What is it really about this phenomenon crowdfunding everybody is talking about recently? Who can really benefit from it and how to run a successful campaign? The best way to find out would be to dig deep into the topic and start at the beginning. Filmmaker Timon Birkhofer is doing this exact thing by making a documentary about crowdfunding with the help of crowdfunding. Not only he plans to interview really notable and experienced people but this film also profits from its own funding experience.
Update: 3 days before the end of the campaign, they reached the goal of USD 80.000! Congrats!
Confirmed interviewees so far:
• Jimmy Wales, Founder of Wikipedia
• Scott Thomas, Design Director of the Obama Campaign
• Brian Fargo, creator of Wasteland 2
• Tim Renner, former CEO Universal Music Europe
• Prof. David Alan Grier, President Elect IEEE Computer Society
• Prof. Eric von Hippel, MIT
• Zach Crain, founder and CEO of Freaker USA
• and several inspiring project initiators from North America to Europe
We asked filmmaker Timon some questions and will regularly update this post to see how the funding campaign and the production of the movie works out.
Plus: Don’t forget to support the production of the movie at Kickstarter.
You decided to ask for $80,000. This amount seems rather high for a documentary campaign; is there some strategy behind it?
No doubt, $80,000 is a hell of a lot of money to ask for.
But all six members of our team will put their full-time jobs as DOPs, graphic designers, producers, editors, or directors aside to fully concentrate on making CAPITAL C a reality.
This means several months of research, preparation, traveling in North America and Europe for shooting, editing, postproduction, sound design, mixing, and working on rewards and fulfillment.
We have been working together for years and we are fully aware of the fact that all of our living expenses will have to come out of our own pockets during the production of CAPITAL C.
At the same time, we do not want any external investor or financer to gain control over the content of the film, the selection of interviewees or the kind of stories and statements that make it into the final cut. CAPITAL C will be the very first documentary about the crowd funding movement that emerged from the independent culture scene. Making this movie any other way than independently would feel inappropriate to us.
What are the top 3 questions you are trying to answer with the film?
This project started quite differently from all the projects we did before:
In 2009, we first discovered that cool little idea of making creative projects become reality with the support of the crowd. The only question was: Would crowd funding work on a bigger scale as well? In 2012, this question has already been answered by thousands of projects, small and huge, created with the helping hand of the crowd.
So we’ve talked with several project starters to find out whether crowd funding could possibly work for us too. And when we realized that, yes, it could indeed work for us as well as for countless other projects out there, it began to dawn on us: This was not just a cool little idea anymore. It had grown into a game changer for filmmakers like us:
Imagine yourself trying to sell the idea of a documentary film about the life of independent game developers in North America. You would have a very hard time doing this. Still, James Swirsky did it and asked the crowd instead of producers to support his film. He found his crowd, made his film, and won Sundance 2012 with “Indie Game: The Movie.”
Would “Indie Game” ever have been produced without crowd funding? Well, most likely not.
We will talk with many independents, just like James, to learn more about their adventure of working together with the crowd.
We want to understand the dynamic and motivation of the crowd, its full potential, and its limits. And, of course, we hope that CAPITAL C will help others to reach out for their crowd – as it has helped us already.
But there is at least one more question that we want to explore with CAPITAL C: What’s next?
I mean, every business that comes into contact with crowd funding is changing fundamentally. Take a look at the game developers Tim Schafer and Brian Fargo: They had little more to offer than the idea to create a new game. And each of them raised about $3,000,000 with the help of their crowd. Imagine the creative freedom they have with a budget like this and without publishers breathing down their neck. And now imagine what that means for the future of their former publishers…
For that reason, we will also talk with crowd experts like Prof. Eric von Hippel, MIT, and Prof. David Alan Grier, president-elect of the IEEE Computer Society. And we’ll interview people who’ve already experienced the ultimate power of the crowd, like Scott Thomas, design director of the first presidential campaign of Barack Obama, and Jimmy Wales, founder of the biggest crowd sourcing project of all time, Wikipedia.
Sorry for answering that extensively, but I hope I have mentioned at least three questions that we will try to cast light on with CAPITAL C.
Who should watch this film?
Literally everybody. Honestly. Crowd funding is such a powerful tool for innovators and consumers that it will shape the future for all of us – for established entrepreneurs and artists who already have their own crowd backing them as well as for up-and-coming talents, who introduce their very first creations to the market. It just doesn’t matter anymore where we are located or where we are coming from. The only things that count are the idea behind the project and the desire to really make this idea happen.
How much time did (or do) you invest in promoting the campaign?
That’s a good point! Most filmmakers are working on their projects on the Q.T. We are no exception. In a perfect world, we wouldn’t promote our work before everything is in place. Now with crowd funding, we are forced to show what we have in the middle of the process. Is that a bad thing?
Not at all, since it makes things better: During our crowd funding campaign, many people approached us and offered their help. Brian Fargo and Scott Thomas, both interviewees of CAPITAL C, even backed our project. Other backers told us we should give them a call whenever we are in the area and they offered us to stay at their homes during the production. What more can you ask for?
In this way, the promotion becomes part of the production process. It’s difficult to say how much time is used for what – but be sure: It’s a lot.
Outcomes so far?
Check it out on Kickstarter. We regularly post updates there and everyone’s welcome to be part of the project!