Why we need a Kickstart

I know that a lot of people who might be visiting our Kickstarter page will be unfamiliar with independent film. You might be wondering “why are they asking for a handout?” and “shouldn’t they be getting funding the NORMAL way?”

Well, this is the thing:

Kickstarter IS the normal way. It’s just a more visible form of the normal way.

Before we had things like Paypal and Kickstarter, we made the money for documentary projects a number of ways. Here’s what they were and how THIS production is dealing with them:

Grants: We are pursuing some grants and funding through foundations. But it’s also a very slow and uncertain process. So yes, we’re working hard on applying for as many of these as we qualify for, but we don’t want to wait so long for grant funding that we miss the story we’re trying to tell because story is the most important thing.

Personal Funding/Credit Cards: I would never ask the community to fund a project that I didn’t believe in myself, and I’ve actually invested a significant amount of my own savings in order to get the film to this point. I’ve put in the first bit of the investment capital because I wanted potential investors and donors to see what we could do before I thought about asking for money. I’m not asking for a handout because I don’t want to spend my own money. I’m not asking for anything that I was not willing to also put in myself.

Distribution Sales: Films often get their budget by selling their distribution rights before the film is completed. This actually is one of the functions of Kickstarter, because for a $25 donation you’re pre-ordering a copy of the film. It functions in the exact same way, only on a more individual level than a corporate one. Through Kickstarter we can get the word out about our film to people who would want a copy for their collections, in a much bigger and better way than any other mechanism that has been around in the “old days.”

Donations/Investors: This is where the bulk of the funding for independent film has always come from. I’ve heard that Sam Raimi basically walked around town asking every business owner he saw to help support his film work and that’s how he made his first features. That’s the way it is for people outside the studio system. You walk around and ask anybody that stands still long enough if they’re interested in supporting your next film project. I’ve been a part of at least a half dozen indie shorts in the last year, and that’s how we got the money for each one.

Kickstarter is just an evolution of this concept. It’s a systematic way to approach more people and pitch them your idea. It’s also a way to streamline and organize who has donated to you because Kickstarter has a great system for helping you keep track of and talk with your backers. On top of that, it’s better for donors because they get something out of it rather than JUST our love and adoration. This was the approach I took when I raised money for my last film, using a mix of Kickstarter and other methods. That was successful on multiple levels, not just in getting money to pay our expenses.

I know it might seem sometimes like there’s always somebody with a hand out on Kickstarter, but that’s exactly what Kickstarter is about. It’s crowdfunding, and it really is the newest and biggest thing for indie film. That’s because it’s not just about the funding, it’s also about the crowd.

Yes, this film needs the funding. I can’t make the movie as good as I want to make it without help. There simply isn’t enough money in filmmaking as a career for any of us to always fully finance our own films, that’s the reality of what we do. Independent filmmakers will always need the financial support of people who believe in them and their work.

But what every film needs just as much (if not more) than money is an audience. Filmmakers (good ones at least) don’t make films to just watch themselves and leave on dusty shelves. Sure, I’m making this documentary because I’m fascinated by the topic and I wanted to put my skills to use making a film that I’m passionate about. But the point is to make a movie that YOU will enjoy just as much as I do. This film has two goals: to showcase the e-sports community to a mainstream audience and to bring new fans to professional gaming and to give the community a film they can enjoy and love that celebrates everything that they already know is so great about this world.

That’s why I’m doing a Kickstarter campaign, so that people who are interested in the film can do more than just watch it one day. They can get involved, own a piece of it, and participate. You’re not just a donor, you’re a member of the team making the film. That’s why so many of our rewards are also participatory. You can use your promo kit items to start a conversation with somebody about e-sports. You can see the donor only videos, and give us an idea of what you’re enjoying and what isn’t working for you. And a select number of people will even be our test audience, getting to see the film before it’s finished so that YOU, the fans, get to say what you’re enjoying or what doesn’t work. As a filmmaker, I want your input because I’m not making a film just for me to watch. Always remember, I’m making a film for you to love.

And that’s why we’re doing a Kickstarter campaign. It’s both crowd, and funding.