Online crowd-funding no easy task

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These days, there’s a lot of hype around online crowd-funding websites such as Indiegogo and Kickstarter, where creative types can solicit donations for various projects from people all over the world. If an idea really sparks public interest, it can be far more financially successful than originally anticipated. However, a crowd-funding campaign’s level of success can vary greatly.

Local independent filmmakers Daniel Hogg and Jeremy Lutter were able to secure some funding on their own to produce their film Floodplain. But they still needed to raise an extra $3 600 to build a raft, which serves as a main plot point of the movie. The raft was expensive because it not only had to look right, but also float well and be durable enough for use by camera crews. 

So Hogg and Lutter started their fundraising campaign in May with Indiegogo, which gave them a maximum fundraising time of 120 days. 

“The idea [was] that we would shoot in the summer and be able to post media and photos from set when we were shooting and continue to raise funds, sort of retroactively, and cover the cost of the raft ourselves until we hit our goal,” explains Hogg. 

Luckily, their crowd-funding campaign met its target only days before the shoot. 

“That was a lovely, serendipitous moment,” says Hogg. “It was great, because it meant we could really get momentum going into the shoot, and get people aware of the shoot, and that worked out really nicely.”

The campaign was able to attract 49 funders, mainly friends and family involved in the arts community, who donated anywhere from $5–$600. 

According to Hogg, crowd-funding campaigns for the average person can require a massive amount of effort.

“Crowd funding requires as much time as you can put into it,” says Hogg. “When people are trying to do crowd-funding for a larger-scale project, say $20 000 or $50 000, the popular perception is you actually need to treat it like a full-time job. That’s how much time it actually takes to raise that kind of money.”

Hogg says there seems to be a typical progression for crowd-funding campaigns.

“You’ll tend to get a fair bit of your goal very early on. And then in the middle of your project, you’ll get very little,” says Hogg, whose raft project sat at a $1 000 donation level for quite a while. “And then in the last few days, you’ll tend to get up to 60 per cent of whatever it is you get, whether or not you make or exceed your goal.”

Local folk music duo Auto Jansz and Andrea June have also used crowd-funding as a strategy to help fund production costs of their upcoming album (to be recorded in mid-November). They chose the site gofundme.com because it wouldn’t refund the money if the target was not reached by its November end date.

“We’ve committed to making the album and we’ve booked time in the studio,” explains June. “It’ll cost what it’s going to cost. If some of it’s going to go on the Visa, that’s what’s going to happen.” 

While their crowd-funding campaign started last year, $1 000 has been raised so far, falling short of their $3 000 goal. Recently, the pair raised the total to $1 900 by contributing an additional $900 of their own money to help stimulate the campaign. 

“I thought maybe it would be helpful to see that Auto and I are heading towards this goal too, and remind people,” says June. “That’s the news on the website: ‘Hey, we’re up to this amount, but we still need this much more.’ ”

Initially a lot of donations came in, mostly from family and friends. 

“It was like nice surprises to see who wants to send you this $30 of encouragement,” says June. “Once you go through that network, then it really tapers off.”

June says online promotion is important, but wonders about what would be the most effective strategy.

“It has to be something that can have a buzz about it, I think. I think an album isn’t really like something that creates a lot of buzz, unless it’s controversial or much-anticipated, or you’re the underdog.”

To support Andrea June and Auto Jansz, visit gofundme.com/9w29s

For more information on Daniel Hogg and Jeremy Lutter’s project, visit indiegogo.com/floodplain

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