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> My Crowdfunding Experience


Had a cool concept and shot a full 22 minute pilot for $500 and used that to help market my campaign. Really, the only backers who were pledging were people browsing Kickstarter. This was a couple of years ago - before all this Veronica Mars and Spike Lee crap, so not much case study and stories were available. I also didn't have the reach or contacts to help as I do now. I think we set the bar too high, but had no idea at the time what the outcome would look like. I was very proud of this project, but upset that I couldn't make more episodes. :(

Crowdfunding Case Study: ThanksKilling Sequel

Although the first 'ThanksKilling' was shot in 2007 for a purported $3,500 production budget then edited by and released November 2009 a year and a half later the writer & director/co-producers Kevin Stewart and Jordan Downey, 2008 LMU alumni of the School of Film and Television, managed to pull down well over $100,000 in 90 days in crowdfunding donations for it's sequel: 'ThanksKilling 3'.
466 backers
$112,248 pledged of $100,000 goal

Funding period
May 8, 2011 - Aug 6, 2011 (90 days)
Lettuce examine at how they did it.

For those of you both non-cult members not intimately familiar with these two films - and - sharp enough to pay attention you'll notice the sequel to 'ThanksKilling' is 'ThanksKilling 3'.
Straight from the turkey's mouth:
What happened to ThanksKilling 2?
ThanksKilling 2 only exists as a fictional plot device in ThanksKilling 3, which is the direct sequel to ThanksKilling. The idea to skip part two is a marketing ploy and joke by filmmakers Jordan Downey and Kevin Stewart.

And so the marketing games begin.
Nice, eh? :yes:

The KickStarter (KS) campaign launched "Funding period May 8, 2011 - Aug 6, 2011 (90 days)"

This article is dated Posted: Thursday, November 17, 2011 1:00 am
"The reason the first one cost so little is because we didn't pay the cast, we didn't pay the crew, we didn't have permits. We just went out and pointed a camera and clicked record," Downey said. "Because Kevin and I have been working in the industry in different positions since graduation, you realize going through that that you can't not pay the people around you who are going to be working really hard," Downey continued.

Downey and Jordan raised the entire $100,000 budget over three months on Kickstarter, an online threshold pledge system that has found popularity among independent filmmakers. Stewart said they tried "literally a different strategy every single day" to raise awareness about the Kickstarter campaign. Among their do-it-yourself marketing tactics were updating an active Facebook page, offering perks like merchandise and props from the first movie to those who pledged money to the campaign and creating "Lost Turkey" fliers for fans across the country to post around their hometowns.

"We said [the turkey] abandoned the project, that he was pissed off that there was no money to make the sequel," Stewart said. "It was a good idea but it didn't really work out. I think it just kind of went over people's heads for the most part."

Other ideas were enough to earn the needed funds and then some with fans coming together in the final days of the campaign to pour in funds.

Many fans of the first film - which was released on DVD, on demand and is streaming on Netflix - were initially wary of the significantly increased budget, worrying that the "so bad it's good" quality of the first movie would be lost.

"We're still with the script maintaining the cheese and B-movie humor of the whole thing. No matter how nice of a lens you have, it is still going to keep that tone of the first movie," Downey said.

Two "press release" examples of that unsuccessful marketing approach dated Thu Jun 23, 2011 9:00am EDT & Thursday, June 23, 2011 9:13 AM:
Turkey Actor Dumps ThanksKilling Sequel -- Film's Creators Use Fans to Hunt Him Down

So, it's not like they were press releasing to the small local penny paper.
Reuters isn't some two-bit hack rag, you know?

But from the "press release" itself we can see at the bottom:
About ThanksKilling
Shot for $3,500 in 2007 by then-21 year old college
students Kevin Stewart and Jordan Downey, ThanksKilling obtained cult
fame after a do-it-yourself marketing campaign landed distribution with
Gravitas Ventures (and subsequently Warner Bros.)
. ThanksKilling was
released in over 100 million households via platforms such as iTunes,
Hulu, Time Warner, and Amazon. The film tells the story of a group of
stereotypical college kids
That certainly must've put the campaign for 'TK3' on the radar for a lotta folks.

And maybe this is a good as any point in the story where I should draw attention to a side route to point out that there are no substantiating numbers available on 'TK3's production or production + marketing budget.
No mention of money made from 'TK' that was rolled over into 'TK3'.
We're all familiar that many films use more funds from outside of the stated crowdfunding donations, primarily equity.
Surely @ a purported production budget of $3,500 'TK' made "some" money (Rev - Exp = Eng/Pft), but there's no mention of it.
Black hole. Deal with it.

