When it comes to film crowdfunding what platform you use can make or break your campaign. In this blog we're going to go through some of the most important aspects you need to consider and the pros and cons of the top platforms. This is one of the Most Common Crowdfunding Questions that we get.
Now - on to picking the optimal crowdfunding platform!
Spoiler Alert: you'll probably want to launch on a platform you haven't heard of yet... ;)
Let's start with the two obvious contenders and the most popular platforms:
Kickstarter vs. Indiegogo
Traffic is the biggest pro of both of these as the websites get millions of monthly visitors and therefore a huge amount of potential backers. But it's not easy to get these viewers to see your specific page due to an increasingly overwhelming amount of competition. If you choose to go with these two platform it's important to follow some key strategies for ranking on Kickstarter and Indiegogo. But which one is better? Indiegogo tends to get film campaigns' more views than Kickstarter but Kickstarter tends to get you more backers. That said Kickstarter is probably the better choice.
These platforms are also the best places to find Superbackers - these are wealthy individuals that spend a lot of time on the platforms and support a high number of campaigns. The top Superbackers have supported a couple thousand of campaigns each and contributed tens if not hundreds of thousands of pounds. You can read more about Superbackers and how to reach them in another blog. Overall Kickstarter has more active Superbackers on the site and these people are much more likely to support you campaign on there due to it's all-or-nothing funding model (more on that later).
Most people are now familiar with these two platforms which definitely makes backers feel comfortable in entering their credit card details on the site to support a campaign. This can be a big draw-back of any smaller platforms that lack that sort of credibility. It's hard enough to get people to hand over money to support a film; the last thing that you want is to give them any doubt that they'll be part of some sort of scam on a dodgy website they don't recognise.
Overall both the platforms lack good customer service. These are huge companies that deal with thousands of campaign and unfortunately film projects bring them the least money and are therefore their smallest priority. Don't expect any tips or advice on how to get more backers or even quick answers to technical queries. If I had to pick the lesser of two evils though, kickstarter comes out on top with slightly better support.
The Funding Model
This is the big difference between the two platforms and it can honestly change the course of your entire campaign. Kickstarter has an all-or-nothing funding model - this means that if you're goal is £10k and you reach £9,999 you do not keep any of the money and the backers are never charged. On the other hand on Indiegogo you can pick between an all-or-nothing funding model and a flexible funding model where you keep your funds no matter how much you raise. You might right away think it's safer to go with Indiegogo's flexible funding model which is why so many filmmakers choose the platform but there is a reason why Kickstarter has a much higher success rate.
The all-or-nothing funding model is actually a huge help at the start and end of every campaign. If I'm a potential backer and I come onto an Indiegogo page right after you launch while you're still at £0 funded, I will be hesitant to be the first backer. After all if I give you 50 quid and no one else backs the project you'll still keep my money. Since you won't have enough for the film you'll probably keep it for a night out and I'll have lost it. On the other hand I will have no such hesitations on Kickstarter as I know that if no one else backs and you don't have the funds to make the film, I will never be charged. Because of this psychology the all-or-nothing funding model will help you get a big wave of donations at the start of your campaign.
A similar principle applies to the last few days of your campaign. If you're target is 10k and you raise 8k on Indiegogo you, your team as well as your potential backers might all think - 8k is enough to make a film right? They raised a good amount and they don't need anymore! On the other hand on Kickstarter people are very aware that unless you get to your 10k you don't keep any of the funds. It's therefore much more common to see backers increase their pledges and help spread the word about the campaign in the last few days the get you over the finish line.
Indiegogo and the flexible funding model is safer but Kickstarter and the all-or-nothing funding model will most likely get you more funding. The only question you need to ask yourself is: how confident are you that you will get funded?
Seed and Spark
This is a very interesting platform mainly because unlike the other mentioned above it's specifically made for filmmakers. Their mission: 'Seed&Spark powers stories from everywhere. Anyone can participate. Everyone belongs.' One major issue? That mission statement is slightly misleading... They power stories from everywhere.... with a US bank account. So if you're not based in the US or don't have a US bank account you can skip right passed this as you won't be able to use the platform.
Seed and Spark is definitely much better than the bigger platforms in terms customer service and giving support to filmmakers. You will be able to read a ton of blogs on their website about crowdfunding specifically for filmmakers. They will also offer other advice and are quite quick to reply to various queries you might have before or after you launch.
The one feature that stands out on their site is the 'Wishlist'. In addition to asking for money you can specific what you need the money form in a Wishlist which if fulfilled counts towards your funding target. For example you can say you will need equipment hire insurance which will cost $1,000 and your target is $10k. A film insurance company can come to the page and pledge to give it to you for free which will mean you campaign is now 10% or $1,000 funded.
Overall Seed and Spark is a great choice if you're living in the US!
And now the Hidden Gem... Greenlit.com
This is a relatively new UK based crowdfunding platform dedicated to film. What it might lack in huge amounts of website traffic like Kickstarter has it more than makes up for in exciting new features that no other platform has as well as incredible support.
Let's start with how the platform supports it's project creators. If you choose to launch your campaign on Greenlit you can expect personalised support and even private coaching calls from film crowdfunding experts who will help you set up the perfect page and guide you in marketing the campaign. No other platform will give you this level of support. And this is why it's not uncommon to get funded on the platform in the first few days of a month long campaign. If you're looking to crowdfund a film I suggest you have a chat with them long before your launch date to find out how they can help you.
They also have some really interesting features which are a massive help for film campaigns. The most important one is the Soft Launch. In most cases the moment anyone presses the launch button on their campaign (no matter how big) they are on £0 funded. It makes your campaign look like it's failing even if you just started a minute ago which is why it's so important to get off that dreaded 0 as soon as humanly possible. No one wants to back a campaign that's on £0 funded as it looks like it's going to fail. Instead people love to support popular campaigns that are doing well. Greenlit can help with that... About a week before your official launch they you can actually launch a soft launch version of your page that only your most trusted supporters will see: close friends, colleagues, family members and others who already committed to supporting you. They will have a few days to back your campaign and when you hit that launch button your campaign will launch at 20% funded (or however much these close supporters put in). When you begin to drive traffic to your page people will see that you just launched today and are already 20% funded. That will make everyone think: impressive - this campaign is doing so well, let me have a closer look at why so many people are supporting it!
You can also set automatic Stretch goals
So what are the actual success rates of each platform?
Seed and Spark 80%
So which platform is best for you? The bottom line is, it depends on your project, location, target, team and marketing strategy!
We hope you enjoyed this blog. Feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions or suggestions - we'd love to hear from you!
If you are looking for my guidance and advice on film distribution and funding we have a series of courses on funding and distributing your film online which you can browse using the links below:
Feature Film Funding & Distribution Course - 14+ hour of video tutorials will guide you through the entire process of funding and distributing your film. It will go through a variety of methods and strategies including crowdfunding, private investors, product placement, online distribution, cinema released and much much more!
Feature Film Producing Course - 4+ hours of video tutorials teaching you how to fund and distribute a feature film with a budget between 50-500k.
Film Crowdfunding Course - 4+ hour of video tutorial teaching you how to prepare for, launch and market a film crowdfunding campaign.
Online Film Distribution Course - 4+ hours of video tutorials teaching you how to self-distribute a feature film online.
Finally you can also take a look at our upcoming online and in-person London-based events here.