Just Crowdfund the $&*# Movie!: New York Times, Meet Tiny Dancer


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 .

Sometimes everything you’ve been working for falls right into your lap without even the slightest effort, as if the hand of destiny just took the wheel. Tiffany and I constantly brainstorm crazy ideas to get press coverage, donations and general awareness for Tiny Dancer… then last Saturday, without us doing a thing, Tiny Dancer was profiled in The New York Times in an amazing article about non-profits joining the crowdfunding landscape. Artspire, the new crowdfunding platform created by our fiscal sponsor, NYFA (New York Foundation for the Arts), is featured in the article, and Tiny Dancer was selected from the over 500 NYFA projects to be included as an example of non-profit crowdfunding. How did this come about? A combination of luck, all the hard work we’ve been doing and the fact that our trailer resonated with someone somewhere. Never in a million years did we think that Tiny Dancer would be in The New York Times!

The Times piece asks the question: With so many government and public arts financing programs in decline, what are projects outside the commercial landscape doing to raise funds? And with so many artists turning to Kickstarter and Indiegogo, how can non-profit groups take advantage of crowdfunding? Tiffany and I use Artspire to receive donations made through NYFA; that way, we don’t lose so much money in double commissions, as one does when going non-profit through established platforms like Indiegogo. It was fascinating to see how an article comes together at the Times, almost like a segment from director Andrew Rossi’s great documentary Page One: Inside the New York Times. All our donations were vetted, and all fees that came and went were accounted for.

Of course, when the article ran, Tiff and I were hoping (and praying) that an arts patron would read the piece and decide to donate the rest of our budget in one fell swoop, or that we would get numerous small donations from strangers, neither of which happened. However, we did get some donations from the unlikeliest of sources: Leaders of other arts and crowdfunding organizations, who were paying special attention to the piece. In the big picture, we now have the Times article in our arsenal to attract more funds and attention to Tiny Dancer. In a way, the film has been validated. Now it’s up to us to use this advantage to reach our goal.

Many of you may be wondering: Wait, weren’t you talking about leaving the non-profit space to start courting investments? Yes. Ironically, on the heels of the Times article, we have been considering just this, much like the Times itself is looking into different avenues to stay in the game, like mortgaging its midtown headquarters and taking on wealthy patrons (like non-profit organizations). In this climate, you have to try everything. I wonder if a time will come when there can be a hybrid of non-profit and for-profit models that small businesses can use to get started. This might take the form of a set percentage—say, only 25 percent of one’s budget could come from non-profit fundraising, with some mandate ensuring that five percent of profits be funneled back to said non-profit. I don’t know if this would make things easier, but streamlining things can only help. What do you think?

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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