Within Every Woman: Crowdfunding a First-Time Feature Length Documentary Film
In 2011, Toronto-based Golden Nugget Productions was a relatively new company without an established reputation among major broadcasters. Crowdfunding proved to be a great way to fund a first project.
Type of production/project: Documentary (Film/TV)
Funding Target: $50,000 (USD)
Funds Raised: $56,525 (USD)
The company: Golden Nugget Productions
It is difficult for new entrants to fund their documentaries using the conventional method of financing through broadcasting development funding or a broadcasting licence. They often pay to pitch before licensing executives at forums such as Hot Docs or the Banff World Media Festival.
The pitch forum at Hot Docs in 2011 is the route Golden Nugget’s director, Tiffany Hsiung, took to crowdfunding in order to raise funding for “Within Every Woman”. Hot Doc’s Forum and Market Director, Elizabeth Radshaw recommended “Within Every Woman” for the HotDocs curated page on Kickstarter. Initially, Hsiung’s producer wanted to target $100,000 but the company was late to take advantage of their 60-day funding window; they did not begin to promote the Kickstarter campaign until 30 days after the campaign had been kicked-off, which is half way through the allotted 60-day funding period imposed by Kickstarter. As such, given that the producers effectively had only 30 days to raise their funds, they decided that a goal of $50,000 was more realistic. The $56,000 (USD) raised falls within the range of development funds typically offered by broadcasters and did kick-start “Within Every Woman” but it is not enough to finance the full production of the documentary. Hsiung estimates she requires another $200,000 and is seeking a broadcasting license as well as private investment, but does not plan on starting another crowdfunding campaign for this project. The time and effort needed to promote and administer the campaign is fairly onerous and the producers would be reluctant to undertake it again for the same project - they would rather focus on the production (which has already kicked-off) and on soliciting the remaining necessary funds from other sources. In addition, Hsiung and her team are conscious of the possibility of donor fatigue and do not wish to go back to the same pool of supporters for additional funds.
The Kickstarter campaign not only proves there is an audience for “Within Every Woman,” but due to its web based platform, provides analytics that may be useful for Golden Nugget as it approaches funders and broadcasters. Crowdfunding can become a useful tool for savvy producers who can leverage information and metrics about their projects by monitoring and analysing when people use the Internet, how they surf and by testing and targeting blogs. This moves the documentary funding model closer to that of web site producers who, when seeking funding from Bell Fund or Canada Media Fund (Experimental Stream), typically have to demonstrate that there is an audience for their project with supporting audience demographic characteristics.
Hsiung and the Golden Nugget team had to work around regulatory issues associated with Kickstarter’s terms. Canadians who want to raise funds from U.S. based Kickstarter must do so through a U.S. account. Golden Nugget partnered with a U.S. based charitable organization that in turn already was in partnership with one of Golden Nugget’s Canadian partners.