Crowdfunding: Seven things I learned about crowdfunding movies

Insights from an Aussie who knows. How much does he know? Well, Alex Cox wrote and directed REPO MAN and SID AND NANCY, dammit. Anybody you know have more cred than that?

Alex Coxby Alex Cox

Crowdfunding enabled us to make a piece that was simultaneously the cheapest deep-space intergalactic war movie ever, and the most lavish of student films. I was the principal director, screenwriter and production bookkeeper. Undergraduates did everything else: shot it, designed it, acted in it, edited it, composed the music and created the visual effects. Iggy Pop came in at the end and wrote the theme song: he and I were the only “professionals” involved.

Now I’m at it again – with a crew including former students, master screenwriterRudy Wurlitzer and visual effects genius Phil Tippett, on a new crowdfunded western feature, Tombstone Rashomon. The first time, I knew nothing about crowdfunding.

This time, I bring seven pieces of knowledge to the party. Let me share them:

1. Digital rewards – but not entirely

Digital rewards or perks are best because there’s no physical product to create or ship. The funder downloads or streams the content, and voila! But most film backers are interested in a physical item — a DVD, a Blu-ray disc, a poster, perhaps a memorable prop from the film. For now, feature film-making remains a manufacturing process.

2. You don’t need a social network as long as all your friends have one

I am still social-media illiterate and have never connected a project to Facebook. Fortunately I have many 21st-century friends, and I am shameless in begging them to get the word out.

3. Weird alliances produce good results

The Bill project was mentioned on film and science fiction sites, which generated hits and backers. But a surprisingly large number of donations came thanks to a mention on the tech site Slashdot. I’d backed a campaign for a Linux-based editing system called Openshot. Its creator supported Bill, and Slashdot picked the story up.

4. Don’t underestimate shipping costs and complications

Between the time you raise your budget, and the time you have the DVDs and posters ready to go, shipping costs will have increased. You can count on this. And be discreet in how you describe the contents of your packages containing props on customs declarations. “Fake iPad” or “death ray gun” are likely to result in packages being opened and arriving empty, if at all….

Read it all at Adelaide Screenwriter