Just Crowdfund the $&*# Movie!: No Sleep ’til Financed

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 .

We haven’t been sleeping much since we decided to have this Producer’s Dinner on June 4th and fully embrace taking investments for Tiny Dancer. I’ve been kept up at night by questions: What celebrity can we get to host the event? Is it legal to send an e-mail soliciting investment? How will people pay for tickets when our current site (www.theindependentcollective.com) is filled with words like “donate”? This morning alone I am proofreading our Private Placement Memorandum/Subscription Agreement (wait… am I qualified to do this?!) and e-mailing our lawyer about finally setting up a Tiny Dancer LLC. Not to mention the freaking-out-ness Tiff and I are experiencing with creating the event’s invite. How do you list “tiers” of investment on an invite you are e-mailing? Ah… times have changed since the days of $100 donations. We are a little scared, but we also feel like something is pushing the project forward. Don’t question, just go!

As we change our model from crowdfunding to crowdsourcing (is there any difference?), it’s interesting to see how many independent productions have been relying on the public to gather funding. As my friend Steven Beer—entertainment lawyer, producer’s rep and all-around counsel to award-winning everything—noted in his recent post for the HuffPo, 17 films at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival used “fan-based funding to fulfill a portion of their project’s budgets.” Films such as First Winter, Graceland, High Tech, Low Life and Town of Runners all ran successful campaigns on Kickstarter and Indiegogo, while Future Weather, The Playroom and Rubberneck took things one step further by running “distribution campaigns” concurrent with their Tribeca premieres… a damn good idea, and one that seems to be paying off for many films that are using their festival premieres and all the built-in PR they offer to push their VOD release. Sometimes the merry go round only goes around once—so ride it while you can, right?

What cracks me up about the fast-changing world of crowdfunding is that it’s OK to have someone just give you $1,000 on one of the platforms, and it’s OK to have someone donate $1,000… but if they want to “invest” $1,000, watch out! Forget about sleeping! You might be dubbed a smooth criminal. Tiff and I keep referring to friend Ken Davenport’s Broadway shows, which seem to be ahead of the curve on what we are doing with Tiny Dancer. A few months back he sent around an e-mail offer to invest $1,000 in his now-hit production of Godspell, complete with a very user-friendly PPM and Subscription Agreement. Tiffany was seriously trying to convince me to invest, and we would have, if not for Tiny Dancer. Godspell’s overall budget was something upwards of $3 million—so whatever Ken did worked.

I truly feel that the JOBS Act will take the crowdfunding model to the next level. A year from now, instead of having a column in a ledger somewhere showing the half-a-dozen friends’ projects we’ve donated to, we’ll be recording the two or three projects we have small-scale investments in.

On a serious note, I have to say that the passing of music legend and indie film advocate Adam Yauch was a huge loss not only to the music world and the humanitarian world, but also the indie film community. I always marveled at how I could be such a huge fan of the Beastie Boys and also of Yauch’s Oscilloscope Laboratories, an independent film production and distribution company based in New York City that had huge success with Exit Through the Gift Shop, among other films. What I am trying to learn through Mr. Yauch’s passing is that there is no time like the present to make sh*t happen!

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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