Grassroots Social Media Campaigns Help Crowdfund Indie Films

Don’t be alarmed if you’re approached on Twitter, Facebook, Myspace or Foursquare to make a donation to a film. Indie filmmakers are bullish on social media, using tenuous relationships with social media friends to fund their films. Some films have raised as much as $25,000 or more (or so they say), while others struggle to raise enough money to feed their film crew for a weekend.
Indiegogo, Biracy and Kickstarter are three social media crowdfunding platforms that facilitate the process of collecting contributions. Scan the stream on Twitter on any given day and you’ll see increasing numbers of filmmakers asking for money. Pleas go hand in hand with a deadline the filmmakers have to raise the money, or forfeit all of it (Kickstarter). The pleas are also backed up by “VIP perks,” which are special privileges or swag given to all contributors.

One such film is “Legend of Black Lotus” — a film, which as June 10, 2010 has only five days remaining to complete its funding campaign on Indiegogo. Unlike Kickstarter, Indiegogo doesn’t have an all-or-nothing policy. But five days is a short period of time to raise an additional $8000 to make the $9500 proposed budget.

In “Legend of Black Lotus,” a short film project, a Black child is born to Chinese parents in Ancient China. It is believed that she will reunite a divided kingdom and free the people from the tyrannical Emperor, who happens to be her father. Despite obvious implications of the prophecy, the girl is demonized because of her dark skin and must overcome the bonds of slavery to fulfill her destiny.

This project is a short film incarnation of a proposed feature film. In its simplest form, the project is a revisionist telling of the legend of Mulan, the Chinese girl who dressed as a man and took her father’s place in the army.

The plight of crowdfunding filmmakers is tied directly to the economy. When life is tough, purses and wallets are shut tight. However, word of mouth is powerful. Most people who cannot donate know at least one person who is financially able to donate. The filmmakers behind “Legend of Black Lotus” have a system. With 2400 Twitter friends, 1400 Myspace friends and 650 Facebook friends, collecting an amount as small as $5 would fully fund the film, and then some. Unfortunately, social media friends aren’t necessarily supportive friends. Indie filmmakers often find themselves standing alone even though from the outside looking in, they appear to be the most popular people on the planet.

On the other hand, calls for support often inspire the best in people. For “Legend of Black Lotus” many supporters have come out of the shadows, supporters who have been following the director’s work for a long time. Generous contributions have been made towards this film’s budget. Now only time will tell if this epic fantasy film will see the light of day.

If you know you want to pledge your support, the secure SSL encrypted link to give is here:

To get the complete story about the filmmaker and a video background on the film the link is here: