BWW Blog: THE RESIDUALS Share 7 Steps to Successful Crowd Funding!
Last month, BroadwayWorld announced its newest webseries partnership with the hysterical THE RESIDUALS. The series focuses on the up and downs (mostly downs) in the life of a commercial actor.
With one fantastic season already on the interwebs, the show's creators are asking for help from you, the BroadwayWorld public, and as you will see in the blog from creator/writer/director/star Michael Paul Smith, that isn't the easiest thing to do.
After funding the first season out of their own pockets, THE RESIDUALS creators, Michael and his wife/co-star Gillian, are in the first week of their ambitious Kickstarter campaign, so they can give you the star-studded Season Two you deserve. Michael has learned a few things during the process, and he would like to pull back the curtain and share his new found knowledge with you. So, take it away MPS...
In Season One of our webseries THE RESIDUALS, my wife and I managed to learn countless skills on the fly. One thing that we were able to postpone learning was the skill of crowd-funding. Until now! It's on, BWW. And here's what I've learned so far.
*This article is about my experience. It's only about what's worked for me. There's lots of ways to make things happen. I just hope that you will gain something from my experience.
1) Get over it
You're asking for money. Strangers, acquaintances, family, whatever. It sucks, and it's hard. But you know what's harder? Working tirelessly for years and never going out to dinner so you can save a few bucks a week to put towards funding your project before your rent goes up again and it has to go towards that instead! I kid, but this step was really hard for us. If you wanna find a more romantic way to look at it, think of the old days when artists of all kinds had patrons. Crowd-funding has brought that back in a very real way. It's just that instead of the King of...somewhere, it's a couple thousand strangers.
2) Ask for help
We never had fundraising experience (step 1 of just getting us there mentally was hard enough). So we had to seek someone who did. Luckily for us, we have an amazing person in our lives that tirelessly stared at a Google doc with us and debated the merits of endless possible "levels" and rewards: Carrie-Rachel Dean, we know her as a close friend, script supervisor and producer, but you know her as fictional casting director Carla Ann Davis. We also read everything we could on the subject. The consensus of what we read was that you simply cannot prepare enough. Spoiler alert: that's what you're about to read right this minute, too.
3) Get ready
If possible, get yourself a body of work. What can you afford? A demo? An episode? A short? It helps with building a following and it legitimizes your follow-through to potential donors. Along those lines, a website and social media presence are key. Then you wanna write your budget. Don't forget to round up! There's fees, overhead, and taxes to consider. Once you have that down, you can look at rewards, and a promotional strategy (ie: How long will your campaign be? Who will you contact to help with promotion?).
4) Go big
If we only needed a few bucks, we wouldn't be going through this rigmarole. This is (and probably should be) like a full-time job. Our goals for our series are big, and we wanted to put ourselves in the best position to achieve them. So, for us at least, our fundraising goal has been big, too. And so has the energy we're putting into it. Make a video, quadruple check the wording (and punctuation) of your profile, and make it look pretty! Attention to detail will send a signal about your seriousness.
5) Be aware of schedules!
We weren't sure we wanted to roll this out while people were still on vacation in August, and we wanted to give ourselves the full 30 days. We also have a show to produce! There is an inevitable overlap with our pre-production work and the work on our Kickstarter, but we made sure to give ourselves a cushion of at least a couple of weeks between the end of our campaign and our likely first shoot day, so that we have some time to fulfill the rewards, and also to get ready for the shoot itself! PS--the donations don't process right away, so be careful!
6) Stay on it
Social media, emails, and yes---even people you know. This was hard for us. We have a massive newfound respect for people that do this stuff every day. But as the great Jimmy Dugan once said about something entirely different, "Anything worth doin' is worth doin' right."
7) Take breaks
Remember: balance is important. I'm happy to announce that Gillian and I are somehow still happily married. I guess we re-applied our advice from this article...
Do you have questions about the show, the production, the Kickstarter, us...? Send us a question on our Kickstarter page, and I'll be happy to answer as many of them as I can in a future blog.
Michael Paul Smith is the writer/director of the webseries THE RESIDUALS and also plays the role of Pete Hamilton. The episodes, and more information, can be seen on www.theresiduals.tv. Follow the show on Twitter @TheResiduals, and like it on Facebook.