Seed&Spark founder and CEO Emily Best, AMA!


(Jonathan Hardesty) #45

What are some issues you’ve encountered or have seen people encounter trying to make contact/reach/engage their intended audience? It strikes me that a lot of insular groups tend to be highly suspicious/unfriendly to being sold a thing, but in creator communities we can kind of work past it and still engage each other AND pimp our work.


(sam lockie-waring) #46

hey emily- question about pitches. what makes the best kind, especially if casting isn’t complete and we don’t have money to make a high quality pitch before the crowdfunding campaign? are there ways around it? ways to cheat production qual, for example?


(Bri Castellini) #47

Thanks Ron! And welcome back!


(Emily Kelleher-Best) #48

This is a really wonderful question without a super simple answer. Often times filmmaking teams are not diverse because friend groups are not that diverse, and people tend to make films with their friends. It does require spending energy building and broadening your network. What we do for hiring at Seed&Spark is just make sure that the applicant pool we’re interviewing from is actually meaningfully diverse and inclusive, and we hire the best people out of that pool (keeping in mind that a quality education should not be weighted more than distance traveled

You can use new tools out there like Cinematcher which is helping filmmakers crew up in more diverse ways. You can research, for example, female cinematographers you like and reach out to them on twitter to see if they can recommend folks for your project…


(Emily Kelleher-Best) #49

I could literally talk about this forever, it’s a topic that is so, so important to me and I loved the way you asked the question. It takes work.


(Emily Kelleher-Best) #50

As an indie filmmaker, your strength is in your creativity. Of COURSE you can make a high quality pitch video for no money. iPhones shoot in $4K. There are plug-in lavs for like $30 that give you great sound using a mobile app. You don’t have any excuse not to make a great pitch video. The answer is something I heard Mark Duplass say that I love: it’s about taking big risks for small prices. You have to be innovating in communicating your filmmaking skills and have a clear message to audiences about why it’s important that this film gets made right now. If you can answer that question for yourself, then you might not be ready to crowdfund.


(Bri Castellini) #51

Do you think there’s a certain amount of time that filmmakers should wait in between new crowdfunding campaigns? And certain things that should change in each successive project being crowdfunded? I’ve seen many people worry they’re burning out their network.


(Emily Kelleher-Best) #52

You cant bust in to a party of people you don’t know and be like I AM HERE, THE LIFE OF THE PARTY. You gotta make friends first. So, the mistake I see is people go and try to talk AT a community they don’t belong to. Instead you have to start the engagement way ahead of time. Our Head of Crowdfunding, Gerry Maravilla, has an amazing story about how he engaged a community that wasn’t his in order to fund his short film CROSS. Lemme see if I can find where he wrote about it!


(Emily Kelleher-Best) #53

Between campaigns, it’s a good idea to have:

  • delivered on the promises of your previous campaign and
  • grown a bigger audience you can engage

(Meg Carroway) #55

What is most exciting about the indie film world to you these days?


(Amen J.) #56

Hi Emily! Is it better to have a “flexible” crowdfunding campaign, where you keep all funds raised, regardless of whether it reaches the goal amount, or all or nothing approach? And should you set a limit on the amount you’re asking for, say low thousands?


(Jane) #57

I have a follow up, then :slight_smile: What if we’re not sure we can pay? I’m always afraid to ask for recommendations/ reach out to new people if I know we might be doing it for free, as a passion project, just amongst friends. Is there something else we could offer or promise so it’s not insulting?


(Emily Kelleher-Best) #58

GREAT question, and not everyone has the same opinion on this. I think your films probably need individual FB pages, but I think it would be a NIGHTMARE to run like 17 twitter accounts. That said, if you’re making a series that you plan to have running a while, it might make sense to set up the series’ own account. We have a separate account for F*ck Yes. Otherwise, I encourage filmmakers to organize projects on a hashtag so that everyone who is participating in the project can use the tag and increase visibility.


(Jonathan Hardesty) #59

Yeah, I’m curious how others have gone about that. I think in general us content creators have good intentions, but can get over-eager. I know I do, and I’m not a college-student anymore so that making friends “muscle” is always in need of practice.

And in the case of some audiences that have developed super-niche audiences (video games), it’s been interesting trying to go about this.


(Jaime Lancaster) #60

Aside from Seed&Spark’s new distribution platform, do you have any advice for us when we have a finished product but have NO idea what to do with it? I know YouTube is the biggest video platform online, but it’s sooo bad for filmmakers. I don’t really know what else to do, though!


(Emily Kelleher-Best) #61

Also a great question. We get very focused on pitching our projects for money and forget we have to pitch for collaborators, too. Chances are, if there is a project you’re SYPER passionate about, there are others who will find that passion infectious and want to help. I think you have to find your tribe, to make people partners in the project (well contracted, of course), and crowdfunding can be a tool to help get them paid.


(Bri Castellini) #62

Any tips on how to use sites like Instagram or Pintrest or Tumblr to the best of their potentials?


(Emily Kelleher-Best) #63

Well my first advice is don’t make something before you know what you want to do with it. If it’s too late, then try to answer the question: what would I like this project to do for me? Answers might be:

  • get festival play
  • gather an audience (spoiler: this should ALWAYS be part of your answer)
  • help me make the next project
  • make me money
  • help me pitch a production company…

etc. And that can help determine what to do with it.


(Jonathan Hardesty) #64

As an offshoot of your question to @EmilyBest, sites like Instagram, FB, and Twitter really try to alter what people see, which can make doing the legwork of building friends and community kind of challenging. How have you guys worked around these services that think they have our best interests at heart?


(Jane) #65

I pick this one!! lol! But seriously- if we’d like to try and make a sustainable indie film career, how can we do that?