Monthly Archives: December 2010

El Cosmonaut

A Film Project by Riot Cinema Collective

“A Sci-Fi movie that uses crowdfunding and Creative Commons licenses. It will be distributed through the internet, DVD, TV and cinema at the same time, creating an experience

I’m really floored by what these guys are doing. Based in Spain they have created a new model for film making that seems almost perfect. Their website is excellent (and bilingual), the transparency in their production is enticing, they have crowdfunding, a timeline that shows the development of their project, videos of their team that are appealing and exciting, I’m so impressed with the whole package.

If you’re looking for ideas for how to market your film this site is a must. There haven’t been many films that I have been inspired to contribute to their crowdfunding efforts, but this was definitely one. They have very cool things available in their shop For just 2 euros you become a ‘Producer’. This is from their site:

What does being a producer include? (*please see update at bottom of post)

  • Your name appears in the movie’s credits
  • We’ll send you a certificate with a few small gifts
  • You’ll be entered into the prize draw for one of our authentic cosmonaut suits

That is great thinking. I’m sold, which is a bit odd because honestly, what would I ever do with an authentic cosmonaut suit, except make a sci fi movie, which is EXACTLY what I’ll do if I win. Promise!

*Update: They’ve changed this offer now. Apparently sometime soon after I paid for the the producer pack they decided it was no longer financially viable to send them out unless you purchased something else from their store. They also no longer send ‘a few small gifts’ but just 1 badge. I understand the change, but IMO it would have been good marketing to honor the previous offer to those who purchased it. Just sayin’


Createspace – DVD self-publishing

create. collaborate. distribute.

I find myself ridiculously taken by CreateSpace. I just love the idea that anyone can get their work published professionally and then sell it to anyone almost anywhere in the world.

CreateSpace is a self-publishing option for books, CD’s and DVD’s. I’ve used it for An Evening With Richard O’Brien and found it all pretty straight forward.

You send them your DVD and artwork, they make a proof and send it to you (complete with barcode), and then you decide your price and can list it on And once it’s on Amazon, you can add it to your IMDb profile. Very cool.

You make more if you you lead people to the listing of your DVD on your CreateSpace site (not Amazon, this makes no sense, isn’t CreateSpace owned by Amazon?). Oh, though they do DVD on Demand this isn’t an option if your DVD is PAL. That kinda sucks, I mean really, how hard would it be?

They do take a huge chunk of the profits. My DVD is listed for $17.99 and I get $4.94 of that. And they only pay out when your account reaches $20. Obviously finding a distributor is preferable, but if you want to sell a copy of your short films, or you have an older project that you’d like to have available for your die-hard fans to collect (haha – I wish :)) then this might be a good option.


Kickstarter – Crowdfunding

A new way to Fund and Follow Creativity

At first glance Kickstarter looks exactly like Indiegogo. There are little differences, like you can’t fund charity projects. If you reach your goal you get your money minus a 5% fee, much the same. But one BIG difference is if you DON’T reach your goal, you get nothing. And your sponsors pay nothing. I guess that’s the ‘kick’ they’re referring to. Oh, Amazon also take a percentage when they process the sponsors payment. Anywhere from 1.5 to 6%!

Also important to note is that you need a US address and bank account to post a project (and get your money)

And I couldn’t work out how to search for projects from New Zealand (I could search for ‘Zealand’ but got several that weren’t based here) which isn’t great for kiwis who might be looking for a local film production to support. One of the ‘Zealand’ projects I found was actually a business idea – Marsella’s Tacos a great idea that I’d like to support, but it took me a while to realise it wasn’t a documentary about starting a business (and even longer to stop craving Mexican food). Another Te Araroa the long pathway, is about a couple who are walking the length of New Zealand. But they’re not actually from New Zealand.  In fact, as I write this I could find no New Zealand films listed on Kickstarter.

It’s a shame, I like the look and feel of Kickstarter (and it may prove to be the winner in a Beta/VHS type competition [see update below]), but I think for Kiwis Indiegogo is the way to go. Go.


UPDATE: February 3, 2011

The Sundance Institute is launching a partnership with crowdfunding specialist Kickstarter aimed at providing support for indie filmmakers.
Read the whole article here.


PS. I do like this Kickstarter infographic:

Indiegogo – Crowdfunding

“A collaborative way to fund ideas.”

Indiegogo is a good option for New Zealand filmmakers to crowdsource a portion of your funding, build an audience and community for your project, and to presell your DVD’s. 

