In Digital Age it’s seductive to reduce people to numbers, as it makes hard data easily available.
– My video has been viewed 41,374 times on YouTube!
– My blog had 52,937 visitors last year!
– I have 1,237 friends on Facebook!
– I have watched 475 cat videos in last 10 days!
There is hard data of “Rocks In My Pockets” recent and successful Kickstarter campaign, too. In 30 days it received $50,780 from 800 backers.
But how about soft data? Each of the 800 backers had a unique reason to pledge their hard earned money to the film they haven’t seen yet. Each pledge had a unique human story behind it. Each person’s desire to join their story with mine was deeply personal.
While I was preparing for the campaign I was told to learn working with spreadsheets, to keep track of each person I was going to accost, I was accosting or had accosted about their possible contribution. I had read a recount of a successful Kickstarter campaign for a live action feature whose director was boasting about his spreadsheet system. He had even measured how much time he spent campaigning, down to a minute! What alerted me, though, that 2,5 years after his campaign I haven’t heard anything about that film getting made. Sometimes obsession with numbers and winning can overwhelm the need to create.
Since I was doing the campaign work more or less by myself, I had no time to do everything, and had to prioritize. Besides, I am really bad with numbers. The need that gets me out of the bed each morning, the need that pushes me to do things I do is the need to hook people with my stories. I admit, it is not entirely healthy, some people would call is neurotic and others – self destructive (I would skip a dinner if I could tell a story to a small crowd).
I decided to focus on the story aspect of our campaign, not the numbers.
What was the story that I was going to tell to the potential backers? A few very sensible people told me not to mention word ‘depression’ in the film’s paperwork.
– No one wants to see a film about depressed women, – the sensible consensus was. – You should sell it as ‘animation’, as ‘comedy’, as ‘art film’. Keep depression out of it.
The problem with that approach was that the film already had support from people who wanted to see “a funny film about depression”. To change it to “a romantic comedy in the midst of European 20th century calamities” would not only be a small lie (just a tiny lie because yes, there are elements of romantic comedy and there are plenty of European 20th century calamities in the backdrop of the main story) but it would betray the trust of the very early backers who came on board in 2010-2011.
Besides, for me, the whole point of making the film was to rebel against the stigma attached to mental illness, to incite a conversation about it. Like a horse cannot run away from it’s legs, I can’t run away from the subject of my film.
I came to “Rocks” potential backers with the following story: I am an independent animator who knows depression quite well and decided to make a funny film about depression for two reasons: first, to share my story with other people so that they know they are not alone in their suffering. Second – laughter makes a distance between Self and suffering. To laugh is to heal. Lets laugh together.
My take on running a Kickstarter campaign – it is a lot of work. There is no Magic Formula or Shortcuts. One has to sit down and do her homework, for many long hours. But to summarize it quickly:
– when I did my research before the campaign, I read that success of a Kickstarter campaign is most likely if the key members of the project have more than 1000 Facebook friends or/and 1000 Twitter followers. I second that.
– one must have more than 2000 email addresses in her email Address Book. True.
– personalized emails work much better than mass emails. Indeed.
– after each pledge please connect with each backer in a meaningful way. The Kickstarter campaign is not so much about money and reaching the goal, as connecting the film with it’s core audience.
I foresee that this new way of financing films – crowdfinancing – is going to promote an entirely different creative personality. For centuries we saw an artist, mainly a man, erected on a pedestal, or aspiring to be on that pedestal or failing to be in that pedestal.
Once on the pedestal, he was bestowed admiration, as if just looking at him would give the rest of mortals a glimpse to Eternity.
Just 10 years ago being an asshole made your reputation as an uncompromising Artist, a Genius of Perfection.
Not in the Times of Crowdfinancing. The asshole has to wash up and go through his lists just like any other ordinary mortal. If he had offended too many people on his list, burned too many bridges, his project won’t get financed.
A more humble artist, a team player is on the raise. The one who makes films for reasons other than making a name and being on a pedestal. Perhaps, it is a woman.