Incentives are your chance to really get creative and identify what it is about you and your production that’s unique. It’s your first opportunity to show the world how you stand out and why your production is worth people spending their time (and money) on!
Here at The Dirty Filmmaker, we see these as the first indicator in determining whether a production (not just a campaign) will one day become a success. And why is that? Because it’s the first time we see filmmakers use what they have at their disposal. It’s the first time we see them go out of their way to showcase the resources they have hidden away in their tool box. And it’s the first time they really show us how much they want this.
How do we get all this from some silly incentives, we hear you ask?
Let’s break it down…
If you want to have a bomb-ass campaign (and who doesn’t?), then you’ve got give your potential backers something that they want. You can’t just throw in a thank you, or a cast photo, and expect people to give you bucket loads of money. You have to get creative. You have to pick up that phone, call all the contacts you know and figure out a way they can help you out. If you know a friend who owns a restaurant, you’ve got to try and get them to give you some dinner coupons. You know a friend who’s an up and coming web developer? You’ve got to ask them to donate a couple free consultations. Someone in your production’s an incredible singer? Why not a personalized ringtone.
Basically, this is where you have to get savvy!
It’s so clear when a campaign’s quickly been thrown together and not much attention has been spent on this area. And let us tell you, it always appears in the final amount at the end of the campaign.
For us, if we can see that you’ve really worked to get a couple exciting incentives in your campaign, then we not only want to donate, but we also want to work with you (We totally take note!).
Incentives are where the cream starts the rise to the top.
So why not be cream? Be the biggest, richest, fattiest, most delicious cream you can be (unless your lactose intolerant. In which case you can totally be coconut cream. You’ll be adored by Pina Colada lovers everywhere).
Hopefully, by now you’ve identified your audience and who you’re targeting though this crowdfunding campaign. If not, do this before continuing.
Here are just a few ideas on how you can get your hands dirty (pun intended) and show the world what you’re made of!
We see these on a lot of filmmaker’s campaigns, and although these are great and can be super cost effective, try not to rely on these too heavily. AKA, these shouldn’t make up your whole incentive packages.
- Social Media Shout-Outs – anytime a person gives you money, make sure to thank them by blasting it on all social media accounts you have. This is a great one for those $1-$5 donations.
- Signed Posters – Remember to budget in the cost of printing & shipping
- Character Names – Name one of your characters after your backers. It’s cool and cost free. Just make sure you have enough characters to go around. (Side note – we totally want some bad-ass evil pink alien named after us. In fact, you do that – we’ll write a piece on your production).
- Signed Scripts – Again, easy and cost effective, but not that exciting to be honest.
- DVD Copy/Private Link – Special access to your project once completed, possibly ahead of time of your general release. Who doesn’t like to have “the scoop”.
- Exclusive Updates/Mailing List – Let these people follow your production from the beginning. Update them with hows it’s going, on set stories, super exciting news and insider knowledge. Let them be the first to know EVERYTHING!
For Fellow Filmmakers
Fellow filmmakers are great people to market your campaign towards. Why? Because they’re doing the same thing as you. You can help them out easily. It’s a two way street really. Offer them something that’ll help their career, and in return, they’ll be helping yours. Its just another form of collaboration!
- Speaking Roles – For those fun one liners. Actors love it as it’s something to pop on their resume and if you can promise an IMDB credit, even better!
- Special Thanks Credits – Give them a special thanks in your credits. It’s a few more eyes on their name and completely cost effective for you.
- Producer Credits – Give upcoming producers a chance to add something new to their resume and their IMDB page. Plus, there’s a whole load of different producer credits you can offer (Producer, Associate Producer, Executive Producer, you get the gist!)
- Join Us On Set – Sometimes, it’s just plain awesome to see what other people are doing. Plus, it’s networking!.
- Private Screening – Who doesn’t love to attend private screenings with a tub of buttery popcorn. It makes people feel super important and you can ask for their valuable input afterwards.
- Walk The Red Carpet – This only really works if you can guarantee press. It’s great exposure for you and fellow filmmakers. Remember, for a price, you can pay a professional photographer (from somewhere like Getty Images) to come and work your carpet. Could be worth the money… and hey, aren’t your raising money right now? Budget it in!
- Dinner – Who doesn’t love to be “Wine’d and Dined”? Budget it in so you can take your backers and a few key people in the production (we recommend creators, executive producers and key actors) to a good meal at a nice restaurant (It doesn’t have to be the Ivy, but we also recommend you steer clear of Burger King!).
- Promote Their Film – Does your story make reference to a non-specific TV show or film a few times? Able to hang some posters in the background? Why not make this an already established production and help each-other out?
- Voice-Overs – Got any characters that you only ever hear the other end of the phone? Got any new caster voice-overs that play while your characters watch tv? Offer these out. Just like speaking parts, they’re great for actors who can add them to their resume.
For The Fans
If you have an already established fan base, are creating a show around cult followers (we’re talking Trekkie style), or have someone in your production who’s got a bit of a following themselves, then these could go down a treat! It’s great to give fans a little memorabilia from your production, and it’s also some added publicity.
