It’s that time of year when all the Cinema Arts + Science Grads scramble to get their thesis films made, all hoping the preparation and work will be worth it in the end. And for every thesis film, there inevitably comes a time when you need to find a budget and must build a crowd funding campaign. Movies cost money and money doesn’t come cheap. It takes a lot of work to build an effective Indiegogo or Kickstarter page, and perhaps the most important aspect of such a page is the video that prospective donors see at the very beginning. I recently made just such a video.
The most important aspect of the crowd funding video is that it shows people the tone and mood of the movie you are trying to make. For example: If your thesis is a horror movie, you might shoot the promotional video like you’re talking to the audience from inside a similar horror movie, or maybe you’ll dress up like a vampire even though it’s a zombie movie because it’s the best you could do on short notice. In that vein, we decided to shoot our promo (about an extremely self-referential and comedic movie dealing with how millennials sometimes deal with their emotions) by having me, a millennial, talk to the audience while using a lot of self-referentiality and wacky comedy.
The Achilles heel that we saw in a lot of crowd funding videos was that the people making them were trying so hard to seem like serious filmmakers, and you could really tell how hard they were trying. The videos didn’t seem fun, and the filmmakers didn’t seem like they were having fun making them. The result of those two things was that the movie they were making didn’t seem particularly enticing or interesting to watch. “Why would I donate to this project”, we thought, “If it doesn’t even seem like the people making it want to be here?” So we made absolutely sure to try and make our video fun and get across that we really love doing this (because it’s really the best job in the world when it comes right down to it). We also bought a bunch of donuts and coffee for our small crew that helped us out for the couple hours it took to make the video, because feeding crew is about the most important thing you can possibly do.
At the end of the day, it’s my contention that you’re not selling yourself as “a professional” during crowd funding campaigns. People donating to Indiegogo or Kickstarter aren’t business investors: they’re not concerned with how well-mannered you are. They just want to see that the thing you’re making will be entertaining. And that starts with making an entertaining crowd funding video. You’re ultimately selling yourself as someone who has the capacity to create a movie like the one they’re trying to get your donation for. If you don’t trust that this person asking for money can make good on the style and tone of movie they’re selling, why would you donate? The ultimate measure of whether someone will give you money for your movie isn’t that you seem like a CEO, it’s that you seem like a pleasant person who can make a good movie. So the only thing to do is to make a good movie about your good movie.