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February 28 at 8:30am

Guest Post: Peter Broderick “Crowdfunding Takes Off”

Today is a guest post from Hybrid Distribution Guru Peter Broderick, who kindly allowed us to reprint from his Distribution Bulletin. If you don’t yet subscribe to his newsletter, better get on that, and quickly right that wrong, because otherwise your life-line for really knowing what options exist before you is growing thin! Peter has consistently sourced the truth of what can be done as an alternative to corporate supported & controlled filmmaking & distribution. The generosity he demonstrates sharing his knowledge is an example for us all. This time Peter demonstrates that Crowdfunding has entered a new SIX FIGURE stage of uber-major significance and you will want to get yourself some of that…

Crowdfunding has taken off. The most successful film projects are now raising hundreds of thousands of dollars, when not that long ago they were raising tens of thousands. The top three films in the Kickstarter Hall of Fame are BLUE LIKE JAZZ ($345,992), THE PRICE ($161,774), and I AM I ($111,965).

Unlike BLUE LIKE JAZZ and THE PRICE which are both based on material written by authors with large and loyal followings, I AM I is an excellent example of how to build support for an original script. After seeing my presentations on crowdfunding, writer-director Jocelyn Towne and her producers Cora Olson and Jen Dubin from Present Pictures (GOOD DICK) convinced an investor to match up to $100,000 in donations. They built a solid website, calibrated their reward levels, planned the stages of their campaign, and created a great video. Done in one long carefully choreographed take, viewer’s found this humorous video irresistible.

They began their 38-day effort on Kickstarter through their personal networks. Jocelyn spent the month before the campaign drafting individual emails to everyone she knew and saved them for launch day. On Twitter, 40,000 people were following her actor/husband Simon Helberg (featured in the hit TV show, THE BIG BANG THEORY) and 10,000 were following Jason Ritter (another popular I AM I cast member who is the star of NBC’s THE EVENT) . The team also made good use of Facebook. Jocelyn worked tirelessly on the campaign, writing personal thank you notes to almost every donor.

Donations started strong ($17,000 in the first few days), slowed down over the Christmas holidays, and accelerated as they approached the finish line ($24,000 in the closing days). Their contributors included friends, family, colleagues, and a few studio executives. 80% of their 902 contributors were total strangers. Amazingly, 3 of these strangers made $10,000 donations, for which Jocelyn and Simon promised to come to their hometowns and do private screenings just for them. Overall, as is typical with Kickstarter projects, the majority of donations were at the $20 (32%) and $100 (26%) levels.

Their campaign was so successful that it gave I AM I the momentum needed to move into production. Even after their campaign ended, people were still asking to contribute. The I AM I team added a Donate button to their website and is offering rewards similar to those they gave on Kickstarter.

In addition to the $111,965 raised, their campaign created a large network of supporters. Producer Cora Olson observed, “our initial goal was to raise as much money as possible, but when we saw how many online impressions we were making, we realized that this awareness could ultimately be more valuable than cash when it’s time to launch the film.”

© 2011 Peter Broderick

Peter Broderick is a Distribution Strategist who helps design and implement customized plans to maximize revenues for independent films. He is also a leading advocate of crowdfunding and crowdsourcing, championing them in keynotes and presentations around the world. You can read his articles at www.peterbroderick.com

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February 27 at 8:30am

Hey Docu-makers! The Deadline Is Approaching

The PUMA CREATIVE IMPACT AWARD is something all doc filmmakers should apply for — and it’s NEW this year. This £50,000 prize will be given annually to the documentary that has made the greatest social impact. This unprecedented award is administered by the Channel 4 BRITDOC Foundation and supported by PUMA. Deadline: April 1 (and it is open to filmmakers from any country).

Check out the guidelines and submission process here.

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February 27 at 8:20am

Stay Inside Today & Make Yourself Eligible For A Film/Video Grant From Creative Capital

Seriously, so what if it is warm and sunny and you need to wash away your winter blues. An opportunity like this comes around, well, once every three years. That’s not every day, so you better get cracking. The deadline to submit just the “Letter of Inquiry” is March 1st and…

You can learn more about Creative Capital’s Film/Video & Visual Arts grant here. You can access the guidelines here. And you can apply here.

