Backstage.com | By Sean J. Miller | Posted May 21, 2014, 3:48 p.m.
A new crowdfunding website targeting indie filmmakers wants to lure projects in development with the promise of online promotion and other services.
Filmmakers can already partner with established sites such as Indiegogo (with whom Backstage has a partnership) or Kickstarter to crowdfund their campaigns. In fact, the latter’s reach will be felt this summer when Zach Braff’s “Wish I Was Here” opens in theaters: The feature received more than $3.1 million in funding from 46,520 supporters through Kickstarter.
Edward Panos, who co-founded IndieFilmFunding.com with his niece, Stephanie Lee Panos, said that those existing crowdfunding platforms have too broad of a focus.
“The difference between us and them,” he said, “is that we’re focused on the indie film market. We’ve gone out and focused our social media on industry people. It’s starting to pay off.”
IndieFilmFunding.com, which is based in Park City, Utah, takes a more aggressive approach to promoting its projects than its competitors, said Panos.
“If you launch an indie film on Indiegogo or Kickstarter, you’re going to get caught up in the mix. You’re going to be next to some guy who’s trying to get funding for his broken leg. All they do for you is they provide a platform and you have to do the rest,” said Panos. “I’ve had indie filmmakers come to me just screaming that they’ve launched something on Kickstarter and Kickstarter doesn’t do anything to support it.”
Indiegogo and Kickstarter did not respond to requests for comment by press time. Both sites highlight projects that include film and Web series in their blast emails.
Seed & Spark, meanwhile, is an IndieFilmFunding.com competitor that offers filmmakers a crowdfunding platform, as well as assistance with distribution and audience engagement.
Emily Best, the company’s founder and CEO, said they selectively choose which projects they work with. “We can put time and energy into every campaign, and we know we’re working with campaigners who are really ready to reach out to their community,” Best, a columnist for Backstage, said in an email.
Panos, CEO of IndieFilmFunding.com, said the idea for the site sprang from seeing the number of submissions that Sundance Film Festival receives each year. The festival said it receives about 3,700 submissions annually and selects only about 120 features to be screened. Panos said he wondered how many other projects were out there waiting to get financed.
“There was obviously a need in the marketplace to help this segment,” said Panos, a venture capitalist by trade. “I think we’ve hit something here.”
The site is getting 1,500–2,000 visitors a day and has had 500–600 people sign up as donors and creators, he said.
The site’s fee structure is similar to that of Indiegogo’s. It allows a creator to receive the donations if the funding goal is not met, but takes 10 percent of the total plus PayPal’s fees. If a project makes its funding goal, the site takes 5 percent plus PayPal’s fees. As the site grows so will the number of services it offers. “We’ll start offering services for social media, for the Web page; we’ll start offering services outside of the crowdfunding space to help [filmmakers] with distribution and equity funding,” Panos said.