Filmmakers: USE SEED&SPARK TO RAISE FUNDS - OR NOT?

You've probably heard of Seed&Spark by now.

If not, then I've got a quick, easy primer that you can go through right now to get a mental jumpstart on your next film / video crowdfunding project. 

They are built FOR filmmakers and their cut is reasonable (though by no means better than Tilt when it was awesome).

Microbudget-Film-seed-and-spark

Very quickly: 

  • 80% or more is what you need to raise to be "greenlit" - KS wants all or nothing, Indiegogo doesn't care what you raise
  • Low fees, with the option for supporters to bear part of the fees
  • You can itemize what you would like funds for (like a new camera body or lens)
  • People don't have to contribute $$$; followers are just as important to every project

Light fare there.

If you're thinking of crowdfunding again (or for the first time), I've got a few blurbs for ya below, plus a bonus by way of a raffle to help you figure out the true $$$ amount you need to raise to do things *right*.

But before we do any of that, it's time for the main course. Buckle up. This will blow your hair back. 

seed-and-spark-microbudge

1. They offer distribution packages

They themselves will act as distributors for your film, mind you, in addition to all of these guys that they can pump your flicka show through:

2016: Their deals start at $850 (with $150 increments after that, depending on how many platforms you want to use), and you have to have amassed 1,000 followers / supporters to qualify for this kind of deal.

2017: You can simply submit your film to see if they'll consider distributing your film. If you hit the 500 follower mark, you earn the right to a free distribution consult with them.

They do a 60/40 split with distribution in 2017: 60% goes to filmmakers; 40% goes to Seed&Spark. Back in 2016, it was only a 10% cut to Seed&Spark. Bob Dylan said the times were a changing, so no surprise there.

Sounds like cake right? A cursory glance around the site tells me amassing 1,000 peeps is a lot harder than you think:  

2. You can turn your phone into a monitor

In lieu of some high-priced field monitor, use the one in your pocket. Bueno?

The bonus G-Drive is nice too. 

These, and a few other perks, are gifts to you, the microbudget filmmaker when you hit 1,000 followers (contributors / supporters) at any point in your project - yes, even if that's after you've raised all your funds.

If you reach 250 or 500 followers instead of the requisite 1,000, they still have bonuses for you (this three-tiered approach is new to 2017), but they're not as juicy as the 1,000 mark.

3. You can keep your followers

I talked to the S&S camp about downloading emails from the campaign. This, in my book, is another win for going with S&S:

You can export your Seed&Spark list.

After all, why start from scratch when it comes time for film #2? They really want to support you in your career, and we as microbudget filmmakers desperately need help with the marketing / distribution side of things. 

NOTE: Indiegogo allows this too - you can export your backers' list and then upload that bad boy to whatever ESP you're using for your newsletters (e.g. Mail Chimp). 

All these digital hipsters on YouTube can teach you how to shoot and color-grade, but can they teach you how to avoid a monumental wipeout after thousands of hours of blood, sweat, and tears?  

Seed&Spark wants to help get your story out there. 

To start, head over to their site and start building your campaign. 

Then raise your right hand and swear that once a week, you will send a newsletter out. 

I do mine on Mondays usually, but it changes every so often. The key is to do it every week.

You should focus on building and nurturing your tribe. The email newsletter is still the best way to accomplish that, whether you're a filmmaker, a digital marketer, a church, a non-profit, etc. 

Otherwise, you become the spam-bum on forums, asking strangers to support you. Man, we sure don't have enough of these guys on the web! <--said no one.

Here's such a guy I found recently on an Fbook group:

 

And then when you click over to his Kickstarter page, you can see they're stalling. 

Hey, I've been there because I fail more often than I succeed, and I'm okay with that. I reached out to this guy (above) and encouraged him to keep building his newsletter. He said he already had about 1,000 subscribers.

But does he regularly talk to them? If you hand your business card out to 1,000 people and then a year later hit them up, guess how many will care? 

Relationship is key to so much in this life.

4. Cons

I actually tried to use these guys in 2017. 

→ For TLDR folks, here's the Reader's Digest summary: I couldn't adapt to their requirements, and so the fault is mine for having my campaign stuck in limbo (it was never approved on their end because I was as stubborn as an ox). 

Imagine showing up to a country club breakfast for a meetup. For guys, you're required to shell out $15 for breakfast, wear a blazer and a tie, and your shoes must be shinier than a brand new copper Lincoln. If those are the requirements, and if you show up looking like Forrest Gump during his cross-country trek, you wouldn't be allowed in. 

I was Forrest Gump and my beard was full of rats' nests. 

→ For folks who want the full story of why I bombed at getting started with Seed&Spark, it's embedded HERE in the post on raising $8,567 for your short film.


Go shoot your feature. You can do it, broke as a joke, or as armed to the teeth as you'd like. I did my first feature in the Summer of 2013, and I learned more through that experience than any other season of my filmmaking. You can too.

To help you out, I've got a special bonus only for those who've made it to this page. When you join the Bold Nation newsletter, we'll send you the pitch deck I used to raise $8,567 for my short film in 2017. 

Plagiarize it. Learn from it. Raise funds for your film.

If you need to create one yourself, you can upgrade at the store to get a fully-editable Google Slides pitch deck so you don't have to start from scratch.

We live in a world where features are made for less than $10,000, and only you can know what you're truly capable of raising. If you are in a position to do things right, then this bad boy can crunch the figures you need to raise so that don't limp along in production.

Have you used or will you use Seed&Spark for your next film? Share your two-cents below amigo.


Original: July 1, 2016; updated Sept 15, 2017