There are two things you’ll never have enough of when making a film.
Time and money.
Whether it’s a $5,000 micro-budget feature or a $250 million blockbuster you’ll face the same kind of challenges.
Just on different scales.
Today I want to show you how we went from $0 to $25K when raising funds for Wild Boys.
There can be miracles
Remember all the way back in our first ever newsletter? I talked about how getting started helped me submit an application for a $5K grant.
A few weeks later there was a small grant award ceremony.
They started with the smaller grants.
Didn’t call my name.
Didn’t call my name.
$2,500, the second highest grant.
Didn’t call my name.
Did they hate our pitch, or did we actually…
Awarded to Morten Forland for Wild Boys.
Holy hammer of Thor!
Someone believed in us.
Those first $5K lit a fire in our bellies. It gave us proof that someone believed in Wild Boys.
More importantly, it proved to other people that someone was willing to invest in the film.
This is massive.
Very few people want to be the first one to put their money on an unproven, unseasoned filmmaker.
But once someone does, the FOMO kicks in.
Having those first $5K gave us legitimacy. It allowed us to go out and raise more money with proof that we were already receiving funding.
But wait. I don’t have access to that kind of grant, you say.
I’d taken part in a program at an organization called Film Independent for a year to put myself in this position.
The lesson I’m taking away from this is the value of figuring out a way to get the first yes.
Be creative. Ask for help. If you have a rich uncle, now’s definitely the time to call in that favor.
With $5K in the bank we decided to launch a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo.
If you’re thinking about doing something similar, you can check out our campaign above.
This was my fourth project where I’d used crowdfunding.
I hated it every time.
Harsh truth: It’s very difficult to raise funds from people who don’t know you.
99% of the contributions we got were through 1:1 outreach to friends and family.
We were literally asking them for money.
To me it was like begging, and that’s why I’ve felt icky every time I’ve crowdfunded.
Based on my experience, crowdfunding can be great if used to sell products to your fans. (Read friends and family.)
Fantasy author Brandon Sanderson is a good example. He has a giant fanbase and last year he, and his team, shattered what was thought possible to do with crowdfunding. Check out his Kickastarer campaign Four Secret Projects.
They raised a total of $41,754,153.
3 lessons worth taking away from mine and Brandon’s crowdfunding campaigns:
- the more people know you, the more people are likely to support you
- selling a product your fans actually want is key
- momentum is key - when people see that other people are supporting you, they are more likely to do the same.
But back to reality.
Although it didn’t feel great, crowdfunding was still a major contributor to Wild Boys’ final budget.
All told we raised $8,450.
If you’re interested I can do a deep dive on crowdfunding in a future issue. Reply to this email and let me know .
How we got a production company to bet on us
At the time I was working for a production company here in LA, and I told them I was making a feature.
They championed me from the start. They let me use their office space for writing sessions, table reads and rehearsals. We even ended up shooting there, but that’s a story for a different day.
I realized the grant money and the crowdfunded money was not going to cover the entire cost of making the film.
We needed more $$$.
It struck me that I had something my bosses might want, and they might be willing to help me out in return.
They had a lot of different projects on their slate, but had never done a feature. Enter an ambitious Norwegian with something of value to offer.
So I did the thing that very few people do.
The deal was simple.
They would put in however much money they were comfortable with, and we’d give them billing as production company, and my two bosses would get Executive Producer credits.
They would also make back their money if Wild Boys ended up earning anything back.
The best thing of all.
They agreed to match the amount we got through our crowdfunding campaign.
In the end they put in $9,000.
The lesson I take away here is, you never know who can benefit from helping you, and would want to see you succeed.
If you are out there trying to make your dreams a reality, people in your life will find that inspiring. Some of those people will want to help you.
Early in our careers we need to think outside the box, and create projects that the people closest to us would love to support.
Those were the big three for us:
- $5,000 grant
- $7,722 from crowdfunding (what we got after paying platform and transaction fees)
- $9,000 from production company partners
We also had some additional investments outside of the crowdfunding campaign which gave us a total budget of:
Spoiler alert: we spent it all getting the film shot.