There is no such thing as art without audience. A motion picture does not even exist without its impact on human viewers. As an independent creator without established lines of distribution, how do you build an audience that yearns for your specific stories? How do you keep them excited about your stories of the future? In today’s market, your response to this question may be the difference between a “one & done” and having a long, sustainable career as a filmmaker. Rather than answer the question in hypotheticals, I will instead take look at a film that has been particularly innovative in their building of a core audience. Hopefully from this others will be inspired to create their own authentic KickStarter campaigns within their self distribution efforts. Ownership equals accountability: DIY distribution and marketing liberates a filmmaker from an evil third party who might mis-package their film, deliver it to the wrong audience, or even worse not give their seedling the attention it deserves. While this ownership sounds grand in theory, there are 2 catches: (1) there will be no-one else to point the finger at if your film fails and (2) you are going to have to do much more work. Yes, at IndieStreet we champion a group mentality and “do it together”(DIT) over “do it yourself”(DIY), but even on IndieStreet if your film release does not meet your expectations, there is really only one person that is held accountable. Your sisters and uncles and cousins in the Indie Street family will help as much as they can, but this is your baby. The two IndieStreet partner filmmakers we will feature probably couldn’t be any more different individuals or have more distinct films. The first, “Cam Girlz” directed by Sean Dunne, tackles selling sex on the Internet and emerging forms of human connection. The next, “Tanzania: A journey Within” directed by Sylvia Caminer, documents an African voyage and the resulting personal and societal inner reflection. One of their crowd building campaigns was in the middle of production and the other was leading up to a limited theatrical release. The differences between these two documentaries and their directors only strengthens my encouraging argument: No matter the stage of your career or the stage of your film, you have the ability to execute innovative & authentic strategies to build a sustainable audience. Film 1: Cam Girlz Documentary (www.camgirlzdoc.com) Director: Sean Dunne – (Oxyana, winner of Best new Doc filmmaker at Tribeca 2013) Promotional Campaign: Crowdfunding campaign that doubled as an audience building promotion. Sean completed a $65,000 KickStarter campaign by partially targeting an untapped audience market. Stage of film during campaign: in Production 1. So Sean, After deciding on your subject matter for Cam Girlz, did you take time to figure out the core audience for your film? If so, how did this help in these early stage promotional efforts? The great mystery and challenge of being someone who makes films for an Internet audience is figuring out exactly who is watching your films. It’s really important for a director in my situation to understand their audience, so I can more effectively hone my message toward them during fundraising and marketing. It’s not always going to be the case but with Cam Girlz we have a bit of a double edged sword in terms of audience – film lovers who have followed my work through the years and the built in viewership that the women we are documenting bring to the table – with very little overlap. The Kickstarter campaign was the perfect opportunity to bring those audiences together. One of the strategies that really helped was launching the campaign after we had a good portion of the film shot and had teasers and trailers in the bag. We needed to show both audiences how we were going to treat this subject matter, not just imply it. In the end that’s what led to the film being successfully funded. 2. This was your second successful KickStarter campaign. What can you share about your experience to date with crowdfunding (as a community growth tool)? What we learned with the Kickstarter campaign for Oxyana was that it was about so much more than just raising money. The Kickstarter established a dialogue about the issues raised in the film and ultimately proved to be PR that we could have never otherwise afforded. Even if the dollars came up short, we were raising awareness about the social issue and attracting passionate supporters even before the film was made. That first campaign helped us identify our core audience and build a grassroots effort that led us to Tribeca, and eventually, to successful self-distribution. Without traditional resources at our disposal all we can do is absorb and assimilate, so when it came time to fund Cam Girlz it was a no brainer to go back to Kickstarter. This time around we really understood the power of crowdfunding and what it meant for growing our audience. 3. The path for Cam Girlz is still unwritten, but can you discuss why you decided to jump into a self self distribution path with Oxyana so shortly after it won awards at the Tribeca film festival? The idea of taking Oxyana on the film festival circuit for a year or more seemed unnecessary given where my audience comes from in the first place…the Internet. Rather than chase something that others said we were supposed to, we decided to trust ourselves and what we knew. We knew we had the means to self distribute and some good buzz coming off our success at Tribeca, and we knew that all of the initial deals that were put in front of us were bullshit. Putting our film into the machine would have only slowed the process of getting it to a wide audience. So we stayed small, focused, and in the moment. Eventually we had an epiphany of the obvious…that the film should be available to audiences while it still had all this momentum. And the decision paid off. There are a lot of old guard ways of doing things that filmmakers blindly subscribe to when it comes to getting your work out there. We don’t have to be beholden to festival programmers or sales agents anymore. We need to take the opportunities in front of us, and not be afraid to start from scratch and make this more sustainable for ourselves. We have personally been lucky that Oxyana has been successful, but honestly, even if our means of distribution was an utter failure, I’d wear it as a badge of honor. I’d rather retain ownership and fail hard than buy into a system that never gave a fuck about me to begin with. