Crowdfunding challenge for filmmakers on Pozible – hosted by Thomas Mai
As a crowdfunding consultant I am always interested in the projects of colleagues and other crowdfunding supporters, such as Australian based Thomas Mai. Over the past few years he helped many filmmakers to crowdfund their movies and reach their goals. Recently he teamed up with Pozible, an international crowdfunding platform, to find five film projects that are worthy to be crowdfunded. The challenge is called Mission Pozible and filmmakers from all over the world can apply until August 20th 2014. I asked Thomas a few questions about crowdfunding and this contest.
Wolfgang: Thomas, you work as a consultant and support indie filmmakers to reach their goals, either financial or in terms of distribution. How exactly do you do that?
Thomas: Great question. As a former filmmaker and sales agent, I believe that I know what a filmmaker is looking for in terms of assurances, goal and dreams (dealing with their baby ie their film), financing and distribution. I believe that whether you are the smallest auteur filmmaker or the biggest commercial filmmaker you have some goals with your film and it is my job to find out what those goal are. Because if we dont have a common goal how can we work together with a united purpose and how can we measure if we succeeded or not? Usually filmmakers have one of three different goals. Filmmakers are usually after either building a career, becoming famous or making some money (and sometimes these goals mix and match).
Once we have established what the final outcome is, we hold several brainstorming sessions where we strategize and build a battle plan that takes us from where you are to where you want to be. It is like running a marathon, which to many can seem like an impossible goal, but you just need to break down every step of the way in terms of preparation and execution. And even though a marathon is around 33,000 steps on average it is simply a matter of preparing, believing that you can do it, strategize well, know the location of the route and get in shape, before taking the first step. As every filmmaker is unique and their film is unique in terms of theme, demographic, storyline, actors, mood etc this battleplan is unique for every filmmaker. But I always start with the goal and often the filmmaker don’t have a final goal in mind, they just want to make a movie.
Once we have the goal in mind I work with them to use social media to run a crowdfunding campaign and sometimes a four-walling distribution plan. There are so many options for filmmakers today that it is one of the most exciting times to be a filmmaker as you can work directly together with your audience, but it is also a time of a lot of “noise” with too many films being made in a market that only has so many cinemas. Ted Hope estimates that around 50,000 films are made EVERY year, so please have that in mind as you need to stand out and be different otherwise you will not make it.
Wolfgang: As you mentioned, you are also consulting filmmakers in terms of crowdfunding. How do you prepare them for running a crowdfunding campaign?
Thomas: The beauty is that on average 40% of all crowdfunding campaigns succeed, this is great compared to the boxoffice. But in order to increase the chance of success I get the filmmakers to do a lot of research before they go live with their campaign. The more work that goes into the crowdfunding campaign BEFORE it goes live the better the chances are of succeeding. I get the filmmakers to look for likeminded/friendly blogs/people out their who might want to help spread the word of their campaign. We build a sizeable database of name, link, ranking etc of each site and then we can build a proper execution strategy for the campaign.
Wolfgang: You are now teaming up with crowdfunding-platform Pozible to level up your crowdfunding efforts. What’s the plan?
Thomas: Even though crowdfunding is an amazing new tool for filmmakers it is still not easy. So much work goes into each campaign. Therefore I teamed up with Pozible so we could 5 films that I could help coach/strategise and they could put more resources after ie a dedicated newsletter to 300,000 former funders on Pozible, a PR team, ads etc. I really think that by focusing on 5 campaigns we can help each film project a lot and pass of the knowledge of to other potential crowdfunders. It is a win – win for the filmmakers, their audience, Pozible and me.
Wolfgang: Sounds great. How does this „challenge“ work? How can filmmakers apply?
Thomas: The deadline is Wednesday this week and people can apply at http://www.pozible.com/mission-pozible this is also where you can find more information.
Wolfgang: Can filmmakers from all over the world participate?
Thomas: Filmmakers from all over the world are invited to submit their project.
Wolfgang: How do you chose the five projects?
Thomas: Myself and a team from Pozible will go through all the applications and we will choose the best 5 film projects (any genre – but with a feature film length of around 90 min) that we believe will have the best chance of crowdfunding $100,000. What are we looking for in particular? The team behind the project and what have they done before, do they bring any social media fans with them? What is the story and how big of an audience is there out there for this project? Furthermore how will this project be different from other projects out there. Differentiation is the key factor in my opinion.
Wolfgang: Interesting. Do you think only projects with social media experience etc. have a chance to use crowdfunding?
Thomas: No, not at all, I think all projects are crowdfundable, but if you are trying to raise a min. of $100K then it is important to use social media to raise the awareness, otherwise you will never make it.
Wolfgang: So, how can your raise awareness? Are there any golden rules?
Thomas: Crowdfunding is about starting a dialogue with your audience. Most filmmakers only think about the audience once the film is completed and they rely on middlemen to finance or help get their film made. Crowdfunding removes all the layers between the audience and the filmmaker and hopefully the filmmaker has chosen a film that can create awareness. If not dont make the film. Think of crowdfunding as pitching but directly to your audience, if they are not buying it why should you make the film? Go back to the drawing board and come back and pitch a different project….Repeat and rinse until it works.
Wolfgang: Thanks for the insights, Thomas and good luck with your upcoming campaigns!