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What Does Kickstarter's $100 Million Haul Tell Us?

Should you fund your movie using Kickstarter? Chris Dorr takes a look at their 2011 stats.

This week Kickstarter posted a number of statistics about how their projects fared in 2011.  Every independent filmmaker should spend some time looking at this report.

They revealed that in one year, close to $100 million ($99,344,382) was pledged to all kinds of creative endeavors, ranging from dance to music to film and video projects. This represents an almost fourfold increase from 2010, when Kickstarter projects were pledged $27,638,318.

We can see that the service is growing by leaps and bounds.

In 2011, film & video projects were pledged $32,473,790, a larger number than all projects in 2010.  These pledges came from 308,541 backers, for an average pledge of $105.25 per backer.

To put it in ordinary language—over 300,000 people decided that a large number of film/video projects on Kickstarter were worthy enough to  “invest/give” an average of $100. 

I use invest and give together because these people do not receive any return on their money or a tax deduction but they do receive a “reward.” These rewards vary from project to project and from giving level to giving level. It may go without saying, but I would recommend that any filmmaker look at the rewards given for those successful projects.

In the film/video category there were 3,284 successful projects on Kickstarter in 2011. (For more detail on the rules around a campaign, what defines a successful project, and when a pledge kicks in, please click here.)

So, 3,284 indie film/video/web series/transmedia, etc, projects received a monetary infusion because of a new web platform. Without Kickstarter they would have raised much less or nothing at all.  

The Kickstarter service also made it possible for over 300,000 people to act like a member of the Medici family and give money to a film. 

Kickstarter (and other services like it) have created a new market that efficiently connects people who have creative ideas with those people who want to invest in creative ideas. This is yet another example of the power of the social web.


How large will this crowd funding market become? Will it scale to a point where 5 million people are giving a billion dollars a year? Will independent film and video projects be getting $300 million per year? Only time will tell. This will have a positive impact on the health of indie film if it continues to scale.

The future of Kickstarter’s funding of indie films will depend as much on the indie filmmakers who use the service as it does on Kickstarter itself.

Are filmmakers coming up with worthwhile projects? Are they creating rewards that are attractive?  Do they follow through on those rewards and make sure that their supporters are well taken care of?  

Do they truly connect with their “audience” of investors? Or do they dismiss them? Do filmmakers become skilled at building a community around their movies? Or do they leave their audience to fend for themselves? And are filmmakers developing a set of best practices when it comes to crowd funding?

I would argue that those 3,284 indie video and filmmakers who were successfully funded through Kickstarter in 2011 have an obligation to the larger indie film community to make sure this market expands.

First, by doing right by the people who invested in them, and second, by sharing what they have learned with the larger community. In other words, more than anyone else, independent filmmakers themselves will collectively determine the growth and size of this market.

And we plan to have filmmakers share their stories and best practices on the Future of Film Blog in 2012, so this market gets bigger for everyone.


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