Meet the Pros – Fund it Wednesday, Cork

Posted on: Friday, March 3rd, 2017 by fundit

We’re really excited about our first Fund it Wednesday event of 2017! We have two brilliant Project Creators joining us at Bank of Ireland Workbench, Cork on 29 March, to share their insights and pro tips (reserve your free tickets here!)

Edvinas Maciulevicius

Edvinas Maciulevicius is making the documentary ‘Our Mental Health‘, and is an inspiration in how to make social media work for you in a positive way!

Ed and the team working on ‘Our Mental Health’

Ed: “The idea was to create a ‘Conor McGregor style’ promotional video – on mental health. I though it would be the only way to grab people’s attention on social media. And it worked! Creating a documentary film on mental health initially proved to be quite difficult. We knew that we needed to have some sort of credibility before we approached people. Although it’s more common now to talk about mental health, a year ago it still was a taboo subject and not everyone was willing to talk about their experience (just goes to show that already, Ireland has come a long way). So we decided to launch a Facebook page and it was flooded with people wanting to take part.

Four months down the line we had enough social media leverage to launch a Fund it campaign and raise a budget to create something that will hopefully change Ireland. Although our ambition is big our goal is actually quite realistic. We hope that this film will do two things – 1: encourage people to open up and talk about mental health; and 2: inspire people to be the listening ear to those that do. When you look at it in this simplified way, changing Ireland doesn’t seem so unrealistic. But we believe this small shift will have a snowball effect. And in the long run it will in fact change the course of mental health in Ireland.

‘Our Mental Health’ is due for release really soon!

Kevin Callaghan

Kevin Callaghan, sculptor

Our second speaker, Kevin Callaghan, some of you might remember from our Fund it Showcase last November. Kevin ran his Fund it project to raise money for a residency and solo show of is sculpture works at the National Sculpture Factory in Cork. He developed bespoke sculptures called ‘Condie‘ especially for his Fund it rewards, and they proved so popular, he has actually launched a separate enterprise selling the sculptures! Kevin has been working with the great team in Bank of Ireland Workbench, Cork on launching his new business (cond.ie coming soon).

Kevin Callaghan’s ‘condie’ sculptures installed in Bank of Ireland Workbench, Dublin for the Fund it Showcase last year

We can’t wait to see how Kevin’s career develops through his residency and new business. You’re not going to want to miss the opportunity to pick the brains of this successful artist and entrepreneur!

Sculpture by Kevin Callaghan; photograph copyright: Sylvain Deleu

We’re so excited to see what all your amazing ideas bring to the mix, so make sure you reserve your ticket!

Those details again:

Wednesday, 29 March
Bank of Ireland Workbench, Cork (map)
5.30pm – 7.30pm

See you there!

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Guest Blog – Shimmy Marcus

Posted on: Friday, May 3rd, 2013 by fundit

Shimmy Marcus is the multi-award winning director behind the short film RHINOS which was nominated for the Irish Film and Television Academy awards earlier this year. Shimmy has taken time out of his very busy life to give us some insight into his experiences of running a Fund it campaign.

shimmy marcus

Caption: Shimmy Marcus in action

One of the most liberating experiences I have recently had as a filmmaker has been financing my new short film through crowd funding. Unfamiliar with the process at first, the only knowledge I had was anecdotal, but with some research I quickly realised that there was huge potential and rewards, and not just for the investors!

As anyone who has ever tried to make a film knows, quite often the biggest hurdle is the first. Where do we get the money to make it? The great advantage I quickly discovered through Fund it was that not only do they provide a platform to raise funding, but through this method they also inadvertently help create a strong platform from which to launch the finished film.

Before even a single frame has been shot, through Fund it a huge sense of awareness of the film is immediately created which not only helps to grow an enthusiastic family of investors eager to track your progress, but also to spread the word and promote the film. To help drive traffic towards our funding campaign for RHINOS we launched a Facebook page and through it and other forms of social networking we regularly promoted the Fund it page through updates, news bulletins, quirky videos, blogs, and constant reminders of our progress.

Caption: Promotional video released during the Fund it campaign

By the time we finally reached our funding target we had already built up a strong database of supports eager to track our progress and support the film in a variety of ways from helping out on the shoot to assisting in various other ways. Fund it not only became an avenue for financing, they helped create a following and audience. But first, we needed to win their trust.

