Amazon Wish List versus Crowdfunding: Thoughts?

(Bri Castellini) #1
  • Crowdfunding
  • Amazon Wish List (props, wardrobe, nonperishable crafty, etc)

0 voters

TL;DR: For a series just looking to fund concrete items rather than people/insurance, is it better to do a shopping wish list for folks to purchase specific props or to just go straight crowdfunding?

I’m in pre-production for season 2 of my web series and we’ve been toying with the idea of opening it up for people to help us out. It’s a show designed to be low key from most angles, but it also has a lot of escalating visual gags that require specific (if cheap) props and food to satiate our wonderful friends who make up the cast and crew.

We’re 99% sure we aren’t going to be able to pay the 5 people who work on the show (that’s cast/crew TOTAL) and everyone was aware of that when they signed on, so a full-fledged crowdfunding campaign isn’t something we were planning to do. At most, we’d be looking to raise like $500 to help with expenses, almost entirely for concrete items.

We put a poll on Facebook and Twitter and on Twitter everyone agreed “wish list” and on Facebook everyone agreed “crowdfunding” and I’m curious to hear your thoughts!

(Erik Urtz) #2

I’m hesitant to say wish list just because I haven’t seen that done before.

Virtually all of the expenses I’ve ran into related to paying for food, locations and people, with the biggest expense being food. The best sets will have legit food options, not things that come in a box delivered via Amazon prime.

With a wish list you also are putting yourself at the mercy of what others think about what you need.

Now that I’ve really thought about it, I would only go with the wish list if I thought I could get way more stuff than if I bought it with crowdfunding money.

(Bri Castellini) #3

Here are my reasonings for this idea (not decided on by any means):

  1. We just need physical items, often things that don’t cost more than $10 each
  2. There’s no lost in translation money/platform fees with a wish list- we’d get the thing we need
  3. I’ve done a version of this by simply asking for props/equipment for birthdays/holidays and this would just make it a more year round way for people to support in small, weird ways
  4. Seeing a list of needed props gives a small, weird inside look at what the show has in store for the next season. I mean, right now I’ve got everything from a 100 pack of plastic easter eggs to a 28 pack of stick on mustaches, so you know things gettin’ crazy
  5. Anything people don’t purchase for us in time I can purchase myself, like a flexible funding goal where you self fund the remaining.
  6. I’m thinking of it like a wedding gift registry honestly.

(Erik Urtz) #4

It feels like a lot less pressure than a crowdfunding campaign, which is probably a good thing.

I think its probably a great idea if you don’t need a lot of money, don’t want to do a full blown campaign, have your core expenses covered and are willing to buy everything else you need yourself. In that sense it might make for a fun addition to your preproduction marketing.

(Erica) #5

Interesting idea, using an Amazon Wishlist.

I’m of two minds here:

  • I like the idea of the Wish List as it is simpler and not as involved as a Crowdfunding Campaign, and people who contribute are contributing to something specific that may give them piece of mind.

  • On the flip side, I’d personally want the cash, so that if things change, I can spend it on what is needed, vs what we predict we need. Plus like @SnobbyRobot much of the money I need, aside from paying my crew, are in honourariums for our guests and then keeping everyone happy with good food and drink.

Having said all of that $500 seems like a small ask for the efforts of a crowdfunding campaign.

(Miceal O'Donnell) #6

My personal experience as someone who donates - with a crowdfunding campaign, I am interested in what happens next with the project, and I receive updates from the host site. With Amazon wish list, I get something for the production, and then I don’t care (or remember to care) what happens next with the project. So the built in audience is as relevant as the cash/products.

Also, with the cash, although there are the perks to deal with, you have some flexibility. On a set, there are always surprises in terms of what direction money needs to go.

(Bri Castellini) #7

That’s a great point- the ease of keeping in touch is certainly more prevalent for a crowdfunding platform. Would signing up for a newsletter if it was conveniently located near the Amazon wish list be too much of an extra step?

(Bri Castellini) #8

So the thing is, even if things change, in this situation in particular it doesn’t really matter because ultimately we need certain props for very specific visual gags so cash or not we’re still going to end up spending however much money on those specific props. We have all our equipment and crew set, we just need physical items and snacks, so cash would just add an extra step for all involved.

Also again, since this show is Very weird, we thought sharing a wish list would do double duty as allowing people to get involved with the production AND give some strange hints as to what they can expect from the upcoming season. It’s a shopping list version of a teaser trailer :slight_smile:

(Bri Castellini) #9

@ThrowBigWords I’d love to hear your thoughts on why you decided crowdfunding here! :slight_smile:

(Erica) #10

Loving the weird tease that your wish list would provide.

(Miceal O'Donnell) #11

In my opinion, it would be. With crowdfunding, the built in audience is part of the culture. Some people would definitely sign up for the newsletter, I am sure. But with crowdfunding, everyone is on board whether they want to be or not. :slight_smile:

(Barbara Mc Thomas) #12

Most of our props and costumes have been purchased at thrift stores for far less than anything would have cost on Amazon. I’d rather get $25 and see how far I can make it go than get a $25 thing from Amazon.

(Mark Mainolfi) #13

I’m just concerned that an Amazon wishlist would be restrictive. Money is more flexible. Plus, not everything is on Amazon.
As a viewer, using an Amazon list seems weird. It seems more intuitive to just contribute to a fund.

(Laura Pepper) #14

Here are a few things I love about a compromise solution: Sourcing through your (and your cast/crew’s) social communities.

  1. You’d be really surprised at what people have access to (and things that people can find at Savers/Goodwill) when they know what to look for
  2. It’s a great opportunity for further engagement and social cred for those who are helping you out (and another opportunity to plug your project) as you thank them on social media
  3. Photos of BTS or staged shots of your cast/crew with said prop make excellent thank-you pics/postcards
  4. It may be a simple coffee shop drop-off/pick-up that allows you to really express your gratitude & keep your show in another potential viewer’s mind

I collaborate with a community/family of filmmakers & we are consistently borrowing/loaning gear/props/help. This community also helps get the word out when they don’t have the assets. In my experience, everyone is asking for money, all the time. It gets to be a really hard decision who to donate to, when you have projects of your own.

However, if I have a package of plastic Easter eggs hanging around, I wouldn’t think twice about loaning/giving them to someone who could use them.

Hope this helps. :smiley:

(Bri Castellini) #15

Ended up doing a Seed&Spark actually haha! Their wishlist function worked wonders and we’re 130% funded with 24 days left (but plenty of individual props left to thanks folks for!)

Worked out well for us thankfully :slight_smile: I’d do a wishlist in the future maybe though, as people outside the film industry understand that better than Seed&Spark, but for this time I’m really glad we S&S’d it

(Laura Pepper) #16


I know Seed & Spark are very film-friendly & glad they were a great resource for you! Maybe on a future project, I’ll try that resource as well. :smiley:

(Bri Castellini) #17

Highly recommend! Actually what convinced me was doing an interview with their Director of Crowdfunding @Craia9 for our new podcast! You can check it out here: