Ok, let’s start off with some intro information before I share this interview with you.
Three Officially Plugged In showcased friends have gotten together to create a new film called Goodbye Promise.
* Goodbye Promise is about a man who moves to Los Angeles and makes a pact with himself: “I’m giving you exactly seven years to become a working actor, and if you aren’t by then, it’s time to pack up and go home.” This story begins seven days from seven years, and no one of any significance in the industry knows who he is.
* David Branin: The director/writer/producer of Goodbye Promise as well as producer and co-host of the Film Courage radio show on LATalkRadio.com.
* Gregor Collins: Writer/producer/actor in Goodbye Promise.
* Karen Worden: Co-producer/actress in Goodbye Promise as well as producer and co-host of the Film Courage radio show on LATalkRadio.com.
This isn’t the first feature film they’ve done together, but this is the first time they embarked on a new way of raising funds through crowd-funding. There are many difficult ways to try and raise funds for a film with the big factor of persuading someone to believe in you and your project. Crowd-funding has been gaining attention with many independent filmmakers online lately, with the films garnering not only the funds needed for a film, but also gaining a group of backers who are like cheerleaders publicly rallying every step of the way.
I had seen a couple of these campaigns reach their goals and as I watched the roller-coaster ride my friends endured for their own journey, I just had to interview them. Now before you read the following interview, keep in mind that I sent the questions over before the campaign reached it goal, some questions were answered before and some answered after the campaign ended…
Questions with David Branin:
What lead you to want to start a funding campaign online for your next film, Goodbye Promise?
David: Wendy, thank you for this opportunity to share a little of our story. I have been a big fan of ‘Officially Plugged In’ since its inception and I love all that you do.
Multiple factors. This is something that we attempted to do with my first feature film, ‘Night Before the Wedding.’ We attempted to Pre-Sell DVD’s, and we offered to feature our supporter’s names in the ending movie credits. We are able to raise money this way, but not nearly enough and had to put the bulk of the movie on our credit cards. We were raising money before the current boom of Facebook and Twitter. These crowd-funding sites didn’t exist. Our minds were there, the tools weren’t.
It was the Kickstarter Campaign by Filmmaker Gregory Bayne for his film ‘Jens Pulver / Driven’ that really inspired me. I had already made the decision to launch my own campaign, but it was the amount of sweat equity that Gregory put into his Kickstarter that really spoke to me. He raised a jaw-dropping $25,000 in 20 days.
I have been nurturing my audience for many years now. I thought a Kickstarter campaign would be a great litmus test to see who was really there for me. To gauge whether or not the efforts I have been putting in for several years would bear any fruit. (It also serves as a gauge of my team members.)
I do encourage folks not to take these campaigns lightly. It is an awful amount of work. People do not just magically begin throwing you money. With the recent successes we are seeing, I fear many are going to dive in and become very frustrated when it becomes more work than they were anticipating. I took my time, planned and thought out my campaign before we launched it.
A crowd-funding campaign is not just a fund-raising endeavor. It also serves as an audience builder. Goodbye Promise is a very small, intimate, personal film. It’s the kind of film that typically has a very difficult time finding it’s audience. Well that scenario has been turbocharged. Not only did we reach our campaign goal, but we probably equaled that same amount in exposure that our campaign has inspired. What better way to build pre-buzz for your film than the interactive challenge of a crowd-funding campaign?
Lastly, our film has been ‘pre-bought’ by our audience. We do not owe investors money and we do not owe creditors money. We owe our supporters our movie, and that I like a whole heck of a lot better. : )
Why did you choose Kickstarter over some of the other services?
David: There are 3 main sites that I am aware of, Kickstarter, Indie Gogo, & Biracy. (I still need to learn more about Fractured Atlas which allows folks to make a tax-deductible donation which my friend Nicholas James Murphy is using for his film ‘Pizza & Bullets.’) I received inquiries from Biracy and Indie Gogo, but in the end we went with Kickstarter because of the ‘Power of the Deadline’ & the ‘All or Nothing‘ bravado. A goal is a dream with a deadline. When you add in the motivation we gain from ‘all or nothing,’ you have enough juice to get people to open up their wallets and make their pledge. It is risky and it can be scary. We went through a number of days with no backers where our faith got to be pretty low and we wondered if we were in over our heads. I have not compared success stories of Indie Gogo and Kickstarter, but my guess would be that there are more successful campaigns on Kickstarter. Personally, I am aware of more on Kickstarter, that’s what solidified my decision.
What do you think you’ve done differently than other people who have used Kickstarter or other similar services?
David: That is a tough one. I am only familiar with a small sample of campaigns, so I am not sure how different or original our campaign was in comparison. Our goal was to make our efforts very personal. It is essential that each and every contributor be thanked no matter what their pledge amount. So whether they contributed $1 or $1000, we are putting the work in to let each backer know that we care. I do not view this campaign as a short term, ‘thank you for your money, bye I will see you later’ kind of thing. We have been blessed with 227 amazing supporters. They believe in me, my team, and in this project. This is not something I take for granted. I am in this for the long haul. Someone who contributed $1 to this campaign may be willing to pay to see it on DVD when it is ready. They may contribute a higher amount of money to my next project. I believe people need to be thinking long-term. Our campaign ended April 22, but my efforts to connect, engage, and nurture my audience doesn’t end. I have done my best to put that kind of energy into our Kickstarter campaign and that is what I am going to do my best to continue. My objective is that in the end, I will have given back to each of our backers just as much as they have given to us. It may not come in the form of money, but it comes in delivering in the promises that we have made, adding in some bonus incentives that are off the record, caring about each backer, and making it personal.
