Posted on Friday May 3rd 2013
Shimmy Marcus is the multi-award winning director behind the short film RHINOS which was nominated for the Irish Film and Television Academy awards earlier this year. Shimmy has taken time out of his very busy life to give us some insight into his experiences of running a Fund it campaign.
One of the most liberating experiences I have recently had as a filmmaker has been financing my new short film through crowd funding. Unfamiliar with the process at first, the only knowledge I had was anecdotal, but with some research I quickly realised that there was huge potential and rewards, and not just for the investors!
As anyone who has ever tried to make a film knows, quite often the biggest hurdle is the first. Where do we get the money to make it? The great advantage I quickly discovered through Fund it was that not only do they provide a platform to raise funding, but through this method they also inadvertently help create a strong platform from which to launch the finished film.
Before even a single frame has been shot, through Fund it a huge sense of awareness of the film is immediately created which not only helps to grow an enthusiastic family of investors eager to track your progress, but also to spread the word and promote the film. To help drive traffic towards our funding campaign for RHINOS we launched a Facebook page and through it and other forms of social networking we regularly promoted the Fund it page through updates, news bulletins, quirky videos, blogs, and constant reminders of our progress.
Caption: Promotional video released during the Fund it campaign
By the time we finally reached our funding target we had already built up a strong database of supports eager to track our progress and support the film in a variety of ways from helping out on the shoot to assisting in various other ways. Fund it not only became an avenue for financing, they helped create a following and audience. But first, we needed to win their trust.
Early on we realised the most important part of the Fund it process is the creation of a strong and attractive promo video that would entice people to invest in the film. I watched a great many promotional videos on Fund it and other crowd funding websites and realised that these videos were how I would inevitably judge the quality of the finished films who were seeking funding.
Bland, unimaginative, and poorly shot promo videos rang alarm bells. If they can’t even make a decent promo video, why would I think they could make a decent film? Your promo video is the main clue to what your potential end product will be like and a strong quality promo speaks volumes about the imagination, style, and professionalism of the team looking for funding. If you can’t be bothered to make a good promo video, why should I bother to invest in you? Just waffling into a camera telling me how great your film is going to be is just lazy and uninspiring. So with that in mind, my strongest piece of advice is to put as much time and effort into writing, developing, shooting and polishing your promo video. You only get one big chance to grab potential funders’ attention and impress them enough to part with their hard earned cash.
I said at the start that I found crowd funding incredibly liberating. The reason is that through this method I have 100% artistic control of my work. There are no funding applications to be judged by panels, no funding bodies who want power of final cut, or who insist on telling you who to choose as your cast and crew. Every creative choice and decision is yours alone to make. This has recently been cited by Hollywood actor and director Zach Braff (Scrubs, Garden State) as his primary reason for financing his latest feature film through crowd funding. The only responsibility you have is to your art, to producing the best possible work you can, and in doing so, rewarding the trust and faith the funders have put in you.
Caption: Zack Braff’s campaign video
It is also important to work out exactly how much money you need and what exactly you need it for. There’s no point spending all your money on the shoot if you have nothing left to finish it or even promote it afterwards. So think very carefully in advance what it is exactly you need the money for and target your pitch towards that. Be practical, not greedy. With this new indie spirit of financing, crowd funding need no longer be an afterthought, or a get out of jail Plan B. With sensible and prudent budgeting, there’s no reason why Fund it can’t be your first and last port of call to finance your film.