The Fitzroy Update – 5 Kickstarter Lessons

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The filmmakers of The Fitzory are really close to their goal. This is the final week, so if you want to be a movie investor here’s your chance. 

To celebrate the final push, Andrew Harmer, the writer-director of The Fitzroy gives his take on using Kickstarter to finance your project. 

 

The five things filmmakers can learn from Kickstarter (and visa-versa The five things Kickstarter creators can learn from filmmakers). By a filmmaker in the middle of a campaign!
Hello, I’m Andrew Harmer, the writer-director of the Fitzroy. Right up front I want to say we are currently slap bang in the thick end of a Kickstarter campaign.
Here’s the elevator pitch for the film.
The Fitzroy is a live action black comedy set in an alternative post-apocalyptic 1950’s. The world is covered in a poisons gas and the last place for a traditional seaside holiday is The Fitzroy hotel an abandoned submarine just of Margate.
This list isn’t necessarily the five things we have done, but it is the five things we would do (or be prepared for) if we started over again! Kickstarter, like film making is a constant learning curve and this list might well change by the end of the campaign.
1)   Tell the most interesting story.
You only really get one shot at a Kickstarter campaign or making a film. Sure you might do another one or another dozen but then a bus might also hit you! So you better make this one count and make it the best it can be.
And that means telling the best story you can.
A film has to be the very best ‘version’ of that story you can possibly tell. The most interesting, dramatic and honed story possible.  Nobody want’s the B plots to be more interesting than your focus so make sure you are telling the most interesting story.
The same goes for a Kickstarter campaign. You need to hook people into your campaign and to do that you need a great story (as well as a great product). And I don’t just mean the story you are selling, I mean the story behind the project. YOUR story. Your struggles, the adventure you have been on to get to this point. Is your idea based on a life altering brush with death? Did you witness a moment of kindness between an old man and his wife on the buss while riding the bus to work? It doesn’t matter what it is, just make sure it’s interesting and told the best way possible.
2) Be yourself.
Let your personality shine. I like films where I can ‘see’ the personalities of the filmmakers. I don’t always like those personalities, but I would much prefer to see an idiosyncratic film than a pixel pushing blockbuster with no heart. I truly believe a soul of a film comes from the people who make it. While it is being made it absorbs the personality and characteristics of the director (if they want it to). And I want to see that. Film is a personnel experience a conversation between the viewer and the director.
Same goes for Kickstarter, but to an even larger degree. The old adage ‘people invest in people’ is true. You have to put yourself out there. It’s scary but you have to share your passion, fears and hopes. Sure you might end up looking like a fool but if you don’t put yourself out there people will just turn off. But word of warning – don’t try to be something you’re not. If you’re funny be funny but if you are not don’t even try. Cool and hip? That’s fine but if you aren’t don’t force it. People can smell it, and it stinks. No bullshit. Just be yourself and people will engage with you.
3) Do it quick.
Okay this is straightforward. Kickstarter is on the web so you don’t have long to tell your story. Minutes, if you are lucky but seconds in reality. So you better make your page accessible, clear and your pitch video SHORT and to the point.
Same goes for the film (unless you’re Terrence Malick) edit, edit, edit. Cut the fat and edit that script so it’s tighter than a drum. All through the film and into post production, if it doesn’t move the story on then it goes. Don’t waste people’s time.
Word of warning though don’t jump the gun and rush head first in to it. With both Kickstarter and films make sure you are ready, that everything is prepared. And even if you think it is – it probably isn’t. Do it quick but make sure you are prepared.
4)   ­Know your audience and engage with them.
Kickstarter is social, very social. It is a direct link between creators and their audience and in my humble opinion a very powerful tool. But before you start a campaign you must identify the audience you are targeting. This could be fairly obvious, your family and friends, people with ipods, hardcore gamers, Teddy Ruxpin fans. Whatever your audience you need to identify them, find them and engage with them.
Film-makers need to do the same thing. There’s not a one size fits all film. Everyone has different tastes and yes you can try to create a film that appeals to as many people as possible and the mass market. But I prefer films that are aimed at… well… me and my tastes. There is a distinct risk when trying to appeal to everyone that you can water down a story. Be specific and know your audience.
5)   Take it seriously and have respect.
Both Kickstarter and filmmaking are, at the end of the day, businesses and you are asking for people’s time and money. That is not to be taken lightly. Sure you are hopefully giving back to them in the form of entertainment or in the case of Kickstarter some sort of reward. When people give you their hard earned money you have a responsibility, a contract to deliver on your promises and work your boney ass off to make sure you do.
If I can tell someone has put their heart and soul in to a project or a film it means a lot to me as an audience member and it pays dividends.
6)   Be flexible and learn to adapt.
Just like this list! It was meant to be five and we end up with six? It’s not a problem just not what I was expecting when I started writing. It took me by surprise. Your Kickstarter project is an organic beast­, it is going to change and develop as the campaign progresses. It is going to throw you some curve balls, stuff you planed will fail and other avenues and opportunities will suddenly appear. You can’t let the setbacks knock you, you just have to keep moving forward and be open to any new possibilities.
I can’t think off anything that is more applicable than that to film making! Be flexible and make it work.
So that’s it, that’s what I have learnt so far, and who knows what is around the corner. Hopefully we can reach our target and make an awesome film. If I heed my own advice, we just might!
If you would like to see how we are doing on our campaign please check it out. www.thefitzroy.com/ks any advice or support in spreading the word would be warmly welcomed.

I hope you learned some valuable lessons about Kickstarter from the filmmakers of The Fitzroy.  For more information, review the latest Fitzroy Press Release.  

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