By our pals at Indiegogo.
Twice a year, I get to take over a class for director Roy Frumkes at The School of Visual Art in New York. It’s quite a treat because I used to be a professor before I leapt into the realm of crowdfunding for indie film. But Roy’s class is a real treat, because the class is about producing the horror film.
One of the best things about genre film is that filmmakers can make them on the most modest of budgets, so of course crowdfunding is a viable option for funding these kinds of films. However, the idea of raising money has a tendency to transform the passionate filmmakers behind these off-the-wall gore-fests into milder-mannered movie producers and launch campaigns that seldom keep the integrity of the slasher or ‘70s-style gangster picture they’re looking to produce with the crowd’s help.
This simply will not do.
A crowdfunding campaign for a movie like the remake of Nightmare City needs to reflect the mood, tone, and feel of the movie. The audience that watches these kinds of films is made up of some of the most passionate movie watchers on the planet; they don’t just want to see the film, they seek to become engrossed in the world of that film. If we want them to fund our films with us, our projects must be places where the audience can take refuge in the blood, guts and gore of the campaign pages themselves.
This is why I love taking over this particular class at SVA, so I can let the horror and genre filmmakers of tomorrow know that it’s quite all right to get just as gory and hardcore in their crowdfunding as they are in their filmmaking. In fact, I want them to know it’s encouraged, and that by doing so they’ll make out like bandits where crowdfunding is concerned.
There are some quick things to keep in mind, which I’m happy to share with the biggest community of horror and genre filmmakers out there:
Invite the Right Ones In. The fact is thatif your campaign video doesn’t scare us, you’re probably not making a horror film. The campaign video (or invitation, as I call it in my TEDx talk) must make a good first impression. And while it’s still standard practice to be in your video—for a horror or genre picture—you should also give your audience a taste of what they can expect from the film itself. So, if you’re making a horror film, the video should creep us out like this tense, ultimately humorous video from the Found Footage 3D campaign:
Imagery Is Everything. Similar to your video, the campaign story itself should not be black words on a white background. The object is to immerse potential backers into the world of your story. There should be headers, images and videos designed and laid out in ways that match the feel of the story your film will ultimately tell. Again, Nightmare City’s campaign doesn’t skimp on the scare-factor, and neither does The Void or the American Genre Film Archive’s campaign, which, through well-designed headers, showcases that genre film really is for the uninitiated.
And don’t skimp on the pie chart, people.
Merchandise Matters. It really does. Documentaries and some narrative features can get away with campaigns offering digital-only incentives, but a genre film lends itself to cool swag, so we should think about what fun, off-the-wall (at times) and relevant physical perks we can offer to our audience.
Props from the film and signed head shots of the cast are a good start, but I invite you to think more along the lines of campaigns like WolfCop. The filmmakers raised funds to manufacture a 7.5-inch action figure, which also helped get the film a wider release. Most recently there’s the Turbo Kid campaign, which was run for the marketing and merchandizing of the film; and man, did they have some awesome perks –– everything from action figures and a comic book to signed posters, limited edition vinyl soundtracks and even actual View Masters!
There you have it: three quick pointers to get you crafting a horror or genre film campaign worthy of an audience that longs to be more than just a passive viewer, but an active participant in all your Mad Hatter plot twists and Troma-tic amounts of blood, guts and gore that will transform them into proud backers.
- By John T. Trigonis