In one recent success story, Megan Huitema
So I thought I could find out what she did right - so hopefully the rest of us can learn a little.
Q: What was the film's budget?
We always knew that we needed $11,000 to make the film. We approached several companies before making it, but nobody seemed interested in sponsoring us. We had also applied for a Carclew Youth Arts Grant of $6,000. We were about 3 weeks from shooting the film, and were literally about to pull the plug on it. But then we heard news that we had received the Carclew grant, and so we thought lets go for it, and raise the money later! We also thought that once we had shot the film it would be much easier to encourage people to get behind it, as they could see the product right in front of them.
Q: When you looked for funding - what options did you look at? What made 'Fundbreak' the option to use? Why not the larger US version (Kickstarter.com) which takes a marginally smaller commission ?
We liked the idea that Australia had their own crowdfunding site and thought that it was something fresh that we hadn't seen people do before. So many times in the past if we needed extra funding we would host a few movie fundraisers or a quiz night, but after a while everyone gets over it, and you end up spending a lot of time and energy on something that raises very little money. For us, crowdfunding was a risk, because we decided to most of our eggs in that basket and hoped for the best. Luckily it worked for us!!
Q: You were extremely successful on raising the funding - why do you think that is?
I think our regular updates helped keep people excited and informed about what we were doing. Each week we released something 'new', and told everyone about it via email, facebook, twitter and face to face. For example, one week we released the trailer, one week we released the interview with the director and actor, one week we released stills and the last week we released the website. This meant that people weren't just getting the same boring email asking for money, but they were seeing the film evolve and could get a sense of what there money was going towards. The cuteness of the main character Nicholas was certainly a drawing card, and helped people remember the project. I would get people coming up to me weeks after putting up the fundbreak page telling me how cute the kid is and that they want to take him home!! We also made sure that we were constantly thanking those that helped us. I like to think that this helped them encourage others to help us too.
Q: What projects would you think that would work well for this kind of fund raising?
I think projects that can be funded by $10,000 or less would be great for fundbreak. I think it has to be something that people can get excited about and feel a part of. Things with visuals would have an advantage I think, as the use of visuals could help their chances.
Q: How important is it to build up a fan base first? Did most of the support come from existing contacts (and so Fundbreak was a convenient way of getting them involved) or were they mainly new people involved in the project?
We had created a fan base from our previous short film that we made, as well as our friends and family. Most of the support came from our friends and family, but I know that quite a few of the payments came from people who knew nothing about this film, but had known us for other projects. I think it's really important to know who you are going to target with your campaign and make sure that it is a LOT of people!! Encouraging them to also pass it onto people they knew worked quite well for us.
Q: Were social social networking links such as Facebook & Twitter useful ?
Social networking was hugely important to our success. Emails worked really well for those older, more business-orientated people, but facebook was where we were able to connect with our friends and peers. People would help promote us without us even asking them to on Facebook.
Q: How did your work on producing short films compare to working on the international co-pro 'Oranges & Sunshine' ? Was there things that prepared you well - and other habits you had to relearn?
Working on "Oranges and Sunshine" was absolutely amazing. I learnt so much about how things are 'meant to be done', and it really opened my eyes to how the industry operates. I was able to take those skills onto "Toot Toot", and felt that it was a much stronger production because of it.
Q: So what project are you working on now?
I am currently Production Manager on the SBS TV Series "Danger 5", which is great. It is wonderful to be paid to do what you like to do!!
Note: This post was originally published on Novenber 24, 02010 at my old blog on 'The Filmmaker's Factory'