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Monday, August 21, 2017

Why IndieGoGo is a better platform than Kickstarter for indie filmmakers

This can be seen as perhaps a critical post by some, so, let's get some basics out of the way first.

I like both Kickstarter and IndieGoGo, for different reasons, different projects.  And I am glad that both platforms exist, along with all other crowdfunding platforms, and I hope all of them thrive and continue to serve their customers well.

I have no official, professional direct relationship with either company (as in I do not work for either company, and I do not get paid from either company to promote them, but I do have personal accounts on each site for creating crowdfunding campaigns - just a regular user of the 2 sites).  I did however recently manage 3 campaigns on IndieGoGo (hired by individual campaigners to assist with their campaigns) - indie film or art film/foreign film related - and collectively those campaigns raised over $75,000 and allowed those projects to exist, come to life, move on to the next phase on the project.

I have worked on Kickstarter campaigns in the past, and may do so in the future, and I may even run my own campaigns for certain projects on Kickstarter - if I think of a project that is suited to that platform.

With all that out of the way, I think, for 90% of indie filmmakers, IndieGoGo is a better crowdfunding platform. Here are my reasons.

1 - The All or Nothing model does not make much sense for indie films.

Indie films are multi-year, multi-stage projects.  Right now I know of an indie film project on Kickstarter that has raised over $40,000, and their goal is in the $80,000 neighborhood.  The project has around 5 days left and most likely they will not hit the goal.  Of course a miracle could happen; some major national news outlet could pick up the story about the film, and that coverage could connect with the right audience and the project may hit its goal.  But hoping for a miracle is not a great plan for a project.  If that project was on IndieGoGo, the makers could have gotten a serious amount of their work started with over $40,000, and then moved on to raise money through other methods. Typically indie filmmakers do not employ an "all or nothing" approach to most aspects of our projects.  Development can take a long time, films get partially financed from one source and have to find money elsewhere, shoots get interrupted, the editing process can take years - and in a few cases decades - but we are flexible; we look for new alternatives and we try to work things out based on what we end up with, where we end up at a given point.  I know for a fact that it will be painful for filmmakers mentioned above, after having worked hard to raise $40,000 or so, to walk away with nothing - after putting in 2-3 months of work (around 2 months of prep, 1 for the actual campaign) on their Kickstarter campaign.  So, I prefer the flexible funding option available on IndieGoGo to the "all or nothing" mode (that's the only option there) of Kickstarter.  Making indie films require flexibility, so it makes sense that fundraising for an indie film is best served by a platform that offers the most flexibility.


2 - Kickstarter deadlines cannot be changed.  IndieGoGo allows you to extend your deadline up to 30 days.

On two projects that I managed recently, on IndieGoGo, the ability to extend the deadline meant an additional $5,000 for one project, and an additional $12,000 plus for the other project.  These were both significant amounts of money for each project.  New money that made a massive positive difference.

If the projects were on Kickstarter we would have lost the additional money - the new money that came in after extending the deadline on IndieGoGo.

Often press coverage dates, effective publicity start dates, how quickly target audiences start engaging with a given crowdfunding project are unknown quantities.  Sometimes great, favorable press coverage happens close to the deadline. And in those cases it would be good to have the option of extending the final deadline for the campaign.

3 - Kickstarter does not accept Pay Pal.  IndieGoGo does.

I know that many people are not fans of Pay Pal and do not use it.  On the other hand, many do.  And many may have money in their Pay Pal accounts that they may not mind sending over to an indie film crowdfunding campaign.  

4 - IndieGoGo pledges are processed immediately.  Kickstarter waits until the end of the campaign.

So if a pledge is going to fail (not enough money on the credit card, etc) it will be obvious a lot sooner on IndieGoGo.  So, the raised money on an IndieGoGo campaign - at any point during the campaign - are the actual amounts collected by IndieGoGo and eventually available to the campaign owner.  With Kickstarter no one is certain as to what percent of pledged donations will fail until after the campaign is over.  This could be a problem for some campaigns.  On this item IndieGoGo offers greater certainty.

4.5 - IndieGoGo may have greater international accessibility.

If your film has a possible audience in other countries, and possible international donors, then IndieGoGo may be the better platform for your project.  IndieGoGo allows people to create projects from almost any country in the world and allows people to donate from almost any country in the world.  Kickstarter allows people from 20 countries, other than the US, to create projects - mostly European countries.  I am not certain how easy or difficult it may be to donate to a Kickstarter campaign from a country that is not supported by Kickstarter (a country where residents cannot launch Kickstarter projects, which is much of the world at this point).  Two campaigns I worked on recently benefitted from donations from Asia.  And the donors were people who had once used IndieGoGo for their own projects, so they were familiar with the platform and the accepted payment methods.  This item may or may not be relevant to most American indie filmmakers.  But, for a project that might have international appeal, IndieGoGo looks like the better platform.  This is one item indie filmmakers will need to research on their own, in relation to their specific projects.

IndieGoGo offers a level of flexibility (deadlines, flexible funding) and certainty (pledges are processed immediately) that Kickstarter does not, in my experience and opinion, thus, I think, for most indie film projects, IndieGoGo is the better crowdfunding platform.

Contact me if I overlooked any important points and I may add them later to this post.  Or leave a comment in the Comments section.  Also if you are considering running a film IndieGoGo campaign and need professional assistance, contact me.  And, regardless of my preference, best of luck with your film crowdfunding projects on any platform - it's a lot of work either way and I am all in favor of indie filmmakers raising money for their projects using whatever means possible.

- Sujewa



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