Yesterday, the GoFundMe campaign for my fan film INTERLUDE crossed $11,000! Although this might not seem as significant a milestone as crossing the half-way point or crossing $10,000…it’s very exciting to me personally because it means I’m doing my job properly. (Also, most of the detractors never thought I’d raise more than $5K-$10K at the most, and now even some of them are impressed!)
Y’see, unlike many folks who make fan films, I don’t have any background or experience in filmmaking. Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada. While I’m a decent graphic designer and can edit as a novice with iMovie on my Mac, I’m not a director or VFX artist or lighting specialist or cameraman. I can’t compose music, build sets, create props, do make-up, or even sew uniforms and costumes. I’m not a sound FX guy, and while I’ve done a couple of fan film voice-overs, I’m not an actor and won’t even appear in my own fan film! All I did was write a script.
So why am I here at all? What’s my bag, baby?
The simple truth is that I’m here to convince people like you to give me your money. In return, I’ve assembled a very talented team who are going to make an amazing fan film for all of you to enjoy. It’s going to have the quality level of PRELUDE TO AXANAR (or as close as we can get!) and be able to stand beside its “siblings” (Prelude and the two Axanar sequels) as a proud part of the expanded “Axanar Universe.”
But in order to do that, things (some of them kinda expensive) needed to be paid for.
Believe me, I would have loved to have just written a check or charged everything to a credit card. But I simply don’t have the financial means—certainly not at the level required to match up to the other Axanar fan films. And even though the Ares bridge set is now complete (or 98% of the way there), this fan film is more than just the set.
So with essentially no skills, no experience, and no money, what the heck am I doing trying to make a fan film???
Well, let me tell you what I do have…
A script and a dream
Sometimes, that’s all you need to start with. In fact, many fan filmmakers had little more than that when they started. That’s what crowd-funding is all about. Just ask GARY O’BRIEN (who ended up making Chance Encounter and The Holy Core entirely from donations) or VANCE MAJOR (who is, after just three days, 75% of the way to raising $1,100 for uniforms for more Constar Chronicles episodes…donate here, folks).
Over the years, so many fan filmmakers have been willing to ask for help, and so many fans have been happy to help them with donations as small as a dollar or as large as $1,000 or more. That’s what makes this community so inspiring to me.
Writing Fan Film Factor, lo, these last three and a half years has put me in touch with so many incredibly talented people, most of whom are just as eager to make Star Trek fan films as I am. In fact, if it weren’t for one of these special folks—JOSHUA IRWIN of the Avalon Universe fan films—Interlude would never have materialized as a dream. But Josh is a director, and after reading my script, he wanted to direct it. And suddenly, the dream was born.
Josh led me to VICTORIA FOX, who will co-direct and is also my producer (and is twice as smart as I am!). Josh is also bringing in a sound engineer and Victoria is handling casting. ALEC PETERS put me in touch with MARK EDWARD LEWIS for sound FX and mixing.
Other contacts I have in the fan community and entertainment industry included KEVIN CROXTON to compose the music and LEWIS ANDERSON to produce VFX. And my list keeps growing! DANA WAGNER has just come on board to handle pyrotechnics (now that Dana has built the Ares bridge, he wants to blow it up!). GLEN WOLFE stepped in to provide us with a Sickbay set when Ray Tesi pulled his Neutral Zone Studios out of consideration. Other fan filmmakers have offered equipment, patch production, or simply to show up and help move lights and hold boom mics.
In other words, the dream has quickly become contagious and spread to many, many others. But nothing can happen without money, which leads to the next thing I can bring to the table…
If people don’t feel good about you, they’re probably not gonna be too likely to give you their money, no matter how good your idea is. Fortunately, I’ve built up a lot of goodwill publishing this blog over the years. Likewise, many of the people on my team also have positive reputations.
I’ve also helped others crowd-fund along the way, and many of them have offered me a reciprocal show of public support in return. (Never underestimate the value of an existing mailing list of previous donors and a shout out.)
That GoFundMe campaign didn’t create itself, y’know! I worked closely with Victoria and Josh to determine a budget. I worked with Lewis and Mark and Kevin to create the opening VFX sequence. And I worked with myself to create that 13-minute “ask” video. Then I planned out a calendar of release dates for specific blogs and held tight to that schedule.
Persistence, to me, is the most important part of any crowd-funding campaign. You can’t just build it and expect them to come. You can to ask, and ask, and ask again. All of these blogs I’ve been writing over the past two months (including this one) are meant to keep Interlude on people’s radar.
And what you don’t see are all of the IMs and e-mails and calls I’m making almost daily to expand coverage of the campaign. I’ve just completed an awesome video interview with a major sci-fi podcaster who has 22K YouTube subscribers. That’ll be out in a week or so and hopefully reach a whole bunch of potential donors. I’ll also be getting a shout-out on another mailing list for a major crowd-funding campaign soon. But if I hadn’t been following up with those folks (i.e. nagging them incessantly), those opportunities wouldn’t be materializing.
Crowd-funding successfully isn’t for shrinking violets. If you want money, then ASK FOR IT. PLEASE!!! Just click the link below…
But seriously, folks, being upfront like that is just part of what you’ve gotta do when you have a campaign. Ask potential new backers to donate. And when they start drying up, ask existing backers if they can give a little more. Be polite, of course, and realize that not everyone can afford to increase their donation. But a few can. It doesn’t hurt to at least ask, but yeah, it takes a bit of chutzpah. I get that I’m doing the online equivalent of passing around the hat multiple times, but sometimes that’s what’s necessary to make the dream into a reality. I’m not the first, and I won’t be the last.
I thank everyone who has donated so far. We’re only $2,494 away from the minimum I need by August 20 to guarantee a shoot in November.
Think we can make it? I know we can make it! That’s what having a dream is all about…