23 July 2012

Behind the Scenes with 4 OF A KIND: Day 7

As promised, I'm back with a look behind the scenes of the campaign for Jack Marchetti's 4 OF A KIND.

When we were prepping to launch this campaign, we went back and forth on how long the campaign should be, with the link ranging between 32 and 39 days. We knew we wanted to end on a Friday (depending on which time zone you're in), so the real question was, which day do we launch? We settled on 39 days for the simple reason that we thought we might need a little more time for momentum to build, considering that Jack doesn't have an established audience.

If you're a "name", it's more likely that you can get off to a strong start, like Joke & Biagio did. If you aren't, it's going to be a slower build. It's going to take long for you to find your potential backers. You can't just email the 500 dedicated fans on your mailing list. Still, it's going slower than we'd like.

4ofakind bts 2

You don't need me to tell you the red line should be higher. Am I worried? Yes and no.

Obviously, we want it to be higher. But we're building a base. And there's chances to catch up. There's days where the model thinks we'll raise as little as $400. So we don't need to panic…yet.

Right now we're running at $51/backer, up a tick from Friday when it was $48/backer. That's a little low. We want to be around $70/backer. We knew that by putting the download at $5 that we'd have trouble getting up to $90/backer that a lot of film campaigns get, but that's kind of by design. Jack being an unknown, we figured we wanted to make backing the campaign as low-risk as possible. You get to see the movie for $5. That's a pretty good value. But, of course that's going to drive down the average pledge.

So when I saw we were tracking at $48/backer, I started looking for ways to get that number up.


During the campaign, we've been making eye charts with the names of our backers on them, as a personalized thank you. It's not a perk, just something we're doing in the hopes that people will use them to spread the word about the campaign (and they are). They've been more popular than expected. So on Friday we added them to the perk list at $75. We'll still do them for every backer, but at $75 Jack will turn a slightly fancier version of it into a poster for you, which he'll sign. It's some nicely personalized swag. Part of the hope is that'll up-sell a bunch of the $50 backers, or even some of the $5 backers.

We added this on Friday, which was a really slow day for obvious reasons. The news out of Aurora sucked all of the air out of the room. Suddenly we're faced with a gun tragedy and a Kickstarter campaign with a stylized image of a gun as the key art. Not good. My first thought was maybe we should pull the image and replace it with something else. I ran it by Jack, who had this to say,

If it does offend some people, I'd rather fail at this, then take down some imagery that had nothing to do with something as some sort of an implicit recognition that gun imagery on a poster would aid some psychopath into shooting a room full of strangers.

He's right. I'm not sure I would have had the guts to keep the image.

So we keep battling, because Jack is still battling and if you can't get behind the cause of someone using what little time they have to make an independent film, then what can you get behind? This is why we have a community, to make things like this possible.

Lucas McNelly is the filmmaker behind A YEAR WITHOUT RENT, UP COUNTRY, BLANC DE BLANC, and GRAVIDA. He hasn't lived anywhere in a long time.

16 July 2012

Behind the Scenes with FOUR OF A KIND: Day 1

It's really easy to talk about a campaign from a distance, or with the benefit of hindsight. Any idiot can do that. But being a Monday Morning Quarterback is only helpful up to a point. Because as much as you research and plan and plot and scheme a Kickstarter campaign, it's like a game plan for a boxer. It all goes out the window as soon as the other guy punches you in the nose.

So I thought I'd take you behind the scenes of the campaign as it happens, a peek behind the curtain.

I'm helping run the campaign, so I'll be here until the (hopefully not) bitter end. I'll make some mistakes. We all will. But we'll learn from it.


The Campaign

Four of a Kind is a noir film out of Chicago by Jack Marchetti that just happens to have a pretty compelling side story: Jack is going blind. Obviously, that's a narrative that kind of tells itself. There's a longer version, but with a crowdfunding campaign, you want to think in Twitter-sized sound bytes. Nuance will get lost.

This is Jack's Twitter account. He has, as of right now, 368 followers. That's not very many. It's not nearly enough to raise the money he needs to raise, unless they've all got a lot of spare cash laying around.

So part of the challenge is figuring out how to create a social media presence more or less out of nothing.

Enter…the community.

This is Leilani. She doesn't know Jack. Jack doesn't know her. But I slept on Leilani's couch (well…guest bed) when I was in London. Ergo...Leilani is the "Pimp of the Day" for Day 1.

