‘Easy on the Perks: Quality Over Quantity in Crowdfunding an Indie Film’, a must-read for first time crowdfunders!
It’s no secret that most people prefer quality to quantity.
Yes, you can buy six different T-shirts from your neighborhood Walmart at $10 a piece, all of which won’t last you more than a couple years, or you can spend $100 on a single T-shirt from that you’ll love to wear and that will last you longer than you’d ever expect because it’s made in America from the finest wool, locally sourced and all that goodness.
That’s quality over quantity.
With crowdfunding for an independent film, most people understand that when they contribute their hard-earned money to a crowdfunding campaign, their money will be put toward something bigger than the perks they’re getting in return as a thank-you. But this doesn’t mean as crowdfunders we should skimp on the quality of those rewards by tipping the scale of each level with lots of superfluous stuff or loading our campaigns with the maximum amount of perks allowed by any given platform.
In crowdfunding, more is not necessarily better.
While most contributors fund people and projects, there are those who are in it for they get in return and will look at the specific perks you’re offering and weigh the quality of what they’re getting against what those items are actually worth. For instance, we all know that a digital download of a feature-length movie is probably not worth more than $15, but we’ll pay it because we know that our $15 will be used to help make that movie happen. But a digital download priced at $25 or a DVD for $100? Suddenly, we become frugal shoppers because we know that’s just too much money to spend for those items.
So here are a few things to consider with regard to perks, their values, and their pricing:
$25 is too high to start
Start with a $5 social media shout out at the very least. You don’t want to make people believe that there’s a minimum amount of $25 for them to be a part of your project.
People still like their physical copies
Until Blu-rays and DVDs go the way of the dodo, you still need to offer these as perks. People (and I’m one of them) love to have physical copies and will pay extra to have them, too. But price them accordingly: Short film DVD/BD: $20 tops; Feature-length physicals can go for as much as $50, but you’re best bet it to make DVDs $25 and BDs $50.
Offer perks that can also serve as promotional materials
I tell all the Indiegogo campaigners I work with to offer a customized Facebook cover photo so that the funder can proudly show that they’ve supported the project. If their name is on it, as in “Thank you, John T. Trigonis, for #JoiningTheBeat,” you just may have a funder for life! And offer this up cheaply –– around $5 or $10 to start –– so that all of your funders have a chance to show off their support.
Think about your overhead
I got nailed with a $400 bill when I crowdfunded my short film Cerise, plus shipping and handling charges, so I am very passionate about this next point: When coming up with your physical perks (T-shirts, printed posters, etc.), always think about how much they’ll cost you to make at five units and at 500 units, and don’t forget to figure in the shipping costs, both domestic and international. Nowadays, most crowdfunders ask that contributors pay the shipping costs or will work those amounts into the perk price for domestic shipping and ask for additional amounts for international shipping.
Go “3-D!” or go home
In my very popular “Three Ps for a Successful Indie Film Campaign,” I introduced three different levels of indie film crowdfunding perks: “standard definition,” “Hi-Def,” and “3-D!” That said, as crowdfunding campaigns evolve, my ultimate advice becomes more and more relevant: Go 3-D! or go home. There are hundreds, if not thousands of indie film campaigns out there all giving away T-shirts, digital downloads, and Skype sessions with directors, and even these once HD perks are become status quo.
Our campaigns need to stand out more than ever before. Chances are the more creative, envelope-pushing, and engaging our perks are, the more people may also see the kind of quality we’ll be serving up in the films we’re looking to make.
With their help, of course.
Want to hear more from John T. Trigonis? Check out his tweets for some top tips for filmmakers!