What you do:

  1. Pick an amount you want to raise and what it’s for. Be realistic. Better to do several small amounts that go for your whole budget.
  2. Decide how long you want to fundraise for, anywhere up to 4 months.
  3. Post your project, links to your site, video, stills, anything that shows you are talented and that this film is going to get made whether you get help or not.
  4. Be really creative about what people get if they donate, and how much each is worth. DVD’s are standard, but good. T-shirts. Associate producer credit. Have a look at other projects to get ideas and tailor them to suit your project.
  5. And then the BIG challenge is to get word out there. Put a link on your website. Put it on facebook. Tell your friends and family. Then be creative.  The project won’t just fund itself. Maybe towards the end more strangers will jump onboard if they like the look of your project, but you’ll have to do most of the selling.

I’ve seen a lot of filmmakers offer little bits of this and that for sale, t-shirts on their website, auctioning a role in their movie on TradeMe, but what crowdfunding sites do is tie it all together so you can raise money for a part of your production. Though chances are you are going to have to find additional avenues to fund your film, crowdfunding can be good for a small portion, or a particular item you need (camera, post production sound, etc) If you don’t reach your goal on indiegogo then you pay a 9% fee, and if you DO it’s only 4%. Oh, and Paypal may take a cut of 2-3%.

Hook, Line & Sinker is an example of a New Zealand project that is crowd funding though Indiegogo. At the time of writing they only had $200 towards their $12,000 goal with 53 days left to fund raise. Browse other projects, especially ones that have been successful and see how dynamic their funding page is, and what they are offering as incentive to fund.

I’ll most likely use Indiegogo for my next project. Let me know how it works for you.

Brown Paper Tickets

The fair-trade ticketing company.

I’ve been waiting for this to be available in New Zealand for a couple of years now, and the beta version just went live this week. BrownPaperTickets gives you a viable option if you want to avoid the high ticketing fees that Ticketek and TicketDirect charge. The best options for a New Zealand show seem to be either have them print all your tickets and send them to you (this seems to be super cheap! though shipping would be a bit and you’d have to allow a fair bit of time as I think the US Postal service sometimes deliver via canoe), or your customers can print their own tickets (I haven’t wrapped my head around how you make sure no one abuses this system yet).

I’m not entirely sure how they deal with giving you your money after the event. They say they’ll send a check, which you can totally deposit in an NZ bank account, but it takes about 6 weeks to clear.

I haven’t had a chance to use this service yet, but I’d love to hear from anyone who does. And I’ll update when I use it myself.

Beta BrownPaperTickets

The Zen of Social Media Marketing – Shama Kabani

The Zen of Social Media Marketing: An Easier Way to Build Credibility, Generate Buzz, and Increase Revenue

The Zen of Social Media Marketing: An Easier Way to Build Credibility, Generate Buzz and Increase Revenue
This is an excellent book if you are entering into the world of Social Media Marketing, or if you really can’t see how Twitter and LinkedIn are advantageous to your marketing efforts (like me).

With social media it’s almost the polar opposite of traditional marketing, instead of ‘pushing’ information towards people you draw people to you with interesting content and then you interact with your readers/customers/clients. It’s not as simple as starting a blog, a facebook group, a twitter account, and waiting for people to come to you. Unless you already have a following, chances are, they won’t. It takes time, but seems to be worth the effort.

Of all the social networking sites it seems both Shama and the people she interviewed all agreed that the most important ones were

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn

Even more important is having your own website and/or blog. Your social media presence should be mainly to lead people to your site, and to give you their email addresses in case the social site ever closes, or you get kicked out for breaching terms (advertising). Also key is that people aren’t really customers on facebook and blogs, they are consumers in that they take your gifts of information and advice, but they don’t pay you. You get money through your site. Shama is an advocate of video blogs because, apparently, the majority of people would rather watch and listen than read. I am not one of those people. My time is valuable and I’d rather skim read than have to sit though someone explaining something. Hints:


Never push products or serviceson Facebook. Your goal on Facebook should always be to attract people to your website, build trust, and gain visibility—all things that inevitably lead to sales.

We create profiles that reflect who we are as human beings.We don’t ‘like’ a page or join a group if it doesn’t fit into the image of ourselves that we want people to see. You might join a page about Coke or Human Rights, but probably not your gynecologist’s.

When choosing between starting a group or a page Shana says “A group is a great way to build a closed community that you nurture over time, whereas a fan page is a public platform for reaching more people, and it provides more visibility for your brand.” If you are promoting a film then a page, if you’re building a community of filmmakers then a group.


I never really understood Twitter, it always seemed a bit too one way for me, but Shana explains how you can go about meeting people, joining in relevant conversations, and boosting your followers. One way which may be obvious, but wasn’t to me, is to search for people talking about something you are interested in and respond to their tweets. Other recommendations are:

  1. Share valuable content.
  2. Ask genuine questions, and welcome feedback.
  3. Put a button on your blog or website inviting people to follow you.


