Fractured Atlas Founder and CEO, Adam Huttler - AMA

I’m the founder and CEO of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit technology company that helps artists with all of the business aspects of their work. Mostly we provide SaaS platforms that help with things like fundraising, ticket sales, audience development, CRM, space management, insurance, and more. We currently reach over 500,000 artists across North America, with a core membership of over 60,000.

At the moment, my own work is mainly focused on launching Fractured Atlas’s Exponential Creativity Fund, which is a new impact-oriented VC fund that invests in companies operating at the intersection of technology and human creativity.

Ask me whatever you like! I’m most qualified to talk about indie/DIY arts, casual creativity (which is one of the focus points of the investment fund), and the future of the nonprofit arts and culture sector.

Hi Adam, great to meet you! What have you seen change about the work of independent artists during your time at Fractured Atlas? How do you see it evolving going forward?

Hey Adam! Awesome to have you here today! First question- in the most practical of terms, how does Fractured Atlas benefit indie filmmakers with little to no money to their names? If one of the Stareable community sent you guys an email or walked into your offices, with a script and a dream, what does your nonprofit provide?

Thanks! When I started Fractured Atlas 20 years ago, the DIY arts movement was really just getting started. Now it’s becoming the dominant paradigm. So a lot of little things are different as a result, for example, many many more foundations are willing to make grants through fiscal sponsors. But the biggest changes have to do with technology, which has been steadily democratizing the tools of artistic production, financing, and distribution. That’s just going to accelerate going forward. Middlemen and gatekeepers who don’t add clear value to artists or their audiences are an endangered species.

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For indie filmmakers, the two most popular services are probably our fiscal sponsorship program and our insurance services. With fiscal sponsorship, indie filmmakers can raise charitable/philanthropic dollars to support their films. We’ve raised over $120 million to support independent artists, and filmmakers (especially documentarians) are probably the most successful fundraisers on our platform. Insurance is also really popular, for things like equipment rental, liability, and even errors & omissions.

There’s plenty of other stuff, but those are the most popular for this community.


what’s casual creativity?

We have a couple documentary web series creators (psst @SecretLivesPS) but the large majority of our community are fiction series creators- what have been the kinds of narrative projects that have found success with your organization? Any similarities that we can all learn from? Also, is there a significant difference in success between shorts/features and series?

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In recent years, there’s been an explosion of creative activity by people who may not self-identify as artists and who don’t aspire to make a living from their art, but for whom some kind of creative practice is an important part of their lives and identities. Cosplay, makerspaces, slow food, YouTubers, Let’s Play videos, Minecrafters, Paint and Sip franchises, adult fans of Lego, etc. I believe this trend is a very big deal and represents the early stages of a huge shift in human culture.


What are some common mistakes you notice indie filmmakers consistently making?

What does that mean for arts and culture non-profits that have traditionally supported independent artists? How are they evolving as the landscape changes?

is that good, though? especially since a lot of us definitely would rather not be casual about it? trust me- i’m casually creative right now, but it’s not by choice my dude

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For some of our services, like insurance, all films are created more or less equal and everyone is saving money and time, etc. Fiscal sponsorship is more complicated, though, since it’s only something we can offer for “non-commercial” films. That can be tough to define, but it’s most clearcut with documentaries, which is why I mentioned them. For an indie narrative filmmaker to raise charitable dollars would depend in part on the subject matter for the film (e.g., environmental issues or educational in some way.)

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That’s kind of what my documentary series about - I did not know about the term “casual creativity”…interesting! With regards to your support in helping filmmakers raise funding, how do you provide incentive for the charitable/philanthropic donations?

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Totally hear you. :slight_smile: I’m not saying it’s good or bad necessarily, I’m just saying that it’s happening whether we like it or not. It’s not a prescription, it’s an observation and a prediction. Now, my personal opinion is that it’s more good than bad. Creativity and expression are highly correlated with happiness, empathy, health outcomes, and lots of other important things that we need more of in society. But in some ways it does make it harder to earn a living from making art. And it may make it a lot harder to run a small or mid-sized arts organization. But don’t worry too much about the downsides; there will still be plenty of professional artmakers for a very long time.

Isn’t insurance pretty expensive though? Like obviously if something goes wrong it’ll save money, but most of us can barely pay for meals and transport, let alone insurance, so what’s the benefit for us “commercial-hopeful” filmmakers who can’t afford insurance? What can you help us with, or what can you guide us towards?

Very cool! I’ll check it out, for sure. (I’m actually writing a book about this as well, so maybe you’ll hear from me about an interview at some point!)

Individual donors receive tax deductions for their gifts since Fractured Atlas is a registered charity / 501©(3) organization. Foundations and public funders generally can’t make grants directly to a for-profit business or individual, so they have to go through us. They also get the peace of mind that comes from knowing that very experienced, very professional people are making sure that everything is compliant with state and federal rules, etc.


fair enough. is there a specific type of thing you believe casual creatives would be best suited for if their was only part time? what kinds of jobs/industries give us space to create but also money to live off of?

Well, we can help you save a lot of money on your insurance, which might make it more affordable. The truth is that often filmmakers have no choice; if they want to rent equipment or get certain permits or sign a distribution deal, they have to provide proof of coverage. The good news is we’re often able to save them hundreds or thousands of dollars on a policy.

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Some people are denied distribution deals if they don’t have insurance? Does that happen after a production is finished, or during/before?

Awesome, I am game to chat anytime! Looking forward to reading your book. Thanks for the info.