Long time TVWriter™ visitors know that we are Big Believers in crowdfunding as a terrific way to get your work and yourself before an audience. And, yeppers, we recommend that you use the search bar in the righthand column of each and every post on this site to see what we’ve said in the past.
But even we, as crowdfunding’s staunchest advocates, know very well that it isn’t perfect. Recently we came across an article that points out several of the biggest problems indie film (and TV) makers face in the current world, and guess what the writer says is Number One?
Knowledge is power. We would be remiss if we didn’t share this…and the rest of Joe McClean’s cautions. Brace yourselves:
5 Things Every Indie Filmmaker Should Know: Beware of Crowdfunding and Free Tickets for Grandma (Guest Blog)
by Joe McClean
I’m an indie filmmaker who’s made two low-budget features in the last four years: “Life Tracker” starring Matt Dallas in 2013 an the upcoming “The Drama Club.”
Along the way, I’ve learned some things that I wish I could go back and tell my younger self. Here are some of the biggest lessons:
1. Crowdfunding can hurt you.
This isn’t a cow that keeps giving milk. You basically have one shot, so make sure you choose wisely, if you choose to do it at all.
Unless you have an above-the-line attachment capable of generating press and who can point strangers back to your campaign, you’re making a mistake. No attachment? Just you and some buddies? Fine, but the only people who will give to your campaign will be those connected to you already. If Grandma’s going to give you a thousand bucks, she should just give it to you. Don’t pay the crowdfunding site’s fee (around 7 percent on average) or the fee tacked on for using plastic. If you go through a site, you just lost $60 to $100 of Grandma’s money before you even started shooting — all because you needed a link from a company to work up the nerve to ask her.
2. Cast recognizable actors.
OK, you’ve probably heard this one before, but think there’s no way to do it with your lack of funds. I’m telling you to do all that you can to get some familiar faces on board, no matter your budget.
I made an indie feature called “Life Tracker” for $150,000. A good chunk of that money came in because an investor loved one of my leads, Matt Dallas, who starred on an ABC Family show. Others gave money because a sports star invested. My great aunt genuinely thought I’d “made it” when she saw Jay Thomas in a small scene in my movie. The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, ComingSoon, MSN and others gave us press before, during and after production. Getty Images showed up to our self-thrown premiere party because Matt Dallas was there.
Fast forward to my next feature, which had no recognizable faces, and no one of note kicked in money. We were able to raise less than half of my first film’s budget and the press won’t touch us. Well, that’s a lie — the L.A. Times came to see the movie when we four-walled for a week…and hated it. So I guess there’s that.