Crowdfunding Masterclass

Crowdfunding Masterclass

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By Hywel Wiliam / Tim Hartley,
Wednesday, 13th February 2013

Above: Charlie Phillips, James Mullighan (Chair), Franny Armstrong and Ashley Jones

RTS Wales Centre Crowdfunding Masterclass, held in conjunction with Skillset Media Academy Wales.
Thursday 31st January, City Campus, University of Wales, Newport.

"Traditional funding models are broken... film makers need to know their audience, their target community.  Crowdfunding won't raise your whole budget but it can go a long way.  You just need to be clear about why people would give you money."

This was one of the key pieces of advice, given by Charlie Phillips (Sheffield Doc/Fest) to aspiring programme makers and film makers during a joint RTS and Skillset Media Academy Wales (now closed) workshop held in Newport during January.  Along with Ashley Jones (Wild Thing) and Franny Armstrong (Age of Stupid, McLibel), Charlie explained how it's possible to raise funds for film and TV projects through private donations and pledges from the public.  He set out his 'crowdfunding rules' to an eager audience of students and practitioners at Newport University.  In his view, crowdfunding is not about begging and it isn't only a way to fund 'political' films.  But he claimed that many producers go wrong by not putting in the work to develop their ideas first and 'know their pitch'.

Crowdfunding is big business.  The musical, 'God Help The Girl' raised $125,000 from 617 backers; and the video game, 'Double Fine Adventure', made £4 million through crowdfunding.  Dedicated blog sites such as Indiegogo and Kickstarter help producers raise funds and promote their projects, often with the aid of some very amusing short promotional videos.  Franny Armstrong, an acknowledged pioneer of crowdfunding, explained how she raised over £800,000 from 300 investors for her second film, the environmental documentary, Age of Stupid, staring Pete Postlethwaite and featuring Kofi Annan, Gillian Anderson & Radiohead's Thom Yorke.  At its global premiere in New York, a million people watched the film, - in 700 cinemas in 63 countries, linked by satellite.

Project Wild Thing, produced by David Bond and Ashley Jones, attempts to bring children closer to nature.  According  to Natural England, fewer than 10% of children play in wild places, compared with 40% a generation ago, and the distance children roam away from home has shrunk by 90% in 30 years.  Ashley explained how using crowdfunding, the project raised £32,715 in pledges from 683 backers and it also received support from Channel 4, the NHS and the National Trust.

This was a fascinating and highly informative evening, and its interactive format was greatly appreciated by an enthusiastic audience.

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