Is Kickstarter Worth It?

A little over a year ago I ran a Kickstarter campaign for my hacker movie, now rebranded as ALGORITHM. That movie is almost done with post production and will be released soon.

But, that’s not what this post is about. This post is about the usefulness of Kickstarter for people who aren’t famous. At all. People who have no famous people attached to their project, who don’t have upfront capital to fund R&D or hire a crew to shoot a really good proof-of-concept video or build a mockup.

There have been some amazing successes with Crowdfunding. Easily, by far, the biggest success is Oculus. They ran a campaign to raise $250k and just sold their company to Facebook for $2 billion. That’s probably going to be the biggest success for a long time.

It’s the kind of number all us entrepreneurs hope for. And it happens way less often than people winning the lottery.

We could talk about Zach Braff and how he used/abused the system. Or we could talk about Veronica Mars and how the studios used/abused the system. Both those campaigns got numbers that are still the envy of indie-filmmakers. 

But, they’re not indie-filmmakers. Not like I am… not people who aren’t famous, who don’t have access to famous people.

For people like us (I’m assuming you’re like me) sites like Kickstarter promise torrents of free money. The fact is, I’ve got marketable skills. I’m a competent writer. I can also direct/shoot/edit. I’ve used this skill making commercials. I can even do some consulting on the side. 

Here’s what I’ve learned: based on the amount of time/effort/energy it takes to create and run a good crowdfunding campaign, my time and money would have been better spent taking jobs I turned down and using that money to fund my movie.

In more plain language, for truly independent, non-established people, crowdfunding isn’t worth it. At least not for the money.

If you’re using it to generate publicity, that’s another discussion entirely, for, perhaps another post.