Rotterdam rethinks crowd-funding plan

Fest mulls lessons of Cinema Reloaded experiment

ROTTERDAM — The Rotterdam Film Festival has emerged battered but unbowed from its experiment with crowd funding, Cinema Reloaded.

“There is unquestionably a tangible end-product, in the shape of two short films, but it took a year to fund them and it was necessary to endure a number of painful stages of evaluation and re-evaluation,” the festival concluded in a report on the experience released Monday.

The two films, “Random Strangers” by Alexis Dos Santos and “No One Is Illegal” by Ho Yuhang, bowed at the fest Sunday night, in front of an audience of its public co-producers.

Coin from the crowd fell far short of targets and both projects had to be completed with help from festival coffers.

Two other Cinema Reloaded projects dropped out because of helmer time conflicts.

The fest concludes that building closer connections with between filmmakers and audiences is still valid, but that crowd funding may not yet be up to the job. “Rotterdam caught the initial upswing of the curve and, arguably, caught the disillusion too.”

It concedes that it got the price point wrong when it asked for a minimum investment of Euros5 ($6.86).

“The lesson of the year looks to be that people will pay more but expect more in return. More for more looks to be the basic economic model for crowd-funding,” the report stated.

Other lessons included the need to have full-time staff attached, in particular to make social networks hum, and to reach for a higher profile.

The festival is mulling how to continue Cinema Reloaded.

“We think that maybe a platform like this could be beneficial to African film makers, for example, who cannot rely on local funding bodies to finance their work,” said fest topper Rutger Wolfson.

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