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Jade Alexander - Actor / Producer

Preparing Your Crowdfunding Campaign

     
 

   
   

Author: Jade Alexander (Actor / Producer)
Article Title:
Preparing Your Crowdfunding Campaign
Article Date:
September 2013
Mini Biog: Jade Alexander is an actor and producer who works in London. She is a proud fan of sci-fi films and loves to work on genre projects where she can use her martial arts skills. She has three feature films coming out later this year (2013): Breaking Down, a US horror film where she plays college student Lucinda, Death Machine in which she plays Senia, a seductive saboteur from the future, directed by Neil Johnson (Alien Armageddon), Sparks & Embers, a rom-com where she stars alongside Kris Marshall. Her latest project, A Perfect Soldier is currently in pre-production.

Preparing Your Crowdfunding Campaign

After going through all the research and craziness of putting on my own crowdfunding projects, I wanted to give back all the information I found out, and hopefully save other people some of the pain and confusion with putting your project together.

I also wanted to write a quick article on something that a lot of articles out there don't focus on. THE PREP. Most people think 'money' and after that think 'spread the word' but in order to get started and actually have a successful campaign we've discovered its more about the prep work you do and how much you anticipate the needs and wants of your audience.

So below is a small cheat sheet or check list to make sure you have got everything you need and you wont panic 2 days in when you realise you forgot your website, didnt send out any emails and dont have any graphics to go with your campaign.

We take a quick look at how hard it is to Crowdfunding and a couple of do's and dont's...

 

CHEAT SHEET - Prepping For Your Campaign

Getting your campaign together is about planning, just like preproduction for a film, you need to make sure that everything is ready to be seeded once you go live. From the images, logos, to the rewards, website, social media and of course the crowdfunding video.

The preparation cannot be underestimated - trust me. Just like a really great marketing campaign, your crowdfunding campaign needs to be planned and prepared, because you will find all sorts of last minute things cropping up! Trust me!

In preparing here are the main things you need to get sorted:

 

YOUR TEAM

To begin the Crowdfunding you should gather a good core team behind you made up of:

GRAPHIC DESIGNER - essential for creating cool pictures, images, storyboards and stuff you can seed online on social media.

CAMERAMAN / EDITOR - to shoot your video and any follow ups.

DIRECTOR - to help refine the vision for the project, they can also help direct your crowd funding video and rally members of the crew.

THE NAME - a named cast or crew member will really give your video a boost, and get it to fans outside of your network.

SOCIAL MEDIA TEAM - you'll need help tweeting, face booking and all that. Rope in your production team, or get a dedicated person to post. For A Perfect Soldier we have our production team doing the bulk of social media each day, then the other members of the project help out when they can.

MENTOR / ADVISOR - someone you trust who can give good advice and feedback. Someone like my Exec Producer Christine Hartland who has worked on many films and campaigns before

LITTLE BLACK BOOK - your list of contacts who you can hit up for favours, quotes, ideas, money and more.

and of course YOU! - try not to spread yourself too thin by taking on too much, if you make sure you have most of the team above you should be able to supervise and not get too crazy and stressed!

 

YOUR AUDIENCE
Before you start anything work out who your film will appeal to, who will want to watch it?

For example my film A Perfect Soldier is a sci-fi political drama with humanist themes. Therefore my crowdfunding campaign will target these groups:

  1. Sci-fi Fans - both literary and film fans. These guys are a huge fan base.
  2. Film Fans - both drama, and political.
  3. Human Rights Groups - this is a tricky one, as the film is political and has a great thread of morality and humanist themes we will try to tap into this particular community.
  4. Family / Friends / Industry - of course you will always rope these guys into supporting you. However be aware that the successful campaigns have 60% of strangers to fund them, family & friends tend to fall into the 20-30% bracket. So be kind, and have them spread the word for you, as it will help more than them donating their 5 bucks!

Now you know your targets. You can collate all the marketing material for the campaign based on the groups above!

 

THE VIDEO
The video needs to be clever, something that will catch peoples eyes, and they will want to forward to friends. It should also reflect the theme and style of the project see my friends Timo's video for his sequel to the hit Iron Sky, Beyond Iron Sky Video:

Timo's kept the style of the project and themes, and created a cheap and clever video to appeal to his fans.

Wheras my video was very much based on appealing to people to collaborate with me. Our project A Perfect Soldier isn't a sequel so we didn't have an inbuilt fan base. Instead I wanted to tell the story of the conception of the project, and give our audience a chance to join our team, and collaborate with us. To keep interest we shot it in one take, kept it short and sweet, and introduced people to really make that connection with our audience - oh and made it fun!

The best videos I've seen are the ones that appeal to the audience, make it a friendly joint venture. I AM I Campaign Video - Ok so I'm gonna advise, that yes! You can take other peoples ideas and make them your own, which is exactly what I did for A Perfect Soldier. I loved the I AM I video so I took parts of it and remade it.

Another favourite is Amanda Palmer. I think it was so clever letting the music play and telling her story without interrupting her music! And don't just do one video! It's great to do an update in a different way so prople don't forget about it!

Do some research, find the ones you like, that fit with your project and get out there and make a video!

Checklist of Questions:

  • How will you get people to watch it, without it becoming just another film trailer or 'please give me money' video?
  • What is your project about, and does it fit the project?
  • Will it appeal to your audience?
  • What will make me (your audience) want to watch it or share it?

