Editor’s Note — Our contributor, Colin Costello, recently enjoyed personal growth by moving from beyond a writer’s traditional role to actually directing and producing his short film, “The After Party.” We asked Colin to chronicle is journey.
Let me just start out by saying I HATE crowdfunding. I feel like it is the digital version of a homeless guy on the subway, wheeling his way through on a rolling board, with a 7-11 Big Gulp cup asking for money. Some people give. Others turn the other way. I personally have acted both ways.
But with today’s business model for making movies, there really is no other viable way to raise funds for an independent film. Typically, investors will not consider a short because there really is no financial return. It may make you feel all gushy on the inside, and maybe cool if you get to walk a red carpet at a festival. But that is about all she wrote for payback on a short.
So, after boarding the crowdfunding train in 2015 for three trips (two successful times) I did what I swore I would not do again – Rachel (Amanda Bryant) and I decided that we would launch a campaign in early 2017.
It was already late October and there was much to do before our February launch. We had our cast and now what? A successful crowdfunding campaign begins with thorough preparation. I divide it into four stages:
1. The Pre-launch or development hell for crowdfunding
2. The Launch
3. The Drop
4. The Post
The Pre-launch is where you really must spend about two solid months of prep. That means assembling marketing materials. A side note – I have seen so many campaigns, both successful and failures, not really take advantage of publicizing their campaigns the way studios promote their films. This is what an audience is used to seeing.
After not meeting our goal for my first short film project, Immurement, I went back to the drawing board for Committed and Lost n’ Found. I studied what went wrong and went to extensive lengths to bring those projects to life, as much as we could, for potential contributors.
That meant casting, which we had already completed for The After Party. We also began the process of assembling the production team which consisted of up and coming Brooke Willard (Transformers, Jurassic World and Black Panther) as our cinematographer, Line Producer Tina Carbone, First AD and Emmy winner Blake Vaz and even Committed’s director Terry Ziegelman (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, Smurfs 2) as Second AD. Graphic Designer Christian Rivera designed the stunning first poster for The After Party. Associate Producer NJ Bourque, who is an internationally-known photographer shot, the cast for the posters.
We chose Seed&Spark because of its love for all things diverse. Many novice filmmakers head immediately to Kickstarter. I did as well with Immurement. The truth is, KS really only has a 36% success rate when it comes to films. To succeed on that platform, you really need a draw, a name(s) if you will. Seed&Spark has an 85% success rate as they are super involved with the process. They ask the hard questions.
Blake shot a pitch video of Rachel and myself. For the first time, I will reveal publicly that when I watched the video, I would strategically place a hand over myself and just watch Rachel. I don’t possess a good self-image of me (being a “swipe left” consistently on Tinder will do that to you) and next to Rachel, I felt like I looked like “Colin the Planet Eater.” I kept asking myself will viewers silently think to themselves that this guy is about to feast on Rachel’s head while she was delivering her pitch? So yes, it’s hard for me to look at myself in pictures. Even harder to watch myself move. But Blake did a great job shooting and editing. At least the 50% I watched!
We were ready to go. Seed&Spark approved us after a week of going back and forth. We had our social media pages set up.
And I pushed the launch button, which felt on par with inserting the launch keys into the nuclear football.
It was on.