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The Community, Stupid!

Posted August 5, 2013 by Stuart Wells in Articles
Crowdfunding

James Carville famously coined the phrase “The economy, stupid!” for Bill Clinton. Well maybe someone will remember that Invest In Zombies said “The community, stupid!” The key to successful Crowdfunding is to build a community around your project. Any successful film marketing campaign is about community building. This is the reason that studios like popular book franchises, or hire a well known director, and attach a star: books, directors and stars all have a community of fans. If you are crowdfunding you don’t have a name Director, you probably can’t afford the rights to a well known book and Tom Cruise won’t return your calls. The way studios generate a community of fans will not work for you and judging by the summer box office failures show the days of a star making a film profitable are all but gone. However successfully create and leverage a community and you could be funded.

Many crowdfunding pitches are placed with funding as a given. There are a large number of projects without facebook pages or any meaningful community engagement. The community is your investor it may not be the traditional investor/ producer model with equity stakes but do not take your community for granted. The producers of “Der Ritter” stated that running a Kickstarter campaign is a full time job. It is! Zach Braff had full time staff involved in the running of his successful campaign for “Wish I Was Here”: the hero of that campaign was Coco. Any form of investment is based on trust: an investor must trust that you will deliver the project or they will not invest.  You must engender trust by demonstrating your commitment to the community. So far the most successful projects have either asked for a very small amount of money and been lucky or have successfully built a community before launching a campaign.

How?

I had a conversation recently with a representative from Seedrs and she stated that pitches that get funded to 50% quickly are almost guaranteed to get fully funded. She also went on to say that the Seedrs community will not get involved in a project unless they see a significant investment happen first. Exactly how do you get investors interested on a site like Seedrs or Kickstarter? The key is to create your own community and bring them to your Crowdfunding platform of choice.

Six Degrees of Separation

Whether or not we are all connected via six steps is irrelevant. Your neighbour does have connections you don’t and some may be interested in your project. Tell everyone you know about what you are trying to achieve. People will either be supportive, be critical or shrug. Once you have exhausted your local connections reach out. Everyone has a Facebook account… don’t they? Facebook has a billion users. Twitter 170 million. Google+? Difficult to say. All campaigns use Facebook… don’t they. No or they do not leverage it effectively. We are continually surprised by the number of campaigns that don’t have Facebook pages or start their campaigns with zero likes or followers. At a recent festivals workshop the organizer of a well known music festival stated that 65% of all attendees had, you guessed it, a Facebook account. Not directly applicable but this does illustrate how pervasive social media is.

All these websites, facebook, twitter, google+, fulfill peoples basic need for community. We no longer know our neighbors so we make connections with like minded people via the internet. However these are not the only community building sites; Genre websites and forums are myriad. There are specialist community websites for every predilection. Visit these communities become involved and they may in turn become involved in your project. We do not know the statistics but guess that browsers are a minority of investors on crowdfunding sites. Browsing is not always intuitive. Kickstarter, for example, is not always the easiest to navigate. You cannot rely on people just happening upon your campaign. Don’t leave it to chance, actively build your community.

Managing Expectations

You’ve done a good job. Your films community is building you can just leave them to it right? Wrong, your films community needs regular interaction. There is nothing worse than an inactive community facebook page, forum or website. Leave your community alone and it will leave you. Provide regular updates, run competitions, get them to design a T-shirt. Do whatever you have to do to ensure that your community thinks you care. Producing a film has always been about networks and communities. Film producers are the ultimate schmoozers, they know who to talk to and where to pitch their projects. You are now that person.

The Pitch

You have a growing community. You may have placed a teaser trailer on You Tube. Now you need to design your pitch and go get funded. We will cover pitches in an upcoming article.

Points to Remember

Be honest. Engage with the community. Don’t get disheartened, the successful are not necessarily the most talented – they are the most persistent, belligerent and thick skinned. Finally, get in touch with us and tell us about your project, we can help.


About the Author

Stuart Wells