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sean’s final statements should hit home for all filmmakers. Do not be afraid of failure or of what someone will say if a big studio does not pick up your picture. With current technologies, by branding yourself as a filmmaker or group of filmmakers, you can become your own studio machine. This is of course only if you put out quality content and focus on building your audience in authentic ways like Sean and his wonderful producer, Cass Greener, have done. By tackling a unique subject matter, Sean and Cass have not only fed their craving for spelunking the caverns of human character, but they have also tapped into a whole new market. Probably half of the audience of Cam Girlz will be from the world of internet sex, not from the already saturated indie film community. In my opinion, at least a quarter of them will be so intrigued by the film’s non-boob storyline that they will start to follow the film’s director and his career. Easily thousands of viewers that probably have 0 interest in indie film, but now they have an interest in Sean Dunne. This new audience segment, on top of the fans from Oxyana, on top of the fans from IndieStreet and even this simple post will all roll Sean over into his next film and continue to grow his core audience even further. Uncovering an untapped market segment isn’t easy, but if you are a great storyteller and you focus on strategic audience building at the early stages of your film…you can create a sustainable filmmaking career and gain some invaluable Indie street cred like my man Sean Dunne. -Jay Webb
If you love short films, then you've most definitely heard about Jim Cummings' 2016 ultra-successful Sundance-winning short film THUNDER ROAD. If you haven't, then you've probably been living under a rock and that's no good. First things first, if you've not seen this short film, remove the rock from on top of you, stop everything else you're doing and experience one of the best, most emotional rides provided in a short film....pretty much ever. And if you've seen it - heck, watch it again right now! At Indie Street, we can't get enough of this short - it even won the inaugural Indie Street Film Festival Best Narrative Short Jury Award. A film fit for all the acclaim in the world! So, what could literally be better than this film? Um, probably the potential of A FEATURE LENGTH VERSION OF IT. Yes, you've heard me right. The team behind THUNDER ROAD are at it again and are looking to raise the money to fund one of the best filmic ideas of all time. If you appreciate any level of film, story, innovation, perseverance, creativity, Springsteen, and talent, you've GOT to donate to this cause right now. Over an hour of ace storytelling and camerawork will be gifted to all film lovers around the world. What more could you want?? Head to the THUNDER ROAD Kickstarter NOW and get donatin'!!!
Chances are, if you’re reading this, you’re likely a huge fan of film and art. But are you a fan of science as well? If so, you’re in luck, because there’s a new graphic novel series coming out soon called Legend of Sumeria that covers the topic of hard science through the use of stunning, eye-popping art and new technology! And if you’re not keen on science? Well, get ready to wanna jump back into some textbooks because this is one series that will totally pull you in! Co-creators and best friends Dr. Biju Parakkadan of Harvard and (Indie Street’s own!) Jay Webb have spun a tale of identity, discovery and purpose through the lens of questioning the very fate and existence of our species. These two besties even have Sumeria-themed tattoos to prove their devotion to their creation! How often do you find that true level of commitment to art and innovation!? The two self-funded all 250 pages of artwork and story as well as the development of Zyndo, a new interactive app that’s a total game-changer. Zyndo brings the sci-fi graphic novel experience to the reader as a z-book: one of the most interactive and immersive ways possible to become part of the story via tablets, phones, gaming consoles and get this: even VR! Now is your chance to preorder Life · Blood · DNA, the first installment of Legend of Sumeria, via Kickstarter! The crowdfunding campaign runs through the end of the week and is so close to meeting its goal! You can experience the synthesis of science and art AND contribute to two best friend’s dream of bringing this story to the world by heading over to the campaign NOW and preordering your own copy! Contributor rewards range anywhere from getting a copy of Chapter 1 to limited edition/digital copies of the full graphic novel to even receiving a personal karyotope of your chromosomes! Now how’s that for hard science! Check out more about Legend of Sumeria, the creators and how you can contribute by heading to Kickstarter or keep up with updates via @legendofsumeria on Twitter!
Now seems as good a time as ever to keep up the discussion about the role of women in film. And in an exciting crowdfunding event, film distributor Kino Lorber is hoping to contribute to that discussion by releasing their massive undertaking, “Pioneers: First Women Filmmakers”, celebrating motion pictures made by female American filmmakers from 1910-1929. Marking the end of the silent era, women had already positioned themselves as invaluable commanders in the industry. Unfortunately, most of these women helmed films are not known today, existing in poor, deteriorating conditions. Kino Lorber’s already successful Kickstarter campaign will attempt to make sure that these films no longer go lost and forgotten. A five box set of restored and transferred films, from directors such as Lois Weber, Alice Guy Blaché, Ida May Park and others, will also feature 20 hours of material and interviews with film historians and archivists. Kino Lorber stated, “By showcasing the ambitious, inventive films from the golden age of women directors, we can get a sense of what was lost by the marginalization of women to ‘support roles’ within the film industry.” The campaign ends in a few hours and has already reached its goal - but you don’t want to miss out on the exciting rewards available. Donate now!
