A year and a half ago, I launched a Kickstarter campaign looking to hit a $20,000 goal for a short film called Elijah the Prophet. We hit our goal, and got to make a great film with a talented group of people. It was a long, stressful campaign, so of course I’m at it again (sucker for punishment). This time, though, the number is higher. Much higher.
I recently launched an Indiegogo campaign for my new project Crossroad Blues: a short film adaptation of a story that originally appeared in the critically acclaimed Image Comics series 27. Our ask this time? $65,000. Holy crap. How could we be so crazy as to ask for so much, and what makes us think we have a chance in hell at hitting a goal that high? Glad you asked.
When launching a crowd funding campaign, one of the key aspects to be aware of is your reach. What is your fan base like? Do you have a lot of supporters? How many people follow you on Twitter? How many Facebook friends? Etc etc. These numbers are hugely important. If you’re hoping to launch a crowd funding campaign, you need to know that people are going to be interested in it. Maybe that means you have great subject matter, maybe it means you have a high profile team. Preferably both. One way or another, though, you need to have a hook: something that will make prospective backers look and say to themselves “I want to be a part of this.”
We knew very early on in the process that we would be attempting to crowd fund the film, and we’ve made our moves accordingly. We stacked our cast and crew with recognizable names, and luckily, as a part of that, we adopted their social reach in addition to what we already had.
Twitter Reach (as of this writing):
Crew: 2,860 followers
Cast: 12,342 followers
Total: 15,202 followers
We also took stock of our Facebook communities, which, between myself and my two co-producers, equals 4480 combined friends. This is in addition to any campaigning the cast may do on their own Facebook accounts.
Of our cast, two have a passionate following thanks to some of their high-profile work, and we’re lucky enough that they are enthusiastic enough about the project to join us in shouting it from the rooftops. In addition, the comic series the story originated with sells very well and has received critical acclaim from a number of the top comic industry websites. The story’s original writer, Charles Soule, wrote the adaptation, and is joining us in spreading the word. He has a strong foundation in the comics community that could be interested in a project like this.
We know we need to tap into communities beyond our direct friends and
family, so we’ve built a package that is interesting and exciting enough to appeal to complete strangers. We broke down our audience potential as such:
Super core: fans of the comic series 27
Core: comic book fans
Secondary: supporters of Canadian film
Secondary: fans of Elias Toufexis and/or Ben Watson (our lead actors)
Secondary: fans of blues music and Robert Johnson (who inspired the story)
Tertiary: fans of horror and creature design (we have a lot of vfx and creature work in the film)
For a short film, this is a pretty solid cross section of audience potential. Of course, we have no way of knowing how much support we can expect from any of these sectors, but it’s a calculated risk. We know there is extensive audience potential, so crowd funding becomes a viable option, despite the high cost of producing the film.
Breaking down your audience potential is a great habit to form when putting
together any project, crowd funded or not. Too often, I’ve come across films early in the development stage and asked the filmmaker who their audience is. “Everyone” is an all too common answer, and not one that does anyone much good. Know who would be interested in the film, and just as importantly: why they would be interested.
If Crossroad Blues sounds like the kind of project you may be interested in checking out, or if you just want to see if our calculated risk is paying off, you can hit up our Indiegogo campaign at www.27crossroadblues.com.
Passionate about storytelling from a young age, James is a film director, comic writer, and author.
In 2012, James directed the short film Elijah the Prophet, starring Art Hindle & Melanie Nicholls-King, after successfully crowd funding $21,006 for the film’s budget on Kickstarter. Later that year, he directed a promotional teaser for the Image Comics series Hoax Hunters, and his first commercial for broadcast television, which aired on MTV 2 and MTV Hits.
James has written several comic stories, including multiple entries for Ty Templeton’s Holmes Inc. series, a short story for the Viper Comics anthology Cryptophobia, and in June 2013, a short story in the Image Comics series Hoax Hunters. He also authored the ebook Kickstarter for Filmmakers, drawing on his experiences funding Elijah the Prophet. The book went on to become the #2 business book on iBooks Canada the week of its release, and was featured on sites like Indiewire, Film Courage, and Ted Hope’s Hope for Film blog.
Find out more about James and what he’s up to at www.james-cooper.ca.
Filmmaker/Comic Writer/Author James Cooper tells us about his filmmaking journey, writing/marketing his book (Kickstarter for Filmmakers), and thoughts on our Indiegogo online release for Goodbye Promise.
Read an excerpt from Kickstarter for Filmmakers, an ebook written by James Cooper, a Toronto-based director who used Kickstarter to raise $21,000 for his short film Elijah the Prophet last November here.