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.  

Post Apocalyptic 1950’s – The Fitzroy – A SQM Special Report

For those of you new to my word, SQM stands for Sydney Quotes the Movies.  Every long running feature deserves its own catchy acronym.

I am fascinated by submarines.  The idea of living in a metal canister with artificial air for months at a time underwater is scary and cool all at the same time.  I love submarine shows(Last Resort) and movies (Crimson Tide), too.

I have even had the opportunity to tour the USS Dolphin in San Diego.

So, when I heard about this new film, I wanted to help spread the word.

Welcome to The Fitzroy:

Meet our Hero – Bernard The Bellboy

Meet the rest of the Characters

The Story

The Fitzroy is a live action black comedy set in an alternative, post-apocalyptic, 1950’s.  The Fitzroy hotel, a derelict submarine beached just off Margate, is the last place for a traditional summer holiday.

Bernard, the hotel’s overworked and under-appreciated bellboy, faces a constant battle to keep the rusting hotel afloat and ship shape.  But when he falls in love with one of the guest, the murderous femme fatale Sonya, he is thrown into a world of lies, chaos and literal backstabbing.

Read the Quotes

“Well you’ve got the beach, bit cold this time of year but still nice. Just stay way from the sewage outlet.”  – Bernard
 
“WAKE UP YOU GOOD-FOR-NOTHINGS! I SAID WAKE UP AND GET OUT. GET OUT WHILE YOU STILL CAN.” – Mr. Thompson
 
“A business partner, a co-owner, a lover. Whatever you want to call me.” – Sonya
 
“MURDER. “Murder” – you say it just like that, like it’s nothing, just murder that’s all. Murder.” – Bernard (I think I am going to like Bernard)

Meet the Film Makers

James Heath, Andrew Harmer & Liam Garvo

Get Involved

The shooting production budget for The Fitzroy is £50,000. They are looking to raise £60,000 through the crowdfunding site Kickstarter, which, once Kickstater’s fee and the reward costs are removed, should leave them with £50,000. Opportunely, Kickstarter UK launched on the 31st October just in time for The Fitzroy campaign.

Kickstarter is the best-recognised and most respected crowdfunding website. It’s full of ambitious, innovative, and imaginative projects that are brought to life through the direct support of others. Since their launch in 2009, over $350 million has been pledged by more than 2.5 million people, funding more than 30,000 creative projects.

Kickstarter link: www.thefitzroy.com/ks
Twitter: @the_fitzroy
Email: hello@thefitzroy.com
URL: www.thefitzroy.com
Blog: http://thefitzroy.wordpress.com/ 
 
For more information, download The Fitzroy Press Kit

The Nineties Blogfest

1990 – Favorite Movie – Goodfellas – Best Gangster Movie Ever

1991 – Favorite Sitcom – Seinfeld – although it debuted in 1990, I didn’t start watching it until season 2.

1992 – Favorite Album and Album Title – 3 Years, 5 Months & 2 Days in the Life Of . . . by Arrested Development – Song:  Tennessee, Mr. Wendal, People Everyday.  Favorite Lyric:   “Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day, teach him how to fish and he’ll eat forever.”

1993 – Favorite Reality Show – The Real World Los Angeles – MTV was the only channel that was doing reality shows and The Real World was the original.  This season featured Tami, David, Beth, Jon, Aaron, Dominic, Irene, Glenn, Beth.  It was more then 7 because David got kicked off by his roommates for inappropriate behavior and Irene got married.  This show has come a long way.

1994 – Favorite TV Drama – My So Called Life – The whole series the cast would refer to other characters by their full name:  Angela Chase, Rayanne Graff, Jordan Catalano, Rickie Vasquez, Brian Krakow (I did that from memory.) It was a great show despite being cancelled after the first season.

1995 – Favorite Movie Character Name – Keyser Soze from The Usual Suspects

1996 – Favorite Concert – The Fugees – Tallahassee, Florida

1997 – Favorite year for Movies – Titanic, Good Will Hunting, As Good as it Gets, Starship Troopers, Grosse Pointe Blank, The Devils Advocate, Boogie Nights, G.I. Jane, L.A. Confidential, Donnie Brasco (“For get about it”), Deconstructing Harry, Amistad, Face/Off, Contact, Affliction, Eve’s Bayou, Gattaca – Now, I am sure you could do this with any year, but truly some great movies came out this year along with a few of my all time favorite; Titanic, Good Will Hunting and Face/Off.

1998 – My favorite Book – Bag of Bones by Stephen King – one of his best.

1999 – Favorite Acting pair – Edward Norton and Brad Pitt in Fight Club

What are your favorites from the 90’s? 

Character Profiles as a Marketing Tool

I was watching one of my 4 English channels.  Yes, my much anticipated move to Shanghai reduced my tv watching options.  Recently, they have been heavily advertising a new show called Last Resort.  It stars Andre Braugher and Scott Speedman(the hot guy from Felicity).

One marketing tool they use in Asia is marketing the show as airing the same week as the US telecast.  I don’t really get that one, I mean really, who cares.  It’s not like I am calling up my friends in the US to see if they caught the latest episode of The Amazing Race season 400.  It’s kind of an expensive call, we stick to important topics.

But, a more effective marketing tool they are using is 15 second character profiles.

