The D.I.Y. Age

The world is full of possibilities these days.  In fact, for the individual and their “reach” globally – it’s staggering how many possibilities exist that didn’t just a couple of years ago.

We can not only create in a more affordable way with inexpensive equipment and leaner crews – we can also get our creations out to the world without the need for a publisher or a stock agency or a film distributor.

We can do all those things due to the exponential growth of technology.  But we also need to recognize that all those possibilities come with a cost, in terms of dollars as well as man-hours.  Each one of those possibilities takes time and money in order to become a reality.

Even the path to getting money or financing these days has changed because of crowd funding.  But like anything else you need to stand out amongst the noise, so who knows how long this trend can sustain itself.

If you’re planning a personal project, keep in mind that you will need to not only create it but find a way to get it out there after completion.  Expect to put time and money into:

•    Self – Publishing – this includes hiring a designer and researching self-publishing partners like in the print publishing world. They also offer downloads. In the motion world, you have options like Amazon, iTunes and Netflix.
•    Marketing, PR and advertising – This is definitely an area where you will need money and expertise. Jon Reiss in his book “Think Outside the Box Office” suggests that it will take an investment for at least as much as you spent creating your film.
•    Crowd funding – The crowd funding sites provide you a portal if your project is accepted but you need to do the work as far as getting people to know about your project and fund it.
•    Bookings – Whether it is an exhibit or a movie or a lecture – you need someone to book venues for you.  This could also mean finding sponsors.

The bottom line is really kind of an old fashioned notion in a high tech age and that is – the prize is out there is you’re willing to do the work.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine


Crowd Funding and What I’ve Learned

There’s a scene at the end of my favorite holiday movie “It’s a Wonderful Life”

It's a Wonderful Life

where George Bailey, a character played by Jimmy Stewart is surrounded by his friends as they come to his aid and bail him out of his financial shortcomings, caused by his crazy Uncle Billy. I’ve seen this film at least a dozen times and ok – I admit it – I cry every time George Bailey’s little girl opens a book that mysteriously appears under the Christmas tree with the inscription “No man is a failure who has friends”.

I felt like George Bailey today when I saw the email from Kickstarter telling me that my daughter’s and my film project, Opening Our Eyes had been officially funded.  We actually exceeded our goal of $7500 and raised just over $10,000! What a feeling – what a triumph and all possible because of our “friends”. Through crowd funding – our friends had helped us reach our goal and made our film a reality.

This would not have been possible just two years ago.  But, Kickstarter and other crowd funding sites like it, provide other options for artists and entrepreneurs who are seeking funds to make their creative ideas come to life. Many times these ideas might not fit within the confines of what a traditional bank would finance, but there are some great ideas that have a chance now of becoming a reality –  and we all benefit by that.

Here are some things that I have learned through the process of getting our film funded on Kickstarter.

•    You have to do the work.  Once you launch your project page on Kickstarter, you need to let potential backers know about it, using social media or email blasts or word of mouth.  Just like getting traffic to your website, you can’t expect people to stumble upon your project and fund it.
•    You have to make it fun.  Have fun with the “rewards” that you offer your backers, and on Kickstarter every project must have rewards.  People love to give, but they also love to feel like they are part of something or that they have helped to make something happen.  If a backer contributed to my project at the $500 reward level, they will receive an Associate Producer credit in the film and on the project’s website, along with DVD’s of the film when it’s completed, as well as a signed print and an e-book from the project’s journey.
•    Keep your financial goal realistic.  Look at other projects that are similar to yours and see what the “market will bear”.  See what has been successful and ask yourself why. Remember that if you ask for too much money and don’t meet 100% of your goal by the time the funding period is over for your project, then you won’t receive anything.  Only projects that are successfully funded at 100%, will receive funds.
•    Use social media and email blasts with common sense – don’t be obnoxious.  If you do send emails – don’t send  an email again to someone who has already backed your project.  Ask people to share your project link on social media but don’t overdo it.
•    Post updates on your project to keep your backers and potential backers informed.  Use visuals if you have them,  both on your page site as well as in your updates. Photographs and videos really give a project presence and are a must have. You want to stand out from the crowd.
•    There is no such thing as a pledge too small.  They say the average pledge on Kickstarter is around $25 and I can attest to that.  Out of our 161 backers – 69 had made pledges of $25.  It all adds up.  And every time someone backs your project there is also the opportunity that they may share it with someone they know who may in turn make a contribution.
•    Be grateful and appreciative.  I made it a point to send each and every one of my backers a personal thank you note.
•    Have faith – because anything is truly possible these days.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

“Kickstarting” a Passion Project

For anyone who has been reading my blog, you know a few things about me – I love to dialog and share with others, my work and my pleasure are one in the same and I always have a passion project that I’m working on.

I can’t say that I’ve always been like this.  In the beginning of my career it was a lot harder to dialog and share with people – pre-social media and email.  And as my career took hold and I became busier with work, I didn’t have time for sharing or personal projects.  But for someone like me who is a dreamer, I was starting to burn out.

When I started exploring the video medium in the late 90’s, it triggered a spark in me.  I started thinking and dreaming about all the stories that I wanted to tell – that would be possible for me to tell – through this medium.  One of my first attempts at telling a story with video was a short documentary I did on my daughter’s youth symphony.  I couldn’t have picked a harder subject if I tried because it was all about sound, which I knew nothing about.  And anyone who has ever shot a musical concert knows that it’s almost impossible to do with only one camera.  But I naively pursued with this project and learned a lot in the process.

My next passion project was The Delta Blues Musicians that I envisioned as a multimedia project combining still environmental portraits of these musicians along with video interviews, capturing their life’s stories.  It was a lot of work and for the most part, I went it alone – doing everything myself.  For anyone who has ever tried to shoot both stills and video on the same job, you know it’s not an easy thing to do.  That project will always be near and dear to my heart and continues to reward me in ways that I never knew were possible.

There have been other passion projects since these first two and my head is usually full of ideas that are rumbling around, just waiting for the right time to surface. I am in the midst of a project now, Opening Our Eyes that is perhaps the most ambitious one I’ve ever dreamed up. This past weekend I launched the project on Kickstarter.  Kickstarter is a website that posts creative projects for the purposes of finding funds. It’s a perfect example of crowd funding where one can donate anywhere from $1 to $10,000 to the project of their choice, and in the process make someone’s idea come to life.

I launched Opening Our Eyes on Thursday and within 3 days we reached 30 % of our goal. We still have a long way to go and have another 71 days to get fully funded.  The way Kickstarter works is that if you don’t get funded 100%, then all bets are off and you don’t receive anything.  So, I’m doing my best to do what I like the least and that is make a pitch for pledges.  My intent is to secure enough funds so that I can collaborate with a professional editor and raise the bar on the film that my daughter and I shot this past summer on our 99-day adventure around the world, about people who are making a positive difference in the world.

It’s really a win/win for anyone who chooses to give – even a pledge of $25 will get us closer to our goal and you’ll receive a DVD of our film when it’s finished.  So please check out our project on Kickstarter and pass this link along to others.  Ultimately our goal is to inspire and motivate other change-makers through the power of our film. We know we can do it with everyone’s help and it will make you feel good to give – it always does.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

%d bloggers like this: