EXCLUSIVE: The rush to build new filmmaking ecosystems based on crowdsourcing is still in full effect, as industry-watchers have seen with the high-profile success of crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter, its peer site Indiegogo, and online financing communities like Slated. …
EXCLUSIVE: Matthew Modine is the latest celeb filmmaker to seek funding via crowdsourcing with his just-launched campaign for The Rocking Horsemen, a 1960s-set music pic about five high schoolers who hear the emerging sound of rock ‘n’ roll and decide to form a band. But he’s not following the likes of Zach Braff and Spike Lee down the Kickstarter yellow brick road. Modine, who wrote and will direct the film, is using Slated, an online platform/marketplace launched last year, to raise just his under-$5M budget. (Check out his Slated project here.) Unlike backers on Kickstarter or Indiegogo who typically receive small rewards of sentimental value in return for donations, Modine’s Slated investors will get the opportunity to participate in a meaningful financial way as equity investors, owning an actual piece of the project they’re investing in.
In the brave new world of film financing wrought by big-name campaigners like Braff, Lee, and the Veronica Mars gang, donation-based Kickstarter and similar crowdfunding ventures aren’t win-win for everyone. Fans throwing cash down in exchange for “perks” don’t benefit monetarily from becoming Kickstarter donors. Even Indiegogo, which unlike Kickstarter allows filmmakers to take home funds even if they don’t reach their posted fundraising goals, isn’t the most viable option for mid- or higher-budgeted projects, particularly those lacking in name stars or sizable fan support. Equity film crowdfunding, on the other hand, was made viable by the 2012 JOBS Act which allows for the solicitation of accredited investors by entrepreneurs and start-ups. Since the SEC is still finalizing regulations on exactly how that’s to be implemented, platforms like Slated — and others in the works — can’t yet broker monetary transactions themselves. But they can match-make filmmakers with financiers, who can then privately seal the deal.
Slated, then, is less a Kickstarter peer and more akin to an OKCupid for film financing: a gated online marketplace intended to connect like-minded filmmakers, investors, sales reps, and other industry figures with the ultimate goal of financing indie projects of a certain size.
James Franco has launched a new crowdfunding project to finance three feature films about teenage life in his hometown of Palo Alto, CA, adapted from his own 2010 book of short stories, Palo Alto. The multihyphenate has tapped Nina Ljeti, Vladimir Bourdeau, Bruce Thierry Cheung, and Gabriel Demestree to direct and is seeking to raise $500K via Indiegogo to split evenly between the trio of projects. “Because of who I am, people often believe that it is easy to find investors and distributors for my films. Unfortunately, things aren’t that easy,” he writes on the campaign’s page. “More times than not, I have put in my own money to produce my films and my students’ films. However, this time it’s different; we need more funding. I will still fund part of it, but I need of your help; filming three feature films back-to-back requires more funding than I can give.”
The films are aiming to shoot by August before hitting the festival circuit in search of distribution. Donation rewards range from behind the scenes updates and a shooting script PDF ($10) to a personalized video from Franco ($300) to an EP credit and private dinner ($10,000). The Indiegogo campaign ends July 17. Check out Franco’s fundraising video:
FundAnything, backed by Donald Trump and founded by Bill Zanker, has been on the crowdsourcing scene for a month now but aims to set itself apart from IndieGoGo and Kickstarter with the power of celebrity. The neophyte crowdfunding site has tapped veteran producer Brad Wyman (Monster, Barb Wire) as its CCO – that’s Chief Crowdfunding Officer – and head of Film/Video/Web in charge of developing fundraising projects and building a worldwide sales team. Wyman most recently did a stint at rival crowdfunder IndieGoGo and will look to help nurture fundraising projects and invest FundAnything’s own seed money to help select projects meet their full or partial funding goals. FundAnything is open to projects that span film, television, webseries, and other types of projects including music, gaming, and nonprofit, but unlike other crowdsourcing competitors is actively looking for celebrity-fronted campaigns. “We’re looking to celebritize crowdfunding,” Zanker tells me of FundAnything’s emphasis on campaigns by celebrities, a la Zach Braff‘s recent $3M Kickstarter success. “Anybody that has a fan base is a celebrity – Youtube celebrities, business celebrities.”
UPDATE TUESDAY 5:50 PM: In just one day, Karen Black has more than doubled the $17,000 she was trying to raise via crowdfunding for cancer treatment in Europe. The Five Easy Pieces actress has currently garnered $43,521 from 833 donors after raising her goal to $32,000 earlier …