Why I Don’t Support Crowd Funding

April 26, 2012

I know it might seem like a buzz kill or a let down to some, but the truth is I just don’t support crowd funding. Things like KickStarter or IndieGoGo were a novel idea and I as a filmmaker got super excited about it. The thing is, as with all great ideas, at some point they get abused. With great ideas involving money, it happens even more & usually quicker. Some people might not understand why I don’t support these things, so I thought I’d explain a little.

First and foremost, crowd funding means that fans are funding their own entertainment. Yes they get something in return for their money, but then when to go to see the movie they have to pay again in some cases. They also have no guarantee that what they are funding is going to be a good investment. While there’s always risk in investment, you still want it to pay off. The idea that every crowd funded project is going to be as good as the people behind it think it will be is ridiculous. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met in my time as a filmmaker that come talking about how wonderful their movie is going to be and then I see it and it’s anything but.

Another reason is that pretty much anyone can get in on crowd funding. You might know some of the people asking for your financial support, but then you might not. Aside from looking these people up on Google there’s really no way to see who all involved are and what they bring to the project. I know all to well that even experienced people can bring unwanted drama to a project and worst case, cause it to fail. Why am I going to put my money into something that can be such a risk? I don’t know if any of these people are in fact experienced at all and the filmmakers could just be some monkeys with a camera.

For people who do know what they are doing and have a great screenplay, this idea of crowd funding is terrific. They get support, they build awareness of their project, they move forward with putting something outstanding together. The thing is they are never guaranteed that they get the money that everyone promises. They put so much time into trying to get financial support from fans and such that they could have just as well gotten their money by saving it up themselves or getting a loan or getting their cast and crew to chip in.

All of these things I just mentioned are ideas I have seen put into use and are somewhat effective (especially just saving your money up). I personally have used tax return money to bulk up what I needed to get funding for the projects I made. Using this method you’re pretty much guaranteed the funds and you’re directly in control of the project because it’s your money.

You also build an appreciation for how long it took and how much work you had to put in to get the money. On top of this, you learn what you need to spend money on that you might not have anticipated, such as DVD materials, marketing costs, promo costs, cost of materials, or the cost of using a company to put the final product together. It’s more likely you’ll be budget conscious and do better with what you got because it’s YOUR money.

The other thing that bugs me about this is that is cheapens the titles of credits that are being sold. The credits in a movie mean something. There are actual people behind those titles who do a lot of work. More than you’d think. Crowd funding at certain levels is essentially selling credits. Giving people credit for simply handing over cash makes those titles worthless. The only credit I’d be comfortable selling off is Executive Producer because they are usually the ones who fund a movie.

Say someone puts a project up on KickStarter, they make their goal there but for some reason they feel that they need to run the same campaign again over on IndieGoGo. That is an abuse of the system. Even if they are splitting the real goal between two spots, it’s pushing the limits of good taste. I’ve seen filmmakers who posted their full goal, it was well known, they made it, and turned around to post the same goal on another site. Filmmakers can easily take advantage of people this way, but also, they push out the chance of another good project having a chance at funding by doing this kind of thing.

Besides, how do I know where my money is being spent at all? Is it being spent wisely or for something that’s going to just be a waste? What about having it spent on things that have little or nothing to do with the movie at all? Do I get my money back when the movie turns out to be crud? Nope.

The only saving grace of this idea is that (as far as I know) if you don’t make your project goal, then you don’t get the money – this in turn makes it so that fans willing to part with their earnings get to choose their poison so to speak. It’s totally up to them to choose who they trust and what they want to see produced. From this point of view, they have no one to blame (or pat on the back depending on things going right) but themselves.

I have seen a project or two here and there that totally deserves to be funded and I can see why they’d need the extra support. I’ve backed maybe three of these project by promoting them and that’s over the past three years. That should give you an idea of how much I support these projects since there are hundreds of them out there at any one time. Of the ones I’ve supported, two of them actually made their goal.

Ultimately it doesn’t really matter to me what YOU do, I’m only concerned about what I do and I choose to not support 99% of crowd funded projects. I’m not out to offend anyone, I’m not out to shoot people down or hurt them in any way. But I’m not going to hand over money or try to get other people to hand over money through promoting your crowd funding campaign when there’s nothing that stands out to me saying you deserve that money to just be handed over to you. Why would I want to buy your DVD before I know if it’s any good? Why would I want a hat or t-shirt for a project that’s not surely off the ground?

My advice, take the time you need to save up your money. It might take you a lot longer, but there are benefits to going this rout. You are the one in control of everything. You actually can pay your cast and crew if you account for that cost. This will make you look really good. You can get what equipment you want. You can get what props, locations, and other expendable things that you want without worry of interference from “the money”. You don’t have to worry about running a campaign or making other people, the fans, take the risks. You stand on your own.

Get an account at a bank, put back some money based on what you can afford to save up at what ever time frame you can afford, don’t ever touch the account until you reach your goal. If your job isn’t doing it for you, try selling your knowledge to people or come up with other projects that give people something they want that’s worth the money. If you can do artwork, sell that. If you can design and make your own clothes or dolls or whatever, do that. But asking others to fund your project, in my opinion it’s just tacky.

I am all about promoting people’s finished projects. I am happy to pass on information to others that doesn’t ridiculously put them at risk. If you want to do crowd funding, I don’t look down on you at all. It’s between you and whomever is involved. I’m not here to judge, but I’m not interested in funding or supporting these types of things.


– Mr. Frights





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