How to Run a Kickstarter Film Project: Building Your Campaign

Share this post

Leer en español. Disponible en français.

In this series, Kickstarter’s Film team answers some of the most common questions asked by Film creators interested in running a campaign. In this section, they’ll tackle everything you need to know about creating your project video, building rewards, setting your funding goal, and more.

Browse our other guides on getting started, managing your live campaign, and post-campaign life.

Tiny by Merete Mueller
Tiny by Merete Mueller
 

What should I include in my project description? 

A potential backer reading your project description should be able to walk away knowing what you’re making, why you’re making it, what you need in order to make it, and what they’ll get in return for supporting you. 

 When you’re telling your story, be sure to address questions like: 

  •  What is your film about? 
  •  Who is working on it? 
  •  Why are you the right person/people to make it? 
  • What is urgent or relevant about this story at this moment in time (in other words, why make this film now)? 
  • What stage of the filmmaking process are you at, and what is your anticipated timeline for completing it? 
  • What will the Kickstarter funds help pay for? 

For additional tips on crafting your project page, check out our list of Kickstarter Film story prompts

In addition to telling your story, be sure to include plenty of images that illustrate what you’re making. Place an image every two or three paragraphs in order to make your page easier to read. (Read our tips for selecting project images here.) Take a look at the project pages for The Chicken and Notes on an Appearance for an example of good, strong imagery. 

If you don’t have great images of your own, feel free to embed videos of your past work, create mood boards using content that is free for public use (see below), and any other material that’s relevant to your project. 

Can I use copyrighted material on my project page? 

Don't use anything that you don't have the rights to. The easiest way to avoid copyright troubles is to create all the content yourself or use content that is free for public use. 

Creative Commons allows you to legally use “some rights reserved” music, movies, images, and other content for free. You can also find free-to-use images through Google Search by filtering your results with an Advanced Search filter called “usage rights.” Find out more from the Google Help Center. 

I'm making my project video. What advice do you have? 

Although videos are not required for Kickstarter projects, we recommend that Film creators always include a video. Similar to your project description, your video should tell potential backers what you’re making and why it matters. 

 Some additional tips for your project video: 

  • Keep it short—two minutes or less. 
  • Include brief clips of your film—even if they’re works in progress—and/or previous work. 
  • Make sure your director appears in it, even if briefly, and even if it’s only their voice.

Here are some additional pointers on making a project video from past creators and our team

What kinds of rewards should I offer? 

The most common Film rewards include things like: 

Keep these points in mind as you craft your rewards: 

Offering access to your film is a great reward! But if you’re hoping to lock in a distribution deal (for example, with a streaming site), we don’t recommend offering a digital download of your film. Instead, offer backers digital access or a digital streaming link so you have a little more control over where the finished film ends up. 

While producing physical merchandise (for example, T-shirts) for your backers might be appealing, we recommend focusing on digital rewards for reward tiers of $50 and less. Since the production and postage costs will come out of the funds you raise on Kickstarter—not to mention the time drain of packaging and mailing merchandise—you’ll want to think about meaningful rewards that you can send to backers via email. 

You’re required to put an estimated delivery date on each reward tier, so be sure to set realistic delivery expectations. Give yourself a healthy buffer to account for the time needed to produce, package (if applicable), and deliver your rewards.

Need a little extra inspiration? Here are some additional reward tier ideas. 

Filmmaker Ricky D'Ambrose offered pages from the script of his film Notes on an Appearance as a reward
Filmmaker Ricky D'Ambrose offered pages from the script of his film Notes on an Appearance as a reward

What should my funding goal be?

The average amount a Film project raises on Kickstarter hovers around $12,000, with the average short film raising $5,600.

Kickstarter uses an all-or-nothing funding model, meaning you have to hit your funding goal by the end of your campaign to receive the funds. If you don’t reach your funding goal, your backers won’t be charged and you won’t receive any money. Keep in mind that once your campaign begins, you can’t change the funding goal or the duration of the campaign.

You’ll need to figure out a funding goal that is both achievable—given your understanding of the support you can expect from your community and your capacity to reach people beyond it—and that will allow you to get your film to the next stage. Filmmakers often set a funding goal that will allow them to cover the cost of production or specific part of post-production, like color correction or sound mix. You might want to create a spreadsheet of committed or expected pledges from your personal network to help you calculate this sum.