 

REWARDS
So Indiegogo advises no more than 8 (which is fairly small) rewards offered. But both Kickstarter & Indiegogo advise that you offer rewards for donations of less than $20. It makes campaigns 40% more likely to succeed.

What rewards to offer? Well, be innovative, don't just offer a DVD or an invite to the afterparty - I mean some of your funders may be overseas. Try creative collaborative rewards, such as offering to be in the final film, lending their skills to the soundtrack, or creative mementos / experiences: A visit to set with a signed pic of them and the cast, a meal with the director, a consulting session with the producers. Check out other campaigns and see what they have to offer. Maybe pinch a few of their more innovative ideas? I love the VIP online access to behind-the-scenes material, or even a trip to a film festival!?

Whatever it is, MAKE SURE YOU CAN DELIVER! Also my top tip for this is to make sure it doesn't cost you to deliver. I had a friend who offered free DVD to people and spent a lot of their end budget paying postage to send them across the world!

 

WEBSITE
Make sure you have it made and designed before you head off and make your campaign live! I was tweaking ours hours before we went online (www.APerfectSoldierFilm.com). And even then I felt it wasn't right. So take the time to get it right before you send out your campaign email!
You can add more info here, thank sponsors, and create your VIP area too, and don't forget to add a PayPal button just in case people want to support without going to your crowd funding page. Top tip is to shell out a few quid to buy a domain name that redirects to a free website, its easier than numbers and everyone can remember it. I used Go Daddy to buy the domain www.aperfectsoldierfilm.com and then created a free website at www.wix.com.

 

CONTENT
Use you graphic designer to create a whole heap of great content BEFORE you launch. Otherwise you'll end up scrabbling for stuff to post on your crowdfunding site and your social media pages.

What is relevant? What will your backers like? What will get people interested?

Here are some tips on what content works where:

  • Facebook: Loves pics, movies, links.
  • Twitter: Links, quotes, pics and of course talking to people directly with @ mentioning, dont forget to #film @indiegogo
  • Pinterest: Tricky, I have a board for the project as I LOVE pinterest. But it is aspirational, so any content needs to be something people want but don't have. I've not heard any success stories from crowdfunding on Pinterest so we are trialling it. If you know anything please email me, I'd love to hear how others are doing it.
  • Website: EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE. Enough said.
  • Crowdfunding Site: Pics, videos, proposals. Don't forget to UPDATE your funders every week or few days. Its a great way to keep them posted on what's going on and get them talking about the project again!

 

EMAIL
Tips on writing your campaign email. There are so many do's and don'ts which could take up an entire post. But I will touch on the top ones:

Email to your friends / family

  1. Say hi and intro us to your new project.
  2. Tell us WHAT it is & WHY it is important to you.
  3. Then tell us WHY its going to be AMAZING!
  4. If you can have pictures or a picture and a link to the campaign on the site.
  5. Give us a brief low down on the rewards you're offering
  6. Add your unique ISP. Something that makes your email and your project stand out for us. So we WANT to donate.
Finally a tip DO NOT BEG. DO NOT PLEAD and DO NOT ASK FOR MONEY. Think of this email as inviting us to become your collaborators, to join you on a quest to create the ultimate exciting project!

 

PLAN
This is the part where you find your marketing friend and say 'Help me goddammn it!'. Create a plan. When I started A Perfect Soldier I googled marketing campaign plans. Then I copied theirs, crossed out the things that didn't apply.

Here are some great links you can check out:
http://www.marketo.com/_assets/uploads/Sample-Social-Media-Tactical-Plan.pdf
http://www.artsderbyshire.org.uk/images/Planning_a_Marketing_Campaign_-_NE_tcm40-158992.pdf
http://www.slideshare.net/bevhepting/social-media-strategy-template-10799754

After checking all these words of wisdom out, we created a monthly plan, with each day assigned to one member of our team. On that day they had Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest columns, and in each column was content they were going to post. Of course thats just a guide, as social media is 'social' we spoke about interacting with our fans and replying to them too. Offering interesting content thats related to our project as well, so we weren't always blowing our own trumpet. You can see for yourself here:

We created a list of interesting articles we could post during the campaign. Things that people who would like our film would be interested in.
And a list of sci-fi quotes we could use, that we'd take out one word and put in #indiegogo. For example

These got great traction with fans and were retweeted quite a bit with both our quotes and interesting articles....

And used Tweetdeck to schedule our tweets when we were out having fun.

We also rang a friend @Srazzi. She's a social media guru, who gave us a draft social media plan of hers, and we used that to plan out our social media-ising.

And don't forget to post during the times below. Its when your post will have most traction and potentially the most views:

Optimal times for Social Media
  • Facebook: 10-4pm Mon-Thurs
  • Twitter: 1-3pm Mon-Thurs
  • Linkedin: 7-9pm, 5-6pm Tues-Thurs
  • Pinterest: 2-4pm, 8pm-1am Weekdays, Sat 9-12pm

 

FINALLY
So thats the round up folks! Its a long post but hopefully you'll gain some ideas and create a kickass campaign yourselves. And please do let us know about it, we're always happy to RT and help others.

Its great to form communities that support each other, and who knows where you'll end up.

To quote my favourite writer's dialogue:

"The wheel never stops turning"
- Joss Whedon, Firefly.

So keep it up folks, till next time,

Jade & the team at Little Jade Productions.

 

   
     
     

 

     
     

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