Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Fitzroy - One final push

If you have been following my blog, you'll know that I have written a few articles about the progress of The Fitzroy's fundraiser over at Kickstarter. The aim is to reach £60,000 by December 23rd at 1pm ET, and the current total stands at £53,274.

There are various levels and different incentives available depending on your contribution. If you donate just £1, it would still help the team reach its overall goal. If you feel more generous, so much the better. The success of a campaign such as this depends on marketing and the support of people like us. If Christmas has left you broke, your tweets and retweets can still make a difference. Please consider doing whatever you are able to do.

What is The Fitzroy?

To see a full explanation, please take a look at my original post.

If the target isn't met on time, all of the money will be returned. It would be a shame to get this close without going over the top.

Pledges of £100 or more will get you a credit on IMDB, so you'll be immortalized and know that you helped an independent film see the light of day.

Here are the team's Twitter details if you want to help promote the film over the remaining three days.

Here's a message from The Fitzroy team:

For any other aspiring filmmakers out there, I'm going to share director Andrew Harman's experience with the Kickstarter fundraiser.

Thanks for listening.

The five things filmmakers can learn from Kickstarter (and vice versa The five things Kickstarter creators can learn from filmmakers). By a filmmaker in the middle of a campaign!

Hello, I’m Andrew Harmer, the writer-director of the Fitzroy. Right up front I want to say we are currently slap bang in the thick end of a Kickstarter campaign.

Here’s the elevator pitch for the film.

The Fitzroy is a live action black comedy set in an alternative post-apocalyptic 1950’s. The world is covered in a poisonous gas and the last place for a traditional seaside holiday is The Fitzroy hotel; an abandoned submarine just of Margate.

This list isn’t necessarily the five things we have done, but it is the five things we would do (or be prepared for) if we started over again! Kickstarter, like film making, is a constant learning curve and this list might well change by the end of the campaign.

1) Tell the most interesting story.
You only really get one shot at a Kickstarter campaign or making a film. Sure you might do another one or another dozen, but then a bus might also hit you! So you better make this one count and make it the best it can be.

And that means telling the best story you can.

A film has to be the very best ‘version’ of that story you can possibly tell. The most interesting, dramatic and honed story possible.  Nobody want’s the B plots to be more interesting than your focus, so make sure you are telling the most interesting story.

The same goes for a Kickstarter campaign. You need to hook people into your campaign and to do that you need a great story (as well as a great product). And I don’t just mean the story you are selling, I mean the story behind the project. YOUR story. Your struggles, the adventure you have been on to get to this point. Is your idea based on a life altering brush with death? Did you witness a moment of kindness between an old man and his wife on the bus while riding the bus to work? It doesn’t matter what it is, just make sure it’s interesting and told the best way possible.

2) Be yourself.
Let your personality shine. I like films where I can ‘see’ the personalities of the filmmakers. I don’t always like those personalities, but I would much prefer to see an idiosyncratic film than a pixel-pushing blockbuster with no heart. I truly believe the soul of a film comes from the people who make it. While it is being made, it absorbs the personality and characteristics of the director (if they want it to). And I want to see that. Film is a personal experience - a conversation between the viewer and the director.

Same goes for Kickstarter, but to an even larger degree. The old adage ‘people invest in people’ is true. You have to put yourself out there. It’s scary but you have to share your passion, fears and hopes. Sure you might end up looking like a fool, but if you don’t put yourself out there people will just turn off. But word of warning – don’t try to be something you’re not. If you’re funny be funny, but if you are not don’t even try. Cool and hip? That’s fine, but if you aren’t, don’t force it. People can smell it, and it stinks. No bullshit. Just be yourself and people will engage with you.

3) Do it quick.
Okay this is straightforward. Kickstarter is on the web so you don’t have long to tell your story. Minutes, if you are lucky, but seconds in reality. So you better make your page accessible, clear, and your pitch video SHORT and to the point.

Same goes for the film (unless you’re Terrence Malick) edit, edit, edit. Cut the fat and edit that script so it’s tighter than a drum. All through the film and into post production, if it doesn’t move the story on then it goes. Don’t waste people’s time.

Word of warning though don’t jump the gun and rush head first in to it. With both Kickstarter and films make sure you are ready, that everything is prepared. And even if you think it is – it probably isn’t. Do it quick, but make sure you are prepared.

­4) Know your audience and engage with them.
Kickstarter is social, very social. It is a direct link between creators and their audience and in my humble opinion a very powerful tool. But before you start a campaign you must identify the audience you are targeting. This could be fairly obvious, your family and friends, people with ipods, hardcore gamers, Teddy Ruxpin fans. Whatever your audience, you need to identify them, find them and engage with them.

Filmmakers need to do the same thing. There’s not a one size fits all film. Everyone has different tastes and yes you can try to create a film that appeals to as many people as possible and the mass market. But I prefer films that are aimed at… well… me and my tastes. There is a distinct risk when trying to appeal to everyone that you can water down a story. Be specific and know your audience. 

      5) Take it seriously and have respect. 

Both Kickstarter and filmmaking are, at the end of the day, businesses, and you are asking for people’s time and money. That is not to be taken lightly. Sure you are hopefully giving back to them in the form of entertainment or in the case of Kickstarter some sort of reward. When people give you their hard earned money you have a responsibility, a contract to deliver on your promises and work your boney ass off to make sure you do.

If I can tell someone has put their heart and soul into a project or a film it means a lot to me as an audience member and it pays dividends. 

6) Be flexible and learn to adapt. 

Just like this list! It was meant to be five and we end up with six? It’s not a problem, just not what I was expecting when I started writing. It took me by surprise. Your Kickstarter project is an organic beast­, it is going to change and develop as the campaign progresses. It is going to throw you some curve balls, stuff you planned will fail and other avenues and opportunities will suddenly appear. You can’t let the setbacks knock you, you just have to keep moving forward and be open to any new possibilities.

I can’t think of anything that is more applicable than that to filmmaking! Be flexible and make it work.

So that’s it, that’s what I have learnt so far, and who knows what is around the corner? Hopefully we can reach our target and make an awesome film. If I heed my own advice, we just might!


General: @the_fitzroy 

Producer James Heath: @jamesjheath

Producer Liam Garvo: @lgarvo

Director Andrew Harmer: @andrewharm

Head of press Rebecca Wilson: @BecsGW 

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