Tag Archives: Kickstarter

I’ve decided to use Seed&Spark to re-launch my crowdfunding campaign!


Don’t get me wrong…Kickstarter is a phenomenal crowdfunding platform! It’s just that, after careful research, I’ve come to the conclusion that the relatively new platform Seed&Spark is best suited to meet the needs of my particular film project for the following reasons:

1. Seed&Spark is a crowdfunding platform strictly for film projects. I believe this will work well for me on several levels. It will help me better attract niche supporters who care about independent film. It will help separate my project from the clutter of non-film projects on the other sites. And, because the Seed&Spark staff deals only with film projects, my belief is that their specialized support will assist me in running a truly effective campaign.

2. I’ve never claimed to be a social media guru, and I believe that was a major detriment to my Kickstarter efforts. Seed&Spark stresses social media, as do most of the other crowdfunding platforms. But unlike most other sites, they back up the importance of social media by providing an in-depth Social Media Handbook, which has armed me with greater insight than I had when I launched my last campaign.

3. Seed&Spark is a selective platform. They will not allow me to launch a campaign for an inferior product or to launch a minimally prepared project. If they feel my project is lacking in any respect, they will provide tips on how to make it a viable one. Nobody enjoys rejection, but I’d rather be given the opportunity to make my project the best that it can be before launch. And because Seed&Spark is a selective platform, I believe their users feel more comfortable supporting projects on their site.

4. Whereas Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing platform, and Indigogo will allow me to keep whatever I raise even if it is nowhere enough to complete my project, Seed&Spark is an “80%-or-nothing” platform. I am quite comfortable with this. If I can raise at least 80%, I know I will be able to get the film made. As the Seed&Spark website points out, “Every indie filmmaker knows how to make that scene work with a little less money…”

5. Unlike other crowdfunding sites, Seed&Spark has a streaming video distribution platform for me to offer my film for public viewing. They also have a partnership with Amex NOW, a channel reaching 67 million homes, for selected licensed distribution. I don’t know at this time that I’ll take advantage of these programs, but it is nice to know that they exist!

6. Seed&Spark lets me request non-monetary contributions such as camera, wardrobe and lighting rentals. This allows me to best use all cash contributions I may receive and may also act as an incentive for supporters who may not be in a position to contribute cash, but may be able to contribute an item needed to complete the film.

7. 70% of films that crowdfund on Seed&Spark get funded, compared to only 40% of projects on Kickstarter. I like those odds.

8. And I’m saving the best reason for last: Seed&Spark’s fee is lower than any other crowdfunding site I’ve researched. They take 5% of all money pledged, but they also offer supporters an opportunity to add 5% to their order to keep the filmmaker from losing that money. And according to Seed&Spark, 90% of supporters choose to add that 5%. Plus, Seed&Spark won’t compel me to set up an outside payment account, which usually requires administration fees beyond the normal credit card fees.

So right now, it seems like a no-brainer to submit to Seed&Spark.

I’d be grateful to hear your opinions on selecting a crowdfunding site.

As I prepare to re-launch my crowdfunding campaign…

As I work to prepare a relaunch of my Kickstarter campaign (although this time possibly not on Kickstarter), I yesterday performed one of the tasks most-suggested to me…dye my beard in order to look younger. While it irks me no end that a person my age has to be young to break into filmmaking (the same thing that ended my advertising career after so many years), I decided to go with public opinion. However, I decided to use “Touch of Gray” so as not to go overboard. The result…an interesting shade of light blue! I look like Papa Smurf! Anyway, I’m about to apply another very liberal coat and leave it on double the specified time. I figure the worst I can hope for is a darker share of blue!

Got my ass kicked on Kickstarter!

This article was supposed to be a post about the successful marketing tactics I used for my recent Kickstarter campaign.

But as you know, the campaign was not the success I’d imagined it would have been.

I did everything I was supposed to do. I spent several months getting ready: refining my project description and creating what I believed to be a convincing video; preparing a tight-but-realistic budget; studying hundreds of previous similar Kickstarter campaigns, both successful and unsuccessful; creating compelling pledge rewards. I unleashed powerful pre-launch and launch campaigns using social media contacts I’ve been accumulating. In addition to bulk emails, I also sent almost 1000 personal emails. I made regular Facebook posts and Twitter tweets. I blogged. I provided regular updates on my Kickstarter page. I generated positive press. I constructed creative messages to keep variety in my appeals. I purchased Facebook advertising and spent money to boost my posts. I lived and breathed Kickstarter every waking hour for a full month.

