Last week, Matt went to a special Sundance session in which Kickstarter co-founder Yancey Strickler spoke about how indie filmmakers can best use the site.
Here’s his report.
Kickstarter has a 45% success rate for funding projects. Of those that fail, 40% of never get a single dollar. Across all categories, more than 7,000 projects (of all types) have been funded.
In terms of film, some rough numbers:
1,700 successfully funded projects.
$15 million in pledges so far.
3,000 live projects on the site as of this posting.
12 projects have raised more than $100k, six of them films. (Four of those were docs.)
How can I succeed in fundraising on Kickstarter?
Of the projects that are funded:
1) Most have a great video.
For a good example, check out I Am I. If you can’t manage that level of entertainment, keep it short — 60% of people stop watching videos after 20 seconds.
2) Rewards/Incentives are priced according to expectations.
For example, if you’re offering a DVD, ask for an amount close to what a DVD costs. No $125 tote bags. Aim to foster emotional connections to your project by offering personalized art or experiences associated with the film. Screenings, posters, credits, background roles, etc…
3) Filmmakers have strong communities.
The bulk of support will come from those who know and love you. That support will spur on those that follow you online and the size and reach of that support will determine how many stumblers you get. In most cases, there is very little support from strangers to strangers on Kickstarter. Count on people you know or sorta know.
4) They reach out in the right ways.
Direct email (and definitely not mass email) is by far the most effective way to secure backing. Facebook comes in distant second with Twitter barely registering. It’s too noisy. Tone matters! You’re not asking for a favor, you’re asking for support for your work and you’re offering participation in the process of making it — and in many cases something tangible, too.
5) Keep the fundraising time window short.
Thirty days is the sweet spot. Longer does not mean more. Longer means procrastination. Urgency leads to action.
How much should I ask for?
Be realistic based on the size of the community you have access to and what you’re able to offer them in return for their participation. Make your goal the floor of what you need to get your project up and running. Most projects that get funded get 125% of the ask.
The average pledge is $70. The most common pledge is $25. Factor in costs of incentives into your budget and make sure you fulfill the experience by producing everything you promise.
What if I don’t reach my goal?
You don’t get any of the pledged money. BUT! If you think you’re not going to make it you can ask people to raise their pledges and/or add new rewards to try to entice more or bigger participation.
You can always try again.
What about taxes?
Kickstarter doesn’t advise individuals on how to handle their tax responsibilities and doesn’t report financial information to the IRS of the backers or the askers.
This is pretty much the extent of Matt’s notes from the meeting. If you have further questions about Kickstarter and indies, ask. We’ll try to get answers for you.
UPDATE 4/21/11: Yancey Strickler wrote in to correct numbers about how many projects have hit $100K, and the average pledge amount.