Jan 13 2020
LOGY GAMES の山本氏に、今まで実践してきたベストプラクティスやこれから世界に進出してゆく日本のクリエイターへのアドバイスを伺いました。
2015年に初めて Kickstarter に触れたことをきっかけに、4年間で20件ものプロジェクトをローンチしてきた山本光夫さん。タイルや木の素材で丁寧に作られた数々のアブストラクトゲームは、海外ゲーマーからも根強い支持を得ています。
20回のプロジェクトすべてにおいて試行錯誤し続けたという山本さんは、Kickstarter を通して海外ファンとのコミュニケーションの面白さだけでなく、自分のクリエイターとしての得意分野にも改めて気づいたそう。その豊富な経験と知識を活かし、Kickstarter ワークショップの講師として新規クリエイターの指導も精力的におこなっています。
今回はそんな山本さんに、日本のボードゲームクリエイターの祭典・ゲームマーケット会場内で Kickstarter の効果的な活用法、そしてはじめてのクリエイターに向けてのアドバイスを聞いてみました。
極端な話、キャンペーンはスタートダッシュの3日と最後の盛り上がりを見せる2日だけで十分と思っています。ただ、休暇などで見れない人がいるかもしれないので、それでは短すぎるかなぁと。ボードゲームの場合は BoardGameGeek から公式のクラウドファンディングニュースが毎週日曜日に配信されていて、Kickstarter と Indiegogo のどんな小さなプロジェクトでも掲載されるので、それをうまく利用しています。
僕のプロジェクトのタイムラインは、だいたい12日程度。まず、木曜日にローンチする。そうすると３日後に BoardGameGeek からニュースが流れる。次の日曜日まではバッカーの要望に対応したり、細かい質問に答えたりする。そして、最後の2日間の前にまた BoardGameGeek からニュースが配信される。その後押しを受け、最後の2日間を終えるというスケジュールにしています。
とにかくタイムリーに速いことが大切。バッカーへの返答が遅いと、むこうはバックする気が失せてしまう。バックしたいと思って質問してきた人の「ここってこう？」に対してはイエスかノーだけでも返事をすれば、バックしてくれる。下手でもいいし、Google翻訳で調べるから「少し待って（Wait a minute）」でもいい。日本人が英語が得意でないことは理解してもらえる。誠心誠意込めてやればそれで問題ないんです。
現在、山本光夫氏の新作プロジェクト Japanese Ceramic Accessory プロジェクトが進行中（2020年1月21日まで）。
Game Designer Mitsuo Yamamoto Launched 20 Games in Four Years. Here's His Advice for Up-and-Coming Creators.
Jan 13 2020
We asked the Japanese creator how he built an international community on Kickstarter and what advice he has for first-time creators.
It was the biggest event of the year for Japan's board game creators: Tokyo Game Market. In the midst of the buzz was Mitsuo Yamamoto, a veteran game creator with 20 projects—and lots of trial-and-error experience—under his belt.
The greater Tokyo-based designer launched his first project in 2015, and has since developed a solid community around his slew of abstract games, which he handcrafts in wood and ceramics. With dedicated backings from gamers around the world, he's also drawn on his abundant knowledge and experience to lead Kickstarter workshops for new creators in Tokyo.
“Not only has Kickstarter let me connect with fans outside Japan, it's also given me a brand new awareness of my expertise as a creator,” Mitsuo said as he sat down with us at Game Market. He shared with us the best practices he's learned from his campaigns, as well as some advice for Japanese creators trying to reach audiences around the world.
What steps do you take when launching a new project?
To start with, I can't keep a campaign going for a whole month, which is the average campaign period. Creators who can pull off a month-long campaign have to be really talented at planning or running events. I know this is extreme, but I think the first three-day dash out of the blocks and the last two-day climax are enough–except that then you have people who don't see it because they're on vacation or whatever, so that's probably too short.
BoardGameGeek updates news on public crowdfunding projects every Sunday, even for tiny projects on Kickstarter or Indiegogo, so I make sure to use that to my advantage. I usually launch 12-day campaigns on Thursdays—that way the news is on BoardGameGeek three days later. I spend the next week answering backer questions and requests. Then before the final two days of the campaign, the news is up on BoardGameGeek again. That serves as a push leading into the final two days, and then it's over.
I make everything by myself, without any outsourcing, so I can take care of backer requests in real time and get it all done in a week. But for first-time creators, or creators who don't make everything themselves, you'll need to calculate the time you need for this carefully.
How do you get the word out and create a community around each project?
I make full use of Kickstarter's project update tool. Once launched, a project can last forever, so when you post an update on each project, it reaches everyone in the community. I've created 20 projects. Even if each project has only 100 fans, after 20 times that's a community of 2,000 people.