The premise is simple: the campaign is 39 days long. We line up 39 different people who are willing to get behind the campaign. Each day, one of them tweets a bunch of stuff about the campaign to all their followers. We then write up a thing about what they do in the campaign updates. The theory is that every day we'll hit a different circle of people. They'll overlap, sure, but we should have 39 different voices talking about the campaign. That should create a pretty strong base of support.

The Eye Chart

You don't want to know how long this took to figure out. Hell, we're still working on it. We wanted something that would visually capture the idea behind Jack's unique campaign. So why not one of those charts they have at the eye doctor? Simple right? Well, kind of. It's a lot of questions with formatting and wording and all that. We're trying to figure out a way to do it with people's name in it, but the problem is that there's just soooo much variance in the number of letters in people's names. This will work for now (we think).


Put it on blogs, Facebook, wherever.

The goal is to get something that people will want to share, as that makes the story that much easier to spread organically. We know we have a good story and we don't need to come out of the gate fast. We have lots of potential for growth. That's one reason we opted for 39 days over 32. It gives us one more week to expand the story.

Other Charts

But how do you know if you're growing too slowly? Are you on pace? What happens when Jack starts to panic on Day 15?

Jack EV

If you click it, it'll get bigger.

This is a chart that takes the curves of a number of successful film campaigns, runs them through a formula and system I created, and tells you roughly where you would expect to be at each day in the campaign. The dotted lines are the Expected Range, which on the low end will take us to just over $95K at the end. If we're below that line, that's bad.

Obviously, every campaign is different and every campaign has it's own ups and downs, so you don't want to overreact if you're below the line on Day 3. But if you're below the line on Day 15? Yeah, you want to worry. But this gives us an idea of where we are.

Cross your fingers for us. Oh, and help us out.


Lucas McNelly is the filmmaker behind A YEAR WITHOUT RENT, UP COUNTRY, BLANC DE BLANC, and GRAVIDA. He consults on Kickstarter campaigns for a living. He hasn't lived anywhere in a long time.

02 July 2012

The Crowdfunding Compilation (2 July 2012)

This is a list of the independent film crowdfunding campaigns that either just launched this week or are ending this week, provided I either happened to notice them or they used the hashtag #twitfund to pitch it.

Want to be on the list? Give a Twitter Pitch (which is like an elevator pitch, only shorter). Put the hashtag at the end. Easy as that.

Don't see yours? Well, that's because no one told me about it.

Ending Soon

Sunday Morning

Filmmakers: Brian O'Toole and Arthur Mulhern

The Pitch: Our story takes place through the eyes of Kiva - a bright and mischievous little girl. She is running wild around her palatial house on a Sunday morning. Her escapades grow more dangerous and we begin to fear for her safety. Clues around the house suggest that her absent parents are linked with organized crime. After a scary experience in the swimming pool, Kiva has an encounter with a visiting window cleaner. But can he be trusted? And where are her parents?

Goal: $5,000

Ends: Monday, 02 July at 11:59PM PT

All or Nothing? No.

Those Lighter Fluid Days

Filmmakers: M.J. Slide (@MJ_Slide

The Pitch

It's been almost two years since 19 year old Bree March's Mother passed away and the entire family is struggling to keep their heads above water. Todd, her Father drowns his grief in cheap beer, leaving the responsibility of caring for 7 year old, Taylor, her younger sister, completely to Bree.

The Goal: $9,500

Ends: Sunday, 08 July, 11:59PM PT

All or Nothing? No

Just Launched

Citizen - The web-series pilot

Filmmakers: Matt Campbell, Amanda Verhagen, and Cole Hewlett

The Pitch:

Two Canadian operatives are deep cover in a perfect small town in mid-America. Things go wrong and they are hunted by the citizens of the town as they work to uncover the secrets behind their madness . The ultimate "big brother" technology and insurmountable threats combine to create an action thriller series along the same vein as the "Bourne" movies.

The Goal: $20,000

Ends: Tuesday, 31 July at 11:59pm PT

All or Nothing? No

The Zero One Mandate

Filmmakers: Kareem N. Gray

The Pitch:

The film follows Devon Owens;  a man that has discovered something amazing hidden in the data streams of the internet. We follow Devon as he becomes something greater. He becomes the hero an unsuspecting world needs. 

The Goal: $20,000

Ends: Saturday, 18 August at 9:57pm EDT

All or Nothing? YES

Lucas McNelly is the filmmaker behind A YEAR WITHOUT RENT, UP COUNTRY, BLANC DE BLANC, and GRAVIDA. He consults on Kickstarter campaigns for a living. He hasn't lived anywhere in a long time.