Crowdfunding From A European Perspective by Wolfgang Gumpelmaier

(photo by Andreas Hafenscher)

I am currently supporting Berlin-based director Claudia Rorarius with crowdfunding the theatrical release of her debut film CHI L’HA VISTO – WHO SAW HIM.  It is a vivid example of how hard it is for Europeans to crowdfund a creative project online.

Claudia and I met in Berlin in early 2011 an we talked about the possibilities to crowdsource and fundraise a small amount of money for the upcoming release of her debut film CHI L’HA VISTO – WHO SAW HIM. A few months later we talked again, this time things had changed. Her last application for public funding, which was meant to secure the theatrical release, had failed and Claudia could not distribute the film herself, lacking the huge amount of money required for the film prints.

Like every filmmaker she really believes in her movie, empowered by the overwhelming feedback she got at international festivals like the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, the Montréal World Film Festival, the Atlanta Film Festival, the Mix Mexico Sexual Diversity Film Festival or the Torino Film Festival. So Claudia decided to crowdfund the theatrical release of her movie CHI L’HA VISTO – WHO SAW HIM.

The problem was: how do you ask international backers for supporting your movie, when the theatrical release happens in Germany? So we came up with the idea to start two campaigns, one for German speaking audiences and one for international (English speaking) fans and friends. We split the needed amount of money into two parts and launched two similar campaigns, one on startnext and one on IndieGoGo. The international campaign is more focused on the DVD release, but as important as the German one.

To keep fans in the loop we created a bi-lingual blog, which we attached to our website. We also started tweeting with @soquietfilms, Claudia’s production company, and of course there is also a facebook fanpage hosted in two languages.

Although running an international campaign is important for creating awareness for the upcoming DVD release and further cinema releases, it is really not that easy keeping it alive. In the first days of our campaign both campaigns started quite well and soon we had reached a few hundred Euros/Dollars. Most backers were friends, but also people we knew from festivals showed their support.

At first, we translated each German blog post into English, but soon we totally focused on our German campaign, simply due to a lack of resources. We blogged, tweeted and posted on facebook, but most importantly we emailed and contacted members of the press and possible supporters. Now, with only a few days left to go, it seems that we will finish our German campaign successfully. Thumbs up!

But our IndieGoGo campaign still is way behind our expectations and we only reached 3% of our goal. We chose IndieGoGo because it’s well known in the indie film scene and you can keep all the money you raise. Which is crucial for our project, because every cent counts. But how do you find those random people who love films or would like to support independent filmmaking? I follow many filmmakers and crowdfunding projects on Twitter and do have a helpful network there. Some of them already contributed to or shared the project (btw, thanks John Paul and Marcella for spreading the word!).

However, I understand that all the others haven’t noticed it, because there’s not enough content and news for them. It’s not that we don’t have any content for international supporters, but someone needs to write and share it. Because we are not native speakers it always takes time, which we mostly decide to put into our German campaign. But that’s only one problem.

Another problem is that crowdfunding in Germany is still young. Most platforms are hardly older than a few months; so many people don’t know what crowdfunding means or how it works. In fact you always need to explain the system of pledging online and that drains on your resources again.

That’s why I decided to organize AND crowdfund a seminar in Berlin in which I’ll be talking about, crowdfunding for independent filmmakers“. US-filmmaker Lucas McNelly will join us as a guest-speaker and will talk about his experiences in crowdfunding and filmmaking. My twitter friend Spoxx is supporting me in terms of creating some buzz for the event and organizing it. There will also be a live-stream, so you’re invited to join us!

Anyway, even if you do reach people via social media, you still don’t reach enough to successfully end your campaign. You’ll always need traditional media for spreading the word. Only then the masses will come and hopefully support your project. That’s what we’re trying to do in Germany right now.
But what about international press contacts?

Especially in the USA there are lots of great indie film resources and blogs but it’s hard to get their attention (except FilmCourage, of course ;-). So I’d really appreciate it if you could spread the word for this awesome film (you’ll find more details below).

These are only a few thoughts and I’d like to hear your point of view, so please comment here or tweet me @gumpelmaier

coasts on the charisma of its subject, Gianni Meurer, a young man who was raised in Berlin by his German mother but decides to search for the Italian father he hasn’t seen in over 20 years. The biographical details are reportedly true, the action pure fiction.

The interweaving of elements of reality and fiction is a characteristic of my debut film, which tells with honest sympathy of the deep unease of its protagonist and the journey of a friendship through an alternative, unremarkable and undiscovered Italy.

” A film, emanating from a deep personal need, whose persuasive honesty touches the audience.” (Torino Film Festival)

Wolfgang Gumpelmaier, Social Film Marketing Consultant

Wolfgang was born in 1978 and lives in Austria. During his media studies at Vienna University he worked as a film critic and journalist. He is a passionate web user and always on the hunt for the latest trends in Social Media, online marketing, film distribution, crowdfunding, community building etc. He aggregates his knowledge in his Social Film Marketing blog, on, on Facebook and on Twitter. Wolfgang is also a regular speaker at a variety of workshops and film festivals. He is currently working on different projects throughout Europe.

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