Questions with Gregor Collins:
How often do you tend to update people about the funding campaign for Goodbye Promise?
Gregor: We update people at least three times a day on Twitter and Facebook, or whenever a backer has pledged. Every backer we receive gets their own name and projects promoted right alongside ours. It’s imperative you let people know that you care about them, not just yourself. This is really the key to a happy life in general.
Do you think the updates encourage people who are just ‘watching’ to want to participate or do they seem to get irritated by it?
Gregor: People will watch and listen if you keep the updates both creative, and communal. No one likes a self-serving, one-sided, charmless update. You may as well be writing, “Everyone look at me and how great I am, and to hell with anyone else.” Like a story point in a good script, each update must further the plot and introduce a new, unexpected element in the overall story (campaign), otherwise your audience will be searching for that ‘delete friendship’ button. And as I always tell people, be genuine! I am baffled at how hard this is for people, or worse, impossible. And don’t tell people what they want to hear, there’s enough of that already. Honesty – delivered in a charming way – will get you everywhere you need to go to reach your goals.
If you were to do a similar campaign in the future, is there anything you would do differently?
Gregor: Not in the campaign itself. But to be honest, since I was involved in the casting process for our film, I would go back and cast only actors who are tireless workaholics, and fearless self-promoters, no one that is going to abandon ship when the ‘real work’ starts. Strength in numbers is vital for successful crowd funding campaigns!
Questions with Karen Worden:
It’s been interesting watching the campaign to raise funds for your next film… can you share some of the pros and cons you’ve run into?
Karen: First off, Wendy, thank you so much for this opportunity to be interviewed with Officially Plugged In. I have wanted to be on the site for so long. It’s great to be able to speak a little bit about this campaign. Yes, the Goodbye Promise Kickstarter campaign has been a life changing experience in many ways. The pros of raising money for our Goodbye Promise Kickstarter campaign include having people believe in you and your project. Many of our backers have come from outside our immediate social circle. We were never really sure if total strangers would hear about Goodbye Promise and want to contribute. In putting out the trailer to the film and releasing videos of the cast discussing their struggles and dreams, people responded well. You take that big leap of faith that you’ll inspire someone with what you are doing. When you get support (both monetary and praise), you feel anything is possible. I guess we’ve resonated with people who want to help others live out their dreams. Maybe some of them can identify with wanting to do more with your life than the status quo and the struggle that ensues. You also have to be brave to go against the grain to risk criticism.
The only cons would be that we received some backlash from people who feel we are begging for money. Or that we are lacking because we don’t have investors tied to the film. So we were a little surprised that a few people did not feel it’s warranted to give to a campaign because it’s like hitting up your friends for rent money. But even if people did not or could not afford to contribute, there were other ways to help, like tweeting about it, putting it on Facebook, etc. One other slight downside is that it takes a lot of effort to make people aware of your campaign. It’s an every day, almost hourly thing to promote. You also have to find an audience to promote it to. We noticed on days when we were really busy with something else and weren’t promoting, that the donations would die out.
What is the first thing you plan to do if/once you reach your goal? (**Note; after these question were sent, Goodbye Promise did reach it’s fund raising goal!)
Karen: The first thing we plan to do is thank our backers through e-mail, Twitter and by way of video. We also have pledge obligations to fulfill. Some people will be getting Dave’s famous homemade apple pie. A couple people will be coming in studio with us as we tape Film Courage.
This campaign has taken a lot of effort from so many people. We’ve had strong support on Twitter and elsewhere that we are eternally grateful for. We were amazed that people rallied together to stay up all night (a sleep strike) until we got another backer.
There were times when the campaign looked bleak. I can’t pretend that it was all great. We kept going.
Then, as fate would have it, we started building momentum, things looked good and, unfortunately, we had to put our cat Scooby down with less than one day left in the campaign. I’ve had him for 15 years. It’s almost ironic that this happened since the film is about saying goodbye. So right now it’s a bittersweet victory. We really miss him. But we are also extremely touched that people would support us like this.
We will begin working with the editor and finishing paying up the bills associated with the film. Once the film is picture locked, and then comes the premiere. After the premiere we have to decide our social media marketing strategy.
When and how did you hear about reaching your goal before the deadline?
Karen: Dave showed me his computer screen the morning of April 22 with the campaign goal raised. We had actually gone over our goal by 10 a.m. or so. Apparently one of our current backers upped their pledge by a considerable sum. To think we have surpassed our goal amount is astonishing. I still can’t quite believe it. The time for this 52-day campaign has been a blur.
Here are some video interviews for the Goodbye Promise film that were recorded during the days of the funding campaign:
* More great interviews on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/GoodbyePromise#g/u
The Goodbye Promise film features Gregor Collins, Karen Worden, Brian Ronalds, Dean Matthew Ronalds, Sarah Prikryl, Christopher Guckenberger, Kevin Deen, Len Cordova, Brian Durkin, Tyshawn Bryant, Benjamin Pratt, Todd Cattell, Johnny Giordano, Raphael Sanchez, Jud Bogard, Jordan Allen, Rebekah Bell, Amy Hamilton, Shann Christen & Frantz Durand.
Produced by David Branin, Gregor Collins, Richard A. Jacob, Angie Palmer, and Karen Worden.