Embedded In Real Life: The Kickstarter Film Festival

Today's guest post is from Yancey Strickler, one of the founders of Kickstarter, the crowd funding site. Kickstarter, along with other crowdfunding sites, has brought some real change to the indie film landscape, bringing more power to the creator class to fund their work. But getting your work made, is just part of what it means to be an artist these days; you need to get your work seen (and that's not all). Luckily for us, Kickstarter is just getting started.

This Friday night on a Brooklyn rooftop, Kickstarter will host the first-ever Kickstarter Film Festival in conjunction with Rooftop Films. The night will feature 90-plus minutes of footage from a dozen filmmakers who successfully raised money on Kickstarter, among them documentaries, features, and shorts, as well as dance and experimental film. There will be music, plus delicious treats provided by Kickstarter food projects. If you'd like to join us, tickets are just $10.

Since Kickstarter launched 14 months ago, filmmakers have used the site to raise funds for post-production, shoots, crews, equipment, music licensing, locations, film festival prep, DVD production, color correction, and just about every other cost associated with making and distributing a film. They've found success: almost half of the film projects meet their funding goal. Overall $10 million has been pledged on the site -- $2 million of it to film projects.

Kickstarter allows filmmakers and other artists to operate in a space between commerce and patronage, where they can create their own economies from scratch. They declare what success is, they decide what's a commodity and what's not, they control the intellectual property and creative vision of their work, they determine what prices their audiences will pay. One of our core beliefs is that artists know their own audience and its needs far better than anyone -- us included.

The films selected for the festival used Kickstarter in a variety of ways. The Woods and Battle of Brooklyn raised funds for editing and post-production. Putty Hill -- which Roger Ebert gave four stars -- used Kickstarter to get to the Berlin Film Festival. Gregory Bayne funded his production costs in an impressive $25,000-in-twenty-days sprint that allowed him to follow the subject of his documentary. For each of these filmmakers, Kickstarter was simply a flexible tool that filled in the gaps.

In June I caught Ted Hope's talk at the LA Film Festival about the rise of the artist-entrepreneur. Ted's thesis was that an artist's job description must extend beyond concept and craft -- it includes things like audience-building, storytelling, participation, and some thirty other qualities that touch on every stage of a project's development. The gist of the talk was that artists should be excited about this chance -- when have they ever had the opportunity for so much control?

We agree. Our job is to build a product and community that can best connect artists and audiences, and help them to engage in a much deeper way. The twelve films we'll showcase on Friday have done amazing jobs at this. We couldn't be more excited to share their work and stories, and I hope to see you there.

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yancey strickler | http://kickstarter.com