Early on we realised the most important part of the Fund it process is the creation of a strong and attractive promo video that would entice people to invest in the film. I watched a great many promotional videos on Fund it and other crowd funding websites and realised that these videos were how I would inevitably judge the quality of the finished films who were seeking funding.

Bland, unimaginative, and poorly shot promo videos rang alarm bells. If they can’t even make a decent promo video, why would I think they could make a decent film? Your promo video is the main clue to what your potential end product will be like and a strong quality promo speaks volumes about the imagination, style, and professionalism of the team looking for funding. If you can’t be bothered to make a good promo video, why should I bother to invest in you? Just waffling into a camera telling me how great your film is going to be is just lazy and uninspiring. So with that in mind, my strongest piece of advice is to put as much time and effort into writing, developing, shooting and polishing your promo video. You only get one big chance to grab potential funders’ attention and impress them enough to part with their hard earned cash.

I said at the start that I found crowd funding incredibly liberating. The reason is that through this method I have 100% artistic control of my work. There are no funding applications to be judged by panels, no funding bodies who want power of final cut, or who insist on telling you who to choose as your cast and crew. Every creative choice and decision is yours alone to make. This has recently been cited by Hollywood actor and director Zach Braff (Scrubs, Garden State) as his primary reason for financing his latest feature film through crowd funding. The only responsibility you have is to your art, to producing the best possible work you can, and in doing so, rewarding the trust and faith the funders have put in you.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wbyQxxTvlaQ

Caption: Zack Braff’s campaign video

It is also important to work out exactly how much money you need and what exactly you need it for. There’s no point spending all your money on the shoot if you have nothing left to finish it or even promote it afterwards. So think very carefully in advance what it is exactly you need the money for and target your pitch towards that. Be practical, not greedy. With this new indie spirit of financing, crowd funding need no longer be an afterthought, or a get out of jail Plan B. With sensible and prudent budgeting, there’s no reason why Fund it can’t be your first and last port of call to finance your film.

– Written by: Shimmy Marcus

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Guest Blog – Una Mullally

Posted on: Wednesday, March 7th, 2012 by fundit

It seems entirely fitting that our first Guest-blog on Fund it should be written by our first ever pledger (and now, multi-pledger!), the journalist and broadcaster Una Mullally. We asked Una to give some advice to prospective project creators from the point of view of the seasoned pledger – what works, what doesn’t, and what just down-right annoys! Over to you Una…

Our first pledger and now multi-pledger Una Mullally

STARTING OUT
While I generally fund projects that attract my own interests, be it across theatre, music, visual art, film or whatever else seems special, the projects that especially attract me or grab me outside of those genres are ones that when you first click on them, it’s obvious that those driving the project have made a real effort. This comes down to three things for me; the text outlining the project, the campaign video and the rewards.

Although many people won’t want to read a thesis on what the project is and why those behind it want it funded, I like to see a comprehensive outline on the impetus for creating the project, who is involved, whether there’s a specific goal (like an album or a festival to perform at), what is actually being funded (studio time? Production costs? Material?), and a breakdown of where the money is going. Sometimes I read project outlines and they appear quite vague, so a comprehensive breakdown of where the money will go is really appealing. Not only is this a transparent process, but it also shows that those running the project have already thought about how it’s going to work. It also gives the funder an insight into how much creative endeavors actually cost to see through.

A decent video is a must. It doesn’t need to be a full-on production or a preview of what’s in store, but it should outline quickly what the project is, why it’s exciting and why it should be funded. For most people, this will be their first introduction to the project, so it needs to be impactful. I definitely think that the people behind the project should appear in the video too. They should be speaking directly to potential funders and explaining why they should part with their money. If this doesn’t work visually throughout the video, tack it on to the end. It adds a personal aspect to it that gives a further insight into the work and who’s making it.

Sometimes I don’t even consider the rewards – maybe I’ll have reached a decision whether or not to fund something before I even get to that point. But nevertheless they are crucial. The less rewards there are, with a limited scale of financial commitment, the less likely I am to fund it. If there’s a wide range of figures, from a fiver or a tenner up, chances are it’ll swing me. And the rewards need to be creative. They don’t necessarily need to have a material kickback, so stuff like bands playing gigs in your gaff, or a director cooking dinner for you, things like that make it fun, interesting, and show the artists’ commitment to getting their work up and running.

