Approaching potential audience members to pay for the creation and marketing of a film sounds like it came from the mind of a financially frustrated filmmaker. But it took three non-filmmakers to create IndieGoGo, an online social marketplace to give independent filmmakers the tools to raise peer-to-peer funding.
On the site, the filmmaker or producer signs up for free, gives the run-down on their projects, promotes it and when ready, specifies how much support they’re looking for, how they’ll use it, and what fans will get from contributing. IndieGoGo fans determine how much they will donate via PayPal and in return they receive VIP perks, like a film credit or DVDs of the completed film.
Two University of Berkeley MBA students, Eric Schell and Danae Ringelmann, and their former colleague Slava Rubin combined their marketing, software development and financial know-how to create the grassroots support system. Rubin calls it a ‘Do-It-With-Others’ approach inspired by Robert Greenwald.
The site was launched at the last Sundance Film Festival and already has partnered with Current TV and IFP. ‘The company is quite young yet it’s already gotten some serious traction. There are already almost 750 projects and thousands of people using the site. We have raised over $60,000 dollars through the site so far,’ says Rubin.
One success story is an in-development doc on the Zimbabwean sex crisis called Tapestries of Hope which has raised $22,500. The funds came in three rounds, a method which IndieGoGo encourages. Success comes easier with smaller increments as opposed to one big lump sum and the cash is doled out when the users hit their target.
Currently Rubin and company are busy promoting the site at media and film events and will be launching a new Facebook application next month, which mimics what you can do on IndieGoGo to all of the user’s Facebook friends and networks. Those that use the app can see what their friends are supporting and what other recommended projects are out there.
The Facebook application is just another method to make IndieGoGo users happier. Rubin says the feedback from the site has been amazing, and people are thrilled to have the site. People are already suggesting that the company take over distribution and pull in wealthy investors, which Rubin might be willing to consider down the road.