Crowdfunding Meets Movie-Making (And Changes Everything)


In an era when banks are loathe to make loans and wealthy investors are about as friendly as the “Shark Tank” gang, creative people are turning to the masses for support. Since filmmakers usually love to share their vision with anyone even half-interested, crowdfunding has become a useful vehicle to raise cash, even if it’s $10 at a time.

Independent Filmmakers Turn to Crowdfunding

Writing for, investor David Drake says crowdfunding has swept nearly every industry, with the entertainment industry finding a “very viable market” in it.

Indiewire’s survey of filmmakers who presented at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival found 14 of 50 (nearly 30 percent) received some support through crowdfunding. One filmmaker said that his film was almost 100 percent funded through Kickstarter; three more said they raised 25 to 50 percent of their funds through the site as well.

Rooster Teeth, a successful maker of short films mostly distributed through the Internet, recently announced it raised $2.48 million through crowdfunding on Indiegogo for its first feature film, “Lazer Team.” Could Rooster Teeth have approached, say Mark Cuban for funding? Probably yes, given Cuban’s enthusiasm for colorful events, but as founder Burnie Burns told Indiewire, crowdfunding “let us get [to our goal] within a year.” The company never turned outside for help, he said.

Invest Your Own Cash First

Most filmmakers raise far less than $2.5 million, of course. Writer/producer Stephen Follows studied statistics from Kickstarter—the largest and best-known crowdfunding platform—and found the vast majority raised between $1,000 and $10,000.

Indie filmmakers can take steps to raise the odds of meeting their crowdfunding goals. Symbid, which reviews crowdfunding projects for investors, says you must make the initial investment and let people know about it. Nothing talks like your own cash.

“But I have no money!” you may say. “That’s why I’m crowdfunding this.” But you do have money. Take a deep dive into your financial picture to find it:

  • Ask your parents to check the safe to see if savings bonds from your bar/bat mitzvah or various graduations are still in there. If so, redeem them.
  • Visit to see if there are unclaimed bonds in your name.
  • Do you receive regular payments from an annuity or structured settlement? J.G. Wentworth may be able to buy your future payments for a lump sum of cash now.
  • Take a look at all those Schedule B forms you get around late January each year to include with your tax filing. They list capital gains and losses from investments you’ve made over the years. Perhaps it’s time to sell them back and make the money to work for you.

Tips to Improve Your Odds for Crowdfunding Success

Follows found projects that didn’t meet their crowdfunding goals rarely reached even 30 percent of them. Here are ways he suggests to boost your own success to raise $10,000.

  • Use Facebook. More Facebook friends raise your chances to meet your goal. One thousand friends can increase your chances by 40 percent.
  • Make and post a video preview. This ups your odds by 2.5 times.
  • Keep your campaign short. All things being equal, longer campaigns raise less money.