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 .
Today I turn 40 years old. Whoa. It’s definitely a day to step back and reflect. 40 feels like halfway there, right? I’ve put 40 good years of experience behind me, and now I’ve got to use what I’ve learned and go! Which brings me to today’s topic: Can you crowdfund for a project not just once, but twice—even three times—until you’ve crossed that finish line? And an even bigger question: Can you crowdfund from the same pool of supporters for more than one project over a number of years, having those friends become, in a way, your own private movie studio?
I begin my case study with friend and fellow filmmaker Jeremy Wilker, who funded not one but two of his films: Triumph 67, a narrative feature about a pair of Palestinian-American brothers, and the awesome (now in post-production) Death To Prom, a bizarre love triangle with enough glamour and attitude for “Project Runway” but enough heart to make Molly Ringwald bite her lip (I love Molly Ringwald!). Jeremy raised $11,764 for Triumph 67 in November 2010, and then, a year and a half later, a whooping $45,380 for Death to Prom.
I asked him how he managed it, and he said he has a base of fans and followers who love to offer support and who recognize that he is able to finish his films, so they give and give again. He also mentioned that he has become comfortable asking for the “big” checks from supporters. I must admit, that’s a skill that definitely takes some learning. I wonder if Jeremy’s home base being in Minneapolis has anything to do with his community remaining loyal through and through? Does living outside of N.Y. or L.A. make a difference in “crowd-peating”?
This brings me to the curious case of Gary King, another friend and fellow filmmaker living in New York City. Gary has the distinction of making not one, not two, but three films through crowdfunding: How Do You Write A Joe Schermann Song, What’s Up Lovely and New York Lately. Gary is an unassuming kind of guy whom everybody loves, and since coming to film from the corporate world he has managed to crack the secret of how to consistently motivate supporters. I’ve often wondered about Gary’s secret. In fact (shhhh), I’ve envied it! Tiff and I are working our tails off to get Tiny Dancer made! It was Gary who, long ago, came over to dinner and pointed out that in the time we had made The Cake Eaters and settled in to wait for our next “big break,” he had already made two films through crowdfunding!
I think I’ve stumbled onto both Jeremy and Gary’s secret: They deliver. They finish their films and make their supporters proud to be involved in the exciting process of filmmaking. A big part of being able to crowd-peat is a high, efficient turnaround of micro-budget films. In essence, to do this more than once, you have to turn yourself into an assembly line, a mini micro-Hollywood, making films for your supporters.
Oh, and Jeremy and Gary are both super nice guys, which doesn’t hurt!
My Just Crowdfund the $&*# Movie! shout out goes to Russ Russo and his road movie Heat Wave. Check it out, especially if you love Bon Jovi!
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.