Alright, back to the crowdfunding...
Further in the above cited LMU article:
Downey and Stewart encouraged [LMU] students take the opportunity to work on a film that's guaranteed distribution, that has some fun special effects and where "nobody isn't going to be laughing and smiling at some point throughout the day" on set, Stewart said.

The duo plans to release the film theatrically in November 2012 and has hopes it will screen at genre-related film festivals. Gravitas Ventures has guaranteed the film some type of distribution.
>> Guaranteed distribution in any shape or form is a BIG BIG BIG film donor magnet. <<
Especially if it's a non-DIY, industry recognized third party.

From this article dated July 5, 2013 – 12:32 pm we again see the benefit that guaranteed distribution brings:
After years of marketing it themselves, and with the help of distributor Gravitas Ventures, the film went on to gain a massive cult following for its purposeful “so bad it’s good” vibe. It quickly rose to over 170,000 ratings on Netflix and was featured in Maxim Magazine, Fangoria, and on TMZ. The movie’s Facebook page, with over 10,300 likes, features fan made puppets and artwork, theme song remixes, and even pictures of ThanksKilling related fan tattoos.

Using the fan-base to their advantage, Downey and Stewart were able to raise over $100,000 on Kickstarter to make their ambitious follow up, ThanksKilling 3 – the first movie ever to skip it’s own sequel! Currently the highest funded horror film on Kickstarter, this ridiculous concept is something you have to see to believe.
But note the "After years of marketing it themselves" part.
Lotta elbow grease there I suspect.
And a point out to the all importance of social media: "The movie’s Facebook page, with over 10,300 likes, features fan made puppets and artwork, theme song remixes, and even pictures of ThanksKilling related fan tattoos."
More elbow grease.
And the web page: http://thankskillingmovie.com/about/the-ultimate-low-budget-experience/
No telling how strong this development package was in place before the KS campaign, but I suspect both there was already a lot there and that it has been added a fair bit to since.

Filmmaking is not a meritocracy ~ Andrew S Allen​

And from 'TK3's own KS page:
Guaranteed Distribution
100 million homes... here we come! Because of the success of the first ThanksKilling and our relationship with the wonderful guys at Gravitas Ventures, we're fortunate enough to have already secured what most indie movies have to fight for down the road: DISTRIBUTION. Gravitas will release ThanksKilling on VOD (Video-On-Demand) in the fall of 2012 around that special holiday we're parodying. Platforms you'll see the sequel on?
  • Netflix
  • Hulu
  • iTunes
  • On Demand: Time Warner, Comcast, Cox, DirecTV, & more!
We're aiming for a limited theatrical run as well. There's a chance the exclusive Kickstarter DVD (which you get by pledging just 20 smackers) will be the only hard copy version released... Making it potentially very rare!

Goes a verrrrry long way.

Also, not too shabby is that they collected and showcased a rather nice group of people with marketable name recognition and fan bases themselves.

And there are twelve pages of these guys blabbin' to their audience: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jordandowney/thankskilling-sequel-horror-comedy-feature-film/posts?page=12

Planning the 'TK3' KS campaign:
Kevin Stewart (KS): We started talking about this in January 2011, and wanted to make a sequel. I believe it was one of our mutual friends who came up with the idea that we should make a sequel. We kind of liked that at the time, and in 2011, we said, let’s try to do this thing.

We wrote the story where we skipped the sequel, and we got involved in having to put that into the movie. We asked how do we skip the sequel, and make that clear to everybody, that ‘ThanksKilling 2′ was burned? So we started talking in 2011, and wrote an outline together. I think it was in March or so that we launched the Kickstarter.

Jordan Downey (JD): Yeah, we started working on the Kickstarter page to raise money before there was even a script. We did the outline with my older brother Mike (Will Downey), who wrote it with us. While we were working on the Kickstarter campaign, Mike was working on the first draft.​
It was actually two months later in May when the KS campaign was launched, but the four months from January to May is a rather rapid time frame to organize and launch a campaign.
Fortunately, they already had a lot of their production resources lined up and ready to go.
Experience and industry contacts go a long way.

SY: ... why do you think fans responded so well to the Kickstarter campaign?

: I think there’s something about our fan demographic. When we made the first one, we were both in college, so we were young people making a film for young people. We had supporters among our friends and family who felt like they were part of the ‘ThanksKilling’ family, so I think that was a big reason why people supported us through Kickstarter.