We also recommend letting your backers know from the beginning what you will do with additional funds if you’re lucky enough to surpass your funding goal. For example: “With an extra $1,000 we can secure additional music licensing rights; with an additional $2,000 we can also hire a composer.”

How long should my campaign last?

Most projects should set their campaigns to run between 14 and 35 days. (If your project goal is $25,000 or more, we recommend the longer end of that range.)

Consider your end date as well as your start date: Select an end date and time that best allows you to amplify the final days of your campaign. You don’t want to end your project on a national holiday or early in the morning when potential backers won’t be online.

What time of year should I run my campaign? Are there higher success rates for projects in certain months or seasons?

The most important factors to consider when deciding on your launch date are when you will have the most time to spend working on your campaign and when your audience will most likely be online to support your project. 

If you know you always have a lot going on during the holidays at the end of the year, for example, it might make more sense to wait to run your project in the new year, when you can dedicate more time to the campaign. Likewise, if the majority of your friends and family go on vacation in August, you might consider running a campaign in September when they’re mostly back online. We also suggest avoiding launching or ending your campaign on or directly around a national holiday. 

What can I do to become a Project We Love?

When a project stands out to our team, we give it a “Projects We Love” badge and may feature it on our homepage, in newsletters, or on social media. Read about how we choose projects to feature here.

Here are a few things we look for in Film projects specifically: 

  • An engaging project video that introduces the film you’re making and the team and motivations behind it. Your project video doesn’t need to be a super-slick trailer, but it should visually communicate your aesthetic as a filmmaker and give your audience confidence in your ability to tell stories through video. 
  • Thoughtful rewards that offer opportunities to engage with your film, your creative process, or your team. Ideally, these rewards will also be priced appropriately. For example, we see most digital links to films offered at around $20 to $35, DVDs or Blu-rays around $50 to $100, and exclusive opportunities to engage with the creation of the film—a set visit or a chance to be an extra, for instance—at much higher price points. 
  • Beautiful, high-resolution images that help tell your story. 
  • A comprehensive written description of the scope of your film project, what you’re raising money for, and what is compelling or exciting to you about the film you’re making.

To get an even better idea of the kinds of projects we feature, sign up for Kickstarter on Film, our monthly newsletter.

What are custom referral tags, and how do I use them? 

Situated within the Creator Dashboard, which gives creators a bird’s-eye view of the latest activity on a live or completed project, custom referral tags are custom links that help you track how many backers and how much money is coming from a specific channel. Read this guide to using them. 

Can I get feedback on my Film project before I launch? 

Your shareable preview page shows what your project will look like when it’s live, including the title, video, description, and rewards. Share this page with close collaborators and trusted advisors for feedback on everything from copy to images to reward tiers.

An example project preview page
An example project preview page

Should I prepare a promotion strategy before I launch?

Yes! The more preparation you do before launch, the better positioned you’ll be when you go live. Think of your campaign promotion like a production schedule.

Here are some recommended steps to take before you launch:

  • Make a list of your current supporters. Think of everyone you know: people you trained with and worked with; people who have supported you and who you have supported; people you were in film school and band camp and chess club with. No connection is too remote. 
  • Create a spreadsheet. Include emails, social media handles, and phone numbers for your contacts. Make a note of how you know each person, as you may want to contact people in batches. 
  • Draft some emails. We’ve found email to be the most effective way to get people to back your project. Write personalized notes whenever possible; make your message friendly, honest, and frame it more like an invitation than an ask. Make it enticing—a chance to come aboard an exciting project. If it feels uncomfortable to ask people to contribute directly, ask them to refer you to people who could be interested in backing, or to share it with their networks. 

 You can find more promotion tips in our Creator Handbook.

How do I pitch my Film project to press? 

If you’re interested in securing press coverage for your project, you’ll need to do some homework. Research which writers and publications might be most passionate about your project, and personalize your message to them.

Keep your communications short and sweet, and don’t dedicate too much time to pitching film press. The majority of film publications now view filmmakers using Kickstarter as a legitimate, but not necessarily newsworthy, funding source. Unless you believe you have a unique angle that film press are likely to want to pick up, it would be better to devote that time and attention to pitching smaller outlets, local newspapers, and focused blogs, which usually have pretty dedicated followers.

