Just Crowdfund the $&*# Movie!: Going “No and Pro”

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 .

Can you hear Tiffany and I rejoicing? We found a celebrity host for the June 4th Producer’s Dinner we’re holding to court investors for our film Tiny Dancer: Bobbie Thomas, the beautiful style editor for NBC’s “The Today Show.” Why Bobbie Thomas, you might ask? Well, Tiny Dancer is about two women struggling to find their inner meaning and, in a sense, their inner beauty as well. Ms. Thomas, who began her career as a rape crisis counselor, has been quoted as saying “Beauty truly comes from the strength within.” Damn… that could be the tagline for our film! We are thrilled to have her as our Guest of Honor.

Tiffany and I have been going here and there trying to widen our circle and spread the exciting news that we are now accepting investments in Tiny Dancer, whereas before we were a non-profit working solely off of donations. The donate vs. investment mentality is fascinating to me. Where does the distinction come from? Let’s examine the donator profile for a second:

Someone who…

  • wants to support your project outside of the system
  • is a patron of the arts at heart
  • likes the fact that you are working with a non-profit
  • feels especially gratified that you are passionately following your dream

And, for comparison, the investor profile:

Someone who…

  • likens your efforts to a start-up they want to be a part of
  • is a gambler at heart
  • likes the fact that they can get a return on their investment
  • feels especially gratified to be a “producer” but is concerned about your “exit strategy”

What is really so different about these two groups and the best way to court them? Ironically (and sadly), we’ve found that when approaching people who expressed interest in investing in the past, they sometimes do a 360 and say, “I don’t like to invest in things I don’t understand [meaning the film biz]. I feel more comfortable making a donation.” Hey, either way they are helping us climb that mountain—but unfortunately you can’t collect investments and donations in the good ole’ U.S.. I’ve heard tell that in the U.K. and other countries you can actually go “no and pro,” as I like to call it. I understand the basics of why you can’t in the U.S.—you’d be giving some of your peeps a tax break and others an ownership—but beyond that, why? Why can’t you divide your film into two categories in the eyes of Uncle Sam as a way to help grow your business?

Over the weekend a good friend suggested that we offer two investor classes—one that works almost like a donation to a normal Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaign, where the investor is giving money without promise of a return (or maybe a distant one), and a second type, a traditional straight-up investment with all the bells and whistles. Why do this? Well, this way if your film is budgeted at $250,000 and you split that amount between the two investor classes—say you aim for $100,000 from Class A investors (no immediate return) and $150,000 from Class B (traditional return)—you can incentivize your Class B investors by only having to earn $150,000 in gross profits to break even. Any profits go back to Class B investors for their preferred rate of return (120%), with any profits above that going to Class A investors. It’s an interesting model, almost like combining a non-profit and professional approach. Maybe we’re onto something here, call the SEC… wait, no, dont!

Jayce Bartok is an actor/producer/writer/director who runs Vinyl Foote Productions from Brooklyn with his wife Tiffany. He wrote, co-produced and starred in The Cake Eaters and can currently be seen in USA’s “White Collar” and in the upcoming feature films Predisposed, opposite Melissa Leo, and Price Check, both of which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. To stay updated on his Tiny Dancer progress, follow @JayceBartok and @TICNYC on Twitter.

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