Crowdfunding is an internet spin on an old idea. For as long as I can remember people have been raising money for one reason or another; Girl Scout’s with their cookies, Salvation Army with their buckets and of course politicians with their promises. With the Internet we’ve taken the bake sale fundraiser and gone global. Now you can have people from all over the world pitch in to get you closer to the brass ring.
If you’re interested in running your own crowdfunding campaign and start researching the concept you’ll find tons of articles talking about "why" people contribute to these things and techniques you can use to help maximize your success. The one thing I’ve never seen is a case study from an actual donor or a poll taken of all the backers who participated. Since this information is lacking I’ve decided to contribute my reasons for having backed crowdfunding projects. My reasons are my own and might not reflect the population at large, but I’m going to be blunt and honest.
Since July 13th, 2010 I have donated to 3 separate crowdfunding campaigns. I will detail what the projects were, who was involved and my relationship to them.
I met King is a Fink through internet channels. They were cool, they were supportive and they were into a lot of different things that expanded my horizons (Cinekink, NYC Midnight, etc). When it came to this project their involvement was all I needed to know. Everything else was extraneous.
But for everyone else… Tilt is a thriller directed by Phil Holbrook and set in Brainerd, MN whose claim to fame is being the city the movie Fargo was filmed in. There’s more to it, but that’s all I knew when I chose to help fund this.
- Relationship: Met on Twitter, solidified thru blog posts/comments, and then connected on Facebook.
- What Worked: Julie & Jessica, I knew their other work and was hungry to see more. The daily coffee chats with Phil were phenomenal. Low key, very relaxed and on a regular enough schedule to keep me interested. The connection thru the semi-daily chats was better than any other video recorded for this campaign. Tilt the Town was a stroke of genius. Populating a fictional town with backers as crazy characters was a perk that really made the campaign stand apart.
- What Didn’t: The first TILT trailer really didn’t resonate with me. It was too long and didn’t hold my interest. If I had based my entire opinion on that trailer I would have passed on this project.
- Why I Chose My Donation Level: The Tilt Town biography was a cherry on top as was my name in the credits, but a DVD of the film is what sold me. Owning a copy of the film you helped make is an awesome feeling along with supporting two very cool chicas.
Tyler is one of those ambitious creatives who’s constantly pushing himself to the next level. I came across his writing on a now defunct television review site and from retweets by King is a Fink. His own site, Multi-Hyphenate, was a cool swirl of creative energy with articles on a wide variety of subjects. I wanted to join in the fun and wrote an article for him as well (Reboots and Remakes: What Works and What Doesn’t).
When I heard he was looking to make a 1940′s comic, radio play and corresponding short film I immediately thought "that’s just crazy enough to work!" Helping him reach that goal was a no-brainer and I was also intrigued with why he went with IndieGoGo when I had seen so many other campaigns leveraging Kickstarter.
- Relationship: Met on Twitter, solidified thru blog posts/comments, guest wrote on his blog and then connected on Facebook.
- What Worked: The scope of the project. He was going for a film, radio play, iPhone app and slew of other directions. The fact that it would all be connected really interested me as well as learning more about transmedia. Plus, I’m a sucker for comic books especially one’s set in the 1940′s
- What Didn’t: The campaign started strong with videos and twitter action, but fizzled out to just twitter mania. It didn’t have the connection or consistent message of other campaigns.
- Why I Chose My Donation Level: A copy of the comic, radio show, short film and having a vintage ad in the comic itself was too good to pass up. Also having worked with Tyler I really wanted to see this project succeed.
I first encountered Angelo Bell thru retweets from Tyler Weaver. I started following him and liked many of the articles he linked to or snippets he shared about being in the film industry. The first crowdfunding campaign of his that I encountered was for his upcoming film Legend of Black Lotus. Kung Fu movies are up my alley, but I personally wasn’t interested in one with a strong family focus or child lead actor. I’m more in the Jet Li, Jackie Chan camp of martial arts films.
Even though I didn’t contribute to the project I still followed his progress and tweets. Recently he mentioned going to Hong Kong to meet his potential co-producers at the Hong Kong International Film and Television Market (FILMART) and the Hong Kong Asian Film Financing Forum (HAF). He already scored an all-access pass to FILMART so all he needed to do was get to Hong Kong. That’s an idea I can get behind.
- Relationship: Met on Twitter.
- What Worked: Angelo has put in the time and effort to network his way into this opportunity. I would gladly do what I could to bring him closer to becoming a full fledged international film director. The blog post he wrote gave me all the information I needed to know it was a worthy endeavor.
- What Didn’t: The idea and blog post really sold me, so I didn’t need to see the video.
- Why I Chose My Donation Level: Since I didn’t know much about his previous work I liked the opportunity to experience many of his short films at once. Also getting access to his travel blogs, private tweet stream for the trip and the contact info collected at the events were a big draw.
Hopefully this breakdown will help others looking to launch campaigns of their own. This should also be a clear indication that Social Media WORKS. I haven’t met any of these people in person or talked to them on the phone. The best has been an IM chat or Google Wave (remember that?). These relationships were completely forged through Twitter and blog posts and comments. Facebook came at the tail end once the connection was already there. If that doesn’t legitimize the medium I don’t know what will.
If you contributed to one of these projects or any crowdfunding endeavor I’d love to hear your reasons why.