So what went wrong?

I have spent the last four weeks thinking of nothing else. And I wish I could tell you here that I’ve come to some solid conclusions. While I have in fact determined what some of the downfalls were, I am not yet certain how to conquer these obstacles.

Here is what I’ve learned from my campaign:

1. You need a huge stable of people who believe in you and your project before you launch, and they have to be loud about it.

Thank you again to those who followed and contributed to my campaign. The average pledge amount was $93.20, which is actually well above both the $25 most-favorite donation and the $70 average for most Kickstarter campaigns. Forty-four believers backed my project, but I’d anticipated about ten times that number based on my own relationships with friends, family and colleagues and their stated willingness to spread the excitement. So my stable wasn’t as huge as I’d thought, which still baffles me based on pre-campaign conversations. It’s tempting to get angry (and I have to admit that I was pretty miffed for a while…with some of that irritation still lingering toward a few people on whom I’d really been relying to sell my project to their contacts), but the more constructive thing to do is to figure out why my group of supporters didn’t come through as projected. Did I not sufficiently explain the process? Did I not adequately explain the importance of not only spreading the word but also of asking for support of their friends? Did I not give people enough reason to feel that they were a part of the project? Or were they just not as excited as I’d believed them to be? Before I launch again, I have to figure these things out, plus I have to increase my number of believers. While some crowdfunding projects are lucky enough to go viral, usually because of big name attachments, most are dependent upon the allegiance and participation of the core base.

2. People don’t want to be a part of a campaign they don’t think is going to succeed, even if they believe in the project itself.

This sounds crazy, right? But based on a post-campaign survey I sent to my prospect list, many said they didn’t see the point of pledging based upon the slow progress of the funding. Did they not want to be associated with a failed project? Did they think it just wasn’t worth their time to pledge if failure seemed imminent? I don’t know. This one makes no sense to me, especially because under Kickstarter rules, pledging would have cost them absolutely nothing if the campaign were to fail. This is yet another issue I must address before re-launching.

3. You will lose some friends and even alienate some family members during the course of your crowdfunding campaign.

Persistence is key to a successful crowdfunding campaign. Yet, there will be a segment who will find your persistence annoying. This was made very clear to me when I received an email with only two words in the subject box: “ENOUGH ALREADY!” I can’t begin to express how hurtful these two words were for so many reasons. Firstly, this message was from a professional fundraiser who knows the importance of repetition. Secondly, this was the response of a person for whom I’ve completed scores of successful projects over the years at no cost to him or his organization. Thirdly, this person knows just how important this project is to me. Once I got over the initial hurt (okay, so I’m not really over it yet), I began to wonder just how many others were alienated, especially if someone so close to me had such an intense response. I have to take this into consideration before my next campaign.

4. Funding other projects helps create support.

I am about to back my nineteenth and twentieth projects on Kickstarter today. I began supporting Kickstarter campaigns months ago because of my own dedication to independent filmmaking, because I know that crowdfunding is the only way most of these projects will get made, and because I believe in the projects I support. What I didn’t realize when I started pledging is that I was joining a community of mutual supporters who often reciprocate pledges and social media support. While I will continue to support the projects of other filmmakers in any event, I must concentrate on making better use of the mutual support that comes from pledging.

5. Did I choose the right crowdfunding program?

There are many reasons I selected Kickstarter over other fundraising platforms, and perhaps I will decide to go with them again. The main reasons I chose Kickstarter were because of their reputation and because I knew that I couldn’t create what I was envisioning for any less than I was asking. Since Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing proposition, I knew I wouldn’t be in the predicament of delivering anything of lesser quality than I’d be promising my supporters. On the other hand, had I gone with another site such as Indiegogo, I’d have some seed money in my pocket now and a record of fundraising that I could use to my advantage in raising additional money. While I am more interested in making my film than I am in spending countless months on fundraising, this is another option I must consider before launching again.

