Previously published on Backstage.
A respected filmmaker once told me actors who are just getting started should be careful what they do, because how they behave will set a habit for the rest of their career. It’s always stuck with me and made me strive to stay grounded and real in the midst of the chaos and glamour of working in film.
One area actors can set a great habit is to become part of the crew by helping to crowdfund a project. The films you’re a part of when you’re just starting out will probably be ‘passion projects’, where you’re ‘donating your creative equity’. In other words, you’re doing the job for free.
But don’t shirk these opportunities because you never know what will come from being a part of them. A friend of mine started acting in independent films and one was pitched to a large distribution company and turned into a sequel of a popular franchise. It helped launch his career.
So, what is crowdfunding? It’s when an independent film or show raises all the funds from friends/family and fans. Alan Tudyk did this with his show ‘Con Man’. A lot of the funds were raised by fans of the cult classic tv show, ‘Firefly’.
I’ve been a part of several indie films where all the funds came through crowdsourcing. One of these was ‘The Umbrella’, which has just been released on iTunes in Australia/New Zealand and can be found on Flix Premiere in the UK and US.
It was a unique project to be a part of, both as a crew member and as an actress. What encouraged me the most was to see how the cast of the film got behind the project too. We ran at least three campaigns to raise funds for the film and each time the cast was heavily involved in sharing the link and helping spread the word.
If you find yourself being a part of an indie feature, even if it’s as an extra, I highly recommend you keep tabs on any crowdfunding the film does. You may not see any of the $$ from it, but it will still benefit your career in these 2 ways:
It can aid to your Social Platform and increase the film’s market
I know sometimes it can be hard to find content for your Acting Facebook Page, Instagram or your professional Twitter account, etc. Being able to spread the word to your growing fan base about projects you’re a part of is hugely helpful to gain followers.
What I love about indie film, is they tend to be less secretive about the project. They want people to know about the story. Often there’s only a few things they don’t want shown on social media, as for the rest, the ‘sky’s the limit’- Giving you unlimited amounts of content for your platform.
So if you’re sharing the crowdfunding platform for a film, it helps you and the film.
It also helps increase the amount of people who hear about the project, which in turn gives more credibility to the film and your involvement in it. It’s a win, win.
The filmmakers are more likely to work with you again
As an independent filmmaker, I notice the actors and extras who share our funding campaigns. It endears me to them and makes me want to work with them again. I’m convinced the reason for this is because it shows me they’re a team player and in independent film, teamwork makes the dream work.
It also makes those actors become part of the quirky family for the specific project. In my experience, there have been several actors who we’ve cast again and again, because they really became part of our film family by taking ownership of the film and spreading the word.
It may be off-putting to ask people for money, but I hope you see where it can benefit your career too.
Ultimately, your help will be a great boost to the filmmakers as well and I think it’ll help you as an actor to start a habit of partnership between actor and filmmaker. It helps to create a community of dreamers who are living the dream together.