THE COURAGE TO MAKE IT HAPPEN
Being a triple threat or a multi-hyphenate in this industry I think is really essential to being able to find short-term, and long-term success. This industry is so competitive that the whole cliché is that you can throw a rock on Hollywood Boulevard and hit an actor. I’d say maybe five times out of ten that might even be correct depending on how far you throw it. with the industry ever changing with emerging technology, it’s important to artists to find different ways to continue to keep ourselves ever pushing. I consider myself an artist first, an actor second, a writer third, and producer fourth, followed by a painter last, and then just overall enthusiast of the arts.
When I say that I consider myself an artist, it’s because everything that I do is art related. I came to L.A. to be an actor, but then I quickly found that Hollywood wasn’t waiting for me. After about a year of sleeping in cars, sleeping on floors, and couch surfing, I finally got my feet a settled with a job as a server and just got really, really frustrated with the notion that being 26 I was sort of past this 18-25 young, attractive guy actor stereotype and on top of that I’m a minority, so I have a tremendous amount of strikes against me just already off the jump. Flash forward eight years of my life: I’m 34 years old, still in L.A. creating my own path this time.
I started producing as an opportunity to create avenues for myself as an Actor and as an Artist. My first project that I produced was a short film called Soldier, which is a day in the life of a Soldier on the frontlines of the Iraqi war told entirely in spoken word poetry. That piece ended up playing numerous film festivals, we won numerous awards, and got amazing critical acclaim for it. Through that process, I realized the power of being able to produce one’s own projects. With that experience, I then eventually moved on to produce my next project, which was my first feature film, called Farewell Darkness.
The reason that I’m outlining all these things is because I implore all actors out there to not necessarily to take it to the point that I’m taking it, where we’re breaking the brink of producing major Indie Films in the quarter million dollar to half million dollar range, but what I do implore artists to do is to create your own avenues. There are no doors to walk through except for the doors that you build for yourself. If you walk through enough of your own doors, eventually people will take notice and they will pay attention to the fact that you hopefully have become a craftsman over your years of practice.
Flash forward to where we are today. Right now we’re in the process of doing what’s called crowd-funding, which is basically a new technology that came about three years ago that now a lot of independent artists of all facets are using to be able to raise money for their independent endeavors, whether you be a poet, an MC, a musician, even if you want to start a taco truck, you can use IndieGoGo to be able to launch your platform, get some seed money, maybe even get your entire budget, depending on what it is that you’re fighting for.
This is my first endeavor in crowd-funding and I take my work very seriously. I decided that if there was going to be a time where I was going to actually reach out to my network, that I was going to do it properly, which I came to realize between my blackberry, my email address, and my Facebook account, and my twitters, I’m probably pushing over 4,000 contacts; out of those 4,000 contacts, I probably know about 2,800 of them on a personal level over the years. My co-collaborators on this project include three other producers on this project called DYSFUNKTION. We all decided that if we’re going to put ourselves onto the public arena, we had to do it right.
I think that with IndieGoGo in terms of going after those old-school contacts, I really think you only get one shot before people are like “Well I gave you money last time” or “eh, your presentation really doesn’t excite me”. So there really was a lot of methodical thinking that went into presenting ourselves in the IndieGoGo space. My partner Christina Jo’Leigh (an amazing producer by the way) did a lot of case-study work, where we looked at other people’s presentations, what we liked about people’s presentations, what we didn’t like about people’s presentations, we looked at how the body of the text is supposed to be laid out, what the text is going to be communicating, how many images were we going to use in the body of the campaign, but most importantly is the actual video presentation, gave the audience an opportunity to communicate with us visually, seeing us communicating directly to them, being the lamen and being the everyday guy saying “Look, we’re just independent artists, we’re producing this picture, we want you guys involved, we want to get you on board, please help us out”. We also got a couple of our cast members involved to be able to come on camera and also talk about the project that we also inter cut with the video.
We’ve got Sally Kirkland, Oscar Nominated Golden Globe winner, Gerry Bednob from Zack and Miri Make a Porno and 40 Year Old Virgin, Emilio Rivera from Sons of Anarchy, we also have Carlos Ramirez from Crank to High Voltage, so there’s a lot of really, really great, interesting people involved in this project, on top of that our Director and our Co-Producers got on an sort of gave people about a 30 second sizzle reel of our body of work. With that sort of package, I think that we have something that is certainly sellable, and the perks were really the big deal.
How are we framing our perks, what sort of perks are we offering, do we have something that people want to buy into.
I think that it’s not enough to inspire people. People like to feel that they’re getting something in return that is legitimate and tangible for their hard-earned money. We did things like the usual suspects, a DVD, an autographed copy of the screenplay by the screenwriter, autographed copies of DVD’s, special thanks in the end credits, and also all access passes to set, so people can come on set and experience set for one day, we gave tickets away to the premier which will be held at the Grauman’s Egyptian Theatre, we also gave away designer clothing, we’re also even giving away a speaking role in the film. We tried to figure out ways to be creative in our process to give people something that is a little more out of the norm, a little more exciting than just run of the mill. Then it became really about target, really attacking people.
After looking at all my contacts, and looking at the timeline, and then looking at the goal that we set for ourselves, which is just $15,000 dollars and that IS a lot of money, so how are we going to achieve that? Because in the public arena we don’t want to fail. We don’t want to come across as people who say they’re going to something and then don’t do it. That certainly takes a lot of helium of your balloons. We set our goal at $15,000 in lieu of the fact that we do have seed money in the bank, this will be added on to our seed money where our gross budget is $150,000 dollars for this feature film.
