A Movie Guys once-over by Justin Bowler

It’s called and it’s bringing joy and cash to filmmakers, artists, and the like, who wish to raise money for their idea. What is it? Well according to its own “about” page on the site…
Kickstarter is a new way to fund creative projects.
We believe that:
• A good idea, communicated well, can spread fast and wide.
• A large group of people can be a tremendous source of money and encouragement.
Kickstarter is powered by a unique all-or-nothing funding method where projects must be fully-funded or no money changes hands.

Artists all over the U.S. are creating pages for the work they hope to create. Quite simply, you post a monetary goal for your project, and sell something to raise money to reach that goal. Too simple to believe? Well, yes, it is a bit more complicated than that. To illustrate how it works, I spoke with Banks Helfrich and he took me through the process of how he raised money for his upcoming film “7 lives of Chance”

First, he had to apply to Kickstarter. They had to approve his project before he began, including what he was offering to sell, and a plan of how he intended to bring people to the site (He was looking to raise $7777 for production of a film he wants to make). He also had to agree to give Kickstarter their 5% cut of whatever he made. After that, he posted it.

Now, Banks, was incredibly creative with what he was offering to sell. While most filmmakers looking to raise money offer pre-sale of DVDs or signed headshots of their cast, Banks took it way further. For $57, you would get to send in a prop to be used in the movie, get a credit at the end of the film, and get a DVD of the finished product. For $77, you could buy a place in the background of the film for your art (His particular film took place in an art gallery). For $257, he would send you a list of character breakdowns, and you would get to name a character. And his list of interesting incentives goes on and on.

Once that was set up, he had to make sure the money was raised within a certain amount of time. This is the tricky part because if you don’t raise all of your money, then all of the funds go back to the donators. Furthermore, Banks makes films “for people who like to think”. People may not be so ready to spit out $50 to help a straight up genre flick, like a horror film with violence and nudity. Remember, there has to be some appeal for people to donate.

In order to draw people to the site, Banks relied on more than just friends and family (although, he pursued them as well), instead, he positioned his attempt to raise money to coincide with the tour of his latest endeavor at film festivals. So, while he was touring with his most recent feature, he was also handing out fliers with the project web address for Kickstarter. He goes to film festivals early, talks with local colleges, and radio stations to hype the festival (and while he is at it, raises awareness for his next project). While he admits it is very laborious, but he also admits it definitely can be done. Before Banks just jumped into it. He studied Kickstarter for three months, watching and learning what worked and what didn’t work for people and their projects. His best advice is to “Let it become a life of it’s own.” After all “it is an emotional rollercoaster”. He worked for hours everyday emailing people, facebooking, posting on blogs, and constantly asking people for the lowest amount to donate. (For him it was $7). But, “eventually friends of friends were donating.”

He admits, that Kickstarter is “not for a $200K project”, but for the smaller indie films it can make the difference in whether or not the film happens at all. I know, as an indie filmmaker, an extra $10K can go a long way when you start reaching the bottom of your purse. Finishing funds anyone?

Banks says “the biggest thing about Kickstarter is that it brings awareness of what I do as a filmmaker and creates a fan base.” In fact, he refers to his donors as his “online film studio.” Get people involved in your project, make them feel like they are a part of it, and it will become something bigger than just a movie.

See Banks Helfrich’s Kickstarter page for “7 Lives of Chance” HERE.
Visit Paul Osborne’s (director of “Official Rejection”, reviewed on this site) Kickstarter page for his newest project FAVOR. And donate if you can! His pledge cycle ends may 6th.


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