6. Connecting and engaging online with those who are most likely to support my cause is a daunting task.

I wish there were a simple way of connecting with those who have already demonstrated Kickstarter support for independent films (perhaps the recent hacking of Kickstarter was by a frustrated filmmaker looking for leads rather than by someone looking to steal credit card numbers)! When I was making my living in the world of advertising, it was super-easy to buy or rent a list of potential buyers. It appears that such a list doesn’t exist for this particular demographic. You would think the Internet would make it easy to build a list of those who share your passion, but the opposite is true. As pointed out by the website agency 2.0, the people I seek “exist in the nooks and crannies of the web. These nooks and crannies are where the passion side of the web resides…These are those people that care about your issues, your causes and hopefully your project.” The post goes on to say that these people are found on blogs, forums, websites, social media, podcasts, in newsletters, in groups and in hashtags. I have been searching all of these digital avenues for months, and I find I haven’t even made a dent! Daunting indeed. Suggestions are welcome!

7. I have to listen to my supporters and learn from my mistakes.

As I mentioned earlier, I performed a post-campaign 10-question survey of everyone whom I’d solicited. In it, I encouraged complete honesty, and that’s just what I received. As a result, not only will my next campaign be different, but there may be substantial changes to the project itself.

So, am I any closer to re-launching the campaign?

I am.

But, as you can see, there’s still so much more I have to consider!

So please…post your comments below and pass this link along to those who have either run their own crowdfunding campaigns (successful or unsuccessful) and to those who may have supported similar campaigns.

Together, maybe we’ll be able to find out how to increase the number of successful campaigns well beyond the current 30% level!

And please…if you haven’t yet subscribed to this blog, please do so below!

At 64, New Jersey resident tries his hand at filmmaking

Former small gym owner launches Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for movie

Bob Messinger wasn’t always interested in making movies, but he was always interested in writing them. In fact, he has five completed feature-length screenplays under his belt, three of which have won international script competitions.

So why, at 64, has Messinger made the switch from writing to filmmaking?

“It doesn’t matter how good your writing may be or how many awards you may have won,” he explains. “The sad fact is that spec scripts just don’t get made by Hollywood anymore. If you want to get your movie made these days, you have to do it yourself.”

And that’s just what Messinger hopes to do. He has recently launched a campaign on the popular crowd-funding site Kickstarter to film his award-winning script “Gymful Remembrances,” which is loosely based on his brief stint as the owner of a 24-hour gym in Parsippany, NJ. If the project is funded, he plans to shoot the movie in and around Parsippany.

According to his Kickstarter campaign page, ” ‘Gymful Remembrances’ is an award-winning screenplay featuring a somewhat quirky cast of characters, including a beleaguered small gym owner, a vengeful crow hell-bent on making him and his dog miserable, a disgraced sex therapist and a Jamaican mystic.”

Messinger describes the project as a “dramedy.”

While the story is set in a gym similar to the one he owned and deals somewhat with the ups and downs of that venture, it’s really a much more far reaching story of “baggage verses happiness,” he says.

“The characters I’ve created are a mixture of people I’ve known over the years as I’ve struggled to break my own destructive patterns and create rewarding relationships.”

Messinger, who spent most of his career as an advertising creative director, opened his 24-hour gym in Parsippany in 2007.

“Just in time for the economic downturn,” he laughs. “Timing has never been my strong point. And it’s certainly not the main character’s strength, either.”

It’s a topic Messinger says he had to approach with humor and a lot of self-deprecation.

Messinger is hoping to raise $70,000 through his Kickstarter campaign, which ends at 1:08 PM on May 31. If he doesn’t raise the full amount by that time, he gets absolutely nothing.

“We opted for Kickstarter’s all-or-nothing approach over other crowd-funding sites because to try to make this movie for anything less would result in a film of lesser quality,” he explains. “That just wouldn’t be fair to our supporters.”

Messinger’s goal of $70,000 is a mere pittance, considering that most Hollywood film budgets are in the millions, but he is confident that he can make a quality film for that amount. Aside from the fact that the digital age has made filmmaking easier and less costly, Messinger has also assembled a team of professionals to help him. He has partnered with Nightstand Studios in Fairfield and has enlisted the studio’s owner and Emmy winner Randy Rossilli to direct the film.

