You've got your own vision for the script. You've got your own team. You've got your own grip truck (okay, maybe not yet)... But now you're not sure how you're going to get funding.
With so many funding options these days, one group you'll definitely want to check out is Seed & Spark.
Seed&Spark believes that movies and shows are not only art, but also business ventures needing "the seed of an idea and the sparks of human and capital investments to bring them to life."
I crossed paths with Julie Keck, Seed&Spark's Media & Communications Director at one of my all-time favorites, the Sidewalk Film Festival, where she was on the crowdfunding panel. I've seen many movies where S&S was involved, so I asked some of the filmmakers for their feedback on involving Seed&Spark with their projects.
Jeremy Burgess produced the award-winning short film, Dead Saturday, starring Academy Award-nominee Eric Roberts and the swiftly up-and-coming actor, Kurt Krause, who starred as NASA engineer Sam Turner in the hit Academy Award-nominated film, Hidden Figures.
Jeremy said of his experience funding his film: "Seed & Spark was such a refreshing alternative to Kickstarter and Indiegogo because you’re more than just a number to them. We had an actual human being assigned to us—Erica Anderson, who was incredibly helpful and supportive of us and our project. I’m not sure we would’ve reached our goal without the advice and encouragement of the S&S team."
Entertainment Attorney Stacey Davis has overseen dozens of films, not only as production counsel, but also as a writer/producer. Her uproarious comedy film, The Sibling Code was directed by award-winning filmmaker, author and international short film expert Roberta Marie Munroe, author of How Not to Make a Short Film: Secrets from a Sundance Programmer, and who also produced The Procession with comedic great Lily Tomlin.
Stacey said, "From the outset, we knew we wanted to include as many women in the project as we could. Seed&Spark was formed by, and is powered by, women. It was a natural choice. Unlike some other crowdfunding platforms, Seed&Spark really champions its projects and works with you every step of the way. It's very much a team effort. it."
Seed&Spark's Julie Keck sat down for a Q&A session with Script
What is Seed&Sparks main mission and features?
Julie Keck: Seed&Spark is a streaming and crowdfunding platform focused on actively increasing representation in all aspects of production and helping independent creators build sustainable careers. Basically, we provide education and support for filmmakers who want to not only make one film, but a career full of films. Because we want to watch them.
How does S&S differ from other crowdfunding entities?
JK: First off, our company was started by filmmakers and run by filmmakers, so we are 100% filmmaker focused. This means that on Seed&Spark, crowdfunding campaigns for movies and shows aren't stacked up against ones for gadgets or potato salad. Every tool we've built, including our crowdfunding platform, is specifically for filmmakers.
Education and empowerment are central to our mission, unlike other platforms that are just playing a numbers game. We provide extensive crowdfunding education via our #StayIndieTour events at film festival and other events, as well as via the free online classes on our website, which come with free handbooks and other resources, like the book I wrote about social media or creatives, Social Media Charm School. Lastly, whenever a filmmaker submits a campaign for review, they get personalized feedback from our Crowdfunding Experts, who share tips to help each campaign be as successful as possible. When a project isn't ready, we recommend they don't launch, because we want them to be successful, not frustrated. And our process works: we have the highest success rate in the biz (70%).
We don't want filmmakers to have to go it alone. That's why we also invite our monthly subscribers to actively support new campaigns each month: half of the monthly subscription fee goes into our Greenlight Seed Fund, which is then distributed to active crowdfunding campaigns. Our subscribers simply vote on which campaign they'd like their dollars to support, and the Seed Fund is distributed accordingly. So, not only does our business model support the filmmakers, it gives the audience an easy way to influence what comes to our screen next.
What is your role at S&S?
