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In this world of indie film making, even crowdfunding is evolving.

When I did my first crowdfunding campaign five years ago, asking Joe Soap to donate funds to my film was akin to begging, but now crowdfunding is something of an initiation rite for independent filmmakers.

These days, no idea is too great or small to warrant a campaign. Filmmakers put a price on their dreams, and then offer rewards in exchange for donations. In addition to helping many projects see the light of day, this method of raising finance has become an industry in itself.

So when I began planning a campaign for a new project, I found myself on a very different playing field.  Not only are there multiple platforms to choose from; there are also multiple models.  IndieGogo, Sponsume, Kickstarter are all reward-based platforms with an average of £10,000 raised, whereas Crowdcube and StartupValley are equity-based platforms, raising an average of £150,000.  Before you choose a platform, you have to decide what scope your project has (is it a short term project, or a long term business?) and then choose appropriately.

Rewards-based platforms are the usual choice for the indie filmmaker, with Kickstarter being the undisputed champion. It hosts thousands of new projects every day, has a 40% success rate and many people told me: “That’s where the audience is”.

But as I dutifully filled out my project information, I began to wonder; was my project a short term project?

It already has a dedicated audience, and it has long-term potential. Was I limiting myself by placing it on a rewards-based platform, building up more of an audience, and then having to change platforms down the line?

As it always seems to happen in my life, at this point, I serendipitously received an invite to the launch of a new crowdfunding platform; Phundee. IMG_7709

In spite of all the noise of other crowdfunding platforms, Phundee immediately stood out to me. Instead of viewing crowdfunding as a means to an end; or a process of short term gratification, it presents crowdfunding as a long term business strategy.

Firstly, it offers reward-based or equity-based funding within the one platform. The idea is that if you begin a small project, and it evolves to a larger business, you don’t need to change platforms (and hence lose your crowdfunding audience) to facilitate that transition. You keep your support network, and they also get to see you evolve into something larger.

At the launch party, CEO and founder Aston Spooner summed it up like this:

Phundee enables artists to raise funds for their projects, then once established with a loyal following, raise much larger investment for a business. We do this because we want to facilitate the careers of people within the entertainment and arts industry, empowering the independent community.

Secondly, it offers something called an “Ambassador Programme”.

One of the major criticisms coming out of other crowdfunding platforms, is that there is no quality control for the projects. Funders are promised a lot, but are left disappointed when the things they fund are of substandard quality, or worse: never completed.IMG_7528

Phundee sought to address this issue by offering mentorship (the “Ambassador Programme”) in tandem with the crowdfunding platform.

“Ambassadors” are people with relevant industry experience, either influential or well established within their particular industry sector. They are sourced in by the Phundee to help mentor crowdfunders and connect those with successful campaigns to industry insiders.

The reason for this is although people may have successful crowdfunding campaigns, once they have the finance they may not know how to properly execute the project and bring it to market. This task usually takes industry know how, and a strong developed team in order
to produce the best quality project.

Ambassadors build profiles and tell you what kind of industry connections they have and can use in order to enhance your projectors chances of success.

Thirdly, Phundee have a “GIVE BACK” ethos and culture. The Ambassador Programme is part of this, and they also plan to facilitate workshops, programmes and talks in Universities.

I’m a fan of “big picture”, giving back thinking. Plus I am never really one to conform. So, against the odds, I’ve decided to put my project on Phundee: a start-up platform with great ethos and potential, but a currently tiny audience-base.

Will we be successful? I’ll let you know in next month’s issue.

Phundee launches on the 15th of August, and my campaign will kick off on it shortly thereafter.  Look for After I Saw You on http://phundee.com.

after i saw you poster

Yolanda Barker

Yolanda is the director of the award-winning documentary "Cereal Killers", and the critically acclaimed "Where the Darkness has to Run". She has just completed her first short film, "After I Saw You"; a collaboration with Dharma Comics. It will premiere at the Landshut Short Film Festival in Germany.

Posted on Aug 6, 2014

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