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 .
Everyone loves a party, right? In addition to consuming free food and booze, you can strike up new friendships, meet your soulmate or write a check for $250,000. Wait, what?
Yes, people hold fundraising parties for their movies. But do they work? Tiffany and I have held such events–we invite friends, peers and broke-ass moviemaker buddies to a party where we raffle off hard-won goods–four times now for a variety of projects. They’ve resulted in approximately $2,000 in hard cash (and nickels) each, though each time we’ve had to put in a ton of hard work.
Why do it, you ask? Well, there is the PR angle. With every Evite, Facebook post and Tweet, you raise awareness for your project. If you run something like an online auction at the same time, you can even reach Aunt Karen in Wisconsin, who might bid more for that signed copy of Fast Food Nation than someone physically at the party. If done correctly, fundraising parties can also create a cool groundswell. If you get some fabulous pictures of guests frolicking with the cast of your movie while sipping on pink cocktails, you can post them to Facebook and make the whole world envious, which keeps momentum for your movie going strong (and if you had to corral all your guests into one corner to make the room look full, well, just don’t mention that).
But what about the six-figure checks, the big fish, the high rollers, the heavy donors? Where are they? Are they like a marlin who swims so many clicks down that you need a long line to hook them and then drag them to the surface? I would say “Yes.” And the party we’ve been planning for Tiny Dancer is meant to be like a serious deep-sea fishing excursion. No more trashcans filled with Costco sodas and brews. We are going legit.
We’ll be screening the 20 minutes of footage we’ve shot to far in a setting that encourages donating to the arts: A beautiful NYC loft, supplied by our generous friends. The party is set for this fall, the prime season for donating to the arts. So every day between now and then we’ll be on the phone trying to get sponsors, donations. . . anything that will help make the party a success.
Our plan is to invite 75 taste-makers, producers, donors and investors–people generally outside our inner circle–to enjoy an evening of art, free of charge. Studies suggest that the most successful fundraising campaigns utilize perfect strangers–many of whom are active on Twitter–who are each encouraged to make a small donation. The formula goes something like this: If you have 200,000 Twitter followers, and they each donate $1.00–Bingo, there’s your budget! However, we don’t have 200,000 followers, and for the life of us, we can’t seem to penetrate the Twittersphere. We do have moviemaker friends who have taken to Twitter effortlessly and have managed to raise $30,00 in a matter of days with the help of their Twitter fanbase. This creates a challenge for someone like me, who can barely make out what hashtags I’m supposed to use. So instead, we’re doing for the fancy party route in the hopes that someone will attend, see our promo piece and want to get involved. We can offer them either a tax deduction or a traditional investor deal.
The first step is to get party sponsors, which is made easier by our amazing location, plus the fact that we’re working on getting some movie stars (actor friends of ours that have blundered into celebrity) to attend. Sponsors love both a good party and movie stars, so every day Tiffany and I jump on the phone to call some companies. So far, we’ve gotten incredibly lucky. Dance Magazine has come on as our Premiere Sponsor and is giving us a half-page ad in their magazine. This is ideal for Tiny Dancer, which follows a famous dancer (the amazing Katherine Crockett) as she navigates motherhood and her career with the help of her best friend (the phenomenal Daphne Rubin-Vega). In return for the ad, which is something we never could have afforded to buy, we’ll be promoting Dance Magazine at the party, where actors and party guests will pose for pictures in front of Dance Magazine banners. We’ll also give the magazine exclusive content for their website (www.dancemedia.com), and their name will be part of the promo piece in Tiny Dancer‘s title scroll. Voila!
“How many sponsors should you get?” you might ask. To find out, check back next week for “Party Time, Part 2: Party ‘Til It Hurts.”
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 upcoming feature film Predisposed, opposite Melissa Leo. Follow The Independent Collective at twitter.com/ticnyc to stay updated on the Tiny Dancer crowdfunding campaign.