Other than that, I think we got lucky with becoming popular on Netflix. But it’s hard to pin-point why people supported us so much. On the website, we do try to reach out to the fans.
Especially since there were only 466 backers of the 'TK3' KS campaign.

Hmmm... something ain't right here.

And I'm already suspect of that last $32,000.
I wonder WTH is the difference between KS headlined "$112,248" and the relatively measly $47,335 (with $32k of that suspect).
Donor/backer totals don't even reconcile: 466 headlined (an astonishingly low number for the total raised, $240 average) vs. 438 according to that pledge chart on right.
Those last 28 mystery donor/backers sure made a helluva difference!


I gotta go now.
I'll get back to this later.
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Predatory Moon's Second Indiegogo campaign

Earlier I reported on the seemingly disastrous attempt at crowd-funding that my film Predatory Moon experienced while looking for raising a production budget. We finished with only 20% of our $7476.00 goal and the only thing that saved our skin was the generosity of donors and crew volunteers outside of Indiegogo.

Since then we've shot about 85% of the movie and then decided to take a break over the summer in order to raise some additional funds for our creatures.

We started a second campaign at the beginning of this month, and what an amazing difference it has been when compared to the first time around. We had over 50% of our goal within the first 7 days, and as I write this we are at 76% with 20 days left to go.


What did we do different?

Honestly, there are two big things that I'm seeing that helped us immensely.

The first is that we are seeking funds to finish rather than to start. I talked to a lot of people after the first campaign failed so miserably and many of them told me that folks are very leery about putting money toward the idea of a film going into production, especially from a dark horse film-maker like myself. Considering that pretty much anyone can start a campaign and claim to be serious about making a movie, get donations, and then never follow through... yeah, I can see how that came into play. Since we were able to demonstrate that we have shot the majority of the film already, offering production photos and video evidence to back it up, people feel more confident about contributing.

The second being that this time around we had the actors involved in the promotions. Last time it was just the crew members who had signed on early (and it's really no surprise that some of them lost heart and dropped out after the failed campaign.) This time we have the entire cast out there promoting a film that they are a part of, and the excitement is obvious. So I've certainly had to reconsider my position about casting a project before it's completely funded, although I still don't think I would have gotten this kind of excitement from the cast prior to them actually being on set.

So here's crossing my fingers that we can raise another $830 over the next 20 days to meet our goal. :)
Just astounding what a fan base can do for your campaign

Pledge $1 or more - 5938 backers

Pledge $10 or more - 8423 backers

Pledge $25 or more - 11509 backers

Pledge $35 or more - 22997 backers

Pledge $50 or more - 23227 backers

Pledge $75 or more - 1865 backers

Pledge $100 or more - 7260 backers

Pledge $150 or more - 152 backers

Pledge $150 or more - 150 backers All gone!

Pledge $175 or more - 1478 backers

Pledge $200 or more - 3048 backers Limited (202 left of 3250)
← Limit lowered from initial 5000

Pledge $250 or more - 100 backers All gone!
LOGAN LOVER'S DELUXE PACKAGE: You'll receive everything included in the $200 reward (updates, script, shirt, digital download, signed cast poster, DVD/BD combo) PLUS a personalized autographed headshot from Jason Dohring, made out just for you. Available in all 21 eligible countries listed in the Project Description. Please note: this perk is NOT included in any other reward bundle.

Pledge $275 or more - 891 backers Limited (109 left of 1000) ← Limit lowered from initial 2000

Pledge $350 or more - 91 backers Limited (109 left of 200)

Pledge $400 or more - 100 backers All gone!

Pledge $400 or more - 135 backers All gone!
← Limit raised from initial 100

Pledge $450 or more - 40 backers All gone!
SDCC VIP PACKAGE: You'll receive everything included in the $200 reward (updates, script, shirt, digital download, signed poster, DVD/BD combo), and you'll be right up front with a VIP seat for our special Veronica Mars Fan Event during San Diego Comic Con on July 19, 2013, PLUS you're guaranteed face time, autographs and photo opps with Rob and the crew during a brief, invite-only Meet & Greet! (SDCC ticket not required to attend. Travel, lodging, and SDCC pass are NOT included for domestic or international backers.)

Pledge $500 or more - 100 backers All gone!

Pledge $600 or more - 50 backers All gone!

Pledge $750 or more - 150 backers All gone!
← Limit raised from initial 50

Pledge $750 or more - 150 backers All gone! ← Limit raised from initial 50

Pledge $750 or more - 50 backers All gone!