Using all the tools necessary, we have Facebook, we have Twitter, we have Blackberry, we have text messages, we have email contacts, so with everybody that is in my universe, luckily I have the wear with all to be able to hire an assistant and a couple other folks to help out and aid in the initial contact of the email accounts, looking at the email, saying “who is this person, why do I know this person, and do I want to talk to this person directly, or would I rather have someone call or email on my behalf”.
The reason for that is that my time on the phone, if I talk to Bob in Rochester, New York, I’m going to be on the phone with him for 30 minutes, because it’s going to be a sort of “Oh my god, it’s been a long time, coming to Jesus” catch-up call versus someone that calls on my behalf where it’s just like “hey, how you doing, just calling to let you know about this project, I’d like to send you an email”. It adds authenticity to what I’m doing as a producer, and also minimizes the chatter time on the phone so that I can dedicate my time on the phone to people who may actually be potentially interested in being accredited investors, people that may be larger money sources.
Another thing that I found really, really exciting about the IndieGoGo process is the nature of rekindling old relationships. We would be surprised that the people that we used to know seven years ago in college or whatever may be a plastic surgeons, may be attorneys, high –powered real estate people, may be people who know people that are interested in film. Another great tool about IndieGoGo is getting it out into the universe and showing people that you have something legitimate to offer, provided that you are doing things properly, minding your P’s and Q’s.
Another interesting thing that I found that’s really exciting about IndieGoGo is that it acts as a pitch platform for what it is that you’re doing, and also starts to build a digital footprint for whatever it is that you’re developing, in our particular case it’s a feature film. IndieGoGo has analytics built into it so you have an understanding of how many people are visiting you, you have an understanding of trending, you have an understanding of who gave you money, how much money they gave you. This is really a nice tool because the project is already getting out into the universe. We have a dedicated website for the film.
At the end of the day, I’m not going to be the first or last success in the IndieGoGo or crowd-fundraising space, but the goal is to just use it to the best of your abilities, and anybody, and I will forewarn anyone that thinks that crowd-funding is easy, I’m going to tell them their out of their f**king mind, because there’s nothing easy about going through the administrative process of launching a page, and making sure that your presentation is proper, making sure that your information proper, making sure that your proposals is proper but then the sort of arduous administrative tasks of organizing all of your emails, categorizing your emails and looking at it from a sales perspective, point of contact one, point of contact two, point of contact three. IndieGoGo makes very clear statements that they believe that most people require up to seven points of contact before they actually act, and we’re finding that that’s actually true, not because people don’t want to support artists, it’s just that people are really busy and tied up with what’s up with their own lives.
What other tools are you putting on the table that’s going to make people want to stop in their tracks, give you their captive audience and on top of that open up their wallets and give you $25 or $50 or $500 bucks or god-willing $2000 bucks, whatever the case might be. So what is it that we’re doing differently? I think every single artist when you’re getting ready to produce your film with IndieGoGo think about the same things… we’ve all seen an interrogation film, what are we doing differently? We’ve all seen a rom-com, what are we doing differently? All that kind of stuff translates into the crowd-funding space, and then using the web to all of it’s potential, also being creative in terms of how we crowd-fund. The most important aspect is always upload media. Upload, Upload, Upload, Upload. Get as many videos as you can, upload images, upload videos, upload anything, blast on Facebook, stay on Twitter, it’s all about getting out there and raising the money and making it happen. IndieGoGo is definitely something that I stand by and I think is a great tool for Independent filmmakers to really be able to step up to the next arena. Keep your eyes open for DYSFUNKTION, the website is TheDysfunktion.com, and also keep your eyes out for Susan’s Remembrance, which is our latest project, which we just released, and see you guys on the internet!
ABOUT DAVID BIANCHI:
“Not above the people he serves but amongst them”
In his quest to find long term success as an artist, his hidden talents as an actor warrant Oscar applause. With roles in major films including, Elizabeth Town, Priest, Filly Brown and Politics of Love where he co-starred with the likes of Paul Bettany, Orlando Bloom, Karl Urban, Maggie Q, Edward James Olmos, Lou Diamond Phillips, and Ann Lynn McCord has forced Hollywood to take him off their waiting list. And while his talents are undeniable, his humility transitions into the hearts of many pursuing a legacy in film.
His producing career starting with an Award Winning Film called David Bianchi Soldier, http://soldierthefilm.com/ it was selected by 24 domestic festivals including Palm Springs, Los Angeles. It won Best Short at Queens, Rochester, San Tan and was voted the #2 best film not seen in 2006 by Film Threat Magazine,
Phil Hall – FilmThreat.com
David also wrote and produced the acclaimed short “Our Vows” that recently screened at the Hollywood Film Festival, while producing “Susan’s Remembrance” a high concept short film (of which he also adapted the screenplay) that will premiere at July 26th at the Downtown Independent and is geared for the A List festival route directed by Ryan LeMasters.
Our Vows is HARROWING!!! – Jet Lowe – The filmTalk.com
He also produced and co-starred in the critically acclaimed feature film “Farewell Darkness” that world premiered in Chicago to a sold out crowd and won Best Feature Film at the Delray Beach Intl. Film Festival (2008) and Best First Feature, Best Feature Film at the Drake International Film Festival (Caserta, Italy, 2008).
Originally from Rochester, NY now based in Hollywood, CA he first hit the stage in 3rd grade. He is a classically trained actor with a BFA in Theatre and Film from Arizona State University and graduated top of his class Magna Cum Laude. David is fluent in three languages (Spanish, Portuguese and English).
He is the founder of Exertion films with multiple producer credits. His original feature length screenplay titled CAR was nominated for the Golden Palm Award at 2006 Beverly Hills International Film Festival. He recently completed writing his fourth original feature length screenplay currently titled DYSFUNKTION, scheduled for production in the summer / fall of 2011 that is currently on Indie Gogo in crowd funding.