OPM – other people’s money – is a great way to do anything and movie-making is no different. The key to crowdfunding a film is to make the concept exciting enough that people not only want to watch the film but they also want to pay for it.
Fortunately, there are some really great films that have been crowdfunded that give a sense of the quality that can come from a film that got its start on the internet.
Veronica Mars – When the series ended, the cult of Veronica Mars fans were desperate for more. This series falls under “Series that are popular and good, but don’t make the network enough money.” Firefly, Carnivale, and Deadwood are series that have a huge fan following that the studios can’t see. So… they made a movie using crowdfunding and it raised over $5 million. Not bad for something CBS rejected.
Super Troopers 2 – Sorry, did we say quality? We meant popularity. They started with a goal of $2 million in April of 2015 and they hit that goal in 26 hours. The film about funny cops who don’t really do much police work brought in over $4.5 million in crowdfunded dollars. If you had donated $25 million, the comedy team that is the brains behind the film, the Broken LIzard, would have fathered your child.
Lazer Team – The group that brought you Red vs. Blue wanted to make a movie so they went to the public. They raised $2.4 million for Lazer Team. The sci-fi comedy falls right in the wheelhouse of Rooster Teeth and was released in 2015. It is not highly rated, but it is still a funny film that did justice to the $2 million they were given.
Blue Mountain State – Another film created to satisfy the needs of a fan base that lost a show to a merciless cancellation. They were able to gather $1.9 million. It only took a month to get past the original $1.5 million base that was request. The comedy TV show was about a college, its sports team and a lot of sex, drugs, and rock & roll. The team released Blue Mountain State: The Rise of Thadland in 2016. It wasn’t a critical success and with a 6.0 rating on IMDB.com, it’s not really a fan favorite either.
Crowdfunding for a film is an effective way to get a movie made. Clearly, some form of a tie-in to pre-existing fan base helps. Nonetheless, there are crowd-based films being made all the time for much less than $1 million.
For filmmakers, crowdfunding is a way to circumvent the studios and their executives. Even if a film is ultimately distributed through one of the large studios, showing up at the table with a stack of cash makes getting their help much easier. It’s the ultimate way for fans to get their say about what films get made.