Goals Versus Commitment in Crowdfunding for Indie Film

The other day, my girlfriend Marinell told me about an interview she read in The New York Times with Hugh Martin on “The Importance of Commitments.” I took a gander at this interview myself, and of course I started thinking about this concept of goals versus commitments and its relationship with crowdfunding for independent film.

A goal of $50,000 would've made this fun campaign for Total Frat Movie more successful than the goal of $300,000.
A goal of $50,000 would’ve made this fun campaign for Total Frat Movie more successful than the goal of $300,000.

Something I see way too frequently as Indiegogo’s manager of film and video is that filmmakers wanting to raise a lot of money. I mean a lot of money. Part of my duty as the guy who literally wrote the book on Crowdfunding for Filmmakers has become talking them down from the ledge of a $1.5 million ask and settle them into a target amount that fits more their lifestyle. This becomes much easier when I frame the discussion in terms of goals and commitment.

A filmmaker may need $250,000 to produce his or her feature-length film, but that goal won’t mean much if the filmmaker can only realistically commit to raising, say, $20,000, based on a variety of factors like the size of one’s current network and the amount of time he or she can devote to running the campaign. Therefore, my question to prospective campaigners isn’t what’s your goal?, but rather how much are you committed to raising?

Now, I’m the kind of person who truly believes that if a filmmaker wants to raise $1.5 Million for a film, he or she certainly can. But a look at some of the most successful Indiegogo campaigns –– Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie, for instance, clocking in at 325,327 before their game was over, and Shemar Moore’s The Bounce Back, bouncing even higher up at $638,483 –– have been triumphant because of certain factors, specifically a passionate core fan base. But even still, angry video game nerd James Rolfe committed to raising $75,000 and was able to double-up that number instead of trying for $500,000 and coming up short at just over $300,000. Now, if we as filmmakers have less of a fan/subscriber base than these heavy hitters, it’s safe to say that $250,000 may be a difficult number to reach. But if we commit ourselves to raising a more reachable amount, then we open wide the possibility of shooting past our own commitment level and surpass even our most ambitious crowdfunding goals.

So before you crowdfund your next indie film, ask yourself not what your goal should be, but what you and your team can commit to raising, and then go on raise it!

6 thoughts on “Goals Versus Commitment in Crowdfunding for Indie Film

  1. Hi John, I very much appreciate your insights, experience and knowledge about crowdfunding and your principle of commitment vs. goals. I think you have it down almost to a science, esp. with your 3 P’s.. And you’ve written a very helpful book and are going around speaking about it. I am a Stage 5 member, and wish you well on your upcoming webinar.

    I also did a successful Kickstarter and lived to tell the tale :-). My blog linked below covers the emotional and psychological experience that I had that NO ONE told me to expect, no one had written about to warn me, and really needs to be added, I feel, to any helpful content delivered about Kickstarter.This aspect of the emotional roller coaster ride absolutely dominated my campaign and many others I have spoken to that have done a crowdfunding campaign.

    I hope you will include in your presentations some aspects of the roller coaster ride that Kickstarter can be and for some it really is. I know it would have been helpful if someone had warned me of these particular realities. For me, part of the realities of the doing the crowdfunding experience is that it became obsessive and drove me a little insane, that it created emotional havoc and was a little and sometimes alot hellish, and that it felt so harrowing that I questioned my self-ability and worth. Now this may not be the case for everyone doing a crowdfunding campaign. But in the case of artists like myself who are putting their whole heart and soul out there; sensitive types without the toughened skin of business people; or naive souls with a good cause but lacking in realities, this emotional and pyscological aspect of doing a crowdfunding campaign would be extremely helpful to know before embarking on one. It is something to be respectfully anticipated with some caution and not taken lightly, especially as those who do it face the responsibilities of taking other people’s money and taking on a big dream.

    I hope you will read my blog about my experience and the good things I learned. I hope you will include 5 minutes in your crowdfunding talks on the roller coaster ride. thanks for your kind attention.


    My Kickstarter page is

    1. Thanks for giving my blog a read, Stephanie, and for taking the time to comment so extensively on it and share your own experiences using Kickstarter to fund your own film. Congrats on that, and your blog has a lot of swell tidbits in it for crowdfunding, from simply having the patience to “watch the kettle boil” to the Ten Cammandments of Kickstarter, you’ve definitely laid out a good amount of solid tips to get people crowdfunding successfully.

      Thanks again for reading and for sharing!

  2. Thank you for this article and your many helpful, thoughtful tips you have and continue to provide. In the examples you listed above, I noticed you didn’t include the very successful Indiegogo campaign for “Gosnell Movie.” I was wondering what your thoughts are on that campaign seeing that no one on the small team seems to be associated with any “pro-life” organizations, fundamental Christian groups, etc… (I researched them because I was bewildered but remain baffled at this phenomenon). Thank you on any insight.

  3. Thank you for this article and the other helpful, insightful info you pass our way. In the above, I noticed you didn’t list or mention the huge Indigogo campaign for the Gossnell Movie. I was so astonished by this team I did some research on them and, from what I can see, they didn’t seem to have follow most of the advice available and no one on the team seems to be associated with any group or organization of their “target” supporters. The entire thing just seemed “unorthodox” to me. I would appreciate your thoughts on this campaign. Thanks again.

  4. Dear John T. Trignosis,

    Well, that hit the nail, square on it’s head. Mind if I reblog + repost this article a thousand times. And, where can I buy your book, Crowdfunding for Filmmakers?

    I suspect, for every dollar or pound raised, a filmmaker and his or her team, has put in 10x worth of blood, sweat, time and tears.

    Thanks so much for putting this into words. I look forward to reading your poetry and other creative writings. Take care.

    Jennifer Steel
    Burnaby, BC

    1. Oh dear, sorry about spelling your name wrong. It is Trigonis. Trigonis. Trigonis. Hope I get that right. Hate it when my name is mispelled. ;D

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