Ah, remember the good ol' days of variety shows?! Yea, probably not because they actually reached their heyday decades ago. On television, variety was at its most popular in the 1960s and 70s. But I mean, wouldn’t it be cool if we could bring them back, incorporating, say, the latest and greatest up-and-coming alternative filmmakers? Actually, this is a mighty close reality. You don’t say?! Well, producers Dan Schoenbrun and Vanessa McDonnell have just launched a Kickstarter that, if successful, will introduce The Eyeslicer - “a new variety show bringing the next generation of alternative American filmmakers together under one strange roof.” The campaign was launched last week and is almost halfway to its goal with a few weeks to go. It promises to be weird and that’s a good enough promise for us. Be warned, Season 1 will run as invite only, so if you’re interested in watching, make sure you donate at least $20 to the campaign to get full access to the exclusive “club”. Read here to learn more about what promises to be “120 Minutes, but for alternative film instead of alternative music” or just trust us and jump directly to the campaign and get donating!
While it’s still not a total walk in the park to make an indie film these days, it was the concept of crowdfunding that fell from heaven and gave us mere filmmaking mortals a chance to do things that may have otherwise been impossible from the funding standpoint. Den of Geek has kindly perused a plethora of crowdfunding sites to bring us a list of 25 upcoming British films that have been crowdfunded. Take this list as a healthy reminder that films from all around the globe are worth backing, even if we don’t get to see them immediately back in the US. Knowing that you are helping to fund international indies that otherwise may not have had the chance to even be created and shown in their home countries, is a great feeling. Get your crowdfundin', film-watchin' passport ready and check out Den of Geek’s exciting list of upcoming British films here!
While crowdfunding could be the catalyst that helps make your film a reality, it can also be the downfall of your final production. Even if your campaign is a success, there are still a lot of mistakes to be made after that initial excitement period! Indiegogo's Head Film and Creative Campaign Strategist, John T. Trigonis, created a Film Courage video and shares his six major mistakes filmmakers can make when trying to run a successful crowdfunding campaign. From relying too much on influencers to setting your goals too high and having no audience, check out the things to avoid when going down the crowdfunding path here.
Crowdfunding giant, Kickstarter, has just announced that one million people have collectively backed over 12,000 documentary film projects on their site over time, with 5,000 of those campaigns being successfully funded! These projects are being backed more than 600 times a day - that’s $120 million that has been pledged to documentaries alone! Seems crowdfunding is becoming a huge destination for reality-based film projects. And film lovers and regular people alike are wanting to see more! Read here and here for more info on the announcement.
Kickstarter recently announced their exciting new partnership with Eastman Kodak on a collaboration that will help curious filmmakers shoot their projects on film stock. Digital advances have done wonders for the film industry but you can’t deny the magic of stories told on actual film. Though it’s not as strong as decades before, there is still a high demand and interest in shooting on the medium. The problem is overcoming the costs involved, especially for lower budget indie films. That’s where this new partnership comes in! Kodak and Kickstarter will provide selected filmmakers with discounted film stock and help them launch Kickstarter campaigns for their projects. Five filmmakers have already signed on, with some even sporting live campaigns ready for your support! For more info on these projects and for the rules on how to participate in future selections, read more here.
Attention documentary filmmakers! Project Greenlight Digital Studios and Seed&Spark are teaming up to launch a crowdfunding rally in order to hopefully find the next great untold story. Crowdfunding projects will launch on Seed&Spark and the 10 most popular ones will move onto the finals. From there, documentary experts and industry insiders will select the winner. The winning project will receive up to $20,000 in matching funds from Project Greenlight Digital Studios and Seed&Spark, a massive digital distribution package, and marketing support throughout the process and release. To learn more about the process and see what it takes to create the next great untold feature documentary story, head on over to Seed&Spark and start preparing some ideas that no one has ever seen on screen!
As Indiegogo heads to SXSW for their 9th year, they are set to celebrate their biggest year there yet! Thirteen of Indiegogo’s past successful film campaigns will be showcasing their finished products at the festival. The crowdedfunded alumni include everything from documentaries about Nazi art thieves to the first ever POV action film, HARDCORE HENRY. Indiegogo’s Head of Film, Marc Hofstatter, will also be speaking at two events at the conference, including a panel on distribution. Interested in learning more? Head over to Indiegogo and get a rundown of the lucky 13 films and more information about the film panel talks here.