Crowdfunding website IndieGoGo made a good showing this year at SXSW: Three of its films were in the mix, including the popular “My Sucky Teen Romance,” which raised its entire budget on the website — demonstrating the power of the “executive producer” credit.
The Los Angeles Film Festival looks to further establish the site — and crowdfunding in general. Four films in LAFF are IndieGoGo spawn: world-premiering dramedy “An Ordinary Family,” by helmer Mike Akel; doc “Wish Me Away,” about lesbian country singer Chely Wright; doc “Salaam Dunk,” about women’s basketball in northern Iraq; and out-of-competition doc “The Bully Project” by Lee Hirsch, which has already been picked up by The Weinstein Co.”
“People have said, ‘Well, sure, it’s easy for those guys to raise $25,0000; the film was picked up,’ ” says IndieGoGo co-founder Slava Rubin. “But they have it precisely backwards.”
Like Kickstarter and other crowdfunding sites, IndieGoGo takes a percentage of what filmmakers raise — 4% if they reach their announced goal or deadline, 9% if they don’t.
But unlike other film-financing sites, IndieGoGo is open to anything.
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“One guy raised money for his root canal,” Rubin says. The counterintuitive nature of crowdfunding — that people will give away money for what some would see as nothing — is making it a phenomenon.
“Imagine when we were trying to launch the site and sell people on the idea,” says Kickstarter co-founder Yancey Strickler.
But one person’s “nothing” is another’s good reason to give. “People will give money for four reasons,” Rubin says. “They care about the cause or the person involved; they want the things being offered in exchange for giving funds; they want to be part of something bigger than themselves, and they want a profit — which does not happen on IndieGoGo or any other legal funding site.”
To help IndieGoGo-funded project “Zero Charisma” raise $25,000 from 300 funders, incentives ranged from a “thank you” for $10 to an executive producer credit for $5,000. Associate producers coughed up $1,000 each.
On Kickstarter, documentarian Jennifer Fox, after having set an initial goal of $50,000 for her nonfiction drama “My Reincarnation,” ended up recently with more than $150,000, a Kickstarter record for what was virtually a finished film. “I can’t really explain it,” Fox says. “Once we got $50,000, we kind of reframed the campaign. ‘OK, we met our goal, but we really need more.’ The film was finished but it wasn’t paid for.”
Most projects reap more modest rewards, but the results are still impressive: “Salaam Dunk” set a goal of $10,000 and raised more than $14,000; “An Ordinary Family” made approximately $19,500 from 250 funders.
But on IndieGoGo, specific pics aren’t the only film-related projects being funded: Reel Works, a summer project to teach filmmaking to inner city New York City kids, is on the way to $10,000.”We’re open to any idea, (and) we’re in 180 countries,” Rubin says. “And we’re very proud of our 24-hour customer response policy.”
Actually, the whole idea seem a lot less painful than root canal.