Just Crowdfund the $&*# Movie: Conversation Starter

Welcome to Just Crowdfund the $&*# Movie!, MovieMaker‘s new blog 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

Another week, another panel! Last week, I found myself on a crowdfunding panel hosted by Michael Helman and Stella McGovern of Crowdzu, a new crowdfunding platform joining the ranks. The talk was the usual – make a damn fine passionate video, build a team, up your Facebook fans and ‘likes’, and work the social network to make your campaign a success. One underlying current seemed to be speculation that investment-based crowdfunding promised by the JOBS ACTS is a pie in the sky with too many regulations – like mandatory audits – for it to be practical for micro-budget filmmakers to utilize. I have to say after filing my first FORM D with the SEC, and using their not particularly user-friendly portal, I see what the negative talk is all about. Especially since the SEC loves to print in fine type everywhere, “YOU ARE COMMITTING A FEDERAL CRIME BY NOT KNOWING WHAT THE HECK YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT AND FILING STUFF!”

However, I’m trying to remain optimistic on this issue only because it is such a promising and groundbreaking concept. I feel Tiffany and I have basically done a hybrid version of this already by doing both a non-profit and profit fundraising campaign. In fact, they should just come to us and we’ll show them how to do it! The down side of doing these panels (oh, I think that was my last for awhile) is that I’m reminded that yes, we haven’t finished our Tiny Dancer yet, and two of my fellow panelists – Sara Nodjoumi (producer, The Iran Job, which is being released theatrically Sept. 28) and Nancy Wolfe (producer, Fit To Print which is in post) – have just about finished their films. I feel like that guy in grade school who was always like, “I got to the final level on that game, dude,” when you know they didn’t.

The cool thing about hearing fellow filmmakers stories is the common threads and themes. What I seemed to be hearing this time is how important the press is to a successful campaign. Especially since more and more crowdfunding campaigns are becoming the NEWS. What I learned from Sara and Nancy is that without someone – ANYONE – writing about your campaign, you can’t transcend your circle and reach that real crowdfunding phenomenon known as “the stranger donor.” Sara’s film The Iran Job got a small story written about it on CNN’s blog and after numerous hits, the story was bumped to the TV, and their campaign blasted past it’s $50,000 goal to $100,466. Nancy’s film, Fit To Print, about the death of print media benefited from sympatico coverage from prominent blogs. So, whether you can get the actual media talking or create the talk yourself, it’s up to you to get the conversation STARTED.

Now, what happens when, through a fluke, you happen to find yourself in the middle of a giant conversation and want to steer the talk to your film’s campaign? I bring to your attention the interesting case of Russ Russo, fellow actor and filmmaker, who by chance, appeared in this hilarious Batman spoof, “Batman Maybe,” as Bruce Wayne. Now Russ has a Kickstarter campaign for his film, Heat Wave, which I featured in week’s past. “Batman Maybe” has almost 700,000 views on YouTube, but how does he drive any of that traffic to Heat Wave which has 17 days left to raise $14,000? So close, but so far from $1 from 700,000 people! Maybe Russ can figure it out…

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 soon-to-be-released film, Why Stop Now? opposite Melissa Leo, and Price Check, both of which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. Follow The Independent Collective at twitter.com/ticnyc to stay updated on the Tiny Dancer crowdfunding campaign.

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