The Eye of The Storm – How To Survive The Middle of a Fundraising Campaign By Joe Wilson



I am writing to you from the front.

It’s quiet now, not much activity. The middle’s always like this, quiet.

There’s nothing to distract you from the thought that you’re not going to make it.

Tweets still fly, but donations slow drastically.

If there’s hope in each cup of coffee I’m drinking, I should feel more hopeful. It’s not about hope. Yes, it’s needed, hope, but reality is also a valuable commodity.

The question that every campaign answers – regardless of the perfection of the pitch video or the team that lives on Facebook and Twitter trying to make a project happen – How big is *your* audience?

There will always be new people who discover your project while you’re fundraising, but the hard reality is *most* of the time, the donations come from the audience you already have. Sure, there’s that one blog or one celebrity tweet that flies through the air like a Hail Mary pass with no time on the clock and magically saves the day…

That sounds realistic, doesn’t it?

I have a plan, it’s laid out. I know what I have to do next thanks to the list I wrote telling me what to do when I got here, the middle. The list is really fucking long.

Yes, updates are important, writing blogs, all the rest of the tips that anyone who spends time researching how to fundraise for a project will find. And if you haven’t spent any time planning and researching your campaign – Good fucking luck!

The production workflow design of PlayShorts was created with scalability in mind.

Because I know what it’s like to lose it all on Kickstarter and I am more than aware of the basic difference between IndieGoGo and Kickstarter, I wanted to be able to reach my goal, regardless of the success of the campaign.

My goal: Tell Stories.

If you had a 400 page script of shorts, all of which have been performed twice in front of a live audience as plays, and you had the ability to make them into short films, “What would you do?  What… would you do?” (said in your best Keanu impression).

I do have a 400 page script of just that, almost forty short plays, all of which have been performed, twice, at the Ruskin Group Theatre and I’m going to make short films of them shot on locations around Los Angeles in an anthology series called PlayShorts.  The idea was very much inspired by “Playhouse 90.”

I don’t know how big the audience is for short films of short plays, but I do know one thing, I’m doing something that television, network or cable, isn’t doing – making an anthology series.

Many of the people from all over the world who helped make my most recent story have jumped on board PlayShorts and are helping this project happen. I was afraid they wouldn’t. Many tweeted to me they would, but reality set in when I launched the campaign and immediately knew every name connected to each of the 56 donations from six countries, except one, so far.

To be honest, it doesn’t look like I’m going to raise my goal, the budget to shoot four short films, but that’s the great thing about shorts, scalability. I will shoot as many short films as the budget raised dictates, which will be in direct proportion to the audience who wants to see them.

And after I’m done making PlayShorts Vol. 1, however many short films that is, I will be doing it again with PlayShorts Vol. 2.  How long does it take one guy to shoot a 400-page script?

So, here’s how to survive the middle of a fundraising campaign: KEEP GOING.

Make a plan, which, again, if you don’t make one, you are fucked. Stick to that plan but also, “improvise, adapt and overcome.” Make changes, but don’t make reactionary changes that are fueled by the anxiety that comes with the middle, that quiet.

Don’t chase Hail Mary passes. I’m not saying don’t pursue them, just don’t make them a priority. Why? Because you are most likely not going to be a priority for someone with a million followers. Perspective is a helluva drug.

Sit down, take a deep breathe and realize that you’re only one person. The reality that stares back at you from your campaign page, that number with the $ sign in front of it. That other number, saying how long you have and that big one, your goal – that’s your reality for the moment.

Campaigns aren’t lottery tickets. You aren’t waiting to get lucky or to get picked, you’re asking for help from people who believe in your work, however many people that is, that’s your audience.

And here’s the great thing about an audience, they won’t fire you.

They aren’t ageists.

They don’t care how many views you get and they don’t think about demographics.

They care about good stories and now, for once, the storytellers can tell them directly to the audience who wants to hear them.

That’s human. That’s not marketing, that’s not demographics, it’s human behavior that is centuries old – people love a good story and now, more than ever, we need them.

To survive the middle, beginning, end or any other part of your creative process – just keep going. For you. not for them, not for the money, not for the awards, keep going for you.

There’s never been a better time to be an independent storyteller.

In the words of a very funny writer and actor, Marcia Wallace, “Don’t look back, we’re not going that way.”

Keep going!

You can.

You will.

You are unstoppable.

Twitter  @Joewilsontv
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