He Hated Pigeons: Crowdfunding as a Marketing Tool
Just two days before flying off with her crew for the shoot, the writer-director-producer of He Hated Pigeons heard back from a funder she’d been counting on. The answer was no, and it put a huge hole in her budget. How could she fill it 48 hours before leaving?
- Project name: He Hated Pigeons
- Production/project type: Art film
- Financing platform: Indiegogo
- Crowdfunding type: Flexible (keep all contributions)
- Financing period: Ongoing
- Amount raised: $36,306 (143%)
- Number of contributors: 175
- Average contribution: $208
For her fifth feature, He Hated Pigeons , an art film about a phantasmagorical journey in Chile, Ingrid Veninger had to deal with a very tight financial structure.
This writer-director-producer decided a long time ago to wear all the hats for her art film projects: constantly in solution mode, her brain is always in high gear. She’ll do anything to see the films through and fearlessly tackles every challenge along the way.
In mid-January 2015, just two days before flying off with her crew for the shoot, she heard back from a funder she’d been counting on. The answer was no, and it put a huge hole in her budget. How could she fill it 48 hours before leaving?
That’s when her adventure with Indiegogo crowdfunding began. The experience would have a huge influence on how the film was shot, as well as on her marketing strategy.
Getting the project off the ground despite the circumstances, and taking it all the way!
“I was running the campaign with people from Toronto who were helping me and posting on social media. I was constantly creating content and thanking every single individual who was contributing while strategizing and building the campaign. All through making the film. At the end of every day instead of sleeping I was spending 3 or 4 hours on the campaign.”
The route Ingrid took is not what’s recommended by crowdfunding strategists.
She dove in with no preparation, not even a reward to offer contributors! She created the rewards as she went along, as shooting progressed. She offered images from the shoot, copyright free, as well as photos and postcards, and used every ounce of the creativity she is renowned for to provide unique, engaging content for the campaign.
Financially, she started at zero, although strategists highly recommend having a few contributors already at the starting line to create a bandwagon effect when kicking off a crowdfunding campaign. She remembers the very first contribution from a film critic who has followed and admired her work for several years. She then fanned interest continuously during shooting, by sharing her scenes and dialoguing with contributors.
Her relationship with her contributors strengthened day after day and, in the end, they were wholeheartedly participating in the adventure of the film. The filmmaker also maintains that her partnership with the Canadian Film Centre was a huge help, given that its participation acts like a seal of quality and demonstrates the validity of the creative work.
“It was really motivating to see there were people to support us when we needed it the most. I took a lot of energy and adrenaline from that.”
Did this simultaneous project hurt the film? According to Ingrid, it was her sleep that suffered, not the film. On the contrary, the synchronicity between the campaign and shooting created a unique unity between the team and the contributors, who were able to track the benefits of every dollar invested day by day. This momentum created enthusiasm and a community, and generated noise that was very helpful to the film’s international reach.
Film fans were not the only ones mobilized by the campaign. A group of filmmakers had formed organically at the Cucalorus Film Festival in North Carolina, where she screened her fourth film. The filmmaker was delighted to realize that many people in the group came through when it came time to contribute to her film. The producer saw the backing as a mark of extraordinary support from her community.
When she saw the group last November for the presentation of He Hated Pigeons, she was both happy and proud to name them on stage. Since then, their engagement has moved numerous projects forward, as they regularly contribute to each others’ films by investing and participating in crowdfunding campaigns launched in support of works in their respective communities.
When community and marketing strategy meet
After the shoot, Ingrid jumped on the opportunity to base the film’s tour on a map of her contributors’ locations. In tandem with each screening of her film, she offered an online live showing, hoping that every contributor would have the chance, if possible, to enjoy the experience.
For example, a Montreal contributor is the reason she added the city and Centre Phi to her itinerary.
The surprise crowdfunding campaign for He Hated Pigeons proved to be a creative experience, and a marketing tool that was essential to the international success of the producer’s sixth feature.
“So the backers are going way beyond in not only putting the money down, but their support behind the film. And that is huge when you’re doing a film with a crew of three or four people and you don’t have an army of investors. The crowdsourcing backers become essentials. And this specific aspect will influence how I make my films in the future because you build audience and community. And that’s so important.”