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To Crowdfund or Not to Crowdfund, that is the question for today’s filmmakers
By Ted Hope
Guest post by Thomas Mai www.thomasmai.net
There are many advantages to Crowdfunding, but one of the less known is that you actually get to test if there is an audience for your film BEFORE you make it. We filmmakers are driven by passion (clearly not the money) and often we spend 2-4 years on making a film, just to find out that nobody really cares about it.
By Crowdfunding even smaller amounts you send a clear signal to potential investors/ film funds that you know who your audience is (and often where they live) this makes it so much easier for investors/film funds to believe in you because you have have proven that the audience believes in you.
In the traditional way of making films, audience was this magical thing that entered the life of the film once it was completed. Sure, we thought about the audience while making the film, but there was no direct audience participation. Yes, we could do test screenings and go back to the editing room but the film was ALREADY shot.
It has always been about the audience and it will always be about the audience, but we could never engage with our audience before the film was ready to be released. Social Media has changed the way we can communicate with a global audience instantly.
Ask and you shall receive
By engaging with the audience from the idea/script stage you can gather a large group of followers who want you to succeed if you ask them their opionion depending on the topic of your film. Ie what are the 3 best tango films in the world, and why? What is the best opening monlogue ever written for a film and why? Who is your favorite character that you “hate” or love and why?
Crowdfunding allows you to get great feed back on your project before you spend 4 “miserable” years trying to make it. I am not saying that you should lose your artistic touch with your film but I am simply saying that if you are making a film then (hopefully) you want audiences to go and see it. Why not engage with them now? The wisdom of crowds is often far better at judging your idea, than a script doctor, producer, sales agent or TV station. Plus if you do bring the audience then it is SO much easier to work with the script doctor, producer, sales agent or TV station.
Because it has always been about the audince, we as filmmakers had to rely on distributors and tv stations to get it “out there” because they “owned” the audience and that is why, traditionally speaking they had so much “control” over our films. By bringing your own audience to any producer, sales agent or distributor you have so much more bargaining power. It is time for us to own our own audience.
By not crowdfunding you are missing out on one of the best tools for any filmmakers these days. Then it is back to waiting in line with everyone else to go see the ever fewer “gatekeepers” that are still left in the game.
When I do seminars or coach my clients, many are so afraid about the changes in our industry and most say something in the following lines. I am already spending 100% of my time trying to get this film off the ground and now you also want me to build a website, crowdfund, distribute, build a fan database etc. There is not enough hours in the day….. Yes, the roles are changing but so is the world around us. How many distributors are still out there and what are they paying for film rights? It is all about building the right systems from the beginning. Imagine that you could keep making 1 film every year for the rest of your life and get it financed and distributed to the same group of fans that keeps growing every year. It is not impossible to have a direct relationship with 100.000 fans that can finance and buy your films again and again.
As filmmakers we have to start thinking about wearing many titles ie financier, producer and distributor. But we also get to keep the rights to our films for the rest of our lives. Social Media allows the entire film making process to be more democratic for everyone involved. What fun is there in making a film and then someone else gets the distribution rights to your film for the next 15 years and does nothing about it?
I personly believe this is the best time ever to be a filmmaker. All the tools (hardware and software) are getting cheaper and better, allowing everyone to profit from the previous closed foodchain.
Thomas Mai has been a sales agent for 15 years selling feature films like Cannes winner Lars von Trier’s “DANCER IN THE DARK”, Hollywood films starring Forest Whitaker and Julia Styles in “A LITTLE TRIP TO HEAVEN” to Berlinale winners to name a few among hundreds of feature films Thomas has sold worldwide. Thomas has sold films for some of the biggest directors in Scandinavia Lars von Trier, Lukas Moodysohn, Thomas Vinterberg, Susanne Bier, Baltasar Kormakur, Lone Scherfig, Josef Fares and many others
Today Thomas coaches film makers to thrive in a 2.0 connected world. Thomas also speaks and run workshops around the world. Find out more on www.thomasmai.net