Rossilli, who also owns Nightstand Music Group, will also assist in the music and distribute the soundtrack. And singer/songwriter Shari Spiro of Netcong has already written and recorded the film’s closing song.

Cost will also be held down because most of the people working on the production, including most of the actors, will be donating their time and talents in return for film credit.

“This truly is going to be a north Jersey production,” exclaims Messinger.

A casting call will be going out as Messinger’s campaign gets close to reaching its goal.

“We’re not just taking people’s money and not giving them anything in return,” Messinger says of the Kickstarter project. “We have put together rewards at various levels in return for their support. Plus everyone who contributes gets a thank-you listing in the film’s closing credits.”

Anyone interested in supporting the film may do so by going to Kickstarter.com and searching for Gymful Remembrances, or they may just use the project’s short URL: http://kck.st/1hhCvJ0

Why else at 64 is Messinger determined to make his film?

“Let me explain it like this,” he answers. “I went to see Kevin Smith speak this weekend at the Montclair Film Festival. He explained why he maxed out his credit cards to make his first film, ‘Clerks.’ He said his compelling motivation was, ‘If I don’t get to do this, I think I’m gonna die.’ I fully understand.”

What is Kevin Smith thinking, and what does it have to do with my Kickstarter campaign?

I attended a session entitled “What Is Kevin Smith Thinking?” at this past weekend’s Montclair Film Festival. He explained why he maxed out his credit cards to make “Clerks” 20 years ago while he was making five dollars an hour in a convenience store. He said his compelling motivation was, “If I don’t get to do this, I’m gonna die.”

I actually gasped at his words. Those are exactly the same words I’ve been saying to friends and family for a couple of years now when I talk about making at least one of my scripts into a film. They tell me not to be so overly dramatic.

Okay, so maybe I won’t die…but I think something inside of me definitely will.

Many of you know me from school or our having worked together at one time or another, whether it was in journalism, marketing, advertising or during my brief stint as a small gym owner. But as devoted as I’ve been to my professional work, not one of the projects that defines my 40 years of corporate life has ever made me say, “If I don’t get to do this, I’m gonna die.”

So I have to make this movie. And I need your help. Hopefully, you’ve seen my LinkedIn and Facebook updates about my Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to film my script “Gymful Remembrances.” I’m taking the crowd-funding route because, unlike Kevin Smith of 20 years ago, my credit cards are already maxed out (having a mortgage and a daughter who’s a college freshman will kind of do that to you).

It’s a good script. My wife and brothers think so. But more importantly, so does the Indie Gathering International Film Festival Screenwriting Competition (first place, drama/comedy category, 2012) and the Garden State Film Festival Screenwriting Competition (top-five finalist, 2011).

Those of you who know me also know how hard is for me to ask for help…especially monetarily, so you know this has to mean a lot to me. But here goes…

Please consider being a part of this project by visiting my Kickstarter project page (http://kck.st/1hhCvJ0), seeing what it’s all about, and becoming a patron of the film. I’ve put together a professional team, and we’re giving away all sorts of goodies at the various contribution levels. Of course, every patron gets a participation acknowledgement during the film’s closing credits. And if I can be just a little bolder here…please also pass the word along to your friends and colleagues, especially those who enjoy supporting the arts, asking them, too, to become a part of “Gymful Remembrances.”

Whew! That actually was really hard! I’ve always been much better at creating sales materials to put in other people’s hands so they could ask for the money!

That link again is http://kck.st/1hhCvJ0, or just go to Kickstarter.com and search for “Gymful Remembrances.”

Kevin Smith at the 2014 Montclair Film Festival.

Kevin Smith at the 2014 Montclair Film Festival.

Out of budgeting hell and ready to start my Kickstarter campaign!


It took a little longer than I’d expected, but I followed all of the steps proposed in my last blog entry, and I’ve come up with so much more than the solid budget I was hoping for! I now also have a truly knowledgeable, creative and dedicated team behind me and a carefully planned Kickstarter campaign ready to launch.

