Just Crowdfund the $&*# Movie!: Beg, Borrow and Steal


Welcome to Just Crowdfund the $&*# Movie!, where indie moviemaker Jayce Bartok talks about the dos and don’ts of crowdfunding from the trenches of his own crowdfunding campaign. Have a question for Jayce about his movie, Tiny Dancer, or just crowdfunding in general? Ask away at .

As I mentioned in my post “To Start or To Go” from a few weeks back, Tiffany and I have been struggling with which crowdfunding platform–Kickstarter or IndieGoGo–we should use for Tiny Dancer. I’m happy to report that we made the decision to go with… (drum roll please)… IndieGoGo. We will be launching our campaign on Labor Day weekend, and it will run up until our big fundraising event on September 19th, as sort of a concurrent experiment. Will we raise more money by showing our promo piece online or in front of a live audience?

Every fundraising campaign needs a pitch video. Tiffany and I spent yesterday out on our stoop shooting ours with an HD flip camera as neighbors went in and out of our building and cars rumbled down the street. I have to confess, I was a little depressed by the experience, especially after I started to review the four meager takes of my wife and I–all clean and scrubbed with our two-year-old falling in and out of frame–trying to cram every detail about Tiny Dancer into a one-minute-long shiny, happy plea for $10,000. We looked like overly happy, deeply committed, passionate hosts of a local morning show trying to look casual on our stoop while also saying things like “Why is this film important? Because it’s about the journey of a woman to balance motherhood with her art.” I was semi-disgusted as I watched myself validate and find meaning in my film for everyone watching. I mean, I’m not even sure what the film means yet! But in your pitch video you have to look sure, because why would someone give to a moviemaker who’s still trying to find their way?

A few months back Tiffany and I chatted with Adam Chapnick, chief of distribution at IndieGoGo, who generously passed on these words of wisdom on how to run a successful crowdfunding campaign:

1. Communicate what matters. Show your passion and move people by what you are moved by. (I read: Show tears.)
2. Create a conversation and ask donors to join it. (I read: This film will save the world.)
3. Appear in your pitch video. (I read: Put a face on it.)

In spite of my dissatisfaction at staring at my mug begging for dollars, IndieGoGo did say that their most successful campaigns center around a simple, passionate pitch video starring the creators. In the must-read The Tao of Crowd-Funding: Three P’s for a Successful Film Campaign, blogger and moviemaker John T. Trigonis states: “The truth is YOU MUST APPEAR IN YOUR PITCH. Not many people will give money to a photograph or a movie trailer. People give to other people. No one likes to ask for money, it’s true, but the least you can do is ask your potential funders as personally as possible, and in this case, your pitch is as personal as it gets.”

I was definitely cheered when I heard from our friend, producer Susan Kirr (The Tree of Life), that she was involved in the crowdfunding of a film called Winter in the Blood, directed by Alex and Andrew J. Smith of The Slaughter Rule fame. I checked out the campaign, wondering what two Sundance alums were doing crowdfunding $60,000 for their new film, when I clicked on the promo video and actor David Morse (The Hurt Locker) was staring back at me, telling me to donate. They used their actors to ask for money instead of hawking for the cash themselves, which gave their promo a more serious tone. Winter in the Blood reached its funding goal and is currently filming in Montana. So maybe you don’t have to appear in your video. If you have David Morse hanging around, anyway…

Jayce Bartok is an actor and moviemaker who runs Vinyl Foote Productions from Brooklyn with his wife Tiffany. Currently, you can see him on USA’s “White Collar” and in the upcoming feature film Predisposed, opposite Melissa Leo. Follow The Independent Collective at twitter.com/ticnyc to stay updated on the Tiny Dancer crowdfunding campaign.

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