How to Plan Your Next Film Project on Kickstarter

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Photo Source: Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash; Kickstarter

Over the past nine years, more than 25,000 films have been successfully funded on Kickstarter. From film veterans like Charlie Kaufman and Spike Lee to emerging voices like Christina Choe, Jim Cummings, and Chloe Zhao, we see filmmakers find new audiences, raise funds, generate awareness, and retain creative independence every day.

We’ve also learned a thing or two about how to best prepare and run a successful film campaign on Kickstarter. Keep reading for some helpful advice for filmmakers looking to plan their first project.

Do your research.
One of the best ways to prepare to launch a Kickstarter campaign is to check out other funded projects for inspiration. Pay close attention to how other creators have framed the story of their projects—how their idea came to be, what work they’ve already done, their production plan, and their plan for the film after it’s complete.

Take notes: Which project videos resonate with you and why? How much text feels like too much on a project page? How much money do comparable film projects raise? What are their rewards and which are most popular? Every project that has run a campaign on Kickstarter is still up on the internet for anyone to see.

Find your audience.
Before thinking about setting your funding goal, coming up with rewards, or crafting your messaging, think about who your audience is in specific terms.

Ask yourself: Who is my film speaking to and where do those people exist online? Try to get as detailed an idea as possible. “My film is going to resonate with everyone!” might be true but that won’t help you run a successful campaign on Kickstarter. Maybe your audience lives deep in the bowels of Reddit or they’re super-engaged in specific Facebook groups. Maybe your audience is interested in your film because of the cast, the subject, the themes you’re exploring, or because you’re the director.

Once you have an idea of who your audience is, you’ll be in much better shape to determine what goal to shoot for, what rewards make sense, and what messaging will resonate most with your community.

Figure out a budget. (And, in the process, your funding goal.)
As a filmmaker, you already know that films can be made on wildly diverse budgets. On Kickstarter, filmmakers are almost always raising a portion of their overall funding—not their entire budget.

Because you are almost always going to need more than what you’re asking for to complete the full project, think about your goal in terms of getting from point A to point B in your filmmaking process. For example, to help you complete production, to hire an editor, to do color correction and sound mix, etc. Be sure to also consider what your rewards will cost, if anything, to produce and factor that into your goal calculations.

Plan your rewards.
Most likely, your film itself will be your primary reward. If you're making a feature film and you have aspirations for a theatrical release, it's important to offer rewards that won't create problems for you down the line, either with a potential distributor or a union. Around $25 is a great level to give backers access to your finished film, but avoid offering a download. Instead, use language like "online access,” which will give you some flexibility in how you deliver that reward and prevent against disappointed backers.

In general, think about your rewards as a way for fans and backers to further engage with you and your project. Show them your process: offer behind-the-scenes photos and clips, poster art, props, a reading list of books you consulted, playlists that inspired the mood of the film, etc. Get creative!

Some of our favorite rewards are the personal things you could only get by backing the project. Amazing rewards do not need to be physical items. In fact, try to avoid promising too many physical rewards and make sure you price them knowing how much (both time and money) they will cost you. Digital rewards can be cool and meaningful, too.

Planning press for your project.
For many filmmakers, launching on Kickstarter will be the first moment their film project is widely and publicly announced. Getting press can be a great boost for momentum. If you’ve never reached out to press before, here is a helpful primer.

Keep your pitch short and sweet. Know who you are pitching and make it personal. Be sure to include all of the relevant info, like your launch date and funding goal, as well as any noteworthy talent or relevant cultural events that align with your project.

Take advantage of Kickstarter’s Creator Dashboard.
While your project is live, you will have access to a dashboard that has data on your project’s performance. You will also be able to create custom referral tags that will allow you to better track which posts, emails, tweets, and other promotional tools are resonating with your audience. There’s even a way to plug into Google Analytics for a deep dive into your data. Use this stuff! If you’re spending a ton of time trying to nail down press and find those articles aren’t actually generating many pledges, it’s time to switch up your strategy.

Live your best post-Kickstarter life.
We know Kickstarter is a rather small—typically 30 days!—moment in your larger filmmaking timeline. Luckily, we have resources to help you navigate reward fulfillment, recommendations on sharing updates, general advice on living your best post–successful-Kickstarter-project life.

Start building your Kickstarter project here.

This post comes from our partner Kickstarter.

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Kickstarter is the world's largest funding platform for creative projects. A home for film, music, art, theater, games, comics, design, photography, and more.
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