Sunday, May 1, 2011

Crowd Funding or "Brother have you got a dime?"

When a filmmaker hears the term "Crowd Funding", they probably think about having to scare up money for extras in a crowd scene.  But it is actually a new way of raising funds for creative projects that may be too small for investors, venture capitalists or studios to fund.

Two places to investigate if you wish to fund a project - and we're talking more than just films here - would be and  These are the two sites I'm familiar with, but with the success these sites are enjoying, many others will probably soon pop up, if they haven't already.

So you have a project - a film, a video, a record or album to record, or even a statue of Robocop you wish to raise in Detroit - you pick one of these sites (it's not recommended to use more than one at a time), tell people what you are trying to accomplish and why it means so much to you; upload a video of your project or yourself and design rewards to give out to the people who favor you with a donation.

For instance, you could give out a handwritten "Thank You" note to those who donate a dollar.  Or a copy of your movie/art/invention or what-have-you for a twenty dollar donation.  The point is that you come up with a way to 'say thanks for the donation'.  Because, while the people may be donating money to you that you don't have to pay back, people like to get stuff.  Rewards based on their donation for various projects give people something to look forward to as well as the great feeling that they helped someone fund a project.

The good part is that no one can get "halfway" funded.  The project must reach it's funding mark previously set-up by the project developer - say $2,000 - or the money will not be released to the project.  That way the donors don't just toss their money into the air to see where it lands and the project doesn't wind up 'somewhat' funded.

Rivers Entertainment is currently trying to fund our low-budget sci-fi comedy spoof entitled, YUCCA MAN! on  Based on monster movies made since the fifties, with a tip of the hat to later films, Yucca Man! was originally shot with no budget just to see if it could be done and what problems we would be dealing with if we did find funding.   And why not, I've shot a full-length western with costumes, guns and horses for only $700.  $500 went to feed the cast, crew and horses and $200 went to make video copies for everyone involved so they could have a copy.

Ultimately of course, we did spend money on Yucca Man!  We had to make Yucca Man and the aliens.  Masks made of clay and moulds can run into some money.  And don't even get me started on the Blue Screen From Hell!  Then we needed good computer editing software and an editor since the profession has changed so much since the last time I edited my own movie.  Trust me when a say I should have hired my five year old grandson instead of trying to find a "good" editor for just ten bucks an hour which was all I could afford out of my own pocket.  At least my grandson knows more about computers than I do and probably - no, definitely - would have done a better job.  While advertising for an editor on craigslist I actually got an email regarding the ten bucks an hour saying, "You're kidding, right?"

We wound up going through four editors.  Surgery, jail, booze, ex-boyfriend - just to give you an idea of the problems that arose.  Had I taken all that money and combined it together to pay someone $40 per hour, we probably would have come out better.  But when you have to go around asking people to do stuff for free or if they can donate toward the cause - you basically have to take what you can get.  And I'm not as young as I used to be!  But then, I digress.

Back to crowd funding.  You can ask for however much money you need.  However, I been told we have asked for too much money ($300,000) for one of these sites, but I'm a firm believer in nothing ventured, nothing gained.  Our mission is actually two-fold; we want to get Yucca Man! shot with special effects (that's what most of the money is for); and we want to bring jobs to our community.  Ridgecrest not only has double digit unemployment, but our kids have nothing to keep themselves occupied here that could translate into a well-paying job elsewhere.  Smoking, drinking, drugs and pregnancies seem to be the order of the day for many communities who don't offer job training, free schooling or even a real job once someone has completed their education or training.

Rivers Entertainment wants to start a free school here locally to train people in script writing, film production and other ancillary businesses that go hand-in-hand with production.   You see, the Mojave desert hosts over two hundred films, television and commercials each and every year.  These productions bring needed money into our town.  If our young adults were trained in production, they would be able to find work in their own back yard as well as in other cities.  Selling a finished comedy sci-fi movie would bring in enough money to make our school and job training possible, especially with setting up a non-profit so we could continue to fund the education programs.  I want to help my community and this is the only way I know how.

I also felt that if others who were looking for funding (for their inventions, movies, television, art, photography, singing career or whatever ) were interested in learning about alternative funding, then I'm here to tell you, crowd funding is here to stay.  Regardless of whether or not I get funded.  Also a glimpse into what people go through to make their dreams happen always seems to help others.  So I'm someone currently using this new type of funding source and I'm willing to talk about it.  If there are others out there who are currently using crowd funding or know of other sites not mentioned here, I'd like to hear from you.

1 comment:

  1. Hi,

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