The Kickstarter Blog

Five Filmmakers, One Question

Jocelyn Towne on the set of I Am I. Photo by Kat Marcinowski.
Jocelyn Towne on the set of I Am I. Photo by Kat Marcinowski.

With more than $25 million pledges to 3,000 successful projects, we know that Kickstarter and filmmakers are best buds. We've seen backers get to be a part of the filmmaking process in a whole new way, and creators raise astounding amounts of money, and often at the last minute, to make films that otherwise may not exist. But what do filmmakers get out of their projects beyond funding? After reading so many exciting project updates, we've started to think that the most profound effects might be the ones that aren't quantifiable.

Rather than theorize, we decided to reach out the filmmakers themselves, and hear from them in their own words. So we asked them all one question:

How did your Kickstarter project change the life of your film?

Here's what they had to say:

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"During my Kickstarter pledge period, several people contacted me offering their services in sound mix and publicity, instead of a cash pledge. It is through Kickstarter I met a fantastic PR agent who offered her services, and came with me to SXSW to help publicize the film. Through Kickstarter I established a continuing relationship with members of a non-profit organization, several of whom in the NY chapter pledged funding at a $500 level during the Kickstarter campaign, others from the Seattle chapter of the org organized a group to come to the Beijing Taxi Seattle theatrical premiere recently. The Kickstarter campaign also connected me with a producer who is now working with me on future projects. I continue to send out blasts to all the Beijing Taxi Kickstarter supporters with updates on Beijing Taxi's upcoming screenings, releases, and I will keep them posted with future projects." 

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Steve Taylor, BLUE LIKE JAZZ

"Maybe the biggest psychological challenge for indie filmmakers is the creeping sense that you're spending years of your life to make something nobody will even care about, let alone see. Because our Kickstarter project was born out of last-ditch desperation - we had to raise $125K in thirty days or the movie couldn't happen - I didn't really believe we'd reach our goal. So I promised a personal thank you call to anybody who gave $10 or more... which ended up totaling 3,851 backers.

I'm halfway through the calls, and I honestly love making them. I get to hear stories from around the world about what the project means to people and how they can't wait to see it. When I start losing perspective after too much time in a dark editing room, a round of thank you calls invariably gets things back on track. Which should make for a better movie.

In summary: Kickstarter was my cure for Tortured Artist Syndrome."

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"I made my debut documentary Resurrect Dead in relative isolation. So my Kickstarter campaign was, in a sense, an opening up to the world for the first time. When the campaign took off, I found myself in an episode of “This Is Your Life” where people I'd known at many different points of my life were coming out to support me. Once at Sundance, I discovered that my Kickstarter video had been passed around circles including some festival staff, press, and filmmakers. It was a wonderful and wholly unanticipated benefit beyond the original goal of fund raising." 

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Aurora Guerrero, MOSQUITA Y MARI

"We set out to raise money and in turn created a solid base of fans who are die hard supporters. We're currently in pre-production and have turned to our backers for locations, casting, crew, etc. This base continues to be instrumental in helping us make this film."

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Jocelyn Towne, I AM I

"The major way that Kickstarter changed the life of our film is that it has helped us to build an audience. But at this stage in our filmmaking process what that really translates to is support, emotional and otherwise! Many Kickstarter backers have volunteered to help in any way they can and one of our backers, Stuart Gill, actually designed a free app for the film for people who want to follow our progress more easily, it's pretty amazing! But I would really have to emphasize the importance of the emotional support. Getting this project made has been a huge labor of love and when it started there were just a few people who were passionate about the project and since Kickstarter it has grown in ways I could have never imagined. There is something about making a public declaration of your intention that transforms the trajectory of where you are going. People in the film community began to support the project when they saw how it was received on Kickstarter, which was wonderful. But I think it really changed me the most. I was always so private about the project, didn't share it much with others and when I decided to go through Kickstarter, I felt ready to let go of that and really put myself out there. That's been the best thing that has come out of the whole experience, a personal transformation"


    1. Creator Brock Wilbur on July 1, 2011

      It changed my life because now every time my phone dings for an email, I think it's a financial donation, and I am constantly let down when it's just love and support from my director.

    2. Creator Jimi "Cheetah" Bruce on July 2, 2011

      I see a change in me already, even though it is "nervous" about whether we achieve funding (which we still pray we do and keep the faith), becasue of the positive comments I received just in the past week! "Very interesting" it the most frequent one. Who would have thought that our story would have the potential to help many other people with similar immigation-related issues.

    3. Creator Mark Nowotarski on July 3, 2011

      "There is something about making a public declaration of your intention that transforms the trajectory of where you are going. "

      What a powerful comment.

    4. Creator Corey L. Douglas on July 4, 2011

      I'm just starting my campaign. Hopefully all goes well..

    5. Creator Yancey Strickler on July 6, 2011

      These are some really amazing thoughts. I thought Jocelyn and Jon's points about this opening them up were particularly interesting. I know that's a difficult thing to do.