For more tips, check out this guide to getting press coverage for your creative work by our Director of Communications.

Now that you’ve built your campaign, it's time to launch! Read our guide to managing your campaign.

Stay in the know about all things Film on Kickstarter by subscribing to our newsletter.

Line icon alert icon Artboard Copy 8 arrow-down icon arrow-down arrow-left icon arrow-left arrow-point-left icon Fill 1 Copy 5 arrow-point-right icon Fill 1 arrow-right icon arrow-right arrow-up-right icon icon--arrow-up-right copy bar-chart icon Artboard Copy 6 bell icon Combined Shape Copy 5 book icon Artboard Copy 3 bookmark icon Fill 1 brand-assets icon Artboard Copy 13 cart icon Artboard Copy 4 chat icon chat check icon Fill 1 Copy 6 circle-back icon Fill 1 Copy 13 circle-forward icon Fill 1 Copy 16 circle-k icon circle-k circle-left icon circle-left circle-right icon circle-right clipboard icon Artboard Copy 12 clock icon Combined Shape close icon close closed-caption icon Fill 1 compass icon Combined Shape Copy 2 conversion icon conversion delta-down icon Fill 1 delta-left icon delta-right icon Fill 1 delta-up icon Fill 1 duplicate icon duplicate embed icon Combined Shape Copy 6 eye icon Combined Shape Copy 12 facebook-contained icon Facebook Contained facebook icon Facebook logo flag icon Fill 1 Copy 3 gear icon Fill 1 Copy 14 global-africa icon Fill 1 Copy 9 global-america icon Fill 1 Copy 10 global-asia icon Fill 1 Copy 17 graph-bar icon Combined Shape Copy 9 graph-line icon Combined Shape Copy 16 heart icon Fill 1 Copy 8 help icon human icon icon--human icon--activity-feed.kds icon icon--add-heading.kds icon icon--advanced-analytics.kds icon icon--alarm icon icon--alarm icon--alert icon icon--alert icon--alt-text.kds icon icon--arrow-down.kds icon icon--arrow-down icon icon--arrow-down icon--arrow-left-2 icon icon--arrow-left.kds icon icon--arrow-left icon icon--arrow-left icon--arrow-right.kds icon icon--arrow-right icon icon--arrow-right icon--arrow-up-right icon icon--arrow-up-right icon--arrow-up.kds icon icon--arrow-up icon icon--arrow-up icon--backer-badge icon icon--backer-badge icon--bar-graph.kds icon icon--bell.kds icon icon--bell icon icon--bell icon--bold.kds icon icon--bolt.kds icon icon--bolt icon icon--bolt icon--bookmark-filled.kds icon icon--bookmark-outline icon icon--bookmark-outline icon--bookmark.kds icon icon--bookmark icon icon--bookmark icon--bulleted-list.kds icon icon--calculator icon icon--calculator icon--calendar-check icon icon--calendar-check icon--calendar.kds icon icon--calendar.sm.kds icon icon--calendar icon icon--calendar icon--campaign-outline icon icon--campaign-outline icon--caption.kds icon icon--captions.kds icon icon--cart.kds icon icon--category.kds icon icon--category.sm.kds icon icon--chat.kds icon icon--check.kds icon icon--check.sm.kds icon icon--check icon icon--check icon--chevron-down.kds icon icon--chevron-down.sm.kds icon icon--chevron-down icon icon--chevron-down icon--chevron-left.kds icon icon--chevron-left.sm.kds icon icon--chevron-left icon icon--chevron-left icon--chevron-right.kds icon icon--chevron-right.sm.kds icon icon--chevron-right icon icon--chevron-right icon--chevron-up.kds icon icon--chevron-up.sm.kds icon icon--chevron-up icon icon--chevron-up icon--circle-around.kds icon icon--circle-around icon icon--circle-around icon--circle-back icon icon--circle-back icon--circle-backward.kds icon icon--circle-check icon icon--circle-empty icon icon--circle-forward.kds icon icon--circle-forward icon icon--circle-forward icon--circle-loader icon Page 1 icon--circle.kds icon icon--circle icon icon--clipboard icon icon--clipboard icon--clock.kds icon icon--clock.sm.kds icon icon--clock icon icon--clock icon--close.kds icon icon--close.sm.kds icon icon--closed-caption icon icon--closed-caption icon--code