Why Didn’t We Fund Ourselves When We Had The Chance?”
Crowdsourcing, distributing tasks to millions of motivated online eyes, and crowdfunding can be seen in a bigger and bigger range of projects as the 21st century advances including: designing a new constitution for Iceland, allowing children to help design new Lego toys, rewriting legislation such as SOPA and SIPA to please the Internet generation, and even Funding the race to become President of the USA.
Crowdfunding – A New Way To Raise Money
As already mentioned, some commentators are predicting the next big step in 2012’s race for America’s White House will take place when one or more of the candidates publicly embraces crowdfunding as a way of doing politics.
Wikipedia defines the concept as:
[…] the collective cooperation, attention and trust by people who network and pool their money and other resources together, usually via the Internet, to support efforts initiated by other people or organizations. Crowd funding occurs for any variety of purposes, from disaster relief to citizen journalism to artists seeking support from fans, to political campaigns, to funding a startup company or small business or creating free software.
“The Age Of [Not Being] Stupid”
The Making of The Age Of Stupid YouTube
The 2009 movie “The Age of Stupid” took five years from start to finish to release to an unsuspecting public. Described as being like “An Inconvenient Truth” with personality, its tagline was “Why didn’t we save ourselves when we had the chance?” Perhaps the most interesting thing about the movie isn’t, however, the uncompromising message it sends out to those who deny climate change but, rather, how that message was crowdfunded, developed and distributed.
The makers of the movie provide a very useful how-to on the subject of crowdfunding cinema. To boil it down to its essentials, they suggest:
- You create a budget;
- You download some standardized documents from their website which can help with crowdfunding movie projects – and then you adapt them to your movie, country and objectives;
- You find lawyers who can check all your documentation and make sure it’s all legal for your area of jurisdiction;
- You dig out any rich friends who might be interested in investing in your project;
- You spend the money on making the movie itself;
- You share out the dough once the movie is making your money;
The campaign to raise funds was launched as per the following video:
As already mentioned, some of the biggest stumbling blocks to raising the £485,000 funding that was needed involved complex legal issues. As the creators of the film happily admit, at the time the idea of getting multiple small investors to invest in a movie project – selling “shares” of perhaps £5000 at a time – was such a novel idea that while their legal advice might have considered it brilliant, the illegality of many of its proposed structures also became self-evident.
So one of the many recommendations the makers include on their website covers getting the right legal support before you get started.
No surprises there, then!
How Half Of The Battle isn’t Just The Funding
While “The Age of Stupid” was innovative in its funding and its message, it has been even more successful in terms of its distribution model. As they point out themselves:
From homemade bed sheet cinemas in remote Indian villages to the world’s largest film event beaming live to 700 cinemas in 63 countries, nobody can say we don’t try our damndest to get our films seen. Doesn’t seem much point making change-the-world movies if only our grannies watch.
While no one should underestimate the importance of the granny market in today’s graying societies, getting your product out there is just as important as bringing it in under budget. There are innovative and contemporary methods which mean you no longer need rely on a business loan or huge credit card transfer to keep you going. This is clearly why the makers of the movie extended the principles and philosophies of crowdsourcing from the initial investment needed to the final marketing, distribution and screening of its feature-length 82 minutes.
The strategy used has clearly generated results, leading to an estimated 61,944,208 viewers (approximately!) to date – quite an achievement for a movie with a budget about the size of a Hollywood producer’s jacuzzi.
It’s true that crowdfunding won’t be for everyone – nor can it possibly raise the vast sums of money which more traditional movie-making seems to require to resource its inexhaustible appetite for spectacle. Where the technique can work, however, is in the kind of project “The Age of Stupid” represents: focused, hard-hitting, tightly constructed – and with that pioneering dash of independent spirit which so characterizes all the very best in modern art.