Friday, June 7, 2013

The Secret to Funding an Indie Film

You've written a brilliant feature film screenplay. People who read it invariably give you very enthusiastic feedback containing words like "brilliant", "clever", "ground breaking", "exciting", "suspenseful", "touching" and "hilarious". You need a measly $55,000 in order to shoot this film on your carefully calculated shoestring budget.

There is a surefire secret strategy to obtain this micro budget for your terrific indie movie. I'm sure there is.

I just don't know what it is.

I thought that Kickstarter might be the answer. My project is live as I type this post; our deadline is June 30, 2013 to reach our funding goal of $55,000. If we reach it, we shoot the movie. If not, those who pledged donations will not pay us a penny, and the movie will not be made. Again... I've been down this road many times with several of my screenplays. Just when investors seem to be lined up and ready to sign checks, the deals and/or investors themselves never fail to vanish.

Before posting my movie project on Kickstarter I was aware that narrative films rarely get funded on Kickstarter. Most of the successfully funded films on Kickstarter are documentaries, because the filmmakers can then appeal directly to the appropriate swaths of people who feel passionately about the topic, i.e. "save the rainforest", "cure X disease", etc. I've been getting loads of encouraging emails and messages from friends and fans since my project launched on May 22, saying that the movie sounds great, they look forward to seeing it, they wish me all the best, etc. But very few of these people have sprung for a donation toward our budget...despite that fact that I'm offering lots of rewards for various levels of donation, i.e. signed DVD's and posters, t-shirts, Skype chats with my dummies and me, private ventriloquist lessons, invitations to watch us shoot the movie and to attend a cast party, a chance to appear in the movie, etc. Heck, for just a $10 donation a backer would get access to an online screening of the film before it is released to the general public. But even that doesn't seem to have any appeal to the vast majority of people who have been telling me that they would love to see the film.

I think I know why: since my movie is not a documentary, the only way that I could have attracted enough donations to reach our budget would be if I had a "star" attached to the movie. That's just the way it is with the psychology of movie-goers. Unfortunately, Tom Hanks and Leo DiCaprio were not available for this project. Nor were Meryl Streep or Emma Stone. I must face the brutal fact that I am not a "star".

There's one good thing that is coming out of the looming failure of my Kickstarter campaign: I feel inspired now to dust off my novelized version of this screenplay, While the Village Sleeps, which I nearly got published a couple of years ago. That's a topic for a different blog post. But I've decided to self publish this novel soon as an e-book.

So all is not lost. You, dear blog reader, will soon be able to read While the Village Sleeps...if not see it.

Here's the Kickstarter project...

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