icon icon--code icon--collapse.kds icon icon--collapse icon icon--collapse icon--commissions icon icon--commissions icon--compass icon icon--compass icon--confirmation icon icon--confirmation icon--conversion.kds icon icon--conversion icon icon-conversion icon--copy.kds icon icon--cpu icon icon--credit-card.kds icon icon--credit-card icon icon--cross icon icon--cross icon--curve-right icon icon--curve-right icon--date-and-time.kds icon icon--date-and-time.sm.kds icon icon--delta-down icon icon--delta-down icon--delta-left icon icon--delta-left icon--delta-right icon icon--delta-right icon--delta-up icon icon--delta-up icon--download.kds icon icon--download icon icon--download icon--drag.kds icon icon--edit.kds icon icon--ellipsis.kds icon icon--ellipsis icon icon--error.kds icon icon--error.sm.kds icon icon--expand.kds icon icon--expand icon icon--expand icon--external.kds icon icon--external.sm.kds icon icon--external icon icon--external icon--eye icon icon--eye icon--facebook icon icon--facebook icon--filter icon icon--filter icon--filters.kds icon icon--flag-outline icon icon--flag.kds icon icon--flag.sm.kds icon icon--flag icon icon--flag icon--forward-fund icon icon--frown-filled icon icon--frown icon icon--fulfillment.kds icon icon--gear icon icon--gear icon--globe-africa icon icon--globe-africa icon--globe-america icon icon--globe-america icon--globe-asia icon icon--globe-asia icon--globe.kds icon icon--graph-bar icon icon--graph-bar icon--graph-line icon icon--graph-line icon--hamburger.kds icon icon--hamburger icon icon--happy-filled icon icon--happy icon icon--header-anchor icon icon--heading.kds icon icon--heading icon icon--heart-filled.kds icon icon--heart-filled.sm.kds icon icon--heart-outline icon icon--heart outline icon--heart-thin-outline icon Fill 1 icon--heart.kds icon icon--heart.sm.kds icon icon--heart icon icon--heart icon--heartstrings-and-hardbacks icon icon--hide.kds icon icon--home-with-door icon icon--home.kds icon icon--home icon icon--home icon--human.kds icon icon--human.sm.kds icon icon--human icon icon--human icon--humans.kds icon icon--humans icon icon--humans icon--image.kds icon icon--image icon icon--image icon--inbox.kds icon icon--inbox icon icon--inbox icon--indeterminate icon icon--info.kds icon icon--info.sm.kds icon icon--info icon icon--info icon--instagram icon icon/instagram icon--intermediate.kds icon icon--intermediate.sm.kds icon icon--italic.kds icon icon--late-pledges.kds icon icon--late-pledges.sm.kds icon icon--lightbulb.kds icon icon--lightbulb icon icon--lightbulb icon--line-graph.kds icon icon--link.kds icon icon--link icon icon--link icon--location.kds icon icon--location.sm.kds icon icon--lock-black-bg icon lock-icon icon--lock icon icon--lock icon--locked.kds icon icon--locked.sm.kds icon icon--log-out.kds icon icon--long-story-short icon icon--mail icon icon--mail icon--make-100 icon icon--media-embed.kds icon icon--meh-filled icon icon--meh icon icon--menu icon icon--menu icon--message.kds icon icon--message icon icon--message icon--milestone-dfm icon icon--milestone-idea icon icon--milestone-preprod icon icon--milestone-prod icon icon--milestone-proof-of-concept icon icon--milestone-working-prototype icon icon--minus.kds icon icon--mobile.kds icon icon--mobile icon icon--mobile icon--mute.kds icon icon--numbered-list.kds icon icon--order-management.kds icon icon--overflow icon icon--overflow icon--pause.kds icon icon--pause icon icon--pause icon--pencil icon icon--pencil icon--pie-chart icon icon--pin.kds icon icon--pin icon icon--pin icon--pinterest icon icon--pinterest icon--play-filled.kds icon icon--play.kds icon icon--play icon icon--play icon--pledges.kds icon icon--plus-human.kds icon icon--plus-human icon icon--plus-human icon--plus.kds icon icon--plus icon icon--plus icon--prohibit icon icon--prohibit