These days, crowdfunding is big business for independent films.
Previously many independent filmmakers relied heavily on money from big studios and investors but with the fundraising success of films like Spike Lee’s Da Sweet Blood of Jesus, which raised nearly $1.5 million, and web series like Awkward Black Girl, which raised $56,000 after the sixth episode, more and more filmmakers are turning towards the general public to fund their projects.
“There were two main benefits (to crowdfunding),” said Madison Shockley, star of Awkward Black Girl and designer of the online campaign. “One was we raised the money without having to give up any equity in the project. And then the other benefit was the story of our success.”
According to Shockley, the success of the campaign generated quite a bit of media exposure, which ended up being a major win for him and his team.
“It was a great talking point that drove word of mouth about the show,” Shockley said.
Academy Award-winning sound mixer (Dreamgirls, Bird) Willie Burton hopes to make his directorial debut using the same method.
The film, Cheekie: A Child Out of the Desire, based on Clarence Nero’s novel of the same name, chronicles the life of a young boy growing up and overcoming various pitfalls and abuse in a New Orleans housing project.
“We’ve got a great story and a great script,” Burton said.
Burton and his team launched an Indiegogo campaign and partnered with the non-profit Enough Abuse Campaign to raise money for the film and increase awareness on the subject of child abuse.
10% of all proceeds will go towards a donation to the film’s nonprofit partners.
Currently the film is in preproduction, but Burton is hoping that the money will be enough to help him and his team get started on the project.
A film veteran for many years, Burton notes that there’s a certain amount of freedom that comes from raising money on a grassroots level.
“Sometimes if you wait for financial people to say yes for your project, you wait forever,” he said.
The campaign, which started over two months ago, is slowly coming to an end and Burton seems pleased with the results, noting that the campaign has helped raise awareness and interest in the film.
“It opened more doors for us,” he said. “The word spread.”
To donate visit the Indiegogo page.