A Gal’s Guide to Making a Movie is a new weekly written series by Erin Bagwell. To view the whole series click here.
Part Four: The Kickstarter
Kickstarter seemed like a good idea. All I had to do was make a trailer for the film I wanted to create and raise $57K in 30 days through online marketing to make the campaign a success, or all the money would be returned to our backers and my dream would be dead.
The stakes were high, yes- but I think to be a dreamer we have to have a large dose of pure, determined, creative ego. Not Kanye-level ego but artistic “moon-shine” ego. I’m using the word moon-shine because much like the effects of the potent beverage, it doesn’t last.
And being an artist is a perfect blend of living in the oscillating power of ego. We go from “I can do it all! I’m the best in the world” to “No one is going to care about this, I’m a total failure.” Your brain does this automatic see-saw anyway, so it’s best when starting creative endeavors, especially big scary ones, to lean on the moon-shine ego.
After all, in order to make leaps into the unknown we must dream big- we must imagine the net is there to catch us, or we can truly never let go and give ourselves over to the process. But we must trick ourselves into thinking that there will be a door for us to walk through. If it’s not- we can find a window.
So I moved boldly and very naively in the direction of my dreams, and started to assembly our Kickstarter campaign. I came up with a name for the film “Dream, Girl”, found a team of female videographers to help me film the interviews, and figured out which CEOs I wanted to feature in the trailer.
I chose three women for the Kickstarter video: Christen Brandt the co-founder of She’s the First who I met through a friend of a friend, Mariama Camara who I found on Instagram and who I had featured on Feminist Wednesday, and Sal’s friends Jess Eddy and Crista from the ice cream company Phin & Phebes.
I chose the name “Dream, Girl” felt because I wanted the audience to feel like they could reach for something big. It gave the sensation that it was possible to dream of being an entrepreneur before having to take the leap. I also liked using the word girl because girls are the most underrepresented audience in the world. Making a film for them, and us felt right.
I even did my research. I interviewed other filmmakers about their Kickstarter experience and that’s when things started to get real. Each of the women I spoke with talked about how hard and long the process was, how stressful it would be, and how they cried. A lot.
It took me about six months to organize all the details for the campaign. In order to produce the trailer I invested $5k, which was my the last of my freelance savings. To be able to work on the campaign full-time, I pitched my parents to loan me another $2K to cover my living expenses.
I wasn’t just open and ready for this dream, I put everything I had on the line to make it happen.
Which is what made those 30 days of the Kickstarter some of the most heart-wrenching and moon-shine ego crushing days of my life.
In order to make my goal of $57K I had to raise $1.7K each day. That meant I worked on the Kickstarter campaign everyday for the entire month of August. I took calls, meetings, sent out hundreds of emails, went to events, and talked to anyone who would give me ten minutes to talk about my dream of make a documentary film about female entrepreneurs.
I became a woman obsessed and I didn’t see any of my friends all summer. Between planning the campaign and launching it, I was always, always working. Hustling, networking, selling- I turned myself and my story into a full blown sales spectacle. It make matters worse, Kickstarter would alert you on your phone whenever you got a backer. So I would stare longingly at my phone waiting for it to ding and draw my attention to our growing campaign.
But no matter how hard I hustled, how many events I went to, or how many emails I sent I wasn’t raising the money I needed. On August 28th, 2014 we had only raised $38K, which was $20K less than our goal. There were only four days left to raise the money we needed or we would lose everything. I wouldn’t get a penny for my hard work, and my dream was dead in the water.
It’s safe to say I cried. A lot. But I also did something else- I fell in love with all the women I was meeting along the way.
Every phone call I got on to talk about Dream, Girl women would tell me what a great idea it was. They would tell me their stories of overcoming discrimination in their careers to make their dreams come true, and they would tell me how bad we needed media like this to exist in the world.
And one of those women would change the course of my life forever.
Her name was Marie Forleo.
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