JK: My formal title is Media & Communications Director, but, like most of my colleagues, I wear a lot of hats. The easiest way to explain what I do is to say I have a hand in most of the words that are sent out into the world from Seed&Spark, I help manage a lot of the relationships, and I also am helping to build our streaming library. I also get to help Seed&Spark crowdfunding alums transition from crowdfunding to production to distribution, because whenever filmmakers successfully raise their funds and then gather at least 500 followers to their project, they get guaranteed distribution on our site. And I teach #StayIndieTour classes at film festivals and schools across the country. So basically I write a lot, I talk a lot, and on good days, I help filmmakers make informed decisions about their futures. Sort of the perfect job for me.
Can you say a little more about the upcoming monthly matching film fund?
JK: A really exciting aspect of the Greenlight Seed Fund is that it grows as our subscriber base grows, so when we have 100,000 subscribers, that means we're giving $500,000 to filmmakers in production every single month. This is our goal for 2017. In the film world, 'independent' doesn't have to mean 'alone;' together we can make real change. That's why filmmakers are some of our earliest subscribers: the business model is one that supports sustainable careers for creators! Filmmakers are joining our platform now so that they can take advantage of the Seed Fund (and streaming revenue) later. Pretty smart.
How does a filmmaker get involved with S&S?
JK: Right now is actually the perfect time to get involved with us, because our #100DaysOfDiversity initiative kicked off on January 20. Our goal is to increase inclusion in front of and behind the camera in just 100 days (Jan. 20 - April 29.) We've partnered with dozens of film organizations, institutions, and festivals: The Black List, Tribeca Film Institute, True/False, Northwest Film Forum, Script, and lots of other film rock stars. Full details at seedandspark.com/100days.
What's in it for filmmakers?
JK: Those who launch crowdfunding campaigns for inclusive projects during this 100 days can be eligible for $20,000 in filmmaker perks, including festival fee waivers and badges, gear, and consultations with the likes of Charlie Phillips and Perrin Chiles. And these perks are on top of the $8,000 in goodies they get when they gather 500 followers and earn their Filmmaker Gift Box. Basically, this is a great time to launch a funding campaign, submit your film for distribution on Seed&Spark, or subscribe to watch and fund films. It makes a real, measurable difference in how the film industry works.
We also offer educational classes across the country. Our Crowdfunding to Build Independence course has been taught worldwide, and it's been so successful that we put it online for free for those who can't make it to a class or festival panel in real life. But we love meeting filmmakers in person, so I encourage everyone to check our events page to see where we're heading next. I'll be teaching my next one at the Oxford Film Festival in February.
What should a filmmaker do/have prepared before contacting S&S?
JK: All you need to subscribe is an internet connection! If you're looking to launch a crowdfunding campaign, our How To page is really helpful and runs through all the things to consider and have ready before starting your campaign. And in support of our mission to increase representation in front of and behind the camera, we ask all crowdfunding filmmakers to articulate how their movie or show increases inclusion, so start thinking about that.
Best three things you can do to prepare yourself prior to a crowdfunding campaign: attend a #StayIndieTour workshop; watch our free crowdfunding classes; take a look at current and past successful crowdfunding campaigns. Learn from the best!
Filmmakers often feel alone in their filmmaker journey, like they have to figure out everything from scratch. We're here to support and celebrate filmmakers, showing them that they don't have to go it alone.
Our latest tool, the Filmmaker Dashboard, is a great example of how we empower filmmakers. With other platforms and distributors, it can be difficult to get metrics regarding your film, and filmmakers can feel in the dark about who's funding or watching their films. On Seed&Spark, filmmakers get real-time data to help them take control of their careers, whether they're crowdfunding with us or through our subscription platform. You get page views, top traffic sources, even follower data -- something other platforms don't offer.
Seed&Spark is the only platform dedicated to supporting filmmakers throughout the full life cycle of their film. You can raise your film budget with us while growing your audience, then deliver your film to your audience on our beautiful streaming platform, which is also, coincidentally, a way to start raising money for your next film. We take care of the scary stuff so that filmmakers can do what they do best: make movies.
Connect with Seed&Spark on their website.
For invaluable advice on short film ideas, download the 1st chapter of Roberta Marie Monroe’s book How Not to Make a Short Film! and create inspiring short films today.