Pledge $1,000 or more - 100 backers All gone!

Pledge $1,000 or more - 100 backers All gone!

Pledge $1,000 or more - 100 backers All gone!

Pledge $2,500 or more - 20 backers All gone!

Pledge $3,000 or more - 30 backers All gone!

Pledge $3,500 or more - 10 backers All gone!

Pledge $5,000 or more - 4 backers Limited (1 left of 5)

Pledge $6,500 or more - 3 backers All gone!

Pledge $8,000 or more - 3 backers All gone!

Pledge $10,000 or more - 1 backer All gone!

Again, and it's still curious to me, the spreadsheet totals don't geehaw with the KS totals reported.

The "or more" part to the donation amount might account for SOME of that discrepancy, but the actual donor totals should be spot on, but isn't: 88,275 backers by the numbers vs. 91,585 backers by the headline = 3,310 people difference.


More data fun:

Stupid t-shirts.

I bet it they shifted that premium point matrix they coulda received more pledges @ $40 for the digital download, @ $50 for the d.d. + DVD, and @ $60 for the d.d + DVD + "making of" documentary.
I'll still stand by that.
Probably oughta slide that back down for the rest of us lo/no budgeters:
  • $15-20 for the digital download (d.d.)
  • $25-30/35 for the d.d. + DVD/BR
  • $35-40/45 for the d.d + DVD/BR + "making of" documentary.
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Thanks, JMoschner!

Here's another article of it: http://www.indiewire.com/article/the-top-10-myths-of-crowdfunding-according-to-indiegogo?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed

Here's Indiegogo's Top 10 Myths of Crowdfunding:

1. It's online panhandling.

2. I might fail.

3. I can't raise money without a fancy video.

4. I'm afraid I won't reach my goal.

5. I have to have a big social media following to be successful.

6. I have no perks to offer.

7. I don't have time.

8. Crowdfunding is only about the money.

9. I should wait until I have the perfect idea/product/etc.

10. I'm not sure my idea will be accepted.

According to Adrianne Jeffries' estimates at The Verge, less than 10% on Indiegogo make their goal, though it's not easy to get an exact number. The number is definitely below 13.68%, as that's the portion of film projects that make at least 75% of their goal.

Interesting stuff.
Again, and it's still curious to me, the spreadsheet totals don't geehaw with the KS totals reported...

The "or more" part to the donation amount might account for SOME of that discrepancy, but the actual donor totals should be spot on, but isn't: 88,275 backers by the numbers vs. 91,585 backers by the headline = 3,310 people difference.
Info SCORE!!!!!
"If you add up the number of backers and pledges listed for each pledge level, you will notice that those sums are less that the total backers and total amount pledge. I've labeled those backers and pledges as "unlisted". Those "unlisted" amounts are due to shipping costs, people who pledge more than the pledge level, and people who pledge but didn't sign up for rewards. "

Plus A LOT of other cool, good to know data!

More fun stuff:
1 - http://www.filmindependent.org/resources/7-things-we-did-to-ensure-a-successful-crowd-funding-experience-part-i/
2 - http://www.filmindependent.org/resources/7-things-we-did-to-ensure-a-successful-crowd-funding-experience-part-ii/
3 - http://www.filmindependent.org/resources/7-things-we-did-to-ensure-a-succesful-crowd-funding-experience-part-iii/
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"Art of the Bag - a speed bag story"


Sorry for the LONG delay, but I've been working on the film for the past year and a half. I'd be glad to share my experience with Kickstarter & crowdfunding.

1. It was worth a shot and started out great, then slowed to a halt. I don't have the far reaching social network needed to keep the ball rolling.

2. It was a LOT of work. You have to be on this day in and day out, pushing it everywhere & anywhere you can think of. I spend at least 4 hours a day on the campaign, FB, Twitter, email, etc. It still wasn't enough.

3. Once the campaign failed, I started making direct contact with possible investors and those who were originally interested in the films production.... within one week, I had the $5K funds in the bank....a few weeks later, another $3K. For me, this was the way I should have gone right from the start. Lesson learned.

Crowdfunding is great if you have the social network to get it out there....other then that, I'd recommend seeking potential investors directly...worked for me. Total budget for the film is $15K (personally funded the balance)....it is finished, off to the replicators and submitted to festivals for March of 2014.


You can find my production blog on the film's web site...it covers the year of production.
Congratulations! You're a good testament to "sticking to it." If you don't mind answering, did your investors gift the money or loan it to you?

