Refresh! By Producer Barry Mendel

                     BARRY MENDEL, PRODUCER

Refresh. In my dictionary, it means to revitalize, enliven, perk up, energize, exhilarate, revivify, inspirit or blow away cobwebs. But for those of us in the midst of a Kickstarter crowd-funding drive, refresh is simply a button on our keyboard that we press fifty or a hundred times a day.

Others who’ve been through it will tell you that a crowd-funding campaign is nerve-wracking, all-consuming, that it will take over your life. I don’t know why they bother. You won’t listen. You’ll think, “They’re exaggerating. What drama queens! It’ll be fun!”

And it is fun. Especially if you have a team, and on God Help The Girl, the musical film written and being directed by Belle & Sebastian’s Stuart Murdoch, we have a great one.

But at some point in the process, even if it’s going well, you’ll regret the day you signed up and you’ll want to give up. But you won’t. Because there is that target and that deadline, and if you don’t hit the target by the deadline, you don’t get the money, your supporters don’t get their prizes, and you don’t get those hours of your life and the lives of everybody who helped you back, either.

So with not quite hindsight — we’re on Day 36 of 60 — here are a few tips:

Set a reasonable target.

We set ours high, and there are days we wonder what we were thinking. Beware your eyes being bigger than your stomach, it will take more than Pepto-Bismol to pull you out of it.

Kickstarter is built for new media.
We’ve done a couple big radio interviews in the UK, newspaper and magazine articles in the US and UK and barely moved the meter. But when we put out a blast via Facebook and Twitter, the contributors spring up out of the bushes every time.  Try to get people you know to post Facebook messages and tweet about you, too, especially ones with big followings. Venues, publications, artists, comedians. They keep their Twitters and Facebooks interesting, showcase their altruism, have one less clever bit to have to think of or at least get variation from the same (to them, now) boring point their site was built to make in the first place. Everybody wins.

Space out posting prizes.

Having new prizes keeps things fresh. There’s no way we’re going to wait until the last week or two to try to make this happen. We’re trying to keep the pedal to the metal every step of the way. Excepting the holidays, whenever things have slowed down, we’ve gone back to the drawing board to come up with new prizes potential contributors would want. This is a creative process. We try to price them reasonably, too.

Let people participate with you.

We have people yelling “Action!” on our first shot, in walk-on parts in our movie, sitting with us on set, in the editing room and at the final mix. We have people giving us notes on the first cut. Once we wrap, people are taking home our clapper, the lead girl’s dress from the opening production number, Stuart’s megaphone and director’s chair and they even bought enamel crew badges. We’re letting people in to the process, which not only raises money, it changes the experience of the creative project itself. To me, that is what crowd-funding is and ought to be about.

The support we’ve gotten has been inspiring and made our movie feel very real. We may not have fully understood it at the time, but the day we launched our Kickstarter was our point of no return. So make sure you’re ready. To push refresh, that is.

In the meantime, please visit us here for more information.


God Help The Girl is a Musical Film written and to be directed by Stuart Murdoch.

Set in Glasgow, Scotland, the film is about a girl named Eve who is in the hospital dealing with some emotional problems and starts writing songs as a way of getting better. Songwriting leads her to the City where she meets James and Cassie, two musicians each at crossroads of their own.  What follows is a story of renaissance over a long, dream-like Summer.

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Barry Mendel is a film producer based in Los Angeles — He’s produced numerous films including Rushmore, The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, The Royal Tenenbaums, the Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Munich, Funny People, Whip It and Bridesmaids. Stuart Murdoch is leader of Glasgow based band Belle & Sebastian who have released eight studio albums in a successful career spanning 16 years and counting. In between other musical and film projects, Stuart and Barry have been developing God Help The Girl together for almost five years.  The project has already generated an LP (God Help The Girl, 2009), EP (Stills, 2009) and a single and B-side (Baby You’re Blind, 2010).  By Hook Or By Crook, the film will begin shooting in June, 2012.

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