The Kickstarter Video: Treat It Like Your Unborn Son

CHRIS CAMPBELL – FILMMAKER

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You wouldn’t shop at the dollar store for your newborn’s crib; that damn thing could collapse within the first few weeks. So why would you skimp on a Kickstarter page? Like the crib, the finished product could collapse in on itself.

You browse Kickstarter’s successfully backed projects, you do your research and then you think, “Simple enough, they’ve got a video and somehow people threw money at it.” Well that’s not always true, and sometimes it may just be their mother and father donating.

A few months back I had an Indiegogo project running to raise a mere thousand dollars. I threw up some credentials, some head shots, and some simple rewards which I thought people would enjoy. Me and my crew got together and for some reason the thought of testimonials never crossed our minds – so instead we made a trailer (without the main actor.) Needless to say when we finally got the ball rolling the only people to ever invest in my art form were my family and friends. The entire thousand was donated by my family, not because of my page or my video, most of them probably didn’t watch or read the whole thing, but they donated because I was their son or nephew. It’s a bit depressing.

Cast & Crew on The Endless Road
This time around we put a bit more thought into what people wanted their pledges going towards. But even more so than that, we wanted to make a promotional video that (if it weren’t our own) we would pledge towards. Our last project, truth be told, wasn’t something even I would want to invest in because it indeed did reflect the finished product.

With The Endless Road we attempted to combine the entire process of pre-production into a promotional video that would ultimately mirror our finished film. After the final draft of the script we got to work on concept art and costumes to create a unified vision amongst the cast and crew. After that we packed everyone in a car and drove to our desired shooting location to scout. We took hundreds of photographs and even test footage of our main actors in costume on the skeleton set. All this, of course, went into our video.

 

One of the things I look for in a Kickstarter video is, have these people done their homework or are they coming to me at the inception of their idea? I would pledge money towards an already finished product seeking release or a project with solid story boards, cast and crew all lined up, and (this should go without saying) a script. But if your video is, “Look we have a great idea, we’ve done some work in the past which looks fairly good, but we need your help to write the damn thing and shoot it” well then I have no idea what I’m getting myself in to. It’s a complete shot in the dark. Basically what I’m saying is, Kickstarter does not come first, pre-production, casting, and some photography should always take precedent; people will put their faith in you if you give them a taste.

The second thing I notice in a lot of Kickstarter videos is the cinematography and sound for the promo is quite often comparable to that of a home movie. My concern with videos like these is that the final product will lack that attention to detail. Hell, throw up a lamp at 45 degrees and use a white board to rim the subject, anything you have around the house to make this seem “professional.” We didn’t even have much, but we pinned a black sheet against the wall and used our bay windows as a natural soft box to light our interviews; honestly, even I was impressed nor could I tell that it was my living room.

When we went live, we received a wealth of good responses in regards to our video. Don’t get me wrong, the video isn’t everything, but it damn sure counts for a lot. In regards to the cheese factor, be cheesy, be passionate, let everyone know that this is what you love to do and their money won’t go towards buying you a new iPhone. It’s Kickstarter, most of these people you will never meet, but you have to instill a sense of competency for them; ditch the “ums” and the “uhs” and let your voice flow with a sincere tone as if you were speaking directly to them. Also don’t be boring, get to the damn point.

Digressing back to the unborn baby, and I’m trying not to be too graphic here, think of your Kickstarter video as the fetus. Yeah it’s a bit weird to think of it that way, but if it makes you care for it then there’s no shame in that. You don’t smoke, you don’t drink, and you already treat it as if it were there with you. Because when that film get’s made, you don’t want it having any strange defects, you wan’t it perfect and beautiful. So treat your Kickstarter video as if you were filming the actual short, or feature, or whatever the hell you’re doing and make it count. Because, remember, it’s a reflection of you and your finished product.

Check out the video for The Endless Road by Chris Campbell

 

BIO:

Currently attending Art Center College of Design, Chris has a creative passion for all things film.  He’s won awards for his documentary short films and working towards a BFA in Film Production with a focus on Writing and Directing seeing nothing but a future ahead.

‘The Endless Road’ has recently been featured on on thekoalition.com thanks to Senior Editor, David Jagneaux.  Check out the article here: