Film Producing: What is Crowdsourcing?

Words like “trend” and “tweet” have officially become a part of our vernacular, and there is no turning back. Since there is no cost to sign up for Twitter and Facebook, it has become easier and easier to have an online presence and audience. Everyone has a social media account. Everyone is plugged in somehow. Everyone has the chance to be your target audience when developing your film.

Ideas are countless; funding is limited.

Crowdfunding has become an outlet for filmmakers to plug and push their production to the masses for the ever-competitive public dollar. With platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, everything is already set up for you. You just need followers.

Therein lies the rub. 

Today, the crowdfunding platforms are over-saturated with content. Wading through the countless projects has become impossible, so social media is the primary way to spread the word and get your film noticed. But without a ground swell of established support to help your URL go viral, it’s an uphill and near-impossible battle. That’s where crowdsourcing comes in.

Crowdsourcing is not crowdfunding. Crowdsourcing is generating an audience to get people excited about your film before you start funding. Sign up for Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms, and start posting immediately. When you post and push your brand into the world, you gain followers, but it is imperative to only push topics that are relevant to your film or project. If you bait and switch your followers, you run the risk of losing your audience.

The timeline for crowdsourcing should be roughly three to six months. During that time, your followers are reading your posts, sharing your page, and having a dialogue with you. When you launch your crowdfunding campaign, you have a ready-made audience keen to share and/or donate to your campaign.

So, what do you post for the first three to six months? Do not just repeat information or retweet. Retweeting is highly encouraged to get followers to follow you back, but you also have to put more effort into your own campaign to keep them engaged. You must generate interesting and unique content to get people to click through your page.

Here are some quick start ideas:

  • Start a video blog. Document the development or pre-production process of your film. When you launch your campaign, don’t stop filming yourself. Create videos daily or weekly to keep your audience engaged. It will also give you a chance to be likable or someone they want to invest in. Do not hide the downsides or the bumps along the way. It only makes you more human. By making the journey visible and interactive, your audience can feel involved and part of the process.
  • Write articles about your topic. If you have a blog or a website, write original content to put out on Twitter/Facebook/Social Media. You want to focus on topics that relate to your film but are also educational. For example, if your film focuses on organic farming, conduct some interviews with farmers, vendors, and lawmakers who specialize in the farming industry.
  • Engage fellow filmmakers. Generate content that can be distributed to various blogs/websites/platforms for filmmakers. When we launched our Indiegogo campaign for our short film It’s Not Custard, we filmed a special effects make up tutorial. We created and applied horrendous acne using specific make up tools. We put it on our website and sent it to No Film School for them to post as well. Our site traffic increased, people could learn something, and awareness for our film spread.

After a few months of generating content and gaining an audience, you start letting them know about the campaign you plan to launch. Giving them a heads up is ceremonial. And you make them feel special by saying, “You’re the first to know about this exciting opportunity to be a part of history!” Your followers feel exclusive, so treat them well with incentives and information not yet made to the public.

Then you launch your campaign! Stay tuned for an upcoming post about crowdfunding. But I hope this will help you get a grasp on crowdsourcing and will help you be more successful when you do launch your crowdfunding campaign.

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