Seriously though, we live in a country where the arts are not recognized as either a cultural necessity or an economic force. That will not change until we demand it. One measure of that demand is the number of applications. Creative Capital is a fabulous organization. I am thankful we have them to help.

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February 26 at 8:30am

What Did We Miss? The Overlooked Movies Of 2010

What’s with all the attention for the movies that everyone saw? Spirits, Oscars, Critics Groups: doesn’t it sometimes seem like the wrong emphasis? All this money is spent, all this noise is made, for what we have all already have seen. Okay, I get it. If you are reading this, you are not like regular people anyway. You probably go to the movies, and all the events of this weekend are actually for the folks that don’t go to the movies. Is it ironic that people watch the Oscars, but don’t want to pay to see movies (but that’s something for later). If we started our own awards show for the films that needed more love than what they got, what films would be this year’s nominees?

I recognize my dream of an awards show for overlooked movies would not have much of attendance beyond maybe me and the filmmakers, but that sounds like a good party to me! So any sponsors out there want to back next year’s Overlooks? I think we will make the statuettes (they have to be small so that even the recipients overlook them) out of organic material; not only will they be “green”, but the awards will perish on the vine, just like the films did!

When a great — or even a good movie — does not perform in the US, what’s to blame? The distributor? The Superabundance of content? The infrastructure and the release strategy? Timing? The audience? All or none of the above? Or is just because sometimes the world just sucks. What ever it is, we know it is hard out there for a flick.

I do think we can start to get it figured out if we look at what deserved better. It is a healthy activity for us to take a moment this weekend and speak about the great movies that more people would have dug, if only we could have gotten them to the movie palaces.

Now, sometimes there are good movies that do come out that don’t get much attention or audience, but I would not call them overlooked. We still make, release, promote, and celebrate movies that have a limited audience. Really a lot of the films on my Top Ten movies, generally fit into this category — partially because they have limited love returning to them, I feel compelled to love them more.

So… What movies deserved more attention than they got? Now these may well not be “Academy” worthy films. They don’t have to be “prestige” titles and smell like vegetables and vitamins. They do have to be films that are however about the craft, about the filmmaker clearly achieving the majority of her goals — whether we like them or not. I do think they should be films that are fun, but my sense of that, is not everyone’s. I have included a few films that did get some love mind you, but not the love I personally feel they deserved.

But without further adieu, allow me to nominate a few:

Animal Kingdom
Daddy Longlegs
The Disappearance Of Alice Creed
Fish Tank
I Am Love
I Love You, Phillip Morris
The Illusionist
Please Give
Red Riding Trilogy
The Square
The Wild And Wonderful Whites Of West Virginia

I haven’t yet seen, but suspect I would feel the same about:

Down Terrace

It wouldn’t be a list worthy of the title “Overlooked” if I didn’t overlook a few myself. Please add to this list.

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February 25 at 8:30am

The New Model Of Indie Film Finance, v2011.1 Investors

Today I continue my series attempting to define the NMOIFFv2011 with a look at the individuals who make the courageous decision to back a film in this current climate. We’ve already determined that it is hard to predict success either here in the US or abroad with an independent film. Will an investor commit without a clear upside — and if so, why the hell will they?!! The answer to this generally dictates whether your film will get made and certainly indicates WHO will finance your film.

When I started this series of posts I thought it would a simple and single one. I have a formula I have been using, that when I am able to follow it, I am confident that I will be able to finance my film. I want to share that with you, but feel I need to provide a little context first. My original post on the New Model Of Indie Film Finance v2011 conveyed that a film needs to make absolute sense. I then addressed foreign value and it’s dictates, and domestic (US) value in hopes of helping to explain what absolute sense was. Examining the market here and abroad makes it clear that one will never be truly secure predicting the value of your film. There will always be risk, right? So what kind of individual or corporate entity will those that assume that risk and put up the equity needed for your film?

I see five types of financiers interested in movies these days:

  • 1) Those that can take advantage of Federal 181 tax provision;
  • 2)Those not only want to do well, but those that want to do good too — these are more than just patrons of the arts — they often look to advance the social issues as well;
  • 3)Those that need a steady supply of product, and hence are generally corporate entities;
  • 4) Those that can gain by association to the film and those involved with the film;
  • 5) Those that are looking for excitement, glamour, and glitz.

