Kickstarter: It’s Not Just About The Money
If last week’s all-records breaking Kickstarter Campaign was exhilarating to follow and to learn from, there is no better way to learn about indie filmmaking and crowd-funding than with a shared-from-the-trenches experience.
Niko Nikolaou, from Baby Wolf Productions, current PMD for the independent feature film Love Magical, and who is running a Kickstarter campaign is our guest at mentorless and shares with us how he became a PMD, and what does that mean on the field when you have an independent feature film to make and finish.
They are so close to their goal that they must have gotten it right. Discover how they Nikolaou and his team did and are doing it, enjoy:
Kickstarter: It’s Not Just About The Money
My name is Niko Nikolaou and I’m the Producer of Marketing and Distribution (PMD) for Love Magical, a wild and crazy romantic comedy, which was shot this summer and is currently on Kickstarter raising money for the film’s soundtrack. I never planned on being a PMD and to be honest I didn’t even know the role existed within the film industry, but I always wanted to work with film to some degree and I knew that as a creative individual with a background in branding and working as a marketing and social media consultant I could provide a valuable skill set.
The term PMD was and still is very new, but it is steadily gaining more acceptance as well as traction with small and independent films. For the sake of time, I won’t go into all the specifics of the role, but it was originally coined by Jon Reiss and for a quick break down, if you’re not familiar, be sure to read one of his original posts here and part 2 here on Mr. Reiss’ site. That being said, my understanding of the role and how I approached the project was through the steps of collaboration, planning ,and engagement.
One of the most important keys to success for Love Magical is collaboration. My relationship with one of the producers of the film, John Solo, as well as with the writer and co-director, Justin Foran, gave me the opportunity to sit in with the rest of the team. Initially when I sat in at the meetings, I was there to listen, observe, and learn about all the aspects of what was then a budding project. As time went on and the project developed so did my understanding. I found myself engaging more with their conversations about knowing the audience, how would we stay focused on conveying a great story, and building something strong that our audience could connect with on a higher level with the film, both visually and emotionally.
Throughout my two year involvement with the project, we spent a lot of time focusing on the fact that our film had to have a certain style to it and our team worked tirelessly to insure that all aspects of the story and all the meticulous details that went into the film and anything that surrounded it reflected that style. My role was to understand the film as much as possible so I could figure out the best way to convey that to an online audience months before the film would be released. Of course everyone is going to be passionate about the project and bring certain invaluable skill sets to the table throughout every phase of production, however being able to stay focused and cohesively talk about the film, its goals, and its audience is critical throughout the entire lifecycle.
For me, being present at the early stages with the writers and producers along with being on set and seeing how everything was coming together visually in regards to the style and tone really helped when setting forth to create the branding and identity of Love Magical. I was able to pull from all those experiences while keeping our end goals and audience in mind to help guide and create initial key art. We kept refining it until we got it to where we thought it best represented the film. It is also our mantra at babywolf productions that you can’t rush quality, which really sets the tone for our approach to anything creative that we do. Our bottom line goal is to make sure what we create is the highest quality we can produce.
When it was time to focus on our Kickstarter campaign to raise money for our soundtrack, the same standards that we held ourselves to during the production of Love Magical would be applied with no exception. Kickstarter is one of the most well known crowd-sourcing platforms. It receives quite a bit of traffic (about 760,000 unique views in December 2011) and there are a ton of projects, many of which are film related. In order to have people connect with your film and get great exposure, you need to understand and be able to translate what and who you are so you can better stand out, be noticed, and ultimately be successful.
Our film is a wild and crazy romantic comedy about David Justice, an overly passionate man whose fear of love is standing in the way of his dream of becoming the greatest R&B songwriter in the history of the world, and we had to convey that to the audience in an entertaining, visually engaging, and extremely stylized manner reflective of the film. Before we ever launched our project on Kickstarter, three scripts for videos were written, two were shot, and our copy had been reworked numerous times until we felt it was exactly what we needed to go live.
