Confession: I tried and failed at Kickstarter. Granted my campaign was back in the early days when Kickstarter lured prospectives with this pitch: A lot of people with money want to contribute to projects. It makes them feel like a part of it. Get on Kickstarter to connect with these people.
My problem was I didn’t read the fine print. It went something like this: the “people with money” are actually your friends and it will be your job to make them want to contribute to your project. And not just your friends, oh no. “People with money” includes anybody you’ve ever come across in your lifetime, even if they don’t have a day job or some other source of income. You will need to hound every person in your Rolodex, your elementary school teachers, truant officers, college professors, %*!k buddies, neighborhood homeless, best pals, sworn enemies, and barely passing acquaintances to meet your goal. If you don’t meet your goal you will not only lose all those people you nagged for money, but the amount they promised to donate. You will need to take a vacation from your job and life in order to run the campaign. You will lose any scrap of creativity you have in your chosen field of expression as you transform yourself into a fundraiser. What’s cool about that is when you’re done, even though you will probably have failed, you’ll have the job skills required to work for a non-profit.
What I discovered in those early Kickstarter days is that nobody trusted it. “Why can’t we just give you the money?” people asked when I tried to send them to Kickstarter. “We don’t really trust weird Internet sites.” I didn’t have an answer so I gave up and went about my business, creative soul intact.
Today everybody’s more sophisticatd. Crowdfunding is no longer scary. People with money love donating to projects at Kickstarter. It makes them feel like they’re part of it. Unfortunately you still have to mortgage a couple of months of your life in order to succeed there or on any platform.
Kickstarter has a less than 50% success rate. Sounds bad, but it’s probably not. Almost half the projects are getting funded. Unfortunately that doesn’t mean 1 out of 2 ideas are good and come to fruition. It just means 1 out of 2 project owners are good at selling. Talent at selling is never an indication of worthiness, but that’s another blog post.
Enough about Kickstarter, let’s move on to Seed & Spark, a filmmakers’ crowdfunding platform that got started only last year. Their website states they have a 70% success rate. How’d that happen when they are new and nobody likes weird new Internet sites? One word answer: gatekeepers.
I know, I know. In this post-monarchic Internet world, democracy is king. No gates allowed. But as we’ve quickly seen, when everyone owns the means of production you get a lot of, well, cat videos. At this point a little filtering is a good thing.
So getting a project on Seed & Spark is an accomplishment. It implies an organized campaign, a good product, and an energetic filmmaker. Anyone accepted at Seed & Spark is probably hard-wired to accomplish their goal.
I discovered Seed & Spark through Tracy’s campaign for Finding Jenn’s Voice. My previous posts have details on that, but in short, she’s about half done with production with a lot of interviews left to do. She has all the editing and distribution to do as well. The subject of Finding Jenn’s Voice is dark: Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) and the fact that the number one cause of death among pregnant women is murder. The premise of the film is that IPV is preventable, but the statistics won’t change unless we start talking about it. Finding Jenn’s Voice is the starting point for the conversation.
Good topic. Important topic. Worthy topic. Damn hard to get people interested. The subject is one that people don’t want to think about. We prefer the reports in the evening news which at best give us lurid details, and at worst side with the murderer (“He’s really a nice guy. Something made him snap.”)
Tracy’s a great filmmaker. Check out the trailer to see what I mean. I hope she succeeds. I hope Seed & Spark succeeds. If for no other reason than the belly-warming bit about themselves they have at their site:
So let’s hear it for the new kids on the crowdfunding block. Good luck to Seed & Spark and their clients. I look forward to some great indie movies in the years to come. If you feel the same way, head over to Seed & Spark and check out some of the flicks that have been funded there already. Their categories are great. I find “Made by Irish people,” and “Trouble in Paradise” more helpful than the typical Netflix categories like “Stuff you like,” or “Movies with Brad Pitt.” At Seed & Spark you can actually view the movies online without having to wait for them to come to a festival in your town. Three bucks. “One Hundred Mornings” is on my list of things to watch.
See you at the show.
If you haven’t donated a few bucks to Tracy’s movie, please do so now. She’s still only 14% funded at this point.