Definitely chain restaurants. I try to avoid chains overall because usually managers can’t say yes if he they want to. Mom & pop shops are the way to go, especially places that don’t get a lot of traffic because they’d most appreciate the marketing support.
Thanks so much, Sunny! Glad you like the series! Most of my short content is unpaid. I make this work by largely working with the same people regularly and creating a barter system where I help with their content as much as possible. I also make sure that shorts are always only a day or 2 shoots, with amazing food. Generally, people like to work on my sets because I work hard to make sure the end product gets seen, they’ll have solid footage for their reels, and I recommend them for paying gigs constantly. I’ve been able to leverage the connections I’ve made throughout the years to get my cast & crew paying gigs, even when they’re not my own. My features pay (and I hire the same people who work for free on shorts), which is where crowdfunding comes in
Have you ever funded your projects (in part or whole) via non-crowdfunding means?
I don’t depend on them to do it. I encourage them and try to incentivize them to do so. But only the people receiving producer credits are expected/depended on to do email outreach.
Hi Christina, thanks for doing this. You mentioned this above, and I’ve heard this many times: Know your audience. That seems like sound advice, but if you don’t know your audience, how do you get to know your audience?
A big part of it is doing outreach to people before the campaign comes along, so they know you’re working on something new and you’ve given then a personalized reason to care. For instance, my last campaign was last February. I started talking on social media and in my newsletter about why the film mattered in the Trump era months before I launched the campaign. That created a lot of engagement and conversation. So when I started messaging people, I had a foundation of interest to build on.
My estimates largely come from knowing what I spent in the past or knowing what kind of deals I can get. With my last crowdfunding campaign, I didn’t feel I could raise more than $20k at once in February and so close to after the election (this was last year), so I put together a production budget with that in mind. Certain things like paying people whereat a set price. But any item or prop that added up to over the budget, I would hit the pavement and find a cheaper or free alternative to replace it with. I didn’t launch my campaign until I knew I could afford the production for $20k. We ended up coming in just under budget. That said, I had learned from my first feature where I made estimates with no experience and went $5,000 over budget.
Out of curiosity… what do you DO with short films? Are you just making them to be constantly making something/ have something to send out to festivals? Seems to me features and series can get somewhere but shorts are kinda not helpful unless they’re a sizzle or proof of concept for a bigger thing
Thank you very much for coming to share your knowledge.
What kind of themes in web series campaigns have the best results with the public? Fantasia, Drama, comedy or social situations (unemployment, abuse, etc.)
Haha, I suppose I don’t ever find myself there these days. With IndieWorks, there’s always that to plug even if not a project of my own. So the newsletter goes out once per month to remind people of next month’s screening regardless of what else we have going on. I do try to keep it consistent, and I find I have higher open rates when I do.
Right now we only do our own content. Most of the content is my own that I’ve directed and produced, but we also have 2 shorts that I only produced (written & directed by another team member). I’m always open to reading scripts and working with other creators but, because we’re a small group that rotates around working on each other’s stuff, it would be hard to focus on/commit to other content. I’m personally not interested in directing for hire, so I don’t dabble in the commercial world.
I try to always have someone with a camera on set, even if just a student looking to learn. My first feature was shot in 12 days in Massachusetts in January in the snow, and was super grueling. So I made sure we had a ton of bts photos and videos to share. We built a DIY process trailer, so I made sure we got footage of that before and after. No one had time on set to do interviews, but I made it a point right after wrap to do interviews with the cast & crew about shooting in those conditions. AN EPK is generally a BTS content, the more visual the better. And the more quotes you can get/offer from above the line people, the better.
I use shorts a way to keep my ongoing audience engaged while I’m working on longer form content. Also, I like to show my audience my growth as an artist, and shorts are a great way to do that. They’re also a good way to screen at festivals and meet audience members to collect emails and plug my streaming content. I always release them for free as a way to drive traffic to my stuff behind paywalls. I wrote a long blog about this awhile back: http://www.congestedcat.com/blog/2017/1/27/working-towards-sustainability-why-i-keep-crowdfunding-making-shorts
Hi Jane, I have not. I like my independence and having the freedom to distribute how I’d like. I also come from humble means and have no access to investor types. The current system is not really designed to support minority, women filmmakers. And crowdfunding has provided a way for me to get my own content made instead of knocking on traditional, biased doors. That said, I’m now at a point where past work revenue does help fund future work
Alright folks, that’s the hour! Christina, you’re welcome to stick around to answer any final questions, but in any case, everyone give a HUGE big thanks to @Craia9 for being here today!!
Hi Pablo, this class will help you figure that out: https://www.seedandspark.com/education/crowdfunding-class#Who-is-Your-Audience
Thank you so much, Christina!! This was so helpful!
I appreciate that, Christina, but I went through all the S&S videos during our S&S campaign in the fall. Thanks for the response. Much appreciated.