WE’RE STARTING TO GET a bit of a reputation for ourselves, aren’t we? British people, tea parties aside, will still find a smouldering calorie of energy hidden somewhere within our own Dickensian darkness to laugh at an American. It seemed a shame, then, that Slava Rubin, from crowdfunding film distributor and fundraising site Indie GoGo, was laughed at by the audience during a great panel discussion.
The Secret of Successful Crowdfunding for Film?
Slava happens to be the marketing guru of a great site with a model that is largely unheard of among the masses in the UK. (Invariably, it could be us that are the laughing stock when the Arts Council funding gets pulled from under our feet by the Coalition government.)
He hails from the surprisingly simple website that is a mix between Justgiving and an indie arts shop. It aims to give filmmakers, writers, illustrators, musicians, creatives and campaign protégés (without the helpful contacts to help them garner the resources they’d need) a platform to sound out and fundamentally, earn some cash from by taking a percentage of the money earned online.
Aye. Times are hard, the media increasingly oligopolised and culture funding is vanishing faster than an earring on a bathroom floor – so why aren’t we eating up this new model?
Ingrid Kopp from Shooting People, chair of the panel discussion ‘Ain’t Too Proud To Beg: Adventures in Crowdfunding’ at Sheffield Documentary Festival, was instrumental in extracting debate and vital information for members of the audience needing to find money for the next project.
“Broadcast money isn’t what it once was,” she said to the panel. Indeed – the world is doubly tough for a new director without a back catalogue or indie company on their side. Crowdfunding is the future of film – and the creative industry at large, such as live streaming on YouTube.
“It’s creating a new way of having an audience.” With the best crowdfunding sites spinning in tandem with social media, and with the big broadcasters looking to pump up their online profiles with their future loyal viewers, broadcast money could very well have itself matched and rivalled by the public voting with their PayPal accounts – within the next five years.
Build the audience first
Amidst the egotistic audience laughter at his habit of talking in business-tips styled bullet points, Slava Rubin had some great points to make.
“Your email list is the most important thing,” he said. “You don’t wait for some person in a suit to decide whether you deserve the money or not. No-one comes to Indie GoGo with wallets open wide. 20% of funding will come from strangers.”
And it’s the kindness of strangers that is funding one of the best projects right now: Sending Camille to Film School. On this site, people from across the world can donate in what will eventually become a public scholarship for a young lady to be able to equip herself at film school. Neat, huh? (Why didn’t we think of that before getting student loans?)
“You also need to include participation.” For example, people who donate online to Camille’s fund will include an online badge saying “I sent Caille to Film School” and a personalised, video thankyou note.
“Heart: the audience have to care about you, or your cause, or your campaign,” he said.
Make something, and campaign about something people genuinely care about.
:Like sending someone to film school, like Camille.
“Adventures in Crowdfunding” also featured Barbara Tonelli from France’s Touscoprod, campaigner and filmmaker Emily James from Just Do It, Michael Norton from Buzzbank and Prof. Stephen Reicher from the University of St. Andrews.
See The Guardian’s Kate Bulkely’s special on Crowdfunding at Sheff Doc Fest here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/sheffield-doc-fest/funding-models-for-film-making
- Check out M+ magazine on myebook.com on the 28th November for our Sheffield Doc Fest feature-special. Update posted here.
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