Behind the Scenes of the Film Kickstarter Project: Black Ninjas

So, after thousands of post-it notes, napkin doodles, and hours spent on Celtx, Fade In, or whatever screenwriting software you choose--it's finally done. Your baby is born! Script in hand, you're ready to get the ball rolling. But first thing's first. What's your budget? 

Once you're past the student film phase, most of your work from here on out will require a budget. I'm a frugal filmmaker myself, and I will DIY, service trade, and bargain until my resources are completely exhausted. But even then, a budget still needs to be in place. Even if it's a small one. 

So, If your wallet is anything like mine, funding your project is going to be a real challenge. With millions of screen writes being created everyday. How the hell do you find people who are eager to fork over money for a creative cause? 

Well the good news is--Filmmakers quickly discovered that crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter were a viable option.

Kickstarter has rightfully taken its place as one of the top crowdfunding platforms for filmmakers to get their films off the ground. As of today, Over 2.8 million backers have pledged towards a film campaign, and 16,454 Film & Video projects have successfully been funded! In short--there is hope. 

Okay, so what's the catch? The truth is--as amazing as it sounds in theory, Kickstarters are no cakewalk. They take a ton of planning and commitment.

...crowdfunding is also a business. And like any business venture, efficiency, organization and discipline are going to make a huge difference in the outcome.
— Clay Herbert (Crowdfunding Specialist )

Kickstarter Tip 1: Successful Kickstarter campaigns usually begin planning 6 months before the launch! 

Take it from fellow filmmaker from Kuro Films, Lee Williams, who is the writer and director of the Kickstarter project, Black Ninjas. To get you up to speed, Black Ninjas is a story of three siblings abducted from their home in Africa in the mid 1500s. For three years, they travel the seas until they come to Japan. Their captors meet with untimely deaths when they attempt to raid a village of gold. This village is protected by ninjas, and these masked elites make quick work of them. The children being interesting in color are sparred and raised as ninjas. Click the dope photo below to view his trailer, as well as his Kickstarter page. 

C'mon! Who doesn't wanna see this happen! Black ninjas in action?! Where do I sign up? When I got word that he was funding it through Kickstarter, I jumped at the opportunity to ask him a few questions, and get an inside look at the experience thus far.

Lee is down to the final week of his campaign and has raised over $14,000, which is already an
awesome milestone,  but he'll tell you it took a lot to get there. 

Lee emphasized that prep work is key. Have a game plan in order before it launches. Posting links and private messages on Facebook and Twitter won't cut it.  Lee emphasized that reaching out to bloggers, and websites to help spread the word is essential--particularly sites that cater to your ideal demographic. Get to know the site administrators and in time, ask if it's possible for them to share your work. 


Kickstarter tip 2The secret to a successful Kickstarter is not showing it to as many people as possible, but finding the ones who are hungry to see this happen, and getting your work in front of them. If your film is about Brazilian steak (Yummmm....), reaching out to a vegetarian audience is pointless.Sharing your Kickstarter with people outside of your ideal tribe may get you a share or two--but not pledges.

In addition to websites, Lee has also done some work offline to maintain the buzz. He has been featured on radio shows in both LA and Houston to discuss his project, and has also traveled to Miami to meet with interested investors, which has scored him some major pledges. Definitely something to keep in mind!

Win or lose, launching a Kickstarter is a learning experience. When the proper actions are taken, a campaign can really grow into an amazing movement that will gain you followers, and publicity for your project.  I've been watching Lee's journey since the launch, and it's awesome to see its progress. Lee agrees"If you're into your project, it'll take you places and link you with people you'd never thought you'd speak to." If anything else, do it for the ride! 

But please--do your research first. The article, Become a Crowdfunding Wizard: 8 Tips You've Probably Never Heard Before, is a short read, but very helpful and a good start. In the meantime, check out Black Ninjas, and if you love it...pledge!! Which brings me to my final tip....

Kickstarter tip 3:  Don't forget to back other artists' projects!! Viewers can see how many projects that you have launched, as well as supported. So being an involved backer in the community is a good look. 

Best of luck to you, Lee! 

~Mad Panda Out