Nowadays, in the pre-launch draft stage, I make the preview page public to the community and get their feedback. I do receive helpful advice on the content, but there's a PR benefit to announcing the launch date in advance as well. My funding goal is usually around 100,000 JPY (approximately $900 USD). With advance notice, I can often hit that goal in one day. So for me personally, the race begins about a week before launch date.
My suggestion to first-time creators is to start preparing a little earlier, about a month out. For me, spending more time on a project wasn't necessarily more beneficial, so I decided to cut back and do several smaller projects instead. Now I do about four projects a year.
What's your advice for creators in Japan communicating with backers around the world?
Speed is important. If you're slow to answer your backers, they'll lose interest in your project. If someone interested in backing you asks "Does X mean Y?", even just a yes or no answer can be enough for them to go ahead and back it. It's okay if your English isn't perfect, or if you have to say "Wait a minute" while you check Google Translate. They understand you might not be great at English. As long as you're genuinely trying, it won't be a problem.
Backers have told me before, "We're not judging projects based on your English level." So there’s really no need to worry, folks!
Just one thing—do your best to do a self-intro video in English. Adding English subtitles is a good touch, too. Even if it's not great quality, your feelings as a creator will come through.
Anything important to keep in mind when shipping overseas?
My number one recommendation for shipping is to use Japan Post's International ePacket. It's cheap, you can register online, they'll print delivery slips for you, and it comes with an invoice. It's registered mail, so tracking's available, and if you include the backer's email address they'll get automatic tracking updates. The maximum weight is 2 kilograms.
For over 2 kilograms there's EMS, but that gets expensive. The invoices are also a pain. So I try to keep the weight as light as possible and use ePacket. If you want to reduce shipping fees even more, there's also SAL. It's about one-third the cost of ePacket, but there's no tracking and it takes longer. However, backers have said to me, "I'm not in that much of a hurry. Your games already arrive faster than other projects." So this year I'm using SAL and including the other shipping method as an upgrade option.
Packaging is also important. I do my best to ensure that the contents and the box alike arrive in perfect condition.
Any other tips to share with first-time creators?
I've seen creators dreaming of big money force themselves beyond their limits and vanish from the scene. Making 50 or 100 games is very different from making 1,000 or 10,000. You can store 50 games in your home. For 1,000 games, you need storage space and shipping staff. Have you accounted for that in your costs? For first-time creators, that kind of thing is hard to envision.
Here's an example: A creator from England was launching his first project. The prototype was incredibly high quality, but I was worried because the rewards and the shipping fees seemed low. The project was a success and around 100 people backed it. But sure enough, the shipping was late, and the shipped product didn't have the same quality as the prototype. Making one perfect prototype and making over 100 products at the same level of quality are two different things. His page hasn't been updated since then, and I'm afraid he might have given up.
So I recommend starting small and building up experience. You'll get a feel for workload, scheduling, and costs that way. Don't start with your dream project. I recommend starting with a test idea–then, once you've established a relationship with your backers, do the dream project. Backers will also feel safer knowing it's your second or third project and you've gained experience and trustworthiness.
Jan 9 2020
Launch a short film project in March 2020 as part of a monthlong celebration of the form.
No longer just a stepping stone to the breakthrough feature or a means for industry recognition (although both of these compelling outcomes hold true), audiences are also now appreciating the power of the short film.
With Long Story Short, Kickstarter Film invites creators to take part in a monthlong homage to short-form filmmaking. Throughout March, we’ll feature live short film projects in every genre, share new creator resources, and take a look back at some of the outstanding short filmmaking we’ve seen in the past 10 years.
Short films thrive on Kickstarter
We’re happy to report that short films have reigned on Kickstarter since day one. In fact, backers have pledged over $41 million to 7,332 successful shorts projects over the last 10 years. Just last year, the Kickstarter-funded short film Lavender got picked up at Sundance by Fox Searchlight, Hair Love opened for every screening of summer blockbuster Angry Birds 2, and the short documentary Period. End of Sentence took home an Oscar.
Far from being a light lift, short films require enormous work, but something about their nimble form allows filmmakers to continue to flex their creative muscles without the weight (and wait) of weaving through the industry rigmarole. By typically requiring smaller budgets, short films welcome a diverse set of voices and stories. (Fun fact: Shorts projects on Kickstarter that gain support from least 25 backers have an 89 percent success rate.)
For all these reasons, and for a million more, short films continue to be an indicator of the health of our community and of our broader collective culture.
An open call for creators
Have a short you’ve been wanting to create? If raising money and building community for your short film is something you’ve been mulling over for a while, mull no more. We’re inviting emerging and established filmmakers, film students, and other enthusiastic cinephiles to make something new.
Here’s how creators can get involved with Long Story Short:
- Create a short film project on Kickstarter, making sure to select “Shorts” as your subcategory.
