Why you need to crowdsource — Crowdsourcing for Filmmakers

A few years back, after hosting a panel at the American Film Market on film crowdsourcing, I was approached by a representative of Focal Press/Rutledge with a proposal to write a book on the subject. Her argument was that crowdsourcing was a new concept for film creatives and that those who understood and embraced the strategies toward a successful crowdsourcing campaign would lead the indiefilm charge for the next decade plus. It was a compelling argument. One I happened to agree with fully. Still, I declined the offer. But she was not to be deterred.

She followed the work we continued to do with Stage 32. Periodically, she would send notes of admiration regarding the fact that our community was completely crowdsourced from Day One (growing from 100 of my closest film industry colleagues to hundreds of thousands strong globally in just a few years). Plus, she had seen the carefully planned crowdsourcing efforts that went into the audience building and branding of a couple of films I was helping to produce and market. Why wouldn’t I put all these best practices and initiatives on paper and share them with the world? It took a full year, but she wore me down. And I’m ever grateful for her persistence.

I’m happy to say, after 2 years, nearly 100 interviews and countless rewrites due to the rapidly changing landscape, Crowdsourcing for Filmmakers: Indie Film and the Power of the Crowd is now here.

For those of you not familiar with the book, this is the very first to be written on the subject of film crowdsourcing (not crowdfunding — more on that in a moment). It’s also one of the first to be published under the American Film Market Presents (AFM) banner for Focal Press. My deepest appreciation to the head honcho of AFM, Jonathan Wolf, for making that happen.

Crowdsourcing for Filmmakers is designed to help all filmmakers and content creators find, engage and move an audience to not only bring an enormous amount of value to the table, but in an effort to build their brand and the brand of their projects. In today’s DIY world, bringing a built in audience for your project is almost as vital as casting when it comes to raising funds and securing distribution. It’s not enough to have a great idea or product. With the power of the crowd behind you, supporting you and carrying the message of you and your film, you will be unstoppable.

But this book is not just for filmmakers and content creators, it’s for all film creatives. Whether you’re an actor, screenwriter, cinematographer, composer, producer or related to film in any way and looking to build your brand and use your audience as a measure of social proof, you will find a plethora of information on best practices and pitfalls to avoid.

And although we live in a digital world, the strategies within Crowdsourcing for Filmmakers are not all related to working online. We’ll discuss taking it to the streets and finding an audience in places you might previously have not imagined.

To bring some of the finer points of all this home and to show just how limitless crowdsourcing strategies can be, I’ve included 3 vastly different film related case studies — the short film Sheila Scorned from director Mara Tasker, feature film Rising Star from director Marty Lang, and the popular documentary Mile….Mile and a Half directed by Jason Fitzpatrick. These case studies highlight just how many variables in your campaign can be sourced — from equipment to locations to cast and crew and beyond.

I’ve also included one bonus case study on how we used crowdsourcing to grow Stage 32 from a small group of 100 of my closest industry friends and colleagues to a global community of over 500,000 strong.

Additionally, we’ll look at some breakout independent films which utilized crowdsourcing on the path to success including Zach Braff’s Wish I Was Here, Lily Amirpour’s A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, Lake Bell’s Worst Enemy and Justin Simien’s Dear White People.

And I know what you’re thinking: What about raising funds? Well, that’s covered too. Sourcing an audience certainly plays into a variety of avenues as it relates to film finance.

And that brings me back to crowdfunding. Many, many people confuse crowdsourcing with crowdfunding. They couldn’t be more different. But, if you’re disappointed to discover the Crowdsourcing for Filmmakers isn’t about raising funds through rewards based or equity crowdfunding, don’t be. Even though crowdsourcing represents a different subject entirely, the fact remains that the fundamental path to the success of any crowdfunding campaign is through crowdsourcing.

To that end, I’ve included two comprehensive chapters on crowdfunding within Crowdsourcing for Filmmakers. And the case studies mentioned above all include some element of online fundraising as well. You’ll leave not only knowing everything you need to about running a successful crowdfunding campaign, but understand why your success for this project and beyond all begins with a successful crowdsourcing campaign.

Confused? No worries! I promise you this will be a fun ride and time well spent. The book is the result of nearly 2 years of research and dozens of interviews with many of the most insightful minds in the film industry working today.

I hope you’ll head on over and pick up a copy! Remember, the holidays are right around the corner, and there are few better gifts than the gift of knowledge. Feel free to buy a copy or 10 for those who you feel might benefit from reading.

Here’s to the power of you. And here’s to you harnessing the power of the crowd!

Crowdsourcing for Filmmakers: Indie Film and the Power of the Crowd is available on Amazon here.

Rich “RB” Botto is the CEO of Stage 32, the world’s only online platform connecting and educating film creatives and content creators. He is also a speaker and mentor on the subjects of the film industry, independent film, screenwriting, filmmaking, film finance, producing, social media, networking, crowdfunding, crowdsourcing and more. Botto has appeared on MSNBC, Fox News, CNBC and spoken at AFM, Cannes, Raindance, Sundance, Columbia and Harvard to name a few.

Finally, Botto is also an actor, producer and screenwriter. A film based on his script THE END GAME is in development at Covert Media.

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