CrowdfundingSuccess Story: Cameo Wood on 'Real Artists'
August 28, 2017
Want to know what we love as much the movies and shows that come through our platform? The filmmakers behind them! Like Cameo Wood — writer, director and producer of the sci-fi short Real Artists.
A movie lover since seeing Amadeus on the big screen at age 7, Wood began her filmmaking journey early: writing epic adventures and shooting stills before working full-time at the family video store and then operating the camera and editing the weekly high school television show. She considers shorts “tiny stories, perfectly crafted”, so it’s no surprise that her debut as writer-director-producer was with a short.
A narrative thriller, Real Artists tackles art, artificial intelligence and the future of film. Wood had already completed shooting when she came to Seed&Spark to crowdfund post-production last fall. And WOW, did she crowdfund. The campaign was 119% funded, raising nearly $22,000 and gathering (to date) more than 1,100 followers. Real Artists was also selected for the Seed Fund, meaning additional dollars from Seed&Spark subscribers. The latest news? Real Artists has been accepted into 64 film festivals.
We caught up with Cameo Wood to get the scoop on her success story and her advice for filmmakers and crowdfunders alike.
You had Real Artists in the can when you launched your crowdfunding campaign. Why crowdfund for post-production, and why on Seed&Spark?
I decided to crowdfund my film for post because I figured it would be easier! It’s hard to convince people about what a project will look like without showing them. So I figured that just shooting the film as cheaply as possible would be best, and then raising the money after we had something to show. It was a gamble, but it paid off!
I chose Seed&Spark because of a few things: 1. Seed&Spark is invested in my career as a filmmaker, and cares about diversity in filmmaking. 2. Seed&Spark is more than just a way to make money— it’s a way to be a part of the most diverse and successful filmmaking business community around. It’s a way to begin a career.
Part of Seed&Spark's difference is that you raise more than funds you build an audience. Your campaign had more than 1,000 followers before it ended. How did you build an audience that size in such a short time?
I was lucky in that I had already done the legwork to get a lot of funding promised before the campaign, and I already had about 20k twitter followers, and an email list of about 2,000 people. Seed&Spark prepared me for what I’d need to be successful, I followed their advice, and I got a lot of follows. Also, I never asked for money throughout the campaign I only asked for follows and that helped me quite a bit.
What tips do you have for filmmakers to keep their supports engaged after the campaign ends?
Social media is part of the job. I have an active Twitter/Facebook/Instagram feed, and I update at least once a week, if not every day. I write an email update about every month and a half— but I mostly rely on people checking social media — and they seem to enjoy that.
Because you got the green light and gained more than 500 followers, you were selected for additional funds from S&S subscribers (the Seed Fund). How did this help you and/or the project?
Getting access to the Seed Fund has been huge. It’s been a morale boost, it’s helped us go to more festivals, and it’s been helpful as we’ve prepared the festival run.
Real Artists is at 3 festivals in LA alone this summer. How did you successfully pivot from crowdfunding to completing post to submitting to festivals (and getting in!)?
A festival run was always in the plan for the money we raised. Because we got the filmmaker giftbox from Seed&Spark, we were able to get a consultation from Brad Wilke and Smarthouse Creative. He and his team helped us figure out which festivals we should apply to, and which ones to attend.
We’ve been really fortunate to get into so many, but the real secret to our success is that we targeted our submissions to festivals that wanted what we had. As of this writing, we’ve been accepted to 64 film festivals - 7 of them Academy Qualifying, 6 in LA county. We’ve had our film shown in Ghana, Slovenia, France, Japan, Cyprus, Sweden, Canada, England and Mexico. It’s been a pretty amazing run. I think the key to successfully going from crowdfunding to festivalling is to understand how much festivals cost to submit to and attend. Getting to 500 followers allowed us to get some festival waivers, a cheaper DCP and really set us up for success.
Real talk: What are one or two things (or more if you've got 'em) that you wish you'd known going into crowdfunding and the whirlwind that followed?
I knew it was going to be emotional and exhausting, but I still wasn’t prepared for how invested I had to be. Two, I wish I had planned my press a bit more. It all worked out in the end, but I think overpreparing is the only way to go into a campaign. Seed&Spark’s Crowdfunding Class saved me a lot of heartache, and I recommend it to people all the time— regardless of what platform they ultimately used. That said, I always shake my head when people choose other platforms to raise money for their films. There are lots of adequate sites to choose to crowdfund your film, but there’s only one place to crowdfund your film career.