- Launch your project anytime between March 1 and 31, 2020.
- Give us a heads up at email@example.com.
In the meantime, browse our how-to guides for the shorts filmmakers among us, including tips for preparing for launch and for keeping things moving while the campaign is live.
Jan 8 2020
In this series, Kickstarter’s Film team answers some of the most common questions asked by Film creators interested in running a campaign. In this section, they’ll tackle everything you need to know about receiving your Kickstarter funds, producing and fulfilling your rewards, and keeping in touch with backers.
Browse our other guides on getting started, building your campaign, and managing your live campaign.
When will I get my money?
If your campaign has reached its funding goal, Kickstarter will begin to collect and process pledges from your backers as soon as the funding period ends. You’ll receive the funds 14 days after the funding period ends. (Depending on your bank, it could take an additional three to 14 business days for the funds to appear in your account.)
If your project has not reached its funding goal by the end of the campaign, your backers will not be charged and you will not receive any funds.
What is the backer survey, and how should I use it?
The backer survey lets you collect information from your backers—their email addresses, shipping addresses, and anything else you need to deliver their rewards.
You can start drafting your backer survey anytime after you launch your project, but you can only send it out once your campaign’s funding period ends. You can only send one backer survey, so make sure you’ve thought through all the information you’ll need to collect.
Remember: You are responsible for keeping your backers’ personal information safe. Don’t collect more information than you need to, and don’t share it with services or third parties you don’t trust.
What happens if a backer doesn’t answer the survey and I can’t ship their reward?
If a backer hasn’t replied to the backer survey and you need their information to deliver their reward, you can message them directly. We’ll also show them a reminder the next time they visit the site. After a certain amount of time, you may want to post a project update to let all of your backers know that it’s their last chance to fill out the survey.
What if there’s a problem with a backer’s pledge?
If we can’t collect payment from a backer, we’ll email them with instructions on how to fix their pledge, and will continue to do so every 48 hours for seven days. They’ll also be able to fix their pledge by logging in to their Kickstarter account and clicking on the "Fix Payment” banner at the top of the page. You can also message the backer directly to encourage them to fix their pledge.
What sorts of updates should I post after the project has ended?
We recommend updating your backers regularly after your campaign wraps up but before you’ve completed your film or fulfilled your rewards. After that, send them an update whenever you have something interesting to share. For example, you can post a project update to let your backers know that your film has been accepted into a film festival, or that there’s going to be a public screening. (When the short animated documentary The Shawl was accepted to the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, the team sent out this lovely update.)
We recommend employing a principle of radical transparency in your post-campaign updates. That means letting your backers know when things aren’t going as planned. It’s not unusual for creative projects to hit speed bumps, and the more open and honest you are with your backers, the more likely they are to understand when things go wrong, and even come to your aid in your times of need. Keep them informed if you run into obstacles that slow down your progress; that way, you’ll avoid awkward or even angry interactions with backers who don’t appreciate being kept in the dark.
Here’s a great post written by the team behind The Viking of 6th Avenue that outlines the enormous amount of work they’ve been putting in, as well as the unforeseen developments that contributed to their delay in finishing the film. We think it’s a great example of being radically transparent with your backers.
What should I do with my film once I’ve finished it?
This can be a very personal choice. In their guide to releasing a short film, the team at Short of the Week reminds filmmakers to consider what they want to get out of it.
Short of the Week’s advice is to “be everywhere all at once”—get your short film on as many platforms as you can, and compress your release window to build momentum.
How do I produce and ship my rewards?
If managing all the logistics of your project starts to feel a little overwhelming, or you wind up with more backers than you were prepared for, don’t worry—you don’t need to do everything yourself. There are businesses that specialize in things like mass mailing, warehousing, packaging, and more. If there’s a part of the process you feel comfortable outsourcing and you can find a partner you trust, working with a fulfillment service can help lighten the load and create a better experience for you and your backers.
With the help of many Kickstarter creators, we’ve compiled this list of services that help with everything from packaging and shipping to manufacturing.
For distributing digital downloads, many filmmakers use WeTransfer or Dropbox. For password-protected digital links to your film, many Film creators use Vimeo or Reelhouse. For more tips on releasing your film, check out this guide from Short of the Week.
Ready to launch a Film project of your own? Get started here.
Stay in the know about all things Film on Kickstarter by subscribing to our newsletter.
Jan 8 2020
In this series, Kickstarter’s Film team answers some of the most common questions asked by Film creators interested in running a campaign. In this section, they’ll tackle everything you need to know about project updates, stretch goals, and finishing strong.
Browse our other guides on getting started, building your campaign, and post-campaign life.
I just hit launch. Now what?
Now that your project is live, it’s time to broadcast to everyone you’ve ever met that this project exists and needs their support.
