Survey Results

Two surveys have been conducted to gather professional and public views. The first was aimed at donator’s habits published 18/10/2016 and completed by 46 users. I was very happy with the response rate for this survey and it revealed  many interesting results that I can now compare with research already gathered. Due to further research there were additional questions I would have like to have added and would have perhaps done another survey if there was more time. We were very limited with the timescale.

The second survey was designed for campaigners who had completed a crowdfunding project. Due to the more direct questions this had lower participation. Published 10/11/2016 and completed by 7 users. I was slightly disappointed with this response rate and had emailed it directly to over 15 campaigns but received very few results. Friends and Family also shared the survey but the results remained low. In the future I would conduct this section as an interview rather than a survey due to the direct questions that can be affected by previous answers. I did however receive contact information to gather more info later.

Trello

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Trello is an organisation tool which can be used for everyday projects or large campaigns. It allows you to easily share information, swap ideas and progress a project. Melanie Pinola says Trello is an awesome project management tool that makes collaboration easy and, dare I say, even fun.” The simple and flexible set up allowes users to use the product to its full potential.

Trello uses a board system which you can add to, move or delete when needed. Images can also be added as well as colour coding. It is also possible to tag particular members to a card if there is a particular task for them.

The product is free to use and easy to share. Fiances online gave a user satisfaction of 97%.

Currently I am using this tool alongside High House Collections to project manage our crowdfunding campaign held in March. I also had the opportunity to use this software during 2016 summer with Staffordshire Students Union to organised the Welcome Week Fairs. The tool was great at discussing ideas between departments which cut out the need for a physical meeting. Ideas seemed to appear faster and decisions made more easily. It was also visually pleasing and information easy to find, especially when it was an assigned task.

This is a tool that I would be happy and likely to use on more projects and collaborations.

Online, F. (2016) Trello reviews: Overview, pricing and features. Available at: https://reviews.financesonline.com/p/trello/ (Accessed: 16 December 2016).

Pinola, M. (2015) How to organize your entire life with Trello. Available at: http://lifehacker.com/how-to-use-trello-to-organize-your-entire-life-1683821040 (Accessed: 16 December 2016).

Trello (2016) Trello. Available at: https://trello.com/ (Accessed: 16 December 2016).

Finance for the Independent Film

Without money it is impossible to make a feature film. You need to have equipment, canary-1locations, crew, cast, props, make-up and the list goes on. Currently I am going through the process myself in preparation for my feature film ‘Canary’. I have secured a director and have put out word for cast and crew (mainly thanks to Jamie Weston).

Today the average Hollywood movie can cost from $50 million – $250 million (Trigonis 2013) while independent films usually have a lot less to work with. The big question is where will we get the funds?

There a number of sources to gain funds these include grants, crowdfunding and investors. By the end of a project a feature could have used all these sources or only one. For this post I will be focusing on start-up funding and disregarding distributions funding which is often gained once a film has been created.

Investors:

For the majority of independent film projects, investors will only invest if they see a financial gain in the project and therefore the film has generally already been made and has completed/completing the festival circuit (Reiss 2011). However if a company feels the project has a strong cast, crew or story they may invest early on although in today’s financial climate this has become increasingly rare.

In a forbes article written by Emma Dunkley (2015), she discusses the risks of film investing with Marin Sherwood, highlighting that the risk doesn’t just lie with the filmmakers but also those investing the money. “Film has a reputation of being highly risky and only a very small number become blockbusters, so the stats are against the investor,” says Martin Sherwood, a partner at Enterprise Investment Partners. “A lot of UK movies do not make much, if any, money. Only occasionally one or two do.”  Some investors in tax-efficient funds face a loss of 40% when unlisted media companies performed poorly.

Tax relief schemes also encourage investors to put there money into films (Mannan 2013). However it is still important to make sure the film scheme is under the Enterprise Investment Scheme to although for the tax relief to pass on.