If I didn’t understand twitter I REALLY didn’t understand LinkedIn. When I first joined I though, wow, big deal, my resume is on the web,but since searching and adding some people, and then searching for groups that match my interests and projects I’m starting to buildup a real network. The jury is still out as to whether I can make it work for me, but I’m getting there.

Theses are just a few ideas I liked, there are a lot more in the book, and also in her blog and web site. You can check out Shama’s site here:

And she is on facebook with her blog in her notes.

Selling your story in 60 seconds – Michael Hauge

The guaranteed way to get your screenplay or novel read – Michael Hauge

Selling Your Story in 60 Seconds: The Guaranteed Way to Get Your Screenplay or Novel Read In New Zealand we often think of creating a pitch if we’re meeting the New Zealand Film Commission or a funding body, but the fact is that we need to pitch all the time. To friends, colleagues, potential actors and crew members, and we never know who is going to be excited about our idea and want to get onboard and help out. So it’s really important to have your pitch down so you can pull it out when you need it. Selling your story in 60 seconds is really helpful in focusing your pitch on the elements that will sell your story, and though some of it is geared towards the Hollywood scene it can easily be adapted. I’ll run through a few of the points that I felt were particularly important. If they seem at all confusing here, they are, of course, fully explained in the book.

The 8 R’s of Pitching (specifically for a pitch meeting)

  1. Review your story to determine its most powerful elements.
  2. Write – script your pitch
  3. Rehearse (in front of people. I like the idea of pitching to strangers in coffee shops)
  4. Research – select specific buyers (or funders, or sponsors…)
  5. Rapport – establish a personal relationship as soon as you meet or contact the buyer
  6. Reveal the most emotionally involving information about yourself and your project
  7. Request – for them to read your script
  8. Respond – to their questions

An important step is to identify the 10 Key Components of your Story

1. Who is your HERO

2. Why will the audience EMPHATHIZE with them

  • Are we Sympathetic for his cause?
  • Is the hero in jeopardy? Likable? Funny? Powerful?
  • Is the hero trying to win something? Stop something happening? Escape from something or retrieve something?
  • You want the ‘buyer’ to think there’s no way this hero can possibly win
  • What’s the hero’s inner journey?
  • Are there Political or social issues

3. What’s the SETUP? What happens before the hero’s journey to set the scene?

4. What’s the OPPORTUNITY that arises/inciting event

5. What’s the hero’s OUTER MOTIVATION? The obvious reason he wants to achieve this goal.

6. What’s the CONFLICT (antagonist, reason he can’t achieve his goals…)


8. What are the deeper issues?  (eg. Hidden reasons he needs to achieve goals.)

9. What are the successful ANECEDENTS? Other films in this genre that have been successful.

10. And really importantly, why are you passionate about this story?

Designing your Pitch

Now work out which of the above elements are the most important in your story and design your pitch around them.

Always include Hero, Outer Motivation, Conflict and Passion.

You must make it clear what/who we are rooting for. You need a sense of who the protagonist is and what drives the story forward.

Since your primary goal is to elicit emotion, describing the major conflict – inner or outer – is critical.

Most desires are pretty familiar, love, stopping evil, getting rich.. but the obstacles are much more likely to be unique to your story.

Open Strong

One idea for beginning a pitch particularly appealed to me because it gets you talking about your passion for the project.

“I think the best way to tell you about my story is to tell you how I came up with this idea…”

Tell them what excited you enough to write it.

Another good tip to remember is what he refers to as the power of “What if…”

“It’s often been rumoured that The Graduate was based on a real famil in Pasadena. Well, what if a young woman discovered her mother and grandmother were the real life Elaine and Mrs. Robinson?”

Dropping in Antecedents

“Let me tell you how I came up with this idea. I’ve always been a huge fan of movies about that moment when a while passes into adolescence or adulthood – especially ‘odyssey’ stories like Stand By Me or adult/child relationship stories like About a Boy. Now when I was a kid, my father and I…”

The 60 second pitch

  • Biggest mistake is to try to tell the whole story (you just want to catch their attention at this stage, and leave them wanting more)
  • Remember the goal of every movie is to elicit emotion, so provide potential buyers with a positive emotional experience and convince them that the movie will create an even stronger emotional experience for the audience
  • 60 second pitch is much like a commercial, it doesn’t try to show every scene or character or plot element, you just select elements that excite

I think one of the most important things during a pitch, especially for kiwis who sometimes hide their emotions, is to show how excited you are about it. Excitement is contagious and people will want to be part of your project more if they think you absolutely LOVE the idea and feel you’ll make it whether they are onboard or not.

The strength of your script is obviously important, but I think being able to sell it is equally so. This book will definitely help you out.