Still hot.
The first profile they show is of Scott Speedman’s character, Sam Kendal.  
In 15 seconds you learn:
Sam is the XO on the USS Colorado.  
He is the morally conscious character.  
He spells charm without a c. (not sure what that means)
Committed and Determined
He’s as loyal to his country as he is to his wife.
*Imagine these lines delivered by the movie trailer guy voice.  

In an action packed promo, they tell who he is, his motivation and his role in the series.  They use images and quotes from him that make you instantly like him, relate to him and want to root for him.

In a clearly action packed type series; regular promos show submarines, bombs, and drama, drama, drama,  ABC understands in order to have a successful series long term, the audience has to get to know and care about what happens to the characters.

This is a great tool to use in book promotion as well.  A book and a television series are similar in they takes some commitment from the reader and view in order to be successful.  If you don’t like a movie, well, you only committed a couple of hours.  No big deal. But, most series want you to stick around for at least 20 episodes. In books, you want people to read until the last page.

So, how do you keep people turning the page until the end.  They have to either like, hate or at the least, relate to the character. So, why not tell them about your characters early on in the promotion of your book.

My MC Character Profile: 
Sierra is smart, funny and reliable to a fault.
But, when it comes to her own happiness, she has a history of putting others needs above her own.
When she meets John, she realize she could easily fall into her old patterns, but she is determined to not let that be her legacy. 
*In the movie trailer guys voice.  

Use your characters in your marketing to get a head start on letting your audience know why they need to read your book.

Also, it doesn’t hurt to have an awesome  quote like the one used below in every Last Resort Promo.
“I am not going to annihilate  3.4 million Pakistanis without hearing directly
Greatness of Andre Braugher
from someone whose authority that I recognize.” Marcus Chaplin played by Andre Braugher.
 

Share three statements about your MC that will make readers want to read your book. 

Would you give up a year of your life to . . .

I recently read an article in the July 2012 issue of Cosmopolitan Magazine.  The title of of the article was Would you give up a Year of Your Life to Sleep With Ryan Gosling?

The article proceed to pose several opposing scenarios and it got me thinking how would I answer these questions?  I decided to give myself a little quiz.

Would I give up a year of my life to sleep with Ryan Gosling?

Maybe, but for Johnny Depp, Ben Foster, Troy Aikman, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Chef Michael Votaggio, or Orlando Bloom – absolutely.  Just as long as I got to tell people and I got to leverage the encounter in order to gain either tabloid magazine money, a book deal or become the host of my own talk show.

MAYBE
DEFINITELY

WITHOUT HESITATION

But, if there was potential for a long lasting relationship with any of the above, disregard the previous sentence.  For the sake of love and all that.

Would you adopt Rosey Perez’s speaking voice if it meant you could sing like Adele?

No, but if I was given the ability to create a unique and distinct voice that produced the amount of accolades and recognition that Adele received, then I would.  There will never be another Adele.

I would just sing everything.  You ever see Whitney Houston’s reality show, she sang all the time.

Would you sleep with a rat in your bed every night for a month to have the ability to fly?

No, I don’t do rats under any circumstance.  And, who would want the ability to fly?  Do you realize how dangerous it would be?  You would have to compete with planes and birds and the occasional pterodactyl.  It could happen.  If humans can fly, dinosaurs can return.  Having an effective communication system would be your biggest concern.  You don’t want the Air Force thinking you are an enemy bogey and shooting you down every day.  That could get annoying.

See How Much Trouble Ironman Had

Would you vajazzle your frenemy’s hoo-ha to have anything you want from Tiffany? 

This one was hard for me.  I can’t think of any circumstance where I would want to be near anyone’s hoo-ha except my own, but I do love Tiffany.  Now if we are talk sterling silver infinity charm, no.  If we are talking white gold channel set 4 carat diamond ring, I won’t lie, I would consider it.  I love diamonds.

Pretty, but . . .
Diamonds – Enough Said.

Would you give up sex to be able to eat everything you wanted yet magically be thin?

No way in hell. And, why the hell would you want to?

Would you give up your sense of taste for the ability to read peoples minds?

This one is easy for me.  Like all of the super power questions, I don’t want that kind of pressure, or responsibility.  Just think of the all the crazy stuff that goes on in your own mind.  Then, compare that to the stuff you actually put out in the word.  Yeah, there are some things I just don’ t need to know.

And, if I slept with Chef Voltaggio and gave up a year of my life, I would at least want to taste the breakfast he would prepare for me the next day.

Would you get a face tattoo for five million?

I would get a face tattoo for 100,000 dollars.  Anyone want to start a collection?

Maybe I need to rethink this one.

Would you give up your memory of the last five years if you knew the next five would rock?

This questions was the most interesting to me because I have been in China for 5 years.  While I have had some good experiences, it hasn’t been the best time of my life.  It hasn’t been the life I wanted to live.

On the other hand, I wouldn’t want to give up the lessons I have learned over the last 5 years.  The biggest lesson is that I will never put myself in a situation where I would even consider this type of choice.

The goal going forward is to create a life that I want to live.

So, would you give up a year of your life to sleep with Ryan Gosling or Jennifer Aniston?  Is there any time in your life you would consider giving up?  

Photos courtesy of Tiffany.com, Food & Wine Magazine.com & IMDb.com.