Filmmakers find creative autonomy with new crowdfunding options
As the internet has become more and more prevalent in launching and promoting independent artists and entrepreneurs, more independent filmmakers are turning to crowdfunding platforms to launch their projects. Starting with Kickstarter in 2009, crowdfunding sites have been responsible raising over 10 million dollars for independent projects. In 2012 a new company, Seed & Spark, launched its crowdfunding site for filmmakers. This niche crowdfunding company differs from the way Kickstarter and Pozible operate, being specifically for filmmakers, and run by filmmakers, the company caters to a specific set of needs, and does it well.
Instead of the all-or-nothing funding scheme operated by other crowdfunding services, Seed & Spark has an 80%-or-nothing policy that gives filmmakers the option to amend their project budgets if they don’t reach 100% of their fundraisi8ng goal. The company also allows filmmakers to adjust their campaigns if their financial needs change due to arrangements made offline. Furthermore, Seed & Spark is the first crowdfunding company to double as a distribution service. Filmmakers who fund their projects through the site can sell or rent their films for download through the site, and consumers who contribute to projects can earn ‘Sparks’ that they can use to hire films or for other benefits.
Since the much publicized and unprecedented Veronica Mars feature film funding on Kickstarter reached over 5 million dollars, crowdfunding and the projects that come out of it have received more serious mainstream attention. Far from the days of crowdfunding being a last resort for projects that fcouldn’t get off the ground any other way, industry professionals have in recent years chosen to use the platform as a means of maintaining complete creative control over their projects. Zach Braff of TV’s Scrubs has done just that in his 2 million dollar Kickstarter campaign launched this April. In his campaign pitch Braff writes, "’Final Cut’ is the industry term for who has the final say on how the movie will be edited. A lot of financing deals require that the final cut go to the money people, NOT the director…You ultimately have no right to fight against these changes because you have signed away those rights in order to get your money. As a film-lover myself, I always want to see exactly what the filmmaker intended.”
In the short time Seed & Spark has been running – and the website is still in beta testing – has a cinema section that hosts twenty-three crowdfunded independent films, and has twenty active campaigns running. Many of these films are being entered into international film festivals, including Rez, a short film written by Dominique DeLeon that became the most rapidly funded project on the site, when it reached its funding goal within 72 hours of going live. Seed & Spark may have set the standard for the development of more niche crowdfunding options, and has already proven itself an invaluable resource for independent filmmakers.