After the success of Mrs Lustleigh’s Fancies, we were feeling pretty hopeful when we put forward our treatment for The Nature of Angrove into the Greenlight funding back in Dec 2010. Even though we have a track record for ‘almost’ getting grants, (5 or 6 times in the preceding 18 months we’d been down to the last 2 or 3) we were confident we might finally get some decent funding. After all, we’d been shortlisted, had great feedback on the idea, and we’d just won Best Film at the 2 Short Nights Festival, how could we NOT get it? Needless to say we didn’t… But, after 10 days of weeping and wailing (me) it suddenly occurred to us – was it really such a bad thing? After all, grants inevitably come with strings attached which can be very frustrating and on occasion a bit stifling. With no one to answer to, we had complete freedom to make the film we wanted to make, all we had to do was raise the money…
Crowd funding was not a new thing when we launched our Indiegogo campaign last year, but it was certainly nowhere near as common as it is now. Never having done it before, we had a lot to learn very quickly. We took advice, we were careful, and we were lucky – we managed to successfully raise, and even go over our target, and were able to make our film.
As we may be launching another campaign fairly soon (!), we’ve been thinking about our first experience of online funding, and what we’ll aim to do better next time. So, for what it’s worth, here are a couple of things we think are important.
Being realistic about your target - unless you have a massive online following (see below), the majority of your contributers are likely to be family and friends so you can’t ask for daft amounts of money. Some of the funding sites, Kickstarter for instance, have an all or nothing policy – in other words you have to reach your target by the end of your campaign otherwise you don’t get nothin’ – another reason to be realistic about your aims! With Indiegogo however, you get what ever amount has been pledged by the end of your campaign whether you reach your target or not which takes the pressure off a bit.
Giving a lot of thought to your ‘perks’ section – after all if you are asking people to give you money they should get something interesting, quirky or worthwhile in return. Looking at other people’s campaigns is always good for getting ideas – I saw a great one for a Horror Film where in return for giving them $50 you got to be a Zombie for the day – I was pretty tempted.
Recently, we’ve been following a couple of filmmakers on Twitter, (@HybridVigorFilm, @indywoodFILMS) both of whom have amassed huge followings and have been doing (quite literally) non-stop tweeting to promote their funding campaigns, with spectacular success. Not sure quite how they’ve done it (if you pledge $250 to the Hybrid Vigor project they’ll let you in on their strategy) and although whatever it is certainly seems to be working, they do appear to spend their entire lives on the internet! Not really an option for most of us, although getting your stuff RT on Twitter will certainly help…
So, try and be imaginative with your promotion. It feels awkward sending emails harassing people into responding to your campaign, so it’s good to find more creative ways of getting people to take notice. Here are a couple of virals we made to promote our campaign (Hollywood Lifestyle I and Hollywood Lifestyle II). They did seem to make a difference to our campaign, and when we launch our next one, we’ll certainly be making more….
Some years back, ACE SW gave us a small research & development grant to explore a project we called Stories From The Stone Forest - something which we’d described in our funding application as being ‘a multi-disciplinary work exploring Dartmoor life’. As it turned out, the project took us on a bit of journey we never expected to go on, and SFTSF became the launch pad for a whole load of new work which we could never have forseen coming out of the project at the time we applied for funding. The theatre piece The House of No Return, and the short film Mrs Lustleigh’s Fancies for example, can both trace their initial inspirations back to the R & D we did for SFTSF.
It just goes to show that the opportunity for a bit of R & D which the funding from ACE SW provided is crucial for a company like ours to breathe - to explore ideas without the pressure of producing a specific ‘product’ at the end of it is a luxury so very rarely afforded to tiny organisations like Oddbodies – and of course in the end, we came up with much more stuff than we would have done if we’d had to make it… (if that makes sense?!).
One of the pieces of work we made specifically for SFTSF was The Shed Project. This curious and rather lovely thing was a movable and interactive installation which was designed to collect personal stories, memories and reflections of Dartmoor. It travelled around from place to place; Lydford Gorge , Bedford Square Tavistock, even outside the Museum of Dartmoor Life in Okehampton for quite a while. Which was rather fitting – because as well as all the lovely stories we were given, people also left ‘found’ objects which we collected in our very own ‘mini’ museum of Dartmoor . This little museum was, in turn, the inspiration behind The Curiosity Box, a sculptural installation we were commissioned by Devon Artists’ Network to make for the Devon Open Studios…
Click here to see a short film of Stories From The Stone Forest Click here to see film of The Shed Project