Sponsors:

A simple and easy way of getting funding is through sponsorship (Brindle 2013). In most Hollywood blockbusters audience members will be able top spy key brands such as apple and coca-cola. In the film ‘Fight Club’ directed by David Fincher, it was claimed in an interview that a Starbucks coffee cup can be seen in every scene (O’Neill 2014). However sponsorship doesn’t need to come from large brands charities, individuals or companies will often sponsor documentaries which promote there services or products. Thurlow (2008) emphasis the use of small companies sponsoring so their logos can appear after the credits showing their support.

Grants and community organisations:

Clifford Thurlow (2008) in his book ‘Making short films’ explains the difficulties of gaining grants due to the limited sources available. “Funders face the unenviable task of shifting through a deluge of paperwork and, to help them select which projects are going to get backing, filmmakers with a track record tend to rise to the top of the pile.” Thurlow adds that the process isn’t a bad idea but preparation is key. It is more like a ‘lottery’ than skill but preparation can make your project stand out that little bit more.

The largest source of finance for films in the UK is the ‘Film Council‘ which often post online applications for film grants. Another source is Creative England which looks to promote English made work, promoting the history and culture as well as work ethic. The number of grants and investment available is a reflection on the financial suitability of the country. There are therefore less grants available today than there were before the 2009 financial crash.

Crowdfunding:

Thurlow (2008), Brindle (2013) and Reiss (2011) all recommend crowdfunding as a source of film fiance. It is a way to market your film and gain a following as well as receive the necessary funds needed to create the project. Howkins (2013) in his book ‘The creative Economy’, believe that the online platforms work best for films, games, performances and music albums due to its “scope outside of mainstream financial regulations.” It was also reported that 10% of films shown at Cannes and Sundance Film festivals were made due to crowd sourcing. Due to campaigns lasting anywhere between 1 week – 50 days, it allows filmmakers to promote the project directly to an invested audience and secure a small distribution opportunity immediately.

 

In conclusion film finance depends on each individual project and the strength of a director’s/producer’s preparation, contacts and opportunities available. It is also important not to focus on only one method but use as many revenues as possible to acquire the budget needed. For most films the majority of finance will open up after the festival circuit or during the distribution process such as ‘This is England’ (2006) directed by Shane Meadows or ‘Whiplash’ (2014) directed by Damien Chazelle.

References:
Brindle, M. (2013) The Digital Filmmaking Handbook. London: Quercus Editions Ltd. Pages 136-137.
Dunkley, E. (2015) Film funds offer a possible route for investors. Available at: https://www.ft.com/content/ebbbb892-6b88-11e5-8171-ba1968cf791a (Accessed: 12 December 2016).
Film, B.C. (2016) British council film. Available at: http://film.britishcouncil.org/ (Accessed: 12 December 2016).
Howkins, J. (2013) 2nd Edition. The creative economy: How people make money from ideas. London: Penguin Global. Pages 65 – 67.
O’Neill, O. (2014) Fight club: 19 things you didn’t know about the film. Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/11130111/Fight-Club-20-things-you-didnt-know-about-the-film.html (Accessed: 12 December 2016).
Reiss, J. (2011) Think outside the box office: The ultimate guide to film distribution and marketing for the digital era. 2nd edn. Los Angeles: Hybrid Cinema Publishing. Pages 42 – 44.
Thurlow, C. (2008) Making short films: The complete guide from script to screen. Second edn. New York: Berg Publishers. Pages 81-83.
Trigonis, J.T. (2013) Crowdfunding for filmmakers: The way to a successful film campaign. New York, NY, United States: Michael Wiese Productions. Pages 3

High House Meeting 2 -Developing the marketing stratergy

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On the 6th December 2016 we held our second meeting together to evaluate progress so far and develop our marketing and crowdfunding campaign further.

So far we had each made progress on our social media sites and tried to update daily. I had joined Instagram and have been getting to grips with the new layout. Laura from Staffordshire University’s marketing team also attended the meeting and gave some valuable insight and advice for the platforms we were using.

It was decided that we need to centralize our information more rather than everyone posting individually. To do this with more ease we have each joined ‘Trello’ a site designed for planning. This has allowed us to know exactly what each other is doing and be in touch more easily without physically meeting up.

