Andrew Shermin shares his experience of making a film and using crowdfunding.

This summer I shot a documentary about Paris that I produced myself, and am now trying to use crowd-funding to finish it.

The concept was simple: a vision of Paris that was taken straight from reality, just a camera and a tripod on the street, offering a vision of the city that both confirms and subverts the fantasy of Paris that different media create. The images are like “moving postcards.”

I was able to shoot everything with my own resources, but when it came to a musical score for the movie, I was going to need to hire a professional, so I had to raise some money. I turned to Kickstarter because it is currently the most popular crowd-funding site and I thought it would be a good way to get people more involved and interested in the production because I was able to offer rewards and incentives for financial participation.

I researched Kickstarter for several months ahead of time and I learnt several things about the way it works.

  • Firstly, it requires a lot of persistence in soliciting funding—you certainly cannot sit back and passively wait for money to come in.
  • You can expect a lot of contributions in the first few days, and then a long slow period in the middle, and then there tends to be a boost in the last few days with the pressure of the deadline arriving. I’m currently at the end of the slow period and am hoping growth comes back as the deadline approaches. We’re currently at just over 50% funding with about a third of the time remaining.
  • Another thing that’s important is to get the word out as widely as possible, so I contacted blogs that were relevant to the subject of the documentary and they were able to share the link to Kickstarter. Perhaps the most frustrating thing has been the hundreds of people who “like” the trailer with the Facebook “like” button, but don’t give money. I see that the proportion who “like” compared to those who give, is typical for most Kickstarter campaigns. About ten times more people will like the project than who actually make a donation. But these are tough times for many people, and the encouragement is still a boost.
  • Also, it’s important to be reasonable in your funding goal. I thought that $2800, minus the Kickstarter fees and Amazon Payment fees, and translated into euros, would provide the absolute minimum for which I could cover the cost of a composer. It’s best not to aim too high, because unfortunately, if you manage to have a large amount of money pledged, but fall short of your goal, you receive nothing. That’s the way Kickstarter works. Only successful projects receive their pledged funds. In my research, I talked to a girl who raised $6500 of her $10,000 goal and regretted it because she received nothing when, in fact, $6500 would have been enough for her to do her project, though with less luxury than the higher amount. And if you have extra money left over, you will get that, too.

I’m very happy with the image and I think that a musical score will complete the cinematic experience.

If you are interested in helping with this project, please follow this link

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