Crowdfunding Tip #1: The Campaign Video
Vann Alexandra Daly is a Miami-born, New York-based crowdfunding producer who gives life to art she believes in. Alex was recently named the “crowdsourceress” for her expertise in crowdfunding. Over the course of a year, Alex has raised millions of dollars for clients including Oscar and Emmy-nominated filmmakers and Neil Young. She has served on panels at distinguished film festivals and universities and consults Knight Foundation art grantees. In addition to her crowdfunding successes, Alex is a producer for the feature length documentary Cocaine Prison, which has received support from the Macarthur Foundation, Cannes Film Festival’s Fonds Sud Cinema, Sundance Documentary Fund, Tribeca Latin America Fund, Bertha BritDoc Journalism Award, and more. Her other films have been selected by the world’s most prestigious festivals including Sundance and Tribeca.
The universal question around what I do is (not surprisingly): What does it take to make a successful crowdfunding campaign? The question comes up at panels; during dinner parties; within the first ten minutes of meeting a new client; on the subway in rush hour; etc. But much like answering the question What is the meaning of life?, there is no one clear answer. There are several.
A crowdfunding campaign is made up of so many moving parts, and all these parts need to be done right and well for it to be an overall success. So, to use my nickname “the Crowdsourceress” to good use, I am going to start offering (hopefully) helpful crowdfunding tips right here in this column.
A ton of the work around a crowdfunding campaign occurs even before the campaign begins. This period of time is what I like to call “preproduction.” One of the most important pre-launch elements of a campaign is the video. The campaign video is essential as it’s usually the first thing that potential backers see when they go to your project page. What makes a good campaign video? A handful of things: length; storytelling; your brand voice; and production quality.
To start off, keep your video short and sweet. I would say stick to under three minutes, as potential backers might lose interest and decide to go onto the next project. In this short period of time, be sure to talk about what your project is about, who is making it, and why you need the funds. Remember: short and sweet.
Of course there are exceptions to this rule, such as the Neil Young campaign I am running, which is 11 minutes long. Our video is made up of top music industry execs and famous musicians (Sting, Elton John, Eddie Vedder, Beck, etc), talking about their love for our product, PonoMusic, and they take their time talking (and gushing about it). While I was a bit concerned about the length at first, Neil was adamant about keeping it as is because, in the end, it’s his vision, and he knows it best. This is what I realized: because we were introducing an audioplayer we had to create an experience for our backers as they could not actually hear the player. The best way to do this was through telling a story via experts in the field. And with one day left of the campaign, and 750% over our goal, it’s clear it worked.
Which brings me to the next video element: storytelling. I absolutely loved the storytelling in this film project by a Emerson college student raising money for his experimental short. Clocking in at 2:29, it’s descriptive, clear, and very fun. What this student also did very well was use his “brand” voice. His video was quirky, which aligned with the aesthetic of his experimental short film. Along these lines, in a recent fashion project, a lingerie designer used her company’s brand voice exceptionally well in her video, which mimicked the French film Amelie. Through her video, she really captured what her company and style is all about.
So if you’re raising money for a funny film, make your video funny. If you’re a serious person making a serious product, be serious. Do not try to go against who you are or what your project is trying to be. Be honest and authentic in representing your project throught the video.
The last and very necessary element is production quality. Make sure your video looks and sounds good. If you have a friend who works in film, ask for a favor. Or consider this an out of pocket expense. It will be worth it.
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