Three weeks ago I wrote about my horror comedy feature, The Restaurant. We embarked on a Kickstarter campaign to secure funding, and today marks the final day of that endeavor. Today is also the beginning: the beginning of pre-production as we move to the next phase of the journey.
We have a few hours left. Funding doesn’t close until 2:00 eastern time tonight, which means if you’re reading this from the west coast, you have until 11:00 to back the film.
Kickstarter incurs a 5% fee plus a 3% payment processing fee, and the more distance we can put between ourselves and the 18,000 mark, the more we can offset those fees. The more we can raise, the more resources we’ll have for makeup and effects, location use, taking care of our cast and crew, and unanticipated expenses. In exchange for your backing, we offer a wide selection of perks. At the $15 backer level, you get a digital copy of the film. $50 gets you a Kickstarter Edition disc with exclusive special features and content, including the soundtrack and pre-production materials (one of our most popular rewards).
My team is excited and happy to have come this far, and we’re eager to get to the fun part: making the movie. I’ve learned a lot from the crowdfunding experience and it’s given me a new respect for entrepreneurship and what goes into starting a business — because that’s essentially what we are doing.
Lesson 1 was about community and relationships. It doesn’t matter how good your movie or idea is unless you have people to share it, spread the word, and be your first adopters. When you’re starting out, many of these people will be friends, family, and colleagues. Even now, in 2015, the telephone is perhaps the most important fundraising tool available. If you’re a shut-in, Kickstarter likely won’t work for you.
Lesson 2 is that you must have an amazing product. If you’re a great salesman with a lot of friends, you may get a lot of people onboard, but if the product itself doesn’t excite people, it’ll never pick up steam. You have to convince people that you’re creating something so good, so fresh, and so cool, that they feel compelled to buy in. Our strategy going in was to have a really, really good teaser trailer. It had to be better than anything else I’ve ever created, and I believe it was. We went a long way on the strength of that trailer.
If I could start over, I would’ve done things differently. It’s popular among my peers to hate on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, but these were some of the most important fundraising tools we had. We weren’t able to gain traction on Reddit and I feel we missed out on huge opportunities there. If I ever do another crowdfund, I’d start laying the groundwork on social media three to six months in advance (Lesson 1). I would also begin creating large amounts of the best content I could possibly afford and hire my whole cast and crew long before launch (Lesson 2). I’m grateful and consider myself fortunate to have done so well on Kickstarter. Most of the credit for that goes to my cast and crew, who demonstrated amazing drive and adaptability throughout the campaign.
If you’re reading this and haven’t backed us yet, there’s still time. If you are a backer, thanks again for your support — it has meant everything to us.