I find that investors regardless of their persuasion, have one common attribute. No one wants to look stupid or foolish. They might have different goals, but they need to be able to show their friends why your project offers a clear path to that goal. It is your job to explain it to them. Your ability to do so will greatly enhance your ability to close with them.

Investors in film generally either made their money in another field or inherited it from someone that did. Investors usually believe that the lessons they learned coming to the film biz are applicable to our industry too. Some may well be, but most film investors still marvel at the way we do business, for better and for worse.

To get a movie made often requires profound ego, bullheadness, and outright arrogance — or else when confronted with the realities of the field, most aspirants would surrender. These “gifts” may be useful in getting work made, but they are not particularly helpful when it comes to collaboration.

Investors are filmmakers collaborators and your ability to at least appear to be ready to collaborate is helpful in closing an investment deal. Your ability to actually collaborate is going to determine what kind of experience you will have. The nature of your business relationships will effect the work you make. Understanding both your investors’ wishes, expressed and not expressed, and learning how to work with them is required to close a deal and yield the intended result.

We are half way through an examination of NMIFFv2011.1 now. You have your numbers and you have your investors (or at least know what they will look like when you seem them). But it is not just numbers and willing investors that gets your project funded.

To make your film happen, there are some factors you need to inject into your project if you reasonably want to expect it to happen. Let’s discuss that next, okay?

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February 22 at 4:16pm

Goodbye & Please Join Me: I Am Migrating To A New Home

Today marks my last post here on “Truly Free Film” at HopeForFilm.com. Starting tomorrow you can find both my rants and ravings, and all of those of our contributors, over at IndieWire. My hope is that we can all use this opportunity to expand our community and goals in the year ahead. We can truly bring about some change if we work together to build it better.

I started this blog for many reasons, but chief among them was [...]

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February 22 at 8:30am

My New Home Means…

Today is my first post on IndieWire. I think it is going to be a great home, and like any home most of the value comes from opening it up to guests. As we now reside on a platform dedicated to expanding its reach, our collective voice just got a whole lot louder. It’s time to expand our community.

I got into the habit of defining HopeForFilm/TrulyFreeFilm as part of my experiment in social media. When I got started blogging, the media mattered a great deal more to me than the social. As I begin my experiment v2.0 the social matters more to me than the media.

There were a lot of reasons why I felt I needed to step forward and begin blogging. Business has been bad in the film world for several years, but opportunity still remains great. The potential to have a sustainable culture and community dedicated to diverse and ambitious voices, free from mass market dictates, grows daily — what I define as Truly Free Film. Social media is second only to the film community’s desire in terms of being the necessary foundation . The community still lacks leaders with experience dedicated to an open and transparent film culture that embraces the audience and the artist alike. In fact, the majority of participants in our film culture remain dedicated first and foremost to their own individual work rather than the health of the community at large. I remain committed to the belief that we all benefit when our focus moves away from ourselves and towards true unity. Independent is the antithesis of what I hope non-corporate filmmaking can become. Artist-driven for sure, but community-centered.

I have always been a generative sort. I have enjoyed having an outlet that encourages community but doesn’t require perfection. Blogging has exposed me to new ideas, new processes, and new friends. It has given me a front row seat to an ever expanding community of Brave Thinkers and committed artists. My greatest rewards have come from contact with other bloggers and offering up this platform to the community at large. The conversation we have here and the diverse ideas and methods we have are truly the initial steps towards building it better together.

The strength of a society can be seen in the culture it creates. Corporate filmmaking, driven by profit only, rarely any more gives rise to the sort of movies that inspired me, helped me empathize with people from all walks of life, connected me to individuals and communities of ambition for a better world, or exposed me to the expansive and transformative nature of the human spirit. Independent film — as we can build it to be — will never die out, but it desperately still needs our help to gain the foothold that can allow it to really flourish. Those days are before us, but it takes more than just lending a hand. We determine the culture we have. It requires stepping up and giving voice.

It is my sincere wish that HopeForFilmv2.0 continues to expand well beyond my own musings. I am easy to find. Let me know what needs to be said and say it. This will not be my blog. I want it to be ours.

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This site could not have been built without the help and insight of Michael Morgenstern. My thanks go out to him.

Help save indie film and give this guy a job in web design or film!