I recently had the opportunity to consult with Bri Castellini, the Film Community Manager at Seed&Spark, a proven crowdfunding platform built upon the values of empathy, community, integrity, creative energy, and belonging. Bri herself is a writer, director, podcaster, and award-winning filmmaker with multiple projects that were greenlit through Seed&Spark.
Seed&Spark has created an expansive library of educational materials for filmmakers looking to raise funds and in-kind contributions for their projects. In fact, their dedication to helping aspiring writers and filmmakers extends even further — they’re offering 1:1 mentoring to the 25 Finalists for the WeScreenplay Short Script Contest.
This article isn’t a how-to on crowdfunding — Seed&Spark already does that with (free!) world-class educational resources.
This is a breakdown of what I learned about honing the mindset of a driven creative and why I want to make films in the first place.
Make the Project You Want to See
I went into my consultation with a comedy in mind and before I even sat down with Bri, I second-guessed myself. I asked her if I should instead raise funds for something profound and serious…you know, something that would align tonally with awards contenders.
Bri’s answer changed my entire perspective on creativity.
“In dark times, people turn to comedy. You never know when your work will have a profound effect on someone.”
There are more than enough case studies for comedy projects that received the greenlight, further proving their demand.
The takeaway was to never underestimate the power of a great story. Comedy can have just as much of a profound impact as drama. The key is to find the theme within the art and to drive it home.
Build Your Community
One of the biggest success factors for a crowdfunding campaign is the community built long before the campaign launches — and most significantly, it comes from a healthy email list. The rate of contributions from email lists — which people have voluntarily opted into — is 20-40%, whereas contributions from social media followings are much lower.
Filmmakers should utilize the free resources from Seed&Spark to build a robust email list long before they launch their campaign.
Not only that, the cast and crew of the project should ideally be so enthusiastic about the film that they are willing to target their own networks and lists in order to expand the reach of the campaign.
Understand Your Film — and Your Audience
A successful campaign will have a thorough understanding of the project you are creating and why you are creating it. If you want people to get excited about it — excited enough to financially contribute to it and invest in it — then you must offer something valuable in exchange.
Maybe the idea tells the story of an underserved community or an unexplored human experience. Maybe the themes are timely and resonant. Whatever it is, it should offer something of value to the audience.
Your campaign should build trust by also offering reward tiers that are of value. Seed&Spark has many resources on this as well, but I want to drive home that your community will decide whether they can trust you to make a good film based on how they judge your campaign.
Do you have a plan for reward tiers that actually offer something valuable? Is your pitch video high quality, entertaining, and clear? Are your social media and newsletter updates tonally appropriate?
All of these questions gave me a lot to think about with regards to my film, my network, my community, and my creative goals.
A crowdfunding campaign is no small undertaking. It’s a professional opportunity to inform your community what kind of creator and businessperson you are. It should be mindfully approached if you want to ensure not only the success of your campaign — but future campaigns as well.
Bri shared that creators fund multiple projects with success when they elevate their work, align their themes, and expand their communities with every opportunity.
My biggest takeaway was to become laser-focused on the story I want to tell and why I want to tell it so I can include other people who need that story. In other words, to think about my film as a gift and therefore my campaign as an opportunity for other people to join in on the excitement.
Do you have a great short script? Enter it into the WeScreenplay Short Script Contest! Final Deadline ends June 15th.
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SeeShannon Corbeil is a writer, actor, and filmmaker in Los Angeles with recent appearances on SEAL Team and The Rookie. An Air Force veteran, her articles have been published in Business Insider, We Are The Mighty, and Military.com. She has written and produced hundreds of digital videos with millions of views. You can read more about her on her website or come play on Instagram and Twitter!