Here are some next steps to take:
- Alert your closest contacts. Enlisting your closest friends and family to contribute in the early days will not only make you feel better, it may also motivate other backers to join in. There’s nothing quite like jumping on a moving train!
- Send out the emails you drafted while you were planning your promotion. You’ll probably raise a large proportion of your budget this way.
- Post a link to your project on social media and anywhere else you exist online.
What are project updates, and how should I use them?
Project updates let you tell your backers how it’s all going. It’s an opportunity to keep the people who’ve shown faith in you informed, and an avenue to express your gratitude. Project updates written with the update tool on Kickstarter are automatically sent to your backers by email and will be posted on your campaign page under the “Updates” tab.
You can use your project updates to:
- Share news and press coverage about your project (“Edie Falco has joined our cast!”)
- Introduce new rewards (“Original The Panic in Needle Park manuscript, signed by Joan Didion”)
- Offer a new trailer, sneak peek, or behind-the-scenes footage or images
- Celebrate funding milestones (“We are 50% funded!”)
- Post calls to action (“Tell a friend and help us reach 100 backers by Friday!”)
- Share new details about the film or your creative process (“Dan Chen on making movies”)
How often should I post project updates?
One to two updates per week for the first three weeks of your campaign should be about right. You may want to increase the update frequency as your funding deadline looms and the stakes rise. After the campaign ends, we recommend updating backers on when they’ll be receiving their rewards and to share exciting news or developments about your film.
I’ve hit a mid-campaign slump. How do I build momentum and keep my backers engaged?
It’s common for Film projects to slow down after the first few days of the campaign. Here are some tactics to keep your momentum going:
- Post project updates. Have you sent a project update yet? See the section above for guidance.
- Add a new reward. Introduce a new reward and announce it to your community, like the creators of The Shawl did.
- Find a matching grant. If someone in your community is willing to give at a higher level, leverage their pledge to act as a matching grant, like the creators of Truth or Consequences did. Set up a financial limit with your backer and announce to your community that all pledges up to that amount will be matched over a set period of time.
- Say thank you! You can message backers individually to thank them and encourage them to spread the word.
- Set up achievable campaign milestones to rally your community, like the creators of The Three Men You Meet at Night did. For example, you can ask your backers to spread the word to help you get to a certain number of backers or a certain financial goal by the end of the week or by the midway point.
What are stretch goals, and should I use them?
Most filmmakers aren’t raising their full film budget on Kickstarter, so it’s always a good idea to have a sense of what you would spend any additional funding on and how you will articulate that to your backers. You might want to include that information on your project page from the beginning—while reassuring backers that if you reach but don’t exceed your goal, you’ll still be able to make the film you’re describing. For example: “With an extra $1,000 we can secure additional music licensing rights; with an extra $2,000 we can also hire a composer.”
Here are a few examples of common stretch goals for Film projects:
- Expand the scope of the project. For example, Stanley Nelson launched a Kickstarter campaign for the theatrical release of his documentary The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution. After reaching his $50,000 goal to take it to 12 U.S. cities, he announced that additional funds would allow his team to bring the film to Ferguson and St. Louis in Missouri and Cleveland, Ohio.
- Add extra scenes. Filmmaker Meirav Haber was able to add an additional stop-motion scene to her short film, Sylvia. She also created a behind-the-scenes video as a reward to backers for helping her reach that stretch goal.
- Add more episodes, if you’re raising funds for a series, like the creators of the record-breaking Critical Role: The Legend of Vox Machina did.
- Pay for more hours of editing.
- Secure the rights to the music you really wanted in your film, but thought you wouldn’t have budget for.
I’m in the last week of my campaign. What can I do to finish strong?
A lot of our tips for the mid-campaign slump (above) apply here, too. Whether or not you’ve hit your funding goal, there are plenty of things you can do in your final week to power over the finish line:
- Don’t forget to thank your backers for their support! Encourage them to continue to share your project with their networks. Circle back to anyone on your contact list who said they’d back your project and ask again. People might be procrastinating or might have simply forgotten to pledge.
- Post a project update to let your backers know how much time is left in the campaign and how much you still need to raise if you haven’t reached your goal. Encourage them to increase their pledge.
- Introduce a new reward.
- Add stretch goals. If you haven’t already included a note on your project page about what you plan to do with any additional funds you raise, update your page to include that information. New backers might be more excited to get on board if they know what you intend to do with the extra funds.
Stay in the know about all things Film on Kickstarter by subscribing to our newsletter.
Jan 8 2020
In this series, Kickstarter’s Film team answers some of the most common questions asked by Film creators interested in running a campaign. In this section, they’ll tackle everything you need to know about creating your project video, building rewards, setting your funding goal, and more.
Browse our other guides on getting started, managing your live campaign, and post-campaign life.
What should I include in my project description?
