Saturday, June 18, 2011

Raise Money! Why IndieGogo or Kickstarter is NOT Exactly Begging.

Okay, so you're in a band or a stage performer. You post announcements and events on Facebook, and ask people to drive to your show, pay for gas, parking, then pay for a ticket, buy drinks or even dinner just to come see your talent, your art, or your kick-ass, rockin' new Emo band. One of your gigs could cost a couple $80 bucks when all is said and done, maybe more,  if they have to pay for a babysitter. 

So, is that begging? Are you "begging" people to support you and give you money? Or aren't you inviting them to share in your artistic bliss – giving them nothing but satisfying entertainment in return?

An IndieGogo or KickStarter campaign or any new and unorthodox method of fundraising (coined "CrowdFunding") for a film, cd project or documentary is actually not much different.
However, some people are just not comfortable "asking for money."

Raising funds is actually not asking people for money, but rtaher, asking people to be a part of an opportunity.

Every first-time director needs to raise capital. Spielberg asked friends and family for money for his first film. So did George Lucas and countless other famous directors. Every new band needs money. Hey man, it's the arts. Ever hear about the "Starving Artist Syndrome?" Yeah well, it sucks and artists do need money and financial support. So, if you're not one of these people who have way too much pride or money to request funding, unless you ask, you'll never make the movie you want to make.

I say, if you have love for your craft and would die for it, there is no shame connected to your dream—there is only drive, commitment and tenacity.– Get the fuck out of my way, I'm coming through!

Providing people with an opportunity to contribute $25 to your film project and giving them back something like a DVD, which would cost $24.99 at Target anyway, is not "begging." Or,  giving a perk away like free tickets to a NYC premiere is more than most bands do when they ask you to come to their gigs. I was in bands for 23 years. I did a lot of asking for funds, but I also worked hard to be able to go out and print posters, buy drumheads, sticks, and even expensive equipment, to help take the edge off my parents who funded just about every dream I ever had. With a CrowdFunding campaign, you at least you get something in return when all is said and done.  For your friends and family, it's an opportunity to be a part of something special and even invest in something your close friend is doing. You may never get the chance to do that again.
I don't make excuses for my art. I work hard to make my dreams, and all the crazy stuff in my brain come true. With all great or projects that you think will be great, you have to have faith and believe in yourself if no one else will. Many of my friends got this. Some did not. Too bad for them if they judged me or were turned off.
So, what prompted this  blog entry today?

A friend of a friend complained that I was "begging" for money for my film. He's a guitarist who posts his band photos every other minute and invitations to come see his band. Oh the selfish fool. I thought for a second, and reminded myself of being a drummer in a band, asking everyone to come see me. Was I, or is anyone in a band so delusional that we think we're that great? "Dude, you need need to come see my amazing stick-twirling skills" Or...are we simply sharing what we think our friends would like to see?  Maybe I'm foolish but I had pride in entertaining my friends and playing those Rush, and Zeppelin songs for them since they couldn't afford to see those bands. They loved me because I entertained them. Not because they were feeding an ego. Sharing your music and art is a circle. It has no beginning and no end. The person who cut or interrupted that circle is the one who stops giving. Yes I made that up, but it makes sense right?

So the next time you ask people to come see you on stage, be proud, post it everywhere, on Facebook and Twitter, walls and bathrooms and never make excuses for your art. I'm not. 

How IndieGogo and KickStarter Works:

And the next time you want to fund a once-in-a-lifetime or important project try IndieGogo.
They let you keep what you get minus 9% (4% if you reach or exceed your goal). KickStarter, which has more viewers, does not allow you to keep funds unless you make your goal. Two schools of thought, both can be equally successful.

I raised close to $6,000 and it will help pay for insurance fees and printing scripts, and casting and more out of a 150k budget. I didn't feel a speck of indignity. I felt surrounded by smart and generous people who contributed. I get to see them at the premiere after 27 years, I get to have their name on my film, and have their energy and blessings be a part of my project. You feelin' me here?

There is no shame in fostering your dreams.  There is only shame in being a self-absorbed, big-headed hypocrite and, if you think IndieGogo is "begging" then next time you post your next gig or theater performance, please provide us with free tickets. That will level the playing field.

A word of wisdom to people thinking about starting a IndieGogo or KickStarter campaign: 

If you post on Facebook and think all of your friends will rally to help you, it won't happen! Out of hundreds of my dear "friends" and family only 60 came through. Many ignored my posts, but would quickly not ignored a post about a cat or food that I'd post seconds later. yes that was actually a shamelesstest, and as i suspected people love cats more than they love you! It's just the way of the world. Meow.

I actually only posted my IndieGogo link once a day, during the early part of the week, and then no postings for 5-6 days afterwards. Shorter campaigns are seemingly more effective according to most bloggers I've come to know. And, you'll notice, people will rally at the beginning of your campaign, and then it picks up slightly towards the end. The middle period is the biggest downer. You can help but feel abandoned and shunned. But that's why you don't just use CrowdFunding for your project. You have to get funding form others, offer tax incentives, get sponsored by a fiscal sponsor like, and keep making lists of people who you know to be 'patron of the arts.' You have to have faith that someone will eventually buy into your dream.

Hey, you know what? Some people will simply be jealous. They've always wanted to do what you're doing, but you beat the to the punch. Some will feign poverty, and then boast about a new "app" they just got for their iPad! You just can't win, and sometimes it feels like you're "Pissing in the wind? Is that a Paula Abdul song? ...never mind.

Some people are very generous. I had people from 27 years back, who I hadn't physically seen  since then pony up $250 bucks! Some friends came in with more than $1,000, and some kept giving what they could, a little love at a time. Not everyone is that nice. Frankly, some people don't see why they should give you money when they're musicians or directors themselves. Some people think they're taking a risk on your next Jackie Gleason, hair-brain, Honeymooner's scheme. And some are like deer in headlights, _ " What? You had an IndieGogo campaign? Oh my, really? I must have missed that."  or "I just can't take a risk right now!" 
What? These responses are always good for a chuckle.

And, since when did giving become a risk? You give, you walk away. No questions asked.  At least that's how I do it. Most of the time people will just simply do something nice back...Yup, there's that circle thing again.

You'll Find CrowdFunding to be a pretty cool thing when all is said and done, and at the very least you'll get a sense of who is really a supporter of your art and who is not. Overall, it's a great experience!

Revenge for the Non-Believers: The fun Part!

After your campaign is over,  if you end up bitter and "postal," here's what you can do to add delicious fun to the mix!

A. Un-friend them on Facebook! Who needs them anyway! 
B. Use the "Cinderella Strategy" –Don't invite them to your film, or CD party!
C. Keep them on Facebook and remind them of your premiere and have them pay to get in!
D. If you win a Grammy or Oscar mention everyone they know, their dog, but forget them!
This is particularly yummy!
E. Shoot a segment of your film across the street from their house, not only keeping them up at night with blaring HMI's pointed at their bedroom, but throw your Craft Services refuse on their lawn.

Seriously, some people are broke, and too ashamed to admit it. I get it. But $25 bucks?
Really? Are you that "morto di fame?" (starving to death).  Most people can forego going to a movie just once to help someone they know achieve a dream. It's not much to ask. 

If you have a thick skin and won't take things personally, roll with the punches and go for it! You've got nothing to lose other than Facebook friends who are really not friends anyway! 

Good luck!

-Paul Brighton
Director/Producer of upcoming feature "Brilliant Mistakes" 
Visit if you're interested in donating. See? No shame. Just trying to make a quality film!