Networking does make all the difference, and I was absolutely right in my assumption that members of the independent filmmaking community are quick to share their experiences, wisdom and suggestions. By networking with fellow writers, filmmakers, editors, art directors, musicians and composers, not only have I worked my way out of budgeting hell, but I’ve also gained an even better understanding of the entire filmmaking process.

And like I said, I’ve also put together a team that shares my vision and dedication.

The greatest thing that has resulted from my research and networking has been my introduction to Randy Rossilli. Randy is an Emmy-winning producer and director who also happens to be the owner of a relatively new production studio virtually right down the road from me. Nightstand Studios in Fairfield, NJ, is equipped with just about everything needed to make a feature film…three sound stages, state-of-the-art editing facilities, a scoring stage and recording studio, animation capabilities and so much more.

Randy also runs Nightstand Music Group, which gives him access to a wealth of music and musicians.

Fortunately, Randy and I have formed a mutual appreciation of each other’s talents and visions, and we have teamed up to get this film made. I am confident that my association with his dedicated team will assure that my first feature will have the artistic and production quality of a film costing much more.

I’ve also spent the past few months learning all I can about the intricacies of a Kickstarter campaign (a topic, no doubt, for a future blog entry) and trying to build a network to support what we need to raise.

The campaign is just about ready to be submitted to Kickstarter for their approval, and if all goes well, it will launch in just a few days. I will post the campaign’s link on this blog as soon as we launch it, and I hope you look at it, consider supporting it, and, most importantly, recommend it to as many of your contacts as possible.

Special thanks to everyone who has given me input during this process!

Finally! I’m finding my way out of budgeting hell!



Okay, so I’ve decided to make a feature film. My script has been fine tuned. I’ve been on shoots in various capacities, so I have a good understanding of the process. I’ve taken literally hundreds of seminars on film making and distribution. I have a solid marketing background. I am chomping at the bit to get my Kickstarter campaign under way. There’s only one thing that’s been holding me up until now: trying to get a firm handle on how much this will cost!

I must admit that for a while I was concerned that I’d never make it through the budgeting process. But the more I talk to other writers who have launched their own projects, the more I see that budgeting hell is more common than it is atypical for independent film makers, especially new ones like me.

The biggest thing that has made the budgeting process especially puzzling is the huge disparity of budgets among independent films similar to my project. Of the six indies I’ve researched with scripts similar to mine in length, characters, locations, number of scenes and with the anticipated production values of my project, the reported budgets range from $15,000 to $2,500,000.

Not only is there a huge disparity among published budgets, but there is also a wide range of opinions as to how money should be spent. For example, one excellent Internet article posted by Lift-Off International Film Festivals (http://www.lift-off-festival.com/independent-film-budgets/) advises, “Forget about the equipment. If you are going to spend your money to make a picture, you need to spend it on people.” Still, other informative articles by equally successful film makers advocate seeking deferred payment agreements with cast and crew rather than skimp on equipment.

Time to take action!

Rather than pull out what’s left of my already thinning hair trying to figure out how to configure this budget, I have decided to calmly take the following steps:

1) Continue to build my network of fellow independent film makers using social media and networking events.

2) Take the time to prepare comprehensive scene breakdown sheets, including locations, interiors vs. exteriors, cast members, extras, wardrobe, props, vehicles, special effects, animals and music.  Doing this has given me a much better understanding of the costs I have to research.

3) Invest in budgeting software.  At first, it looked as though I was going to have to go through the script page-by-page to compile these breakdowns because, while there are some excellent, professional budgeting programs available, none was in my price range. But, through my expanding network, I discovered Chimpanzee from Jungle Software (Chimpanzee is the little brother of the more-expensive Gorilla budgeting software, and it is designed specifically for students and independent film makers). This relatively inexpensive software ($124, but sometimes on sale for as much as $50 off) has been a lifesaver and has given me a much better handle on the budgeting and scheduling process.

4) And the most constructive step I’ve taken so far…reach out to the independent film makers  in my growing network. For the most part, they have been exceptionally open and willing to share their own budgeting challenges, how they’ve overcome them, and to give me suggestions specific to my own project.

So, I am happy to announce that I am navigating the road out of budgeting hell, and although I expect I still may encounter a few roadblocks along the way, I hope to launch my Kickstarter campaign sometime during the upcoming holiday season!