Workshops help filmmakers to become financially independent by building strong and engaged audiences for their careers
Seed&Spark, the world’s first crowdfunding and transactional VOD platform made just for independent film, is taking their show on the road with a 60-day 30-city tour to bring their ‘Crowdfunding to Build Independence’ class all over the country. Visiting festivals, universities, and local film organizations, Seed&Spark’s Founder and CEO Emily Best and Director of Crowdfunding & Community Erica Anderson will teach a workshop for filmmakers with a step-by-step plan to parlay the skills for successful crowdfunding into successful distribution. Earlier this year, Seed&Spark also partnered with Tugg Inc. (‘Tugg’), a web platform that enables individuals to choose the films that play in their local theaters, to educate filmmakers in creating truly independent options for fundraising, marketing, theatrical and digital distribution by connecting with their audiences.
After using their own platform to raise $33,000 in June of 2013, Best and her team got hungry to test out every tactic they recommended to filmmakers. Their contention was that anything that could successfully build a film audience would also successfully build their business. “It’s about eating your own dog food,” says Best. “This class is a step by step practical application to turn this amazing tool of crowdfunding into something that both raises money and builds an audience. Since partnering with Tugg on these classes, we have been teaching filmmakers to think strategically and creatively about how to reach their audiences, to consider screening tours and regional film festivals to offer events around their film to introduce them to audiences they’ve never had access to before. And then a light bulb went on. We should take this valuable thing we have to offer and share it, free, as widely as possible.”
A recent study published by the crowdfunding review site CrowdsUnite ranked Seed&Spark in third place on its top ten list of crowdfunding platforms – ahead of Kickstarter and IndieGoGo. Filmmakers surveyed for this study gave Seed&Spark high marks for its strong community support and the high campaign success rate (now 74%). But giving filmmakers technology tools is not enough, Best states. It’s about helping them use those tools to their fullest potential. The proliferation of tools is often intimidating to filmmakers who already feel they have to be expert at so many things. With strong community and educational support, Best says, filmmakers who don’t consider themselves tech and social media savvy can be successful using new models for funding and distribution.
“Our goal as a platform has always been to help filmmakers build audiences and make a living wherever they are – not just New York or LA,’ said Director of Crowdfunding Erica Anderson, “So, we wanted to reach these filmmakers in their hometowns, learn about their challenges and opportunities. We teach filmmakers to meet their audiences, learn about them, interview them, to build outreach tools as specific to their audiences as possible. We’re doing the same by going out into the community and meeting as many of our community members as possible.”
For the lion’s share of September and beginning of October, Best and Anderson will be teaching solo – splitting up workshops taught at VIFF, SIFF, NHFF, with Patron of the Arts in Los Angeles, UrbanWorld Film Fest in NYC, Flyway Film Festival in Wisconsin and more. Then, they will take the show on the road – literally – driving from Los Angeles across the southern route to Savannah and then back across the middle. Along the way, they’ll appear at the Austin Film Festival, Savannah Film Festival, Citizen Jane Film Festival and about 20 cities in between.
Barak Epstein of Aviation Cinemas, the group that runs the Texas Theatre in Dallas and is a key sponsor of the OakCliff Film Festival, says “We are super excited to bring the Seed&Spark Crowdfunding Independence workshop to the Texas Theatre. Building an enhanced infrastructure for independent film production is part of our mission, and education is a big part of that. We’re also continuing to upgrade the capabilities of our historic theater. This is precisely why we are working directly with Seed&Spark on our own Digital Cinema crowdfunding campaign which we are launching October 1st.”
“The ability to promote the campaign for a community cinema center like the Texas Theatre as a part of this tour is precisely the kind of opportunity we were hoping to open up with our partners. The medium is the message,” says Anderson. “The organizations are helping us reach out to the community, and in turn we can provide support and promotion to those organizations.”
Filmmakers who have attended the workshops have seen an astonishing 100% crowdfunding campaign success rate on Seed&Spark since the company started offering the classes in April 2014. “Since adding Tugg into the mix, we really look forward to what this could mean for distribution, too,” added Best.
“There is no better way for us to find out what filmmakers need to be successful outside of the major markets than to show up and ask them. So we’re most excited about what we will learn,” comments Anderson.
The team will be sharing tour details on the hashtag #stayindietour across their social media platforms. A new widget on the homepage will track the progress and provide details and links to each event. For more information and a complete list of events and venues, visit seedandspark.com/stayindietour.
Seed&Spark is building a truly independent filmmaking community where filmmakers and audiences come together for crowdfunding, production, and streaming distribution. Every time an audience member supports the making of a moving picture project (funding, following, sharing) they earn “Sparks” which can be redeemed to watch movies on the streaming platform. Supporting films lets you watch more films: It’s the new ecosystem for filmmakers & audiences!