It has also been decided to conduct a photoshoot of the work and products along with props so we can use it for Pintrest boards and visualizing where the wallpaper could fit in a home. We can also confirm that the crowdfund campaign will run throughout March, ready for Spring decoration.

Due top my masters research I have been tasked with designing a video for our campaign with encompasses our passion and student involvement. To do this I will be enlisting other students to help.

The project is moving on smoothly and we now just need to calendar our plan.

Recreating crowdfunding profiles

To recreate the crowdfunding profiles I gathered all the research I’d collected so far and divided it up in to profiles, videos, rewards and communication. I also gathered three case studies from Indiegogo, Kickstarter and Seed&Spark.

Indiegogo:

  • ‘Who will write our History’ by Robert Grossman: Successful- https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/who-will-write-our-history-production#/
  • ‘No Greater Love’ by Justin Roberts: Flexible Funding (Unsuccessful) – https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/no-greater-love–29#/
  • ‘NO ALTERNATIVE: Feature Film’ by William Dickerson: Flexible funding (unsuccessful) https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/no-alternative-a-feature-film-rap#/

Kickstarter:

  • ‘Tightly Wound’ by Shelby Hadden: Successful – https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1198198214/tightly-wound
  • ‘In a Heartbeat’ Animated short film by Beth + Esteban: Successful – https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/688971352/in-a-heartbeat-animated-short-film
  • ‘Magpie’ by Paul Cook: Successful – https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/paulcook/magpie

Seed&Spark:

  • ‘Ordinary Women’ by Anita Sarkeesian: Successful – https://www.seedandspark.com/fund/ordinary-women#story
  • ‘The Big Heist’ by Health Rosetta Films: Successful – https://www.seedandspark.com/fund/thebigheist#updates

By anyalsing these case studies I was able to draw comparisons and differences that may have added to there success. All three platforms are reward based services therefore the filmmakers offer incentives to funders such as t-shirts, set-access and other perks.

Profiles:

Both Kickstarter and Indiegogo took a more personalised approach to there profiles and didn’t give much detail of the actual production requirements. The content and layouts were very similar. The benefit of Indiegogo is clearly the flexible funding. If a filmmaker is unsure on how much to donate they can put a larger sum than required but still expect some funds if they don’t reach there full amount. This however lowers there stats for successful campaigns as seen above ‘No Greater Love’ and ‘No Alternative’. Kickstarter therefore gives crowdfunders and backers more urgency to complete the project. This was confirmed by James Fair’s reasoning for choosing the platform “all or nothing helps the psychology of funders.” This contributes to the higher success rate for film campaigns.

Seed&Spark takes a more technological and professional approach. These are professorial filmmakers who need money to create there films. The profiles therefore detail more information about the projects and detail exactly where the money will go and how it will be used. The wish list function also allows filmmakers to request specific items or money towards specific areas of the filmmaking process.

Videos

All examples included video detailing the project and why the money was needed. On many platforms this has become a must. The videos ranged from 1-3mins and were personalised to these projects. I noted the more professional the video, the higher chance of success for a campaign. The video is the first thing a user sees on all three platforms. Many of the videos detailed a journey of the filmmakers progress and where they need to go next.

video
Survey 10/11/2016 undertaken by Emma Simms

To create my video campaign I worked alongside Christopher Taylor and Victoria Charles. To keep it as natural and passionate as possible we conducted it in an interview style manner in front of a green screen so we could add images later with more information. This worked well as we spoke how we really felt about the project rather than it being scripted. I would have like more time to edit the video and possibly design it further. Due to time constraints we were also missing the director so we know this version will not be used for the actual campaign but does allow me to draw further comparisons with my case studies. We focused on what makes the production unique, where the money will go and why it is special to us and needs to be made. We know some re-shoots are in order which will be completed Feb 2017.

