As we come closer to the production and crowdfunding campaign for ‘Canary’ we are now developing our campaign further. My masters is helping me to develop the crowdfunding aspect of the project and prepare for the the campaign. To start the new year off we have a brand new poster.
Using a simple format while we have no confirmed cast and moving away from the previously marketed material. The name change is also made more official. It also confirms our director: Jamie Weston.
His current statement outlines the film perfectly and the themes we want to get across to the audience. Have a read below:
“Having spent years making documentaries before my first feature, I’ve always been drawn to stories with a strong sense of truth. Stories filled with relatable characters that have a heart and soul. Canary is a film which reaches out and grabs you by the collar within the first page and drags you through the emotional and physical turmoil which my parents generations went through in The North during the mid-1980’s. Influenced by John Steinbeck’s ‘Of Mice and Men’, a writer famed for also dealing with social and economic issues, Canary feels equally verbatim, with current films such as “Billy Elliot”, “This is England” and most recently “I Daniel Blake” drawing on similar themes of poverty and anti-establishment motives against a conservative era government.
At its centre, it is a drama about human relationships, a friendship between cousins; Joseph and Ernest who work at the local mine. Ernest suffers from learning disabilities and struggles to understand the bigger choices that have to be made. The story hits hard as these were real events with bleak consequences which resulted in a formidable future unknown to them at the time. This has been only something we can truly look on now with in hindsight. The hardship these characters’ face highlights the true nature of human spirit with the entire community banding together and helping each other in times of trouble.
This story also defines how the desperate lack of income divided the communities and branded those who had no choice but to feed their families through any means. Something which many who were not familiar with the Miner strikes will be able to relate to at present, with the Syrian refugee migration and the lack of government funding for the low income families. This has resulted in higher numbers of food banks and a record high in homelessness.
This story has a great potential to render the jeopardy each of the miners faced on a daily basis, the sheer perfidy and betrayal they felt Margret Thatcher had done to them and the bond between men. On one side each of them are dealing with the hardship associated with willingly giving up their only source of income, while on the other hand they are uniting to stand against the loss of their occupation as a Miner, as well as hundreds of others like them across the North Visually, I intend to utilise a natural light look, depicting the realistic colours and flavours of the time by shooting in real locations and using real people native to the affected areas. I want to cover the scenes with the widest scopes to the tightest, while discovering new ideas on set when workshopping the scenes with the actors to create most visceral honest performances.
I feel that this is a very important film to be making right now, as the issues brought up in the film are still relevant today with many businesses going bust and the gap between the rich and poor ever growing. It’s a story which portrays how against all, odds the most important thing we have are family and loved ones around us. In an age where uncertainty is rife and education is becoming once again elitist, it’s important to bring to our attention previous events, so we can draw parallels between history and history in the making.”
Jamie Weston, January 2017
Show your support today by following us on twitter @theminesfilm and on facebook @canaryfeaturefilm
Our campaign will be announced shortly and we appreciate any support and help to share our material and get the word out.
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 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.
Without money it is impossible to make a feature film. You need to have equipment, locations, 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.
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.
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.
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.
Brindle, M. (2013) The Digital Filmmaking Handbook. London: Quercus Editions Ltd. Pages 136-137.
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.
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.
‘Who will write our History’ by Robert Grossman: Successful- https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/who-will-write-our-history-production#/
‘NO ALTERNATIVE: Feature Film’ by William Dickerson: Flexible funding (unsuccessful) https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/no-alternative-a-feature-film-rap#/
‘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
‘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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
In a survey to crowdfunders, 100% said they promoted there project on 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.
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).
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.
Kickstarter ‘Canary’ Mock-up
Seed&Spark ‘Canary’ Mock-up
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 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.
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.