Kickstarter is not suited for most animated short films. Ok that is a little bit of an over simplification. What I want to say is that Kickstarter isn’t the right platform for raising money for projects you aren’t prepared NOT to make. Kickstarter is really just generating drama for it’s audience and animated filmmakers are providing the fuel for that drama for free. What do I mean by this?
Animation is a staggeringly labor intensive medium so when someone finally gets to the point they are ready to spread the word about a project and potentially impress someone enough to give them some money…. they’ve usually invested so much time, effort and resources that there is little chance they are going to abandon that concept if they don’t make the money they would like to get. This is a pitfall I’m seeing far too many short animated filmmakers going into. They post their projects on Kickstarter because that’s the current popular buzzword and assume their idea is so strong that they will meet their target. But you have to remember that Kickstarter doesn’t take the money if you don’t meet your goal. So you can put in a lot of effort attracting visitors to your Kickstarter page, spend a great deal of time making the intro video and designing the perks, only to get nothing at all in return if you don’t reach your target.
The truth is most of these filmmakers are planning to make their film anyway. They may fail or they may succeed but the outcome of the Kickstarter is unlikely to be the factor that changes that one way or the other as any amount on Kickstarter is likely to be very small relative to the effort put in to get the project done. So really there shouldn’t be a goal. There should just be an open call for funds and any amount raised over the course of the making of the film is appreciated and helps the film to be of a higher quality (or it gets done faster). IndieGoGo is a better platform as it pays out even if you don’t reach your (fictional) goal. But even that insists on an end date. When IndieGoGo started it didn’t require either an end date or a target value, but presumably the business model works better for them to copy Kickstarter’s model, which is a shame as it’s not well suited to short animated filmmakers with passion projects.
I have been developing, making, distributing and promoting my film ‘Devils, Angels and Dating‘ for over six years… It’s still doing festivals to this day and gaining recognition. The funding required to do that came from two places. 1) Three crowd funding efforts, and 2) My own (and the team member’s) pockets in the contributions of time and effort (and in some cases… cash). The crowd funding efforts were limited to such small windows of time as to amount to only two months of that six year period. Really an open call for funds throughout the production would have been more suitable. The trouble is it’s a huge drain on the team to be constantly asking for charity, so in some ways the narrow window of a month of crowd funding does limit that. One thing is clear though most animated filmmakers can’t really know how much money they are capable of raising, and they certainly can’t raise enough to cover the real cost of production, so setting a target doesn’t fit their model well at all.If you’re working on a passion project, please consider alternative methods of funding, from Kickstarter. I really hate to see filmmakers wasting their precious effort on goals that can’t be reached, then getting nothing. All you’re doing is attracting your carefully earned audience to Kickstarter in the long run, rather than benefiting your project. Kickstarter has been very smart, in that by setting a deadline and a goal that might not be reached they are creating drama that draws people to their site. That’s great for them in the long run, but very often not for the projects themselves that essentially put in all the time and effort providing Kickstarter with free content to fuel their drama.Here are the success stories you hear so much about on Kickstarter. But what you’re going to notice is that Kickstarter does a very good job of making it hard to find the graveyard of campaigns that have failed… and there are a lot! IndieGoGo actually has much better search tools to research other projects so you can find the failures as well as the success stories, which is good as it’s a resource for figuring out how to do your own campaigns. Here are some of IndieGoGo’s success stories… maybe not as glamorous, but remember the key difference… these small projects raised some money, the ones that didn’t reach their goals on Kickstarter made no money at all.I will say one thing for Kickstarter. If you are only interested in aiming high and you’re ok with failing big for a gamble at raising big money then Kickstarter does have the audience. With so many other high profile projects on the site they attract more eyeballs that might not otherwise have found your campaign, and maybe you can convince them to part with their money… but you are in competition with those high profile projects… remember that.I ran two IndieGoGo campaigns and one Kickstarter over the course of making my film. This is the campaign that was the most successful. Remember that when I was doing this most people had never heard of crowdfunding so it was still a new thing and very much an uphill battle.