How to create a successful Kickstarter campaign: an interview with Liz Manashil
One of the biggest challenges in getting a film made is finding funding, and for independent filmmakers who do not have cash or connections, crowd funding sites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo provide a possible solution. The art of fundraising, however, isn't easy, and not everyone who creates a campaign reaches his or her goal. Indie filmmaker Liz Manashil recently ran a successful campaign on Kickstarter to raise money for her debut feature film, Bread and Butter. She was kind enough to stop by tloclub.com and answer questions about why she turned to crowd funding, how she ran a successful Kickstarter campaign, and what others can do to also be successful with their own campaigns. Teresa: Thanks for stopping by! First off, what is your project about, and why did you decide to fund through Kickstarter? Liz: My project was to fund my first feature entitled "Bread and Butter." Crowd funding was just hitting the mainstream, and I had no means of funding the production of the film with my own money- so I took some time and did research on which avenue was the better one for me: Kickstarter or Indiegogo. Time and time again, I was prompted to go and do Kickstarter- there's something about the drama and risk of Kickstarter that inspires people to give money in a way that Indiegogo cannot channel.
Teresa: How much did you ask for?
Liz: I asked for 35k, and I was terrified we would not hit our goal. We met our goal I think a day or two before the deadline and raised over a thousand more than our goal number!
Teresa: How did you prep for your Kickstarter campaign?
Liz: In prepping I reached out to volunteers in the community to help me gather a list of film blogs to contact to help promote our campaign. I also reached out to a good friend of mine who is a composer/lyricist, Robert Hill, to help write a catchy and transparent song to inspire people to donate money. The song was called "We Need Money" and the concept revolved around a clunky looking kids show involving music and puppets. I cast and wrote a Kickstarter pitch video with my boyfriend who is also a writer/director.
In addition I had friends help me post the links in forums, online and via twitter. Every few days I would send out a mass e/mail to friends and family- and throughout the campaign I would send personal messages thanking people for their kindness. A good portion of time was devoted to asking people to donate incentives for the campaign. People were incredibly kind, we were very lucky.
Teresa: How did you choose your fundraising goal?
Liz: I chose my goal by picking the absolute minimum we needed to start production on the film. I looked at the most recent successful campaigns by my colleagues. It wasn't a number that was calculated through long involved research. We chose the number that we had to raise.
Teresa: What were some challenges you faced during your Kickstarter?
Liz: The challenges that I faced were all personal ones. I felt so tacky reaching out to friends and family and asking them for money. I felt selfish and irritating. The majority of people I reached out to, however, responded positively and supportively. I had assumed everyone would hate me, maybe they do! But we still hit our goal! Before we start to fundraise, however, I reached out to people who had led successful campaigns. They told me the same thing again and again: Get Over It. Get over asking for money. Just do it.
Teresa: If you could do it again, would you do anything differently? What would that be?
Liz: I think I would have asked for more! We are now in a phase of donator fatigue. A lot of people have donated to KS projects already, they have supported their friends and supported projects they believed in. Now donators are tired of donating. We're in a situation where people have to be extremely savvy in how they run their campaigns. If I read a mass e/mail that sounds like a robot, I immediately delete it.
Teresa: Any other advice you'd give to someone who wants to use crowdfunding?
Liz: Pick a lower number. Due to donator fatigue, underestimate yourself. With Kickstarter, a lot of people will continue to give after you hit your goal, pick a number you feel secure you will hit.
With Kickstarter, they have an "all-or-nothing" policy. If a person does not reach her goal, then she receives no money and her backers do not have to pay.
Indiegogo, on the other hand, allows Flexible Funding, which means if a person does not reach his goal, then he may keep the money raised but he must pay a higher percentage fee to the website.
Teresa: Thanks so much for sharing your crowd funding experience. Anything you'd like to add?
Liz: Running a Kickstarter campaign was one of the most rewarding experiences I've ever had. Random strangers will astound you with their generosity. It was a fantastic validation that there are people out there in the world who want to support your dreams.