If I see a campaign that has 20 rewards, I’ll know they’ll have put the effort in. A few rewards feel just lazy to me. You have to think of creative and innovative way of making people part with their money. What would you spend a tenner on? How would you feel more involved in a project? I think considering people spend often substantial amounts on Fund it, there needs to be an allotment of ownership to the funders. This is why offering incentives like production credits and so on work. Funders don’t just want to throw money at things, they want to be a part of it, during and after the project has come to fruition. For some funders, having their name on credits or an album sleeve is the closest they’ll ever get to creating a piece of art, and that’s why they seek that sort of participation and multiple-ownership.

DURING THE CAMPAIGN
I suppose there are three main stages when the pledger should be contacted by the project creators. The first is the obvious one of a ‘thank you’ for funding. The second should be activity updates on the site (which are emailed automatically to funders) before the project has been funded to let the funder know how close they are to reaching their target. I’m not the biggest fan of emails that say “tell your friends to fund us to.” As a pledger, when I input my credit card number and click the button, I’ve already done my job. I might tweet about it afterwards to let people know if I think it’s a particularly interesting project, but it’s not the pledger’s obligation to spread the word further. They’ve already done their job by giving you money, the rest of your job is to replicate that action, not outsource the responsibility for it by calling on the pledger to tap their own personal networks.

Then there’s the third stage of informing the funder that the target has been reached and they’re about to get working on it. At this point, the funder should be informed when they’ll be getting their reward, and reminding them of what it is.

‘If I see a campaign that has 20 rewards, I’ll know they’ll have put the effort in. A few rewards feel just lazy to me’ – See Julie Feeney for a great example!

POST-CAMPAIGN
There is nothing that would turn someone off from giving money again or feeling like they were ripped off, than if the campaign stops when the target has been reached. While you don’t have to fall over yourself with gratitude, I cannot stress the importance of keeping your funders in the loop with what’s going on. After all, they are the ones who made it happen.

The first obvious one is delivering rewards. If these are long-term rewards (like a copy of a book when it comes out, which might take a while, or tickets to a performance that is still in the works) that’s fine, but remind your funders how and when they can access these rewards or when they will be delivered.

The second is continuing to involve funders in the creative process. Email updates talking about how recording or rehearsing or filming or building or whatever is going are essential. I like as much detail as possible, so describing the first day of filming for example, or talking about who has come on board, or the logistics of putting a show together are interesting to me. They make me feel as though I’m getting an access all areas or backstage version of the creative process, which enhances the feeling of involvement.

Everyone knows that creating something can be a long and arduous process, but it’s important to keep the people who got you there in the loop. Giving little previews of what’s happening; photos, videos, and that kind of thing also enhance this.

The third thing is letting people know when things are just about finished. Emailing and describing the final days of the project or the final preparations enrich that timeline from the Fund it page to the realization of a project. Letting people know that things are just about to kick off is fun, because it also adds to the excitement of remotely seeing a project finally come together.

The fourth stage is about game time. Even if people haven’t earned rewards to get a free EP or tickets to the play, let them know that it’s out there, that they were the ones that made it happen and that the project is now live. And in the aftermath, thank people again. Whatever the creative endeavor is, once it’s out in the world, it’s important to remind pledgers that it wouldn’t have happened without them.

AND FINALLY…
Don’t take the piss. Don’t fall off the earth in terms of communication once you’ve got money from people. Follow through on rewards. Deliver what you’ve promised. Be friendly and excited and grateful in your communication. Don’t send updates that seem ‘mandatory’, like emails that are just a few lines that are a gesture to what’s going on rather than proper details. Updates like that just read like “I was told to do this” rather than “I’m excited to tell you what stage we’re at.” Make people feel like they’re a part of the process, that they’re actually a collaborator in it, not just a contributor. This is not charity. You should not feel entitled to receive funding. At the same time, there is an incredible appetite out there for people to give money to projects they believe in and that they believe are worthwhile. But the people funding you are doing something as worthwhile as what you’re doing: one doesn’t exist without the other. Naturally, you need to do it properly the first time around and leave a residue of positive sentiment in case you want to hit them up again!

*Una Mullally waived a fee for this contribution to our blog.

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