A potential backer reading your project description should be able to walk away knowing what you’re making, why you’re making it, what you need in order to make it, and what they’ll get in return for supporting you.
When you’re telling your story, be sure to address questions like:
- What is your film about?
- Who is working on it?
- Why are you the right person/people to make it?
- What is urgent or relevant about this story at this moment in time (in other words, why make this film now)?
- What stage of the filmmaking process are you at, and what is your anticipated timeline for completing it?
- What will the Kickstarter funds help pay for?
For additional tips on crafting your project page, check out our list of Kickstarter Film story prompts.
In addition to telling your story, be sure to include plenty of images that illustrate what you’re making. Place an image every two or three paragraphs in order to make your page easier to read. (Read our tips for selecting project images here.) Take a look at the project pages for The Chicken and Notes on an Appearance for an example of good, strong imagery.
If you don’t have great images of your own, feel free to embed videos of your past work, create mood boards using content that is free for public use (see below), and any other material that’s relevant to your project.
Can I use copyrighted material on my project page?
Don't use anything that you don't have the rights to. The easiest way to avoid copyright troubles is to create all the content yourself or use content that is free for public use.
Creative Commons allows you to legally use “some rights reserved” music, movies, images, and other content for free. You can also find free-to-use images through Google Search by filtering your results with an Advanced Search filter called “usage rights.” Find out more from the Google Help Center.
I'm making my project video. What advice do you have?
Although videos are not required for Kickstarter projects, we recommend that Film creators always include a video. Similar to your project description, your video should tell potential backers what you’re making and why it matters.
Some additional tips for your project video:
- Keep it short—two minutes or less.
- Include brief clips of your film—even if they’re works in progress—and/or previous work.
- Make sure your director appears in it, even if briefly, and even if it’s only their voice.
What kinds of rewards should I offer?
The most common Film rewards include things like:
- Access to your final film
- Access to your previous films
- A PDF of your screenplay
- A shout-out in the film’s credits
- In special cases, an executive producer credit (for documentary crediting best practices, check out this guide from the Documentary Producers Alliance)
Keep these points in mind as you craft your rewards:
Offering access to your film is a great reward! But if you’re hoping to lock in a distribution deal (for example, with a streaming site), we don’t recommend offering a digital download of your film. Instead, offer backers digital access or a digital streaming link so you have a little more control over where the finished film ends up.
While producing physical merchandise (for example, T-shirts) for your backers might be appealing, we recommend focusing on digital rewards for reward tiers of $50 and less. Since the production and postage costs will come out of the funds you raise on Kickstarter—not to mention the time drain of packaging and mailing merchandise—you’ll want to think about meaningful rewards that you can send to backers via email.
You’re required to put an estimated delivery date on each reward tier, so be sure to set realistic delivery expectations. Give yourself a healthy buffer to account for the time needed to produce, package (if applicable), and deliver your rewards.
Need a little extra inspiration? Here are some additional reward tier ideas.
What should my funding goal be?
The average amount a Film project raises on Kickstarter hovers around $12,000, with the average short film raising $5,600.
Kickstarter uses an all-or-nothing funding model, meaning you have to hit your funding goal by the end of your campaign to receive the funds. If you don’t reach your funding goal, your backers won’t be charged and you won’t receive any money. Keep in mind that once your campaign begins, you can’t change the funding goal or the duration of the campaign.
You’ll need to figure out a funding goal that is both achievable—given your understanding of the support you can expect from your community and your capacity to reach people beyond it—and that will allow you to get your film to the next stage. Filmmakers often set a funding goal that will allow them to cover the cost of production or specific part of post-production, like color correction or sound mix. You might want to create a spreadsheet of committed or expected pledges from your personal network to help you calculate this sum.
We also recommend letting your backers know from the beginning what you will do with additional funds if you’re lucky enough to surpass your funding goal. For example: “With an extra $1,000 we can secure additional music licensing rights; with an additional $2,000 we can also hire a composer.”
How long should my campaign last?
Most projects should set their campaigns to run between 14 and 35 days. (If your project goal is $25,000 or more, we recommend the longer end of that range.)
Consider your end date as well as your start date: Select an end date and time that best allows you to amplify the final days of your campaign. You don’t want to end your project on a national holiday or early in the morning when potential backers won’t be online.
What time of year should I run my campaign? Are there higher success rates for projects in certain months or seasons?
The most important factors to consider when deciding on your launch date are when you will have the most time to spend working on your campaign and when your audience will most likely be online to support your project.
If you know you always have a lot going on during the holidays at the end of the year, for example, it might make more sense to wait to run your project in the new year, when you can dedicate more time to the campaign. Likewise, if the majority of your friends and family go on vacation in August, you might consider running a campaign in September when they’re mostly back online. We also suggest avoiding launching or ending your campaign on or directly around a national holiday.
