Crowdfunding is the word du jour, but it mostly involves just one request. Sound it Out Director Jeanie Finlay however, tried a different approach. She set up four campaigns for the same documentary and it proved to be a success.
Sound it Out asked for money from the public for different stages in the film making process. It can now truly claim to be ‘by the people, for the people’. The multiple requests saw to it that backers who normally would only have donated once, sometimes gave her four donations.
When DocGeeks recently spoke to her, Finlay explained that crowdfunding gave her the opportunity to “just get on with it and make it”. Read the whole interview below.
Could you tell me a bit more about your four funding requests?
So far we have crowdfunded the shoot, the post production, the premiere at SXSW and now we are trying to finish the story by distributing independently to 30 cinemas across the UK.
Sound it Out has been a DIY-project from the very beginning. The film has been made with blood, sweat, tears and the support of 315 wonderful people on crowdfunding website IndieGoGo.
I think that people actually like supporting an independent film. At the beginning they even donated based on trust as the film wasn’t finished. People who have seen the film at festivals have also come on board as backers.
It’s basically like a sponsored swim but you get a film at the end of it. Lots of people, our “crowd”, pledge a little or a lot and they get exclusive perks in exchange – DVDs, tatty devine vinyl jewellery, a guided tour of the shop, portable record player, baby blue vinyl ep, those type of things.
Why did you choose to use crowdfunding, and why no less than four times?
It’s a very tricky kind of film to get commissioned by a broadcaster – observational portrait without a “huge” storyline. I could have pitched the film over and over again but in the end I decided I just wanted to get on with it and make it. No crew, no fuss, just me and a camera and lots of hours in the shop.
After a year of filming I thought I had something good and needed to raise a budget to finish it, so I decided to crowdfund. There was no huge strategy in place for making the film. It has just grown organically so it seemed to make sense to do the different campaigns as the film grew.
Has your theory worked?
It’s seems to! From starting off as an experiment it has really been an amazing year – premiering at SXSW, showing at Sheffield doc/fest, Silverdocs and other festivals all over the world. A cinema release in the UK would be the icing on the cake.
What tips and tricks would you give to documentary makers who are looking to crowdfund their film?
The main ones would be that it is a lot of work, you need to know your audience, get good perks, prepare and, most importantly, have fun.
Finlay’s crowdfund request to get the film in 30 cinemas across the UK has 24 days left. If you like to support her film and get Sound it Out to your town then click here.
She also wrote a very recommendable article for Directors Notes about her crowdfunding experiences during the second campaign, for those who want to know more we suggest you read it.