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John T. Trigonis, Category Marketing Manager of Film, Web and Video at Indiegogo, takes an instructional look at five success stories from his time at the popular funding platform.

The question scrolling down every filmmaker’s mind shouldn’t be how much money a campaign can raise on crowdfunding sites like Indiegogo, but rather what goes on behind the scenes to make a campaign a true blockbuster.

As an early success story myself, I can attest a single truth: it takes a lot of preparation, social (media) skills, campaign strategizing, and, of course, time to run a stellar campaign, and what comes out the experience is far more valuable than the money you earn. It’s the connections you make and the community you create that truly measure your success. As campaigners, we have an important job to do: To give our community something to come together and care about.

As Indiegogo’s manager of film, web and video, I see plenty of campaigns through the course of my day. The ones that focus on raising funds are oftentimes not as triumphant as those campaigns that rack focus to community engagement. Take these five winning Indiegogo campaigns and why they were so successful and memorable:


Waterborne –– There are a ton of zombie films stalking about the Indiegogo film space these days, but Waterborne stood out from all the rest because the campaign owners were seeking something very specific from the audience, something that no one’s ever seen before: A zombie kangaroo! The funders were buying into something fresh and new amid the same old post-apocalyptic backdrop of every other zombie movie since George Romero.

This short film raised $17,555 on a $15,000 goal, didn’t just raise money for a film, but instead got specific with exactly what it needed from the crowd.

The Body –– This campaign has the most hilarious pitch video I’ve ever seen for a film or video campaign. Most filmmakers will put together a pitch video according to my “Three Ps for a Successful Indie Film Campaign,” but Kenny G. and his team tipped that formula and showcased their film-finesse within the pitch itself, and it’s an enjoyable romp that other campaigners have tried to mimic, but the skill of the original “punch-packed pitch” remains top shelf.

The Body, a short film like Waterborne, brought in the killer sum of $29,050 on a $20,000 finish line for this action film from Singapore.

Ashens and the Quest for the Game Child –– Amusing and relevant perks for fans at all levels is what made YouTube star Stuart Ashen’s campaign a stand-up experience all its own. For $250, Ashens would cut his funders a square of fabric from the iconic couch on which he reviews various bits of worthless tat. And for a contribution of $400, you could actually own a piece of worthless tat, too.

This indie film made specifically for YouTube took home $73,690 on a $50,000 goal before it was game over for the campaign.


Iron Sky: The Coming Race –– Two words describe why this film campaign was such a marvelous success: Community engagement. Timo Vuorensola, the director and campaign owner, had built up a massive following from his original cult classic Iron Sky, a sci-fi comedy about moon Nazis and their imminent invasion of Earth. A Facebook following of over 183,000 is just one indicator of how much the Iron Sky team understands the value of consistent engagement with the audience.

Oh, and because of that interaction, The Coming Race moon-raked in an earth-shattering $182,557 on a $150,000 target to jump into development on this long-awaited sequel.

The Bounce Back –– Innovation is key in crowdfunding, and Shemar Moore and company understands this all too well. Toward the tail end of the campaign, Team Bounce Back held an online “Name Your Perk” party, in which they invited the crowd to create their own perks and pricing points. This bounced the film up well past its goal.

Through an ingenious marketing plan with perky partnerships galore, The Bounce Back earned a whopping $638,483 on a $500,000, which places them in the position of most funded Indiegogo Film project.

What can we as filmmakers learn from these five campaigns? In just the same way that we’re creative with our camera angles, poignant in the writing of our dialog, and strategic in our distribution and promotion, so must we be in our crowdfunding. It’s no longer sufficient to run a simple campaign –– today it’s the experience that matters most, and as storytellers, it’s our duty to create ones that linger long after our campaigns have come to a close. MM

John T. Trigonis is the author of Crowdfunding for Filmmakers: The Way to a Successful Film Campaign. He is the Category Marketing Manager for Film, Web & Video at Indiegogo. In 2010, John’s most notable film, Something About Ryan, won the Golden Ace Award at the Las Vegas Film Festival, the Silver Lei Award for Excellence in Filmmaking at the Honolulu International Film Festival, the John Muir Award at the Yosemite Film Festival and an Award of Merit from the Accolade Competition.


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