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The Seed&Spark Blog

Setting Yourself Up for Crowdfunding Success

June 15, 2016

• Jen Sheridan

Wanna know what it's like to be in a contest like this? Learn from someone who not only survived this rally...but thrived during it: filmmaker Jennifer Sheridan, director of Love, Hate, Church & State.

  1. Go watch the awesome free Seed&Spark Crowdfunding videos immediately. The S&S crew lay out invaluable steps to running an effective campaign in this new video series, and they really hammer home how much prep work is needed to be successful – give yourself as much lead time as possible. Then go follow their advice. They know what they're doing, and you won't be sorry. Trust me.
  2. Get a team together. Crowdfunding is a full-time job, and you can easily work yourself to death if you try to do it all yourself. Not only that, but it's crucial to increase your reach, and team members' networks can help exponentially. If you can get volunteers, that's great, but you may want to find some money to pay people who will work with you consistently to the end to up your odds for success.
  3. Try everything, keep doing what works, and stop what doesn't -- quickly. That may sound like common sense, but a lot of people devise a strategy and stick to it even if they're not raising much. You need to be flexible and concentrate your efforts where you're getting results. Maybe you're seeing more contributions come in after a day of Facebook posts and maybe Twitter's been a bust. Focus on what's working, abandon what isn't and try something new.
  4. Get off the internet. This is not something a lot of filmmakers attempt when crowdfunding, but if you can get yourself in front of people who may be interested in your film you can be very successful. We were incredibly lucky that a few generous comedians whose work falls in line with our film wanted to give us some of the proceeds from one of their shows. They even allowed us to show our pitch video before their show, and voila! Out came the checkbooks.
  5. Make new friends: be supportive of other filmmakers. All the films in the #UntoldStory crowdfunding rally are all unique, and I never felt like we were competing for the same contributors, so why not buddy up? We were very fortunate to make friends with another Nashville filmmaker in the rally, Stuart Stokes. We met for coffee, talked filmmaking and crowdfunding, and ended up being a great support to each other. If one of us ran into a glitch along the way, the other would say, "What can I do?"

Crowdfunding is crazy stressful, a lot can go wrong, people are counting on you, and your film's future could depend on the money you raise. Building community is a big deal to us, and we're grateful to everyone who gave us their support. We have a lot to be thankful for, and now that our campaign is over (at 133% of goal YES!) we hope to pay it forward and devote a little more time spreading the word for other films in the rally. "Independent" doesn't have to mean "alone," and who doesn't need more friends?

Follow Jen's #UntoldStory project, Love Hate, Church & State, on Seed&Spark to get updates on the films progress, as well as Jen's future projects!

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Jen Sheridan

Born in Los Angeles and raised in Toronto, Jen Sheridan is an independent filmmaker residing in Nashville. Sheridan's small independent production company, Do Something Film Group, is currently in production on Love, Hate, Church & State; a feature length documentary on LGBT rights & freedom of religion in Tennessee.

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