We’re sticking with the fundamentals for this first newsletter: how do you make sure your crowdfunding campaign is a success?
We asked creatives behind three recent Greenlit campaigns to share how they met their fundraising targets.
Angus Castle-Doughty is a London-based actor and filmmaker, whose short film Two’s A Crowd reached its campaign goal within one day. Angus most recently appeared on Netflix’s Shadow & Bone.
Alex Kayode-Kay is a filmmaker and actor whose historical short film The Ballad of Love Morris raised over £15,000 on Greenlit.
Kate Shelley is a producer of Black & White Duppy, which raised over 150% of its initial crowdfunding goal on Greenlit.
What surprised you about the crowdfunding process?
Angus: The generosity of strangers… to be honest we were hoping to maybe hit 25% of our target, fully prepared to fund Two’s A Crowd with our savings.
Alex: How much of a direct correlation there was between directly engaging with your audience and the amount of funding you receive. When are you are talking to people, the funding goes up.
What do you think helped you reach your target?
Alex: A lot of hard work. Constantly promoting the project. Constantly talking to people and asking for them to support it. A lot people wrongly assume a nice looking crowdfunding page and a couple of tweets will magically get people to start putting money into your project, but it requires much more effort and engagement with your audience.
Angus: Andy and I were lucky in the sense that we had [Shadow & Bone] coming out and so we could plan our campaign around any momemtum/traction we would receive as a result. The idea was that I people liked our characters in Shadow & Bone, they’d go to our social pages and the first thing they’d see is that we were working together again, and what’s more that we needed help to reach our goal… that’s more or less what happened.
Kate: [Setting] out goals [we] needed to hit per week, being aware that things would dip after a week and pick up just before the end.
How did you find community support?
Alex: Simple…I went to the actual community my film is set in (Brixton), and talked to people on the ground about why this is a film they should support and what it would mean for that specific community for Olive Morris, a Brixton resident for much of her short life, to finally get some representation in a narrative film. Every film has a target audience that can relate to it on a deeper level than general audiences. Identify that audience and talk to as many of them as you can find.
Kate: When reaching out to people, [we] thought of why they care… [if they were] supporting because they knew us, supporting because they like the film’s topic, supporting because they like films, etc. Target them for those reasons, rather than a more general message.
Did you ever worry about not reaching your goal? What did you do?
Angus: I think 99% of crowdfunding is assuming you won’t reach your goal… It’s quite vulnerable. We just did everything we could to give us the best chance of achieving it and focussing on one task at a time.
Alex: Yes, at points… If you want to do it right, you need to almost treat a crowdfunding campaign like a full time job. So I just grafted harder when I felt the goal was out of reach.
Did you use social media for your crowdfunding campaign? How?
Alex: Yes, social media was hugely important to the success of the campaign and in engaging people about it. I set up Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages and profiles for the film. I printed out cards with the URLs for the film’s Greenlit page and all the social media platforms and handed them out to people in real life, so they could find their way to the project and potentially support it (and many did).
Kate: Start your social medias before your crowdfunder… get an audience and tease [your campaign].
Angus: Instagram was probably our biggest tool for the crowd-funder. We made several videos for the campaign each with a specific purpose; one video telling people to look out for a specific date as we would be posting a our crowdfunder video, and then the crowdfunder video itself. We also created “panels” counting down the days to launch and constant stories showing followers what we were working on. The important thing for us is that the launch wasn’t a surprise, if people already knew about it and could have a level of interest, we can build on that interest and maybe generate excitement for the project that may translate into backing.
What would you say to someone who is sceptical about crowdfunding?
Alex: It works….if you are prepared to put the work in. A lot of filmmakers feel crowdfunding only works if you are famous, have a massive social media following, super-connected or have a bunch of rich friends or relatives. I can confidently say none of those things apply to me….yet I got 306 people to give me over 15K to make a short film. Plan it properly, make sure you talk to a lot of people, both in your circles and out of it, and you’ll be surprised how much you can get people to support your project.
Angus: Go for it.
Would you use crowdfunding again?
Alex: I’d certainly consider using crowdfunding again. Obviously it’s nice (and a lot less work!) if funding bodies just handed you bundles of cash to make a film project, but that often doesn’t happen. And since I’m a dedicated filmmaker, I’ll use just about any means necessary to get a project off the ground.
Is there anything else you want to share?
Kate: Think of rewards people will actually want. (e.g. our “exclusive art prints” were super popular)
Angus: Yeah! Don’t make your crowdfunding page boring?! I don’t get it. Not just with crowdfunding but with everything; websites, treatments, emails. People get so formal. If I I was looking at a campaign to back, I’d see if I believe in the project yes, but I’d also see if I liked the people making it! Let your personality show in everything you do — the world needs it.
Alex: Yeah…if you are a filmmaker thinking about crowdfunding, Greenlit is such a filmmaker friendly platform that I’d advise any filmmaker to get in touch with them and use it. Ultimately how successful your crowdfund campaign is will depend on you and how much effort you are willing to put into it and your ability to engage people… But the auxiliary support I received from the Greenlit team in things like building the page and helping promote the campaign was fantastic.
A huge thank you from Team Greenlit to Kate, Angus and Alex for chatting with us. Be sure to follow the journey of their current projects: