Documentary filmmaker Gregory Bayne managed to raise $25,000 in 20 days using Kickstarter for his documentary on mixed martial arts and UFC fighter Jens Pulver. The film will be called DRIVEN and will tell the story of Pulver’s life as a child from an abusive home, his career and his preparations for an upcoming WEC fight, which could be his last. Bayne decided to use Kickstarter in order to help with the expenses of cameras, lighting, and sound recording packages, as well as travel and boarding costs for his crew.
“I chose Kickstarter for a number of reasons. Their presentation, communication tools, quality of projects on the site, and having seen, and been a part of, other artists successfully using the platform. The key for me was the deadline. It creates a sense of urgency for both you and your backers. It requires you to focus your message.
Having now gone through it, I really value how fighting an all or nothing deadline forces you to get down to the fundamentals of what your project is, what your plan for it is, how you will execute it, and how you will encourage others to jump in and be part of it” said Bayne. Perks he included for his backers were a private online screening of the film before it went public ($10 range), special edition signed DVD ($25 range), a special thanks credit in the film and the chance to give early feedback before the film is completed ($250 range), and a one month pass to Jens Pulver’s Driven Training Center in Idaho, a chance to speak with Pulver via Skype that would be filmed and used in the special features reel on the DVD, and a private screening with a catered dinner with Pulver and Bayne in attendance ($2,500 range).
Upon looking at the site and talking to many filmmakers who are using it with great success, it seems there is a correlation between the amount of core fans and friends a filmmaker has in their personal and professional circle and the chances of reaching the funding goals. Bayne said for him this wasn’t the case. “410 people came on board to back my film. Of them, less than 10% are people I, or Jens, know or have met personally. When I started, I did know that having Jens Pulver would help open the door, but I quickly learned there is no magic bullet. In the end, 80% of the total raised ($27,210) came via contributions of $25 or less.” Ultimately, DRIVEN was 109% funded.
UFC Fighter Jens Pulver.
“It literally took my waging a non-stop, 24/7 campaign to get the word out every day that pushed us over the top. It was very grass roots, and I believe the very definition of crowdfunding. From day one, I decided to approach this campaign as a full time job. Every day I would track down where and how the film and campaign were being discussed online. Luckily it was mostly positive, but whether it was positive or negative, I just put myself out there and engaged with the quite vast and diverse MMA (mixed martial arts) community. I was very upfront and fully transparent in what I was trying to accomplish in the campaign, with the film itself, and with the fact that I am completely fresh into this world of MMA. There was a lot of good response to that, which prompted some to write blogs, or news articles (luckily there were some sports journalist in the mix), and opened up opportunities for a couple of interviews, including two MMA radio shows. Additionally I have my own site where I write essay style blogs about film, culture, and politics. I used this and connected with my personal Facebook and Twitter accounts, as well as a film fan page and Twitter account to push the word out every day.
Ultimately, I believe this groundswell came from a sincere effort to include the backers in this project and the constant diligence paid to that effort. I always responded to their comments, their emails, their questions, their concerns, as quickly and honestly as I could. I wanted them to know that this was in many ways a populist movement to be a part of telling this remarkable story. I may be the guy making the film, but I am making it for all of them," said Bayne.
Still running his Kickstarter campaign for the short film SIMILO, Producer Mike Hedge is trying to raise $11,750 in 30 days to help pay for the cost of VFX finishing on the film. SIMILO is a science fiction love story set in the year 2064. The polar ice caps have melted. The world struggles to survive drought and poverty. But those few who live in the new cities in the arctic can live a happy life. At least, that´s what they want to believe. What is a Similo? An artificial person designed to be the perfect lover; Similo comes from the word simulating. In development since 2005, principal photography was completed in the summer of 2009. Every little detail has been carefully crafted on this complex project: locations, costumes, VFX. It was shot on s35mm, high speed Phantom cameras and the RED One depending on the scene.
Production Still from Similo.
Hedge often supported friends’ projects on Kickstarter and wanted to try it for his own. “The thing that draws me to most projects is the people involved. Without the right people, even if the project is really great, it will ultimately come down to the people. How talented they are, how genius their ideas are, how trustworthy they are, and how everyone works as a team. The platform that Kickstarter has is really just a neat way for people to support your project. With today's word of mouth, you really can crowdsource quite well especially with how everyone can promote your project to all of their contacts,” said Hedge. He does credit his very large network of friends and supporters for his current fundraising success; at this writing the project has reached 90% of its goal. [Editor's Note: As of when we went live with this story, a text message to the writer informed us that Similo has now received 104% of its funding goals.]
“To do any online funding well, you need to have lots of goodies about your project, lots of video, stills, or interesting making -of photos. We looked at other projects on Kickstarter and Indiegogo.com and started a list of what would be good things that we could do for people in exchange for supporting the project” said Hedge. Perks for supporting SIMILO range from special thanks credit in the film ($40 range) to Executive Producer, imdb credit, and a 35mm print of the film ($4,000 range, they currently have one backer at this level). “It really comes down to having something neat that people can care about. I suggest doing plenty of updates, and having an engaging video to get people interested.”