Tilt Interview Part 3: Using Twitter & Kickstarter To Get Your Film Off The Ground

September 16, 2010 at 3:31 pm

Filmmakers. Fans. Independent Film

When you are an aspiring filmmaker, it can be extremely difficult to get a film produced. With the right amount of creativity and dedication, you can definitely pull off a short or feature film little to no money but it isn’t easy.

No matter what, if you want to achieve success as an independent filmmaker, you will have to prove what you can do with a budget eventually.

Where is the money!?

If you’re savvy enough, there are thousands of dollars out there to claim through grants, investments and sponsorship opportunities.  (There are also credit cards and personal loans but that’s another article all together.)

Today’s indie filmmaker has a whole new set of tools to play with.

In this third and final installment of our interview with independent filmmaker Phil Holbrook (@philontilt), we discuss that very issue.

Part 3: Using Twitter & Kickstarter To Get Your Film Off The Ground

Social Media

Phil is currently producing his first feature film entitled Tilt.

Check out Part 1 of our interview for more on the film.

As you can imagine, finding the funds necessary to produce a feature film was tough but Phil and his team employed an extremely successful campaign using social media sites like Twitter and Kickstarter to reach their goal.

They were eventually able to raise more than $15,000 from more than 200 backers using a method called Crowd Funding.

Essentially, Kickstarter is a social network where artists can present their projects and offer a list of benefits to anyone willing to contribute.  In order to attract these backers, you need to be clever in your marketing approach and constantly promote your film.

How do you get the word out?

Phil has nearly 4000 followers on Twitter. An extremely large percentage of those followers are fans of film.  That’s a pretty significant number of people who read his tweets and pass them on.

When asked, Phil reflected on the high level of participation needed to gain such a following.

“I’ve had my twitter account for over 2 years, but for the first year, I wasn’t very consistent and as a result, didn’t really have anyone following my account.  One day I just decided that I was going to attempt to use these free tools to be a part of something instead of begging people to be a part of my thing.  I dropped all aspirations of having some “cool” online persona and just decided to be myself.  I enjoy finding new things on the interwebs and read a lot of blogs, so I just started posting the interesting stuff that I found.  Turns out, other people thought some of it was interesting, too. With that, promoting other peoples work and just genuinely taking an interest in what other people had going on, I became part of a fantastic community of people from all over the world.  It really is an amazing time to be a filmmaker.”

Add another 2000 followers more when you factor in the duo of Julie Keck & Jessica King (@kingisafink)  The tandem met Phil on Twitter which sparked a friendship and eventually they were brought on to write the screenplay for Tilt.

It’s an inspiring tale.  Today’s filmmakers can now network with passionate professionals from around the world.  Who knows who you might connect with and eventually work with.  Imagine the possibilities creatively?

Check out Part 2 of this feature for more on the screenwriting process.

All of their followers, mentions and retweets add up to thousands and thousands of targeted film fans. 

A marketing dream.

It was time to launch their Kickstarter campaign.

Phil admits the process is challenging but also incredible rewarding if you are willing to put in the work.

“There could be an entire article written on just this question.  As a matter of fact there have been several.  And from those articles, namely David Branin’s Crowd Funding Cheat Sheet and Gary King’s Lessons Learned In The Land Of Crowd Funding, we formulated a plan for our Kickstarter campaign.  Something like this shouldn’t be taken lightly.  These campaigns don’t just happen on their own.  They are  lot of work.  However, the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks if you go into it with a plan and are prepared to follow it through to the end.”

Every single project is different and you really do have to plan out the entire campaign and follow through. It’s a fascinating concept.  In David Branin’s piece, he talks about his experience with his film: Goodbye Promise. His Kickstarter campaign successfully raised over $16,000 but what I find interesting is how he breaks down his backers contributions.

“85% of contributions were $50 or less”

There aren’t many people out there willing to donate thousands of dollars to complete strangers.  While they do exist, the nature of crowd funding is to appeal to the masses.  The thought of donating 10-20 dollars is a lot easier for backers if you inspire them with your pitch.

That’s what it’s all about.

Inspiring others to believe in your project and your passion.

They have to believe in you.

“We wanted our campaign to be personal.  We are real people making a film, and the backers are real people, too.  They aren’t just names with dollar amounts next to them.  We wanted to connect with these people.  This campaign was as much about the people who donated as it was about us or our film.  One of the coolest parts of it, was that not only did people connect with us, they connected with each other.”

You really can’t sum up the benefits of social networking better than that.

It was working.

Yet still, the Tilt team continued to push forward creatively and come up with better ways to reach people.

You’ve got to raise the bar.

Their first creation was a pretty clever invention known as Tilt: The Town.  A fictional map of Brainerd, MN that’s ‘populated’ by their backers.

“We were also prepared to adapt and try new things when the ideas arose.  With 18 days left of our campaign, I started recording a daily update video every morning, Coffee with Phil.  This was another way to connect with our backers, and even got  noticed by the Kickstarter crew and written about on their blog.”

It’s ideas like that pushed the project beyond their goal.  By constantly reaching out to people and connecting they created a community around their project. Cameras haven’t even rolled and they have a built in audience eagerly anticipating the results.

For more on Tilt’s journey, check out the film’s blog.

For even more check out these great posts over at kingisafink.com.

Special thanks have to go out to Phil Holbrook, Julie Keck and Jessica King for their amazing contributions to this feature.