Discovering the World of Crowdfunding with Professor Jenn Lindsay

On March 29, the JCU Institute for Entrepreneurship welcomed Communications Professor Jenn Lindsay for a talk on crowdfunding in the film industry. Lindsay is a co-founder of So Fare Films, a production company and film training program that involves many current JCU students and recent graduates.

Professor Jenn Lindsay

Professor Jenn Lindsay

Professor Lindsay began the session with a short introduction to the world of movie production, specifying that there is a significant difference between studio films and indie films. Studio films are any products that follow a standardized production model where the full movie is made and released with “in-house staff,” distributed in theaters or streaming platforms, and that usually requires financing from investors. The budget for studio films is much higher than indie films, which are mainly characterized by a less formal production process and a small crew. For these reasons, independent projects usually do not find direct investors. However, to cover all the costs of pre-production, production, and post-production, resources are fundamental. For this reason, independent projects often take advantage of crowdfunding campaigns. The topic of crowdfunding is sometimes met with skepticism, but people are often surprised to discover that many others are willing to support their idea.

According to Professor Lindsay, there are different types of crowdfunding. In reward-based crowdfunding, individuals receive rewards when they contribute with money, whereas donation-based crowdfunding thrives on donations of individuals who can support the cause, even with a small amount of money and without receiving anything in return. Professor Lindsay then explained the experience of So Fare Films with their last crowdfunding campaign launched to “complete and release a new documentary feature film, Simulating Religious Violence, about using artificial intelligence to study religious terrorism.” So Fare Films’ staff decided to rely on a crowdfunding consultant to schedule regular meetings with the team members in order to find the most suitable strategy. There are also crowdfunding platforms that are particularly useful for films, such as Kickstarter and Seed&Spark. On Kickstarter, you receive nothing out of the entire campaign if the objective is not met, but on Seed&Spark, you can receive what you collected if you reach at least 80% of your goal.

Professor Lindsay concluded by illustrating the Simulating Religious Violence project and the 5-week program of their crowdfunding campaign. Finally, she suggested always involving the audience as much as possible in order to tell a meaningful story behind the project.

(Flavia Del Prete)