Kickstarter isn’t only about raising money; its bigger asset is reaching a wider audience and this is your first test, which gives you a great opportunity to see how people respond to your product. With that being said, you have to know your vision and make sure that everything relates back to your goals and meets the standard of quality that your team and project demands.
Early on we made a decision not to create a specific web page for Love Magical. Instead, in order to keep it right in the middle of the social space, we created a fully branded and interactive Facebook page. Once we launched our Kickstarter project we saw a tremendous spike in numbers of our page fans. We wanted to be sure that once they saw our video, read our content, and possibly clicked on our links they would eventually land back on our Facebook page and have an interactive and entertaining experience. Every aspect had to be engaging, visually reflective of the style and tone, and entertain our audience, so we included stills from the film as well as detailed character bios that fans could read, comment on, and share.
We are all socially connected now more than ever. There is no reason why you shouldn’t reach out and interact with your audience at any given time, therefore we made sure to engage our existing fan base getting that conversation started as early as possible before we launched our Kickstarter campaign. Personally reaching out and connecting prior can inspire people to either share your project or even contribute a little bit more money towards the end of your campaign because you’ve taken the time to plant the seeds and given them an experience. And, because of our meticulous attention to detail, we’ve been fortunate enough to have a few random people find our project on Kickstarter who not only sent us encouraging messages, but liked our fan page and shared our project on more than one occasion.
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
Reaching out to Mentorless.com and other relevant online communities and media was also a part of our plan to get our project more exposure – Thank you to Nathalie and her team. But as I’m sure she can attest to, nothing else will determine the success of your project and your future as much as the people with whom you are surrounded. As with anything we do, we all collaborate extensively and thoroughly before making any decisions reflecting our goals. This is a supportive group where egos are put aside and the best idea wins. I’d like to share a few comments from the creative team behind Love Magical and babywolf productions.
Justin Foran – Writer/Producer/Co-director
Raising money on Kickstarter is not the only goal. This is your first chance to connect with an audience, build a fan base, and interact with a community of people that will support your film until the end. Every detail, from your Kickstarter video, to the fan page, to your style and tone, is reflective of you and your project. This isn’t about short-cuts or rushing through the process. This is about understanding who and what you are – so that you can convey that to an audience. Anything less is a disservice to yourself and the project you’ve spent years or months trying to complete. But, most importantly, if you’re not going to take it seriously, how can you expect someone else to, so make it great.
Jason Sokoloff – Producer/Co-director
We all consider ourselves filmmakers no matter what our job on set might be. Each member of our team shares his or her unique aesthetic and personal experience contributing to every aspect of the film. There are no egos, as we all collectively understand the greater good is the film itself. Many times our opinions differ, but we all share one common goal… keep the focus on the story and the actors, because in the end, that’s what the audience will see on the screen. Story always wins! It seems simple, but is often neglected. Our team inherently understands and enjoys the collaborative process of telling a good story. This most of all is what really matters.
John Solo – Producer/Actor
Kickstarter is the first time that we are unveiling our film to the public. It is only a few segments of our film, but, nevertheless, it is important that we are able to express visually what our future audience can expect from us as filmmakers. A successful Kickstarter campaign is an important indicator that we are moving in the right direction.
Nick Fleming – Writer/Associate Producer/Actor
Throughout the process, we’ve been a team of people focused on the goal of making the best film possible, which isn’t relegated to just what you see on screen anymore. If you want to be taken seriously, you have to present a total package and it’s imperative that you hold yourself to high standards. When communicating with an audience, everything must be cohesive. If something is out of joint, it will quickly become apparent, so attention to detail is a must. We think in terms of quality not quantity because we know there are repercussions for simply turning out material. We’ve created something that we can all be proud of and we did that as a team.
Niko Nikolaou and his babywolf productions team are currently on Kickstarter raising funds for the soundtrack to their film, Love Magical.
You can see more information on the project through the links below: