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Crowdfunding: Hollywood Game Changer

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Written by Katrina R. Semmes, KRS Media

A potential game changer for Hollywood, crowdfunding is becoming the go-to funding source for independent films. Witness to this phenomenon is FilmBreak, the Los Angeles-based data and marketing company that matches filmmakers with fans. FilmBreak’s co-founder and President, Taylor McPartland, says that now a large part of FilmBreak’s business is about architecting and managing successful crowdfunding campaigns for content creators, so they can get donations directly from fans. “This is revolutionary. With crowdfunding, our partners can now reach thousands and even millions of people interested in seeing their movies come to light.”

“Traditionally, to raise money for your film, you would have to form the right relationships with the right people, and this process could take years,” says filmmaker Gudrun Giddings. I met Ms. Giddings in LA at an Oscar party hosted by FilmBreak, E-vite, ConnecTV and Ignited Spaces. Ms. Giddings shared her thoughts about the changes the industry has been seeing. Her optimism about the future of film was clear. She believes crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and others provide accessibility for filmmakers to get the attention and the support they need to launch successful fundraising campaigns. She believes that anytime an industry can create accessibility for the public to participate at some capacity, it’s a good thing.

According to Indiewire.com, currently there is a less than a 1% success rate for aspiring Sundance filmmakers. Crowdfunding may change this dynamic. It turns out that crowdfunding is not just for amateur filmmakers, it is for anyone who is looking to fundraise, even Oscar nominated actors and producers are getting on board. Celebrities like James Franco, Zach Braff, Sean Astin, and Lil’ Wayne are participating in crowdfunding campaigns.

“FilmBreak is two years ahead of its time, because Hollywood still places more value on traditional box office movies, versus web and online films. I believe this will change. We are seeing Hollywood A-listers launch crowdfunding campaigns for their projects. This is very exciting,” says Ms. Giddings.

Crowdfunding is gaining momentum, especially now that there is talk around the possibility of equity crowdfunding. Today, “donation-based” crowdfunding is the main way people are raising money online. But “investment-based” crowdfunding is on the way. According to a CNBC article, “How Equity Crowdfunding Might Just Upend Film Financing,” regulators are still drafting guidelines on so-called equity crowdfunding, which allows funders to actually own a piece of new businesses. This is the result of the 2012 JOBS Act, which reduced key barriers to equity fundraising.

Michael Berk is a writer and producer known for award winning movies and television shows including Baywatch. Mr. Berk grew up in Hollywood and sold his first TV show to CBS at the age of thirteen, so he’s very familiar with fundraising in the film industry. Mr. Berk said that raising capital through crowdfunding platforms versus traditional mechanisms allows a filmmaker to have more control over his or her own film. “These platforms open up opportunities for collaboration and participation,” says Mr. Berk. He plans to work with FilmBreak to market projects and participate in crowdfunding campaigns.

The film industry has seen big changes from digital distribution, marketing and even fundraising. Ms. Giddings adds, “thanks to companies like FilmBreak, more films will have a chance to raise the money they need to take their films to the next level.”

We may not know exactly what the future of crowdfunding may look like, but we do know the film industry is changing right before our eyes and those who are participating may just reap the rewards.

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