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GoFundMe Launches Studio to Produce Content Based on Site’s Fundraising Campaigns

GoFundMe is looking to turn heart-warming stories of people raising money on its crowdfunding platform for good into original content — designed to inspire others to pay it forward.

The company has established GoFundMe Studios, a video-production unit that will generate short-form documentaries, feature-length films, podcasts, and other content. GoFundMe has hired former GoPro exec Wil Tidman (pictured above) as executive producer and head of GoFundMe Studios, and filmmaker and commercial director Chris Neil as an executive producer.

“It’s not entertainment or branded content,” said GoFundMe chief marketing officer Raquel Rozas. “Our core hypothesis is that people will be inspired by these stories to turn compassion into action.” Naturally, the hope is they’ll launch fundraising campaigns on the site — so the GoFundMe Studios productions will, in fact, function as branded content.

Tidman worked at GoPro for more than five years, most recently as VP of creative, strategy and original productions; the action-camera maker announced last year it was shutting down its entertainment division. Over the course of his two-decade-plus career, Tidman has produced video content, films, and shows for networks and brands including NBC, ESPN, IMG Media, Real Madrid, Red Bull and Nike.

“GoFundMe Studios will showcase the extraordinary stories of humans changing the world through the simple act of giving,” Tidman said in a statement.

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Neil made his film directing debut with “Goats,” starring David Duchovny, Vera Farmiga, and Dakota Johnson, which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. As a commercial director, he’s worked with agencies including DigitasLBi, Publicis, and Commonwealth//McCann. Tidman and Neil are based out of GoFundMe’s headquarters in Redwood City, Calif.

GoFundMe Studios’ first release is “Jim Ford, Repo Man.” The 9-minute documentary, produced by Tidman, is about a repo man in St. Louis who launched a fundraising campaign for an elderly couple — whose 1998 Buick he had repossessed — to pay off the amount they owed on their car and get it back.

Additional projects currently in production, to be released later this year, include: “This Ends With Me,” about Shane Johnson, raised as a Ku Klux Klan member, who renounces his upbringing and starts a new future by removing his racist tattoos; and “The St. Louis 6,” about six young bulls who escape from a St. Louis slaughterhouse and begin a journey to the safety of the Gentle Barn animal sanctuary.

Starting in 2018, the goal is for GoFundMe Studios to release at least one documentary short per month, with weekly shorter-form stories, Rozas said. The company will distribute the content on YouTube and social-media channels as well as through media and brand partnerships. Rozas said the company is in early discussions with TV networks and digital-video players on potential distribution deals.

Launched in 2010, GoFundMe has raised more than $4 billion for numerous causes from more than 40 million individual donors. Earlier this year, it acquired CrowdRise, an online fundraising platform for charities and non-profits. Other companies in the crowdfunding space include Kickstarter, Indiegogo and JustGiving.

In the U.S. and Canada, GoFundMe takes a 5% cut of all donations, and charges an additional 2.9% payment-processing fee (plus 30 cents per donation). To curb fraud on the platform, the company says it uses fraud-detection technologies and employs a dedicated team of specialists to track down scams.

Watch the first GoFundMe Studios production, “Jim Ford, Repo Man”:

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