What can I do to become a Project We Love?
When a project stands out to our team, we give it a “Projects We Love” badge and may feature it on our homepage, in newsletters, or on social media. Read about how we choose projects to feature here.
Here are a few things we look for in Film projects specifically:
- An engaging project video that introduces the film you’re making and the team and motivations behind it. Your project video doesn’t need to be a super-slick trailer, but it should visually communicate your aesthetic as a filmmaker and give your audience confidence in your ability to tell stories through video.
- Thoughtful rewards that offer opportunities to engage with your film, your creative process, or your team. Ideally, these rewards will also be priced appropriately. For example, we see most digital links to films offered at around $20 to $35, DVDs or Blu-rays around $50 to $100, and exclusive opportunities to engage with the creation of the film—a set visit or a chance to be an extra, for instance—at much higher price points.
- Beautiful, high-resolution images that help tell your story.
- A comprehensive written description of the scope of your film project, what you’re raising money for, and what is compelling or exciting to you about the film you’re making.
To get an even better idea of the kinds of projects we feature, sign up for Kickstarter on Film, our monthly newsletter.
What are custom referral tags, and how do I use them?
Situated within the Creator Dashboard, which gives creators a bird’s-eye view of the latest activity on a live or completed project, custom referral tags are custom links that help you track how many backers and how much money is coming from a specific channel. Read this guide to using them.
Can I get feedback on my Film project before I launch?
Your shareable preview page shows what your project will look like when it’s live, including the title, video, description, and rewards. Share this page with close collaborators and trusted advisors for feedback on everything from copy to images to reward tiers.
Should I prepare a promotion strategy before I launch?
Yes! The more preparation you do before launch, the better positioned you’ll be when you go live. Think of your campaign promotion like a production schedule.
Here are some recommended steps to take before you launch:
- Make a list of your current supporters. Think of everyone you know: people you trained with and worked with; people who have supported you and who you have supported; people you were in film school and band camp and chess club with. No connection is too remote.
- Create a spreadsheet. Include emails, social media handles, and phone numbers for your contacts. Make a note of how you know each person, as you may want to contact people in batches.
- Draft some emails. We’ve found email to be the most effective way to get people to back your project. Write personalized notes whenever possible; make your message friendly, honest, and frame it more like an invitation than an ask. Make it enticing—a chance to come aboard an exciting project. If it feels uncomfortable to ask people to contribute directly, ask them to refer you to people who could be interested in backing, or to share it with their networks.
How do I pitch my Film project to press?
If you’re interested in securing press coverage for your project, you’ll need to do some homework. Research which writers and publications might be most passionate about your project, and personalize your message to them.
Keep your communications short and sweet, and don’t dedicate too much time to pitching film press. The majority of film publications now view filmmakers using Kickstarter as a legitimate, but not necessarily newsworthy, funding source. Unless you believe you have a unique angle that film press are likely to want to pick up, it would be better to devote that time and attention to pitching smaller outlets, local newspapers, and focused blogs, which usually have pretty dedicated followers.
For more tips, check out this guide to getting press coverage for your creative work by our Director of Communications.
Now that you’ve built your campaign, it's time to launch! Read our guide to managing your campaign.
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Jan 8 2020
In this series, Kickstarter’s Film team answers some of the most common questions asked by Film creators interested in running a campaign. Read on to learn everything you need to know to get started, from how Kickstarter's taxes and fees work to how long you should set aside for planning.
First things first: How do Kickstarter fees and taxes work?
Fees: If your Film project succeeds, Kickstarter receives 5 percent of the amount raised. Our payment processor, Stripe, also receives 3–5 percent for processing fees. Learn more about our fees based on your location here.
Taxes: You gotta pay ’em. Read our guide to Kickstarter and taxes.
How long should I spend preparing my campaign before launching?
This depends on where you’re starting from. If you’re starting from scratch, we typically recommend six to eight weeks to prepare your Film campaign and outreach strategy for launch.
Preparation includes (but is not limited to):
- Writing your project description
- Making your video
- Developing your rewards
- Deciding on a funding goal and campaign length
- Assembling a database of contacts
- Setting up social media channels
- Writing a communications plan for the duration of the campaign
If you’ve already completed some of this prep, then you might be able to launch in as little as two to three weeks.
Do I need a website or social media presence before launching?
The best practice is yes, because social media can be one of the best ways to inform the largest number of people about your project.
However, we don’t recommend creating social media accounts for your film on the same day you launch your campaign. If you’re able to start your accounts in advance and take some time to build up your audience, then do. If you already have personal social media accounts, you can use those. In either case, if there are existing Facebook groups that directly engage with the ideas your film addresses, then join them.
