Our colleague, friend and client, Ben Kalina, just successfully achieved his $15K goal (and then some), on Kickstarter for his film Shored Up. How did he do it? Angela and I worked with him on the campaign, supporting his social media efforts, and what we gleaned from the whole monster wave ride was that the following three elements are key:
- Hard work
- Great partnerships
- Creative ideas
How to do the hard work – Ride the wave
Angela recently met with Jon Reiss in LA. They agreed that a crowdfunding campaign is a full time job. However long the campaign goes on, whether it be 30 days or 60, you the filmmaker and your team have to be working away at it around the clock–thinking up ideas, tooling away at your social media messages and contacts or posting regular updates to your early donators. Ben was smart. He started working on his campaign two months before the actual launch date. His website was in place, his arguments, the copy for the KS site, the script for his video. Also in place were the Facebook page and the Twitter account, reaching out to other members who were likely to be interested in his film–surfers, ocean lovers, beachdwellers, environmentalists. He also tapped into the contacts made through the film he had previously worked on as Associate Producer, A Sea Change. Ben spent those two months up to the launch carefully tweaking the language to use on the campaign, defining the best incentives for each level of sponsorship, and even doing some soul-searching: what is my film really about? Why am I doing it? Who do I want to reach? What change in mind set or action do I really want to influence? A campaign such as this is a good intensive time to fine tune your message and your goals. It is a moment when you really have to put into perspective what purpose your project has and stand behind your ideas. Once you’ve defined these and believe in them, so will others.
Find and work with your partners – Sharing the stoke
When you’ve run out of great friends and family who are your early supporters, who do you turn to? At the end of the day, one of the most important benefits of the crowdfunding campaign is who follows you on the ride, the base of people and groups and organizations that jump on board with you and that you can then work with, reach out to throughout the life of your project or film. This is your fan base. Your following. Your community. Ben developed some valuable partnerships. These groups are part of the core audience of the film, groups whose mission can be supported by the message his film will be sharing with the general public, and they bring with them an important base of enthusiastic supporters. Some of the groups that Shored Up reached out and can be thankful to include Surfrider Foundation, 350.org, A Sea Change filmmakers and their followers, American Littoral Society, Yale Environment 360, Dade County Surf Forecast and many other awesome, generous individuals.
Be creative – Flow
Both before and during the campaign, it is essential to keep on your toes with creative ways to reach your potential funders and fan base. A start is to reach out through social media in a variety of ways: newsletters, regular posts, photos and videos, re-posting other people’s information while crediting them. Another good effort, which Ben put into practice, is writing guest blog posts, such as one that he wrote for 350.org. Or inviting others to write on your blog. At a crucial moment during the campaign, Ben had scheduled a Kickstarter party. This was a terrific event. Surfrider Foundation representatives were there, as were people featured in his film. Ben filmed the event and posted a short video on the KS site and elsewhere, with a further pitch. Most importantly, Ben was active at all moments. The KS site, his film website, the social media accounts, all were buzzing at all times with news and images. But not just about him and his film and his campaign. Important current events were referenced at all times–Hurricane Irene, highlights on beach replenishment around the country, specific news on LBI and in New Jersey, anecdotes about the surf world (such as McNamara’s incredible feat in Portugal), about ocean health and the environment in general. All these topics are relevant to the film and bring along a strong community.
Shored Up made it. We’re proud and excited to have been a part of the campaign. Hopefully, some of the tips that are shared above will be helpful to any of you who has a project that you need to fund and are considering a site such as KS or Indiegogo or any other that you feel is a fit. Good luck!