Tuesday, 20 June 2017

How Do You Finance Animation at Kickstarter?

How do you finance an animation project at Kickstarter? The world of finance is changing, and crowd-funding is now one of the key means of getting a project off the ground. Even students with modest resources can now make their dreams real.

As we get ready for our evening class in Producing Animation, starting in September, we're taking a close look at how Kickstarter works.  Writer and film-maker Allen Stroud, author of Elite: Lave Revolution, explained in a recent talk how to get a Kickstarter project off the ground.

What is Kickstarter all about?

The rules of raising finance for film projects is changing fast, and film-makers don't necessarily need a big studio to finance your proect anymore. If you have an idea that is good enough, there is no reason why you cannot crowd fund your project. Fans from all across the globe can help make your dreams come to life.  Here is how it is done.

What do you need to succeed at Kickstarter?
You need rewards. This basically means free stuff to give investors.

By way of example, you can offer free signed books, free drawings, a screen credit, eBooks - anything that you can give that will get investors excited.

How does Kickstarter work?
Remember that a Kickstarter campaign is not a linear curve. Campaigns tend to open well, and then run out of steam. Fortunately,  lots of stuff comes at the last minute. Campaigns often close well - but with a big (terrifying) dip in the middle.

Alan's book is based on the classic 1980s game "Elite"
The Psychology of Kickstarter
You have to understand the Psychology of Kickstarter. There is a comments page for your project, but no-one can comment, unless they have first backed it - this incentivises investors to pay up if they want to voice their opinion.

Also, investors don’t actually pay real money until the funding is closed. So, it doesn't feel real until the project has reached its goal (which it might not). Yet. Again, this encourages people to pledge - they might well not have to pay anything.

And, investors can adjust their pledge up or down until the funding is closed. If they start to lose confidence, or they don't like what they are seeing, they can withdraw their pledges. Nothing is fixed until the end, when payments are cleared through amazon and credit cards.

What if you reach your goal? Can you ask Kickstarter for more money?
Once you reach your additional funding target, you can ask for more. You can add “stretch goals’ to add extra stuff that you would like to have. A Kickstarter campaign can takes 30 days, or 60 days - it's up to you. Remember that this may well be “the most tortuous time of your life” - but can be very rewarding. And, if you don’t make it, nothing happens. The project just ends. “That is it”.

What are the secrets of success at Kickstarter?
Once you launch your project, you need to the following:
  • Talk about the project a lot - don’t be quiet. You must communicate with your fans and supporters. Be engaged with them
  • Encourage a sense of community. This is your team, your fanbase
  • Until it’s funded, it’s not over. You must keep producing new rewards, keep exciting your fans
  • You must make videos. Lots of videos. Keep up the momentum 
  • If you have a physical thing you are selling, you must make a prototype of it, so people can see it
  • Be generous! You must not appear cheap, or let down your fans. You must avoid bad press at all costs - your pledges will start to disappear. 
  • Be realistic, especially with stretch goals. Don’t offer rewards you cannot deliver.
  • Get a bidding war going if you can - a first edition of your book, for example, will sell for a lot.
  • See what others are doing. Copy stuff that works. 
  • Hit the ground running – keep up the momentum! Update every day, update comments.
Other sites worth knowing about
www.kicktraq.com - gives you daily data on your project. It is a statistics site. Gives you a chart which shows your progress.
www.thunderclap.it  another useful site for Kickstarter projects.
Indiegogo.com This site is like Kickstarter, but offers "experienced ambassadors" to support you in your goals.
Patreon – Like Kickstarter, but with more of a focus on the arts.

The Escape Studios Animation Blog offers a personal view on the art of animation and visual effects. To apply for our BA/MArt (September 2017), follow this link. To apply for one of our intensive 3 month animation short courses, click here.

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