When it comes to platforms, follow your heart. If you feel most comfortable in the ephemeral abyss of Twitter, tweet! If you only like Instagram, do that. You’re going to be at your best when you are most you. And if you hate it all, you aren’t alone—but you should find someone who gets you, gets your project, and can navigate those channels on your behalf.
Who will back my campaign?
The majority of the backings for your project will likely come from your extended network—i.e., people you know and people they know. We’ve seen that around 76 percent of a Film project’s funding comes from the creator’s own network.
That said, certain projects lend themselves more easily to support from internet strangers, particularly projects that speak to specific communities with niche interests or that have an existing fanbase. For example, this documentary about Bill Nye connected with his existing fans and invited them to be a part of making the film possible. The short film O Holy Ghost featured and was produced by actor Ben Whishaw, which helped it reach a large audience of his fans.
If your film falls outside that rubric, don’t fret. Many films are multidimensional and intertwine a number of themes and ideas. Untie those themes, find the communities that are most dedicated to exploring and supporting those ideas, and speak to them directly. Check out the project video and description for the short horror film The Three Men You Meet at Night for a good example of how to break down the ideas and themes a film explores.
The best way to reach backers is to consider your audience before you even build out your campaign.
- Figure out who your audience is, where they live online (where on the internet they spend their time, who they interact with, what they read and listen to, what they comment on), and how you can best reach them.
- Collect all of your contacts—friends, family, coworkers, collaborators—in one spreadsheet or database.
- Consider how you’ll share your project with your audience once your campaign is live—by email? In person? On social media? On which platform?—and how you’ll tailor your messages to each segment of your audience and each platform.
Check out this video from our former colleague, filmmaker Dan Schoenbrun. It’s got tons of invaluable advice on developing your audience.
Do you have any recommendations for folks who can help me plan or run my campaign?
If you happen to be a consultant and aren’t on this list, or if you’d like to learn how to be a consultant, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your details and outline your experience.
Sometimes what you need isn’t necessarily a very experienced (and possibly expensive) consultant but an extra pair of extra-smart hands on deck. Consider hiring someone for a few hours per week who is better at the things you’re not so good at. If, say, writing newsletters isn’t your calling, or if you feel hopeless on social media, try finding someone with those specific skills to craft those messages for you.
What is a fiscal sponsor, and should I get one?
A fiscal sponsor is a nonprofit organization that can offer its legal and tax-exempt status to Kickstarter projects related to its mission. By using a fiscal sponsor, granting organizations and private donors can get the benefits of donating to a 501(c)(3) nonprofit—like tax deductions—while sparing you the hassle of becoming a nonprofit yourself. Additionally, the fiscal sponsor manages the project’s money and reports to funders and tax agencies.
If you’re using a fiscal sponsor for your Kickstarter project, the money you raise will be transferred directly to the fiscal sponsor’s bank account at the end of your campaign (if it’s successful). It will then be regranted to you by your fiscal sponsor, minus their fee, which is usually between 9 and 15 percent.
If you think your backers will be more likely to support your project if their pledges are tax deductible, then finding a fiscal sponsor might be a good idea. However, bear in mind that you will be subject to additional fees: When you’re calculating your budget and funding goal, you’ll need to add your fiscal sponsor’s fees to Kickstarter’s 5 percent fee and our payment processor’s fees.
Lastly, if you’re planning to use a fiscal sponsor for your Kickstarter project, you must secure them prior to launching your campaign. You’ll enter their bank details instead of your own as the destination for your funds when you’re building your campaign. Your project’s bank account information can’t be changed once it goes live, so you’ll have to have this arrangement locked in before you launch.
Now that you’ve put some thought into planning your campaign, it’s time to build it on Kickstarter. Read our guide to building your campaign.
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Dec 19 2019
When Kickstarter turned 10 this April, we took a look back at the decade of impact Kickstarter projects have had on our world. Now, as our birthday year comes to a close and we prepare to enter a new decade (!), we asked a few of our teammates to share the projects that made an impact on them this past year.
It’s an eclectic collection, spanning public artworks and climate change initiatives, photo books about Detroit techno and hard-hitting journalism about political malfeasance. In 2019, over 6 million people pledged more than $610 million to help bring these—and some 19,000 other—projects to life, and they contributed to some incredible milestones: $1 billion pledged to both Games and Design, $100 million pledged to Comics, and 100 million pesos pledged to projects from Mexico. We can’t wait to see what our community will create and support in the new year (including all of your Make 100 projects in January).
Read on for some of our team’s favorite projects from 2019.
Selected by Daniel Sharp, Arts Outreach Lead
“American Backyard documents the entire length of the U.S.–Mexico border in stories and photographs. It’s a way for readers to see who actually lives on the border and learn how the sitting president's hostility toward our neighbors has affected their lives and communities.”