icon--prohibited.kds icon icon--project-budget icon icon--project-we-love icon icon--pull-quote icon icon--pull-quote icon--pullquote.kds icon icon--question-filled icon icon--question-filled icon--question.kds icon icon--question icon icon--question icon--reorder icon icon-reorder icon--reply.kds icon icon--reply icon icon--reply icon--reward.kds icon icon--reward.sm.kds icon icon--reward icon icon--save icon icon--save icon--saved icon icon--saved icon--search.kds icon icon--search icon icon--search icon--section-break icon icon--section-break icon--sentiment-neutral-filled.kds icon icon--sentiment-neutral.kds icon icon--sentiment-satisfied-filled.kds icon icon--sentiment-satisfied.kds icon icon--sentiment-unsatisfied-filled.kds icon icon--sentiment-unsatisfied.kds icon icon--settings.kds icon icon--shipping.kds icon icon--show.kds icon icon--small-k icon icon--sound-hi icon icon--sound-hi icon--sound-lo icon icon--sound-lo icon--sound-mute icon icon--sound-mute icon--spinner.kds icon icon--star-outline icon Star Outline icon--star.kds icon icon--star.sm.kds icon icon--star icon icon--star icon--stopwatch.kds icon icon--subtitles-captions icon icon--subtitles-captions icon--success.kds icon icon--success.sm.kds icon icon--survey-multiple-choice.kds icon icon--survey-open-text.kds icon icon--survey-single-choice.kds icon icon--survey.kds icon icon--tax-documents.kds icon icon--text-bold icon icon--text-bold icon--text-bullet icon icon--text-bullet icon--text-italic icon icon--text-italic icon--textalign-centered icon icon--textalign-centered icon--textalign-right icon icon--textalign-right icon--thumbs-down icon icon--thumbs-down icon--thumbs-up icon icon--thumbs-up icon--thumbsdown-outline icon icon--thumbsdown-outline icon--thumbsup-outline icon icon--thumbsup-outline icon--timeline-to-do.kds icon icon--trash.kds icon icon--trash icon icon--trash icon--tumblr icon icon--tumblr icon--twitter icon icon--twitter icon--unlink.kds icon icon--unlink icon Artboard icon--unlock icon icon--unlock icon--unlocked.kds icon icon--unlocked.sm.kds icon icon--update-freeform-round icon icon--update-freeform-round icon--update-freeform icon icon--update-freeform icon--update-pinned icon Artboard icon--update-qa-round icon icon--update-qa-round icon--update-qa icon icon--update-qa icon--upload.kds icon icon--upload icon icon--upload icon--video.kds icon icon--video icon icon--video icon--volume-down.kds icon icon--volume-up.kds icon icon--warning.kds icon icon--warning.sm.kds icon icon--warning icon icon--witchstarter icon icon--youtube icon icon--youtube icon--zine-quest icon icon-imagealign-center icon icon-imagealign-center icon-imagealign-left icon icon-imagealign-left icon-imagealign-right icon icon-imagealign-right info icon Combined Shape Copy instagram icon instagram copy kickstarter icon Artboard Copy 5 leaf icon leaf lightbulb icon icon--lightbulb link icon Combined Shape Copy 8 loading-spin icon lock icon Combined Shape Copy 4 mail icon Combined Shape map-pin icon Fill 1 menu icon Group message icon Fill 1 Copy 12 mobile icon Page 1 Copy 2 pause icon pause copy pencil icon Combined Shape Copy 3 pin icon Combined Shape Copy 11 pinterest icon pinterest play icon play copy plus-human icon icon--plus-human plus icon Fill 1 Copy 7 question icon Combined Shape Copy 14 search icon Fill 1 Copy 11 shapeshift icon share icon Fill 1 Copy slash icon solid-arrow icon solid-arrow sound-hi icon Combined Shape sound-lo icon Combined Shape sound-mute icon Combined Shape star icon Fill 1 Copy 2 stopwatch icon Group 2 thumbs-up icon Shape tools icon Shape trash icon Combined Shape tumblr icon tumblr copy twitter icon twitter copy user icon Artboard Copy 10 volume-up icon Artboard Copy 9 warning icon Combined Shape Copy 10 write icon Artboard Copy 11 x icon Fill 1 Copy 4 youtube icon Combined Shape