurs make sure to seat their first customers by the windows, to make sure all of us outside see those happy diners digging in. And similarly, in crowdfunding, we want to see others putting their dollars into the pot before we do.
Back to the indie music scene: When the band members promote, they do so to their friends and family first because they will be the first ones to attend their shows until the band’s music out further into the world. With validation from this inner circle, we can then begin to reach our outer networks.
That said, when you crowdfund your next indie film, be sure to get your family and friends on board first with a soft launch (and you can read all about how to do that properly here), so that when random people stumble onto your campaign, it doesn’t look like a dead diner, but rather a bustling five-star restaurant that might just become the talk of the crowd with a lil’ help for our friends.
Want to hear more from John T. Trigonis? Check out his tweets for some top tips for filmmakers!