Rewards:

Each case study included a rewards based system for donating. These generally ranged from £1 – £3000 depending on the target. Rewards included:

  • Copies of the script
  • Clothing/badges/posters
  • Screening tickets
  • DVD copies
  • Director meetings/sessions
  • After party tickets
  • Opportunity to be an extra
  • Executive producer roles
  • Donations to charities

And the list goes on. Each product also varied in price with no set measurement. On one profile a t-shirt could be £30 while on another it could be £60. Pricing is decided based of a filmmakers needs and position i.e. is shipping include, item cost and time.

Max Silverman CEO of Seed&Spark states “The most successful incentives are visual, sharable and free to make. For example, a historical event with the contributor’s face photoshopped in. The most common contribution level is $25, so this is often the best level to include these.” in an interview 10/11/2016.

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Survey 18/11/2016 undertaken by Emma Simms. 46 participants.

 

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Canary crowdfunding campaign rewards list

Using my case study examples, further research and advice from former crowdfunders I have compiled a list of what ‘Canary’s incentives could look like. To do this I researched the cost of making each item and posting it to the recipient. Some of the rewards are free to make and send, which saves production costs. Where possible the rewards help to promote the project as well such as badges, clothing and posters. Larger rewards include set visits. To improve these more I need to go directly to my target audience and ask them what they would like to receive and how much they are willing to pay as this may affect how successful an amount is.

Promotion:

In a survey to crowdfunders, 100% said they promoted there project on social media.

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social-media

Without promoting there projects none of the case studies would have received donations. This part is often overlooked and the hardest part of a crowdfunding campaign. It requires a lot of time. Not all posts needed to be linked to the campaign some discussed the subject. James Fair’s 72 Project would release cast, crew and location information when targets were met to keep funders interested and interacting with the project.

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Canary Crowdfunding campaign communications plan

Following my case studies’ example I have planned each day of communication during the project in different social media formats. I have tried to make them as engaging as possible with the final couple of days focused solely on the project. At the same time we would be facebook/twitting personal thank yous to those who donate. I have also tried to include mini target accomplishments although it is impossible to tell now what they would be. To futher test this I would go directly to my target audience as ask them where they would want to find this information and what they would like to know (Oakley 2016).

Recreations:

Using the surveys, industry interviews and research I applied the information gained and created two mock-ups. I decided that due to the similarities between Indiegogo and Kickstarter I would only recreate one for the both of them following Kickstarters format. This decisions was made due to the difference between flexible funding and all or nothing.

These mock-ups will now be reviewed and adjusted where applicable. They include as much information as possible about the project so far with further details to find more information. Both recreations include information about:

  • The Story
  • The Team
  • Directors Statement
  • Money
  • Timeline

The recreations are then tailored to the site with Seed&Spark giving further details about the production and the Kickstarter profile taking a more personal approach. When applying this in the future I think I would do a combination of both so that users have as much information as possible and can trust the project will be a success.

In conclusion further testing and reviewing is needed to make the information fit the target audience and therefore gain as many backers as possible. This will be done throughout the Christmas period.

References:

Gerber, E., Hui, J. and Kuo, P.-Y. (2016) Crowdfunding: Why People Are Motivated to Post and Fund Projects on Crowdfunding Platforms. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Pei_Yi_patricia_Kuo/publication/261359489_Crowdfunding_Why_People_are_Motivated_to_Post_and_Fund_Projects_on_Crowdfunding_Platforms/links/00463533f6db1c5c01000000.pdf    (Accessed: 11/10/2016).

Howkins, J. (2002) The creative economy: How people make money from ideas. London: Penguin Global. Pages 65-67.

Indiegogo (2016) Indiegogo: The largest global Crowdfunding & fundraising site online. Available at: https://www.indiegogo.com/#/picks_for_you (Accessed: 9 November 2016).

Jake Hobbs Georgiana Grigore Mike Molesworth , (2016) “Success in the management of crowdfunding projects in the creative industries”, Internet Research, Vol. 26 Iss: 1, pp.146 – 166

James Fair. (2016) James Fair Scrapbook. Available at: http://www.jamesfair.co.uk/scrapbook (Accessed: 28 November 2016).

