What Is Equity Crowdfunding? by David Willis

Watch the video interview on Youtube here

Film Courage:  Now I know you are raising money for the film on an equity crowdfunding site and you’ve briefed us a little bit behind the scenes that there are certain things you can’t talk about.  Forgive me if I overstep the bounds.  So please stop me if at any moment if it’s something [that I should not ask].  Because I am used to interviewing people who have been on Kickstarter or Indiegogo [and Seed & Spark].  So what is equity crowdfunding first and foremost?  How is it different from Kickstarter and Indiegogo?

David Willis:  Well it’s a new law that has just come into effect.  It’s only been around for year.  It went into effect in 2016 and it’s called Regulation Crowdfunding or Equity Crowdfunding.  And before this law came into effect if you wanted to invest in a startup (like Facebook) when they were first starting up, legally you had to be what they call a high net worth individual.  You had to be somebody where you make over $200,000 a year or you have a million dollars in net worth.  And that left out 90% of the population.  90% of the  population could not invest in these.  Only venture capitalist and really wealthy people could do it.  But this new law came into effect that allows other businesses to raise money to everyone.  The average person can invest with something in equity crowdfunding and you couldn’t do that before.  The differences between this and Kickstarter is    when you put money into an equity crowdfunding project like ours, if you did it on Kickstarter they’d give you a DVD or a t-shirt or something like that.  But with this you get a piece of the company.  If the movie makes money, you make money.  So you enjoy the success or failure (if the movie fails of course, movies can always crash and burn.  Anything can crash and burn).  If it succeeds, you go along for the ride.    So that’s the big difference.  A lot of companies have been doing it.  A lot of micro-breweries, restaurants, coffee companies have all successfully raised millions of dollars.  Electric cars, there are a lot of electric cars out there.  There is a guy who successfully raised millions of dollars for a jet pack, the first non-military jet pack.

Film Courage:  That’s good to have!

David Willis:  Yeah!  It’s so cool.  They have the video, it’s real.  It works.  And you can put money into that company.  There is tampon of the month club.

Film Courage:  Oh!  Good to know.

David Willis:  There is everything you can possibly imagine.  There is somebody starting up a company under this new law We are the first feature-length narrative film to raise money this way.  There have been a couple in Europe.  A couple in Asia, but we’re the first ones in America.  One other company did a collection of short films, but we’re the first ones to do a feature-length narrative film.  And it’s really exciting!  It’s cool because it’s new.  Nobody has done it so it’s really exciting and we’re succeeding.  It’s going well.

Film Courage:  It is.  I don’t know if you’re allowed…now forgive me if I’m overstepping my bounds (we can cut this out), but are you allowed to say the dollar amount?  You’ve done very well since April 2017 is when you launched the campaign.

David Willis:  Yes.  We are doing well.  The SEC (Security and Exchange Commission) regulates this offering. It’s not like Kickstarter, where anybody can just do it. There’s a lot of paperwork involved in us making this offering.  And they have rules about what we can talk about.  And we can’t actually talk about dollar amounts.  People have to visit the website and all of the information is right there.  It’s super easy to read and all of that is right there.

Watch the video interview on Youtube here

But I can tell you this.  For a year previously before we did the equity crowdfunding campaign, I went around and talked to rich people, people outside of the [entertainment] business, people who were wealthy.  And I kind of tried to talk to them to raise money.  And I raised a little money.  It took me a year.  In 7 weeks I have raised 140% of what I raised in a year talking to rich people. So I love equity crowdfunding because instead of having to convince a few individuals with money to write a check, you can talk to the whole world (international investors).  We have investors from Australia and Europe who are putting money in and anyone can invest in this.  Anyone.  And it’s really exciting because we just have to get the message out to the crowd and people who get it.  People who get the movie that we’re doing and who understand it are like “Oh!  This is fun. It’s an investment, too.  Cool!”

Let me tell you about one investor I talked to.  I’m talking to this very wealthy fellow (nice guy).  We’re sitting in wingback chairs next to his private lake.  I felt like I was in the movie CASABLANCA with Sydney Greenstreet.  I’m pitching him the project and he says “Well you know this lead character…”  He had read the script and he’s not in the business so he’s not used to reading scripts. He just used to reading flowcharts and accounting statements and profit and loss sheets.  But he reads the script and he says “You know, in the beginning of this movie, I don’t like the lead character.  She’s not very likable.”  And I said “Yeah…But you like her later?”  And he said “Yeah, I like her by the end.” And I said “That’s the idea.  She changes.  Movies have an arc where a character starts out a certain way, they go through the story and if it’s an upbeat ending, if it’s a comedy, they improve their life.  Whatever it is, they find love, they find success, whatever it is, they find it.” And he says “Right, but I don’t like her in the beginning.” And I said “Oh. Okay.  Right.”  And I explained it again, what an arc was and I’m sure a lot of the people who are your readers, who go to FilmCourage.com (a lot of them are writers).  They understand this.  In a movie you change, there’s an arc.  So we talked for 20 minutes like this and he saying “But I don’t like her in the beginning.”  And finally I said to the guy, I said “You know there was a character in a movie.  She was very mean, she used people.  She didn’t care about anybody but herself.  She was selfish.  She was basically just a horrible bitch.  And this character was a character in the highest grossing film of all time called GONE WITH THE WIND.”  and this guy was in his 70’s so he knew that movie.   And he goes “Oh…oh…”  And it was just surreal having a conversation with this guy here trying to explain this to him.  It wasn’t his business.  He didn’t understand it because he didn’t get this business.

Whereas when we do the crowdfunding, the equity crowdfunding, a lot of people (even though it’s not their business), they get it. They’ve thought about it, you know?  They’ve thought “Oh, that would be fun.”  And so they get it and it’s such a tremendous relief when they get it.

On our Facebook page (we have a Facebook page for the movie THAT CHRISTMAS MOVIE on Facebook) and it’s so…you know we make little posts about the movie, who is in it, stuff like that.  And we had a sweet little grandma in Missouri.  She posted “This is great  Thumbs up!” and it was so heartwarming to see that we reached some sweet lady that we didn’t know in the middle of nowhere and she gets us.  And as filmmakers and writers, there’s nothing better than when people get what you’re doing.


Question for the Viewers:  Have you invested in an equity crowdfunding campaign?







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