Director Jennifer Fox has raised more than US$150,000 in 90 days via crowdfunding resource Kickstarter for her documentary My Reincarnation (pictured).
The film, billed as taking more than 20 years to make, tells the story of a High Tibetan Buddhist teacher and his Western-born son, and has been pre-sold to PBS’s “POV” and has played at IDFA in Amsterdam.
After its completion, Fox – best known for Sundance-winning doc Beirut: The Last Home Movie and PBS series An American Love Story – discovered that a coproducing partner was unable to raise a promised $100,000 portion of the film’s budget.
This left her unable to meet the film’s completion costs. After selling off rights for most of the major TV territories, she still did not believe she could raise enough through further sales in time to cover the gap, and says she faced bankruptcy.
“I was terrified,” she said. “Everyone knows that you can’t fund a film backwards. How do you explain why you still need money for a film that’s already completed and screening at festivals?
“We owed money for the film’s post-production and music rights clearances before we learned that we lost our funding. Without those funds, the film couldn’t be distributed to television or theaters. It’s a very complicated message to convey.”
As a last resort, she turned to crowdfunding site Kickstarter. Worried that the full $100,000 would be too tall an order, Fox and her team set up a 90-day campaign to raise half the needed funds – $50,000.
The team launched a web outreach campaign to spiritual, religious, and film communities in America and abroad, using Facebook and Twitter to extend their reach. Forty-six days into the campaign, they met their $50,000 goal and decided to set a new target of $100,000.
When the clock finally stopped on the campaign on May 28, the film had raised $150,456 from 518 backers – 300% more than the team’s original goal.
According to Fox, the numbers make My Reincarnation the top-raising finished film on Kickstarter, as well as the fourth highest-earning film on the site, and the ninth highest-earning Kickstarter project of any kind.
“I always knew there was a huge audience for My Reincarnation, because I received emails everyday from people who were willing to put up their own money to get the film to their community,” said Fox. “As a producer, I feel empowered. Any distributor who tells me that the film doesn’t have a big enough audience doesn’t know the market – I now have proof.”