I Hate Roller Coasters (Or, The Highs and Lows of Crowd Funding)
Everything about acting is highs and lows.
From your first audition (even if it is to play tree #3 in the 3rd grade rendition of Narnia) to the day you accept your first Oscar, every moment is ripe with emotion. On stage and off. This profession is the ultimate in roller coaster riding. Ironically, I hate roller coasters...
But until you have attempted to successfully crowd fund using a program like Kickstarter or IndieGoGo, you have not REALLY experienced that I-think-I-may-throw-up intensity that makes every other Oscar speech-moment pale. I can now say I have done it once. And I will never do it again. Too much drama. Said the actor...
But being on the receiving end...or should I say begging end... sucks. All pain.
You have this project. This project that you believe in enough to create an entire campaign around to post all over every social media site you have ever been a member of. Repeatedly. You ask every person you have an email for. Every person you have ever met. Complete strangers. All in the hopes that one or two (or a hundred) will check out your pitch and maybe throw a few bucks your way. You know there are people unfollowing you on Twitter and hiding you (or unfriending) on Facebook. And you don't even care because you know getting the word out about your campaign is the only hope you have to get it funded. And you have come this far...
My first (and last) ever experience with being on the asking end of crowd funding ended at midnight last night.
Successfully. But it almost didn't. At the 11th hour (literally), we got a few good donations that got the momentum going and pushed us over the edge.
I am as shocked as you are.
My production company, Coat Tale Productions, was ready to make the jump from webseries to full length feature film for our flagship series Haunted Sunshine Girl. Because we have over 12,000 subscribers, we thought Kickstarter would be a great resource for raising some funds. The fans donate a few bucks, we give them awesome rewards in return. Our guess was that we could raise the majority of the funds via our fans. Maybe a few of our friends in the film industry would kick in a few bucks. Sure, mom and dad might help a bit too. But really, we were thinking it would be 75% funded by the fans.
Oh how naive we were.
We now realize the majority of our fans are 12 years old. And the entire Kickstarter idea confused them to no end. Not to mention the whole not-having-a-credit-card thing. They would not actually watch the Kickstarter video or read any of the information. They would just ask questions. The same questions over and over again. And they would apologize for not donating. And ask more questions. The fans all admitted they want to see the movie when it comes out. They just couldn't figure out how to actually donate. Oh, and those rewards? Yes, they really wanted them. And they asked lots of questions about them! Now, we did get some fans that totally understood, supported and donated. Some a great deal. And others that even though the whole thing confused them, they took the time to figure it out and jump on board. The other thing that we underestimated was the hate mail. There are people out there that believe you should never ask your fans for money. Not even if you are offering killer good rewards. Not even after providing a year of free, awesome entertainment on YouTube. They just want to spread hate and unhappiness. Repeatedly.
So in the end, 75% of the funds did NOT come from the fans but from our friends and family. And members of our film community. Doing what I have always done...doing their good deed, supporting the arts and getting to feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
And man, am I grateful they did.
Because this is one roller coaster I want to stay off of!