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Why Do Filmmakers Pick Indiegogo Over Kickstarter? Roger Ebert Doc Latest to Head to the Crowdfunding Site

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by Beth Hanna and Ryan Lattanzio
November 21, 2013 12:21 PM
1 Comment
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Roger Ebert

The latest high-profile project to take the crowdfunding route is the Roger Ebert documentary "Life Itself," to be directed by Steve James ("Hoop Dreams," "The Interrupters") and executive produced by Martin Scorsese. But unlike Spike Lee, Zach Braff or the "Veronica Mars" project, "Life Itself," based on Ebert's memoir of the same title, is heading to Indiegogo. 

As of writing this, the "Life Itself" campaign has raised a bit over $7,000 in its second day of funding. Creativity has clearly gone into its conception, with a cool goal of hitting 7,202 backers -- the same number of reviews Ebert wrote throughout his lifetime. As part of the thank you process once the campaign is over, each backer will be notified of which review number their backer number corresponds to. And will get an early shot at streaming the movie --before everyone else.

The main obvious appeal of Indiegogo over Kickstarter is its flexible funding option. A project can choose to receive all of the money its raised by the end of its 30 day campaign -- regardless of whether it has met its goal. Some would argue that this makes potential backers less motivated to give money (and less of it if they give), but there's certainly an appeal to getting money on Indiegogo versus the depressing reality of many failed Kickstarters.

As we explained in our Q&A coverage with Indiegogo, the "no fail" idea behind an Indiegogo campaign also makes the project look more worthwhile. Indiegogo told us:

Even if you don't reach your goal, you're still getting incoming phone calls. The campaign offers pre-awareness, it's free marketing, it proves to your crowd, to your audience and your market that you have value and that your project has value, and that it's worth continuing on... The crowdfunding campaign is not just about the money: it's about the fan. It's a good marketing tool because you're keeping fans engaged. You don't even need to put out a trailer. You're keeping people involved in the whole process.

Plus, there's no screening process:

We don't tell our campaigners whether or not their project is good. That's not our job. It defeats the purpose of crowdfunding. It's up to the crowd to decide. You have to find your audience and crowdfunding allows that. We have a Happiness Team in San Francisco, about a dozen people who take your emails, your calls and your concerns and walk you through the process. We have an in-house PR team who pushes out campaigns. We have 7,000 campaigns running at any given time, so we make our best efforts to be there for our campaigners because their success is [also] ours.

But the key reason why the "Life Itself" team picked Indiegogo is this: The site allows campaigns to give its stretch goal proceeds to charity, in this case the Roger and Chaz Ebert Foundation and the Roger Ebert Film Studies Center.

1 Comment

  • Cineman | November 22, 2013 3:57 PMReply

    There's an interesting indie feature (political thriller) called False Colors that just launched on Kickstarter. It's mostly completed and has a great trailer.

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