Selected by Elise McCave, Director of Narrative Film
“I loved The Last Black Man in San Francisco [which funded in 2015 but premiered in theaters this year]. Sitting down to see the premiere at Sundance, there was something palpable in the air, an excitement that a beloved project that had grown out of a friendship and a city was at last coming into being. And the film felt as magical as the setup!”
Selected by Liz Cook Mowe, Director of Documentary Film
“Rachel Lears started filming four extraordinary women as they ran for U.S. Congress during the 2018 election—including the then-relatively unknown candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. What makes the documentary Knock Down the House [which funded in 2018 but premiered on Netflix this year] so electric is that behind-the-scenes intimacy, allowing us to watch a grassroots campaign catch fire and sweep through the nation.”
Selected by Kate Bernyk, Director of Communications
“Yes, I’m a little biased because this is my dad, but who wouldn’t be a proud daughter when their father gets into the Guinness Book of World Records for putting together the largest cigar-box guitar ensemble? He built over 30 handmade cigar-box guitars to help make this record-setting event happen, complete with a drone video of the big day.”
Selected by Meredith Graves, Director of Music
“Peter Dunham and Linnea Gits, the daring duo behind Uusi design studio, have spent years as exemplary Kickstarter tarot creators. This deck is their millionth success, but their first tarot project post-acquisition of their prior work by the MIT Libraries.”
Selected by Lauren Renner, Associate Art Director, Photo & Video
“As a genre, queer photography is still relatively new, and it's so important that it's fostered. A photograph is both a record and a mirror—it documents where we've come from and who we are. It gives us a chance to see ourselves and, in some cases, have control over our image. A book like this is so much more than a collection of images—it's ownership. A true claiming of space.”
Selected by Gemma Seltzer, Senior UK Arts & Culture Outreach Lead
“I absolutely loved Lucinda Rogers’s New York Drawings, a book of her pieces drawn directly from life. A city is ever-evolving, ever-changing, and the constant movement is what makes it so enticing. These drawings gracefully capture this fluidity and the magic of New York.”
Selected by Oriana Leckert, Senior Journalism Outreach Lead
“Sludge is a three-person newsroom dedicated to the critical work of investigating money in politics. They ran a campaign to fund reporting on fossil fuel lobbyists trying to kill the Green New Deal in the U.S., and the work they went on to do helped raise the young newsroom’s profile. Recently, they partnered with The Guardian to produce an explosive investigation into the personal finances of U.S. senators, revealing more than 50 senators’ investments in the firms they’re supposed to be regulating.”
Selected by Tom Chuaypradit, Experimentation Manager
“The nonprofit Climate Neutral put together an official symbol that companies and entities can use to prove they are committed to slowing down the effects of climate change at a global scale. I want my kids to live in a future world that is not negatively affected by the climate crisis, especially if it can be prevented in our generation.”
Selected by Trin Garritano, Games Digital Outreach Lead
“I love this project for its inherent comedic genius, ’90s nostalgia, and because of how queer it is.”
Selected by Annelise Broussard, Accountant
“I'm from Louisiana and have a deep appreciation for Cajun and zydeco music. After backing the project I began communicating with the creator, Ron Stanford, and found out he had visited a dance hall in the town where my dad grew up! Ron's book documents the Cajun music and dance scene beautifully; my dad was able to bring the book to his hometown and reminisce with some folks about those dancin’ days.”
Selected by Rebecca Hiscott, Senior Editor
“Waris Ahluwalia spent five years developing and perfecting his first herbal tea blend. I had the pleasure of speaking to him about the project earlier this year, and it was clear how passionate he was—and how intent he was on getting everything just right. I just received my tin of turmeric honeybush tea, and I can safely say, mission accomplished. It’s a delicious, warming, soothing blend, perfect for cold, rainy mornings.”
Selected by Wolf Owczarek, Operations Manager
“One of the unforeseen pleasures of seeing this documentary about ʼ90s ska [which funded in 2018 but was released in 2019] come to life was this shot (featured above) of the garage to which I have sent so much concealed cash: Asian Man Records, still run out of Mike Park’s parents’ house.”
Selected by Patton Hindle, Senior Director of Arts
“Steve Locke's Auction Block Memorial took an unexpected route due to circumstances outside of the artist's hands. I was grateful to Steve for his transparency with his audience and his commitment to realizing this project in another location. It's also a testament to his community of backers, who didn't jump ship—in fact, more joined in. It’s proof that people are invested in Steve's idea and practice, not necessarily the exact physical outcome or location.”
They Call Me Grandma Techno by Patricia Lay-Dorsey, The Detroit Techno Foundation, 1xRUN, and Paxahau
Selected by Victoria Blumenfeld, Trust & Safety Analyst
“How can you not smile at this photo book by this rad, grooving grandma? Helping a project come to life that’s about a person doing what makes them come to life… I'm all for that. Rock on, Grandma Techno!”
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