Despite the growth in popularity of community funding, only a few animated projects have appeared on Czech portals which obtained funds through crowd-funding to complete a film, digitise older ones or use the campaign to popularise an already finished project. Successful examples are The Tree by Lucie Sunková on Startovač and the DVD release of Old Czech Legends by Jiří Trnka on Everfund. Other projects have tried their luck with proven international portals, where they hope to attract the interest of a larger number of supporters, such as the computer game “I Hope” on Kickstarter, created during last year’s Anomalia courses in the Czech Republic, and the ongoing collection for the realisation of the latest film by Jan Švankmajer Insects on Indiegogo.
The potential of crowd-funding to support the production of new films, animated games and post-production is far from negligible. There is interesting feedback from the audience the product is intended for, and a viral campaign can attract new viewers as well provide important publicity for projects. Also, investors and producers see a practical purpose of crowd-funding as being a sort of filter which predicts the future popularity of projects. Another positive effect is creating a community that feels a sense of belonging with the project because it is directly involved in its creation.
“Nowadays it is increasingly difficult to find funding for independent work. Especially when you aim at the heart of things and exploring social ills. Who would want to deliberately promote their critics? We create a movie once every five or six years, not because we have only a few ideas, but because we lack funds. Crowd-funding has the power to change this. This last film therefore belongs to all of you loyal fans. If you decide to promote the film, you will see it as soon as it is finished,” Jan Švankmajer promises Internet users in the introduction to his crowd-funding platform.
External campaign consultant Marek Loskot explains why they opted for this method of financing: “Jaromir Kallista, the producer and director, thought about this option before, and gave other people the courage to try it. I personally find it the most attractive, it is dedicated to those most loyal fans. They will see the film first, no matter in which corner of the world they are. The path to the viewer is direct, this is true for crowd-funding in general.” And why did you decide for the portal Indiegogo? “If you want to reach foreign backers, you need some international platforms. Decisions on the platform dedicated to crowd-funding platform are never easy. For crowd-funding it is never clear and it often means intuitive decisions about what will be best for the project. Sometimes it may be better to stay at home, sometimes it’s downright suicidal.”
In the case of Švankmajer’s latest film, the decision paid off. Three weeks before the end of the campaign, supporters mainly from the USA, UK, Japan and the Czech Republic contributed the equivalent of almost four million crowns. This is a few percent of the total budget for the film, but it is still significant support without which the film could have become problematic. The good result of this campaign is certainly due to a famous name (after Milos Forman, Jan Švankmajer is the most famous, if not the only famous Czech film-maker overseas); however, adds Marek Loskot, that alone does not guarantee success: “When considering crowd-funding for your project, it is important to consider three things: the quality of the project’s credibility – the author and the team that is behind the project; the project’s size; and the loyal fan base. After assessing these three ingredients, you can begin to develop a specific strategy on how to approach crowd-funding. I personally believe that every project has a good chance in this way of obtaining finance. It’s about how a whole campaign and its communication is set up. I see the biggest problem as being the ratio of money invested in development and in the campaign itself, and in the collection of money. When you go for a small sum, it’s a lot to you, you have to do everything for yourself. When you target a larger amount, you are again compelled to take more risks and invest in the campaign not only time but also finance,” says Marek Loskot.
And after all that, what advice would he give those who are thinking about crowd-funding? “I would say that crowd-funding is a good idea for each project. When your campaign is well set up, so you won’t bleed to death from it, either financially or through your own energy, then it will certainly bring your entire project more than just finance. It’s such a beta-test – if you can communicate your project and if you can correctly identify your target audience. You always get a lot of great responses from very different people. This is true of international campaigns, even from very differently-minded nations. And last but not least, the promotion is already mentioned, which can often lead to the discovery of a new, larger partner for the film. But all this will come only when you manage to deal with the beginning. If in the early days you aren’t able to secure about a third of the target amount, then your project is already unlikely to recover. Preparing not just for the first day, but for the entire course of the campaign is absolutely crucial and often underestimated,” says Marek Loskot.
The founders of the campaign should realize in advance that the money that arrives in their account is not for free. It is necessary to take great care in the preparation of the project and its promotion, whether it’s with addressing potential donors, a well-chosen reward system, engaging texts, or the accompanying video.
Crowdfunding will be the theme of the next Visegrad Animation Forum 2017.
Association of Czech Animation, public relations