Thanks for sharing your experience; wouldn't it be cool to know the odds of crowdfunding working for a particular film in advance-- but how does one do that??... Perhaps for any project, at some point it comes down to a leap of faith.

Good on ya, and best of luck with your film!
IndieFund.It CEO in the House

Hey folks. Having found people talking about my business without me - I joined the conversation on another thread and it was suggested that I offer insights here as well. Anyone who wants to lynch me, talk to me, inspire me, throw large spitballs at me or whatever - I am the face of IndieFund.It (twitter.com/indiefundit and other places on the interwebs) - John-Michael Scott - at your service.

My first 3 contributions:
1. All crowdfunding campaigns are essentially political campaigns where your goal is to get the puppy elected - right?
2. If you have a great story but terrible rewards - will they hear a tree fall in the forest? Seriously - we've talked with a lot of people and at the end of the day - crowdfunding is consumerist unless someone just absolutely LOVES you. So - rewards matter - a lot!
3. Audience development begins months before you go and put your public campaign out there - so the question is - what are you doing to build the audience for your project.

Ok - I've thrown down the gauntlet and I'm here to talk. Can't we all get a long? :) Just kidding. Seriously though - IndieFund.It (including myself) is a team dedicated like no other to trying to help people succeed in crowdfunding. No one on earth can guarantee that you will succeed - but we put more brains & braun behind the campaigns we are involved with than any other team out there.

John-Michael Scott
CEO & Founder
Many, many thanks to RayW and everyone else who participated in this thread! We're gearing up for a crowdfunding campaign for our documentary project, and the stories shared here have been extraordinarily helpful!!!
Good article. And sobering. We're launching our crowdfunding campaign tomorrow, so I've been knee deep all of the things he's talking about.

I'm really just writing the following, not to nit pick, but to point some things out for people who are crowdfunding in the future. Some of this, he addresses in his own article.

The page itself:

- The page is very neutral. He is making a movie about rock climbing, which is incredibly thrilling, but he doesn't have a single still photo of anybody ACTUALLY rock climbing. Except the starting image on the video about obesity that is almost at the end of the page.

- The main image for the page itself is not engaging at all. However, the logo for the film is great though!

- He has a mistake in the tagline for the project.

-When you read his descriptions, he focuses on the bureaucratic process. He even writes "we will follow the important discussions."

-This is small thing, but I've read many times that you shouldn't point out the following: "A project like this would normally cost x. But we are going to to it at half the cost, or a quarter of the cost."

He writes, for instance, that this movie normally would cost 80K but he is going to do it for 10K. Not because he's figured out a way to do that, but because he thinks that is how much he can raise. While this may be sincere, it also raises eyebrows and questions.

The Video:

- The video is pretty good, it has lots of great photos and footage of rock climbing. And he explains things well. But they should have shot the appeal part outside somewhere, possibly with mountains in the background, right? Or even,better, the two of them are climbers, so could they have shot something interesting with them delivering the appeal while climbing? (He addresses this head on in his article.)

The Process

He writes: "I personally emailed something like 50 people that I had some connection with or had worked with in the past, and while it took a lot of time to do, we got some great backers from making direct, personal communications." I did a sucessful Kickstarter for 3K once and I personally emailed about 150 people during it. And I've personally emailed 80 people for the upcoming Kickstarter project I'm doing, and we haven't launched, yet. So he might have way underestimated the amount of emailing that you need to do.

- I don't detect that he has a Facebook page for the project. Many successful Kickstarters build a Facebook page and/or Twitter account months in advance to start building at least a little bit of an audience for the eventual Kickstarter.

Once again, this doesn't mean that he would've have gotten the money if he had changed those things. It simply is my observation after looking at literally hundreds of failed and successful Kickstarter and Indiegogo film and video projects while preparing for ours.

I'll know soon if ours works! Praying.
Excellent find, Steve!
And thank you for sharing it here. :yes:

My fave quote from the article:
"Crowdfunding is easily as time consuming as another full time job, so we didn’t make enough time to release as much media as we had planned."

Umm... NSS!
UhhYeah! Marketing is [expletive] work.
Work most of us are A) not comfortable with even if B) we knew what the hail we were doing.

I've been ruminating over my next big research thread (after the two or three I'm currently working on) and it's not going to be film festivals, which is what I was considering after the "youtube thread", but instead it will be marketing and promoting indie films.
Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure concrete information on approaches and strategies will be very scarce.
So, we'll just see how that goes.

Oh! Efffff meeeee! :bang:
I done started one and forgot about it.
Effing retard.
Too much going on at once.