- Merchandise – Got an awesome slogan? A fun logo? A unique shirt design? Then offer off merchandise. Just make sure to budget in the costs of printing and packaging.
- Autographs – Got someone in your cast who’s got a bit of a name attached to them. Seek out their fan base and tailor this one to them. Get them to sign headshots, posters, merchandise, props or even personalized objects.
- Personalized Messages – Send your backers personalized messages via phone or video. Who doesn’t want a personal video from their childhood hero?
- Soundtrack – Are you creating your own awesome soundtrack to go with your production? If so, then give people a taster of your music and offer the rest out as an incentive. It’s super easy to transfer and totally cost effective.
- Ringtones – Design a special ringtone using either your theme song, funny lines from your show or designed personally for each backer.
- Get Our Artwork – Are you designing a bunch of art work to use in your production? One you’ve wrapped, why not ship this off? Or even make prints of it for others to throw up around their homes.
Another great tactic to use, is to hit small companies, businesses and start-ups that are looking for a way to get more eyes on their stuff. Target these people and see if a little cross promotion can happen. Just remember, these companies aren’t likely to have big budgets to throw around (and the ones can afford a little something-something, are likely to be putting it towards their own “controlled” PR campaigns). So keep these as cost effective as possible, for both sides.
- Sponsoring – Have a company sponsor you. Use their logo and mention them throughout your production ,if it calls for it. (Dirty Fact – One of our character’s works at an advertising agency and so we used our friend’s real life business “CheckTom” instead of making up a fictional company).
- Title cards – Perfect for start up production companies. For a price, offer their company logo at the end of your production. It’s no sweat off your back and it’s mutually beneficial.
- Feature Art Work/Music – There are so many artists working their booties off to get their work seen. Offer to put this in your show at least “X” amount of times and work together. Make sure you have the rights etc to use this and that its all Legal-Smeagol.
- Wear A Company Logo – Promote a company in your production by having characters wear t-shirts with their logo/design/slogan on it.
- Establishing Shots – Are you filming in a cafe a few time? A bar? Or a store of any kind? Tailor this to actual smaller businesses and offer to throw up an establishing shot of their exteriors. You know that cute cafe you’re always going to where the manager knows your drink order like the back of their hand? Speak to them or market it towards other places like this.
- Step And Repeat – Again, only useful if you can guarantee some press. If so, then offer businesses the chance to have their logo on your step and repeat. Just remember to budget in the costs of buying and designing the step and repeat. They’re not always cheap.
Pick Up That Phone
Sometimes, you just have to bite the bullet, be brave, and pick up that phone. If you already know people, great! But if not, don’t let this deter you from calling people and negotiating a good deal. After all, the worst that’s going to happen is they’ll hang up on you (in which case, they’ll probably forget all about you within ten minutes). Give them something that’ll appeal to them and satisfy their needs, and then let them satisfy yours.
- Restaurants – Any chance you can get a free meal or a discounted from somewhere local? Try this out. And hey, you can even offer the restaurant’s free establishing shots in your production.
- Free Consultations – Got friends who are web designers, photographers, PR consultants or freelancers of any kind? See if they wouldn’t mind helping you out by offering a few hours of their time. It’s also an opportunity for them to gain new clients and get more eyes on their work.
- Personalized Art – Know anyone who’s a wiz at caricatures? Ask if they wouldn’t mind creating a few of these for you. You can always show off more of their work in your production and then link back to them on your Website. It’s free PR for them if they don’t mind giving you a few hours of their time!
- Gift Cards – Any chance a store or cafe can give your campaign a few gift cards? You can promise them free publicity and oh so many shout outs on all your social media platforms!
THINGS TO REMEMBER
Don’t get yourself in a pickle later on, or get angry backers messaging you down the line. If it calls for it, make sure to include the following:
- Write and state clearly that travel and accommodation is not included.
- Budget in the cost of production/printing etc, as well as post and packaging.
- Be clear if you can or can’t ship things overseas.
- State that, if your incentives are “date” sensitive (AKA – join us on set!), that they’ll have to work around your schedule, and you wont be able to change the dates for them.
- With that being set, dates during production change all the time. Make sure they know this and reassure them that you wont be a dick! You’ll give them as much time in advance as possible (after all, its your reputation at steak here and that means everything at this stage!).
- If you say you’ll get an item to a donator by a certain date, to make sure you can follow through with this.
- Make sure you have the rights to use and distribute EVERYTHING. Most the time, simple wavers will do the job.
Every Production is different, and so should your incentives. Tailor them to your production and your needs, not someone else’s that’s been successful in the past. This is your chance to shine, your chance to be cream, your chance to show the world how insanely talented you are! Use this list to help inspire you, get creative and realize, that the opportunities are endless. Oh, and go get’em you #DirtyBadass!
What unusual Incentives have you managed to procure? Share your experience with other filmmakers and comment bellow.