Kickstarter (2016) Kickstarter homepage. Available at: http://www.kickstarter.com (Accessed: 9 November 2016).

Oakley, P. (2016) Social Media Marketing Tips with Phillip Oakley. Be Inspired Staffordshire University. Stoke-on-Trent, 19/10/2016. (Presentation).

Renninger, B.J. (2013) Kickstarter, Indiegogo, seed & spark? Comparing Crowdfunding platform success rates when it comes to film projects. Available at: http://www.indiewire.com/2013/08/kickstarter-indiegogo-seed-spark-comparing-crowdfunding-platform-success-rates-when-it-comes-to-film-projects-35790/ (Accessed: 2 January 2017).

Seed (2016) Seed&Spark: Fund movies. Watch movies. Empower diverse voices. Available at: https://www.seedandspark.com/ (Accessed: 9 November 2016).

Silverman, M. (2016) Seed&Spark Interview Questions. Simms, E. Email. (10/11/2016).

Take my crowdfunding surveys!

When ever your researching something it is very important to gather primary research. This can be gathered through many formats such as surveys, interviews, group studies etc. I found that to gather the information I need, the best way would be to create a number of surveys and target certain people.

My first survey is designed to investigate why people donate to crowdfunding campaigns and how many people actually donate.  http://staffordshire.eu.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_etCvzKZY6g3XXYV I used very board questions to be able to identify a demographic and theme when people choose to donate. (Survey still available to take).

My second survey is designed to investigate how people run a campaign and how they made there successful. Is there a trend in the way people run a campaign which increases the chance of success? These questions were therefore more specific and allowed people to go into more detail. http://staffordshire.eu.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_1Y3sumxeJXaxFe5 (Survey still available to take).

My aim is to get 50 responses on the first survey and 25 on the second. To increase my chances of achieving this goal I have distributed the surveys on my social media network, to friend, to family, to colleges and on open forums. I have also sent some directly to people who I know have been involved in crowdfunding.

I will review the surveys over the following three weeks and continue to promote them and send them out to the public.

Peer Assessment feedback and results

Today we received our peer assessment feedback from our presentations. As stated in an earlier blog post I was very nervous about these results as it was the first time I had been peer assessed while at university.

I had received positive feedback from my lecturer Sam:

It was really interesting to see how your project has come together and the work you have undertaken since we last spoke about it.

 Tutor presentation notes for Emma “Investigating Successful Crowdfunding Campaigns”

A confident and thorough presentation, that evidences clear direction and planning. Film project so utilising CF for investment back-up. Screenings, film events, social media to push campaign. Have you contacted any authors directly of key texts? Much on Emerald? Compare with other forms of investment wider context. Why crowdfunding? Seed & Spark CEO – ace! Make sure you have your creative and enterprising outcomes – have you aligned your work with the Learning Outcomes? More resources underpinning evidence based decision making would be beneficial. A very positive presentation Emma, well done.

The feedback gave me a few things to look at that I had not previously researched or thought about including contacting writers of my key texts. It also made me think about considering information I had not thought relevant to include such as other ways to gather finance besides crowdfunding. Although I had looked into this, I hadn’t thought it was necessary to include within the actual project.

It also brought to light how hard it is to fit all the necessary information into a 4-6min presentation such as the evidence of my journey and how I’d come to each conclusion. Although this information and direction is included within this blog but I will be looking for new ways to include such information within my presentation.

My peers assessment feedback followed a similar theme:

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The majority of my feedback was very positive but did outline a few areas of that I need to work on such as going in to more detail about what I will do with the information I find and how to progress further.

I was presently surprised to see that my peers felt I was confident and clear. For someone who dislikes public speaking I had felt very nervous and at times felt like people could hear me shaking.

From this I now need to:

  • Link my work with the learning objects and address my SMART aims.
  • Develop my research further by reaching out to more industry professionals.
  • Discuss and investigate other areas of investment and funding.
  • Link my research to evidence the decisions I make.