By Sara Kiener
Not being a filmmaker has given me the luxury of not having to ask everyone I know for money… at least not since my Bat Mitzvah. I’m used to sitting on the outside of these campaigns, watching mindfully, donating when moved and sharing links when asked nicely. That being said, it was inevitable that eventually I would get involved with one of these. After all, I’m surrounded by filmmakers, many of whom usually need money. Additionally, as it turns out, Kickstarter campaigns are a lot like film outreach campaigns (our forte at here Film Presence). So when I was recently approached by Lydia Dean Pilcher (Cine Mosaic) and Elizabeth Cuthrell (Evenstar Film), to consult on their visionary kickstarter campaign for THE SISTERHOOD OF NIGHT (23 days left!), I put on my metaphorical Bat Mitzvah shoes, and got to it!
With the abundance of great voices out there, already writing about how to run a successful campaign, I’ve been asking myself how my experience may be uniquely helpful to others. I’ve decided to write about it as if I were a 13 year old, telling a 12 year old how they planned their Bat Mitzvah: pointers on how to make it a smooth event and a successful moment. I’m hoping this advice is helpful to the wide-eyed 12 year old in all of us.
“It’s really important to tell people what you want. If you don’t tell them what you want and why you want it, they won’t know. And you only get presents from people you invite so INVITE EVERYONE and make it pop….”
Translation: Be very clear and forthcoming about what you need and why. Then tell everyone you know. Tell people you haven’t seen since you were 13! I mean it. They’ll be very happy to hear from you. Tell all your relatives, even the ones you haven’t talked to in a long time, they would come to your Bat Mitzvah, right? And you never know where your big checks will come from. Uncle Herb might be feeling generous!
“And that’s why I got the nicest invitations I could find, I even designed them myself, and I asked all the artistic people I know to help me, and we sent out the invites giving everyone enough time to clear their schedules. I sent them a few reminders, especially to the people who forgot to RSVP on time!”
Translation: It’s important to be personal, creative, genuine and direct. Think about your first point of contact and how you want it to be received. Email subject lines need to pop, and the content can’t be so long that no one reads it. Make it easy to “RSVP”: links need to be clearly laid out, so people will open it right away. Follow up with people. If you’re not comfortable sending another personal beg for money, add an incentive so there’s a good reason to nudge!
“I thought about the party for a long time and I worked with a DJ that I really liked and we picked a bunch of songs, dances and games that we thought were really good for my friends, and then we rehearsed it all a few times before the big night!”
Translation: This is your big night. Make a list of 10-50 different updates you could do throughout your campaign and then pick the best ideas from that list. Have your updates ready to announce before you get going. Of course you can adjust the updates along the way, but you wouldn’t throw a party without a playlist ready ahead of time, would you?
“This was the hardest part because I had to memorize SO MUCH. I practiced 3 times a week for SIX MONTHS. But it really paid off!”
Translation: Nothing is free in life. You have to work for it! You’re going to hear over and over that kickstarter is a lot of work. It’s true. You can’t just toss up whatever and expect people to throw money at you. You have to be diligent, have a schedule, be prepared and work basically around the clock to make sure you get your cash!
Thank You Notes
“This part took time, but my mom made me do it right away and just get it over with.”
Translation: This means 2 different things:
1. Thank everyone who gives you money, as soon as you can. These people are your friends and family and network and support and community who have been with you for years and/or will be with you for many years to come. They believe in you! THANK THEM. They’re probably the reason you’re making movies in the first place!
2. Send your rewards in a reasonable time frame. Don’t let it hang over your head. Make your mom proud and just get it over with!