Like many people, until very recently I was completely unaware of what crowdfunding means (other than being able to speculate based on its pretty self-explanatory name). And becoming aware of what it is did not necessarily make me an active “crowdfunder” – that is, until I got my own dream-in-the-form-of-a-project up on a crowfunding platform.
It was about a month ago that Yann-Yves (a very talented aspiring filmmaker) suggested that we did a documentary about one of his favorite spirits, cachaça. Coming from Brazil, I have always been fully aware of the bad connotation that the alcohol holds in its own country, and hence, I suppose, I subconsciously wasn’t its greatest admirer. But that in itself was a reason to go on with the project: why is it exactly that cachaça is so silently, or sometimes openly, despised by the Brazilian middle-to-upper classes? The more we talked about the subject, the more we realized we had stumbled upon a fascinating gem, full of potential, and definitely feature-documentary material.
Then came the big question: how to fund it? One of YY’s friends suggested crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter (the best-known crowdfunding platform), and I was at first skeptical. Why would people just give us money for us to pursue our independent filmmaking dream? But I was quickly convinced that, since we don’t have the money ourselves, hosting our project through a platform is much more legit than expecting people to simply hand us their hard-earned money. I wouldn’t blindly hand people my money.
Since Kickstarter only hosts projects of US residents, we figured our best alternative was to put the project up on Zarpante, a lusophone (i.e. Portuguese speaking) crowdfunding platform, whose founder I’d gotten to know through Brasilité. AWESOME. “Ceci n’est pas de l’eau” was becoming tangible: in two weeks the idea had been developed, a budget had been established, interviews had been shot, the promo video was up. We figured by this point contributions should be starting to pour in, as we only have until the end of June to get the funding.
What we failed to notice, though, is that not only is crowdfunding still an alien idea to many, but we live in the era of the “likes”. When there’s people sharing and “liking” stuff on Facebook all the time, truly believing that liking one’s status will get that doctor to treat the cancer patient in Who-Knows-Where, how could we possibly believe we’d escape the “like” trap?
Our videos have been up for less than a week, and we got many fabulous friends sharing and liking them. Same is for our Facebook page (like it here) and a bit less for our Twitter account (but you should, pretty please, follow us here). By all means, I am extremely grateful to the people who actually took their time to like our posts, share them, blog about it themselves, and who well, all in all, took interest in our baby project. But contributions aren’t pouring half as much as we’d need them too be. Actually, we’re going through what I guess could be called a “drought”.
What I’m trying to say is that we don’t have the time, or the right really, to reeducate people’s conceptions about crowdfunding. All we can do is explain our project as best as we can, open-heartedly, then cross our fingers and hope to get emails from Zarpante saying “your project has just gotten a contribution”. It is, no joke, the best moment of my day.
Because this is, after all, a dream. I want to be an independent filmmaker, from an administrative standpoint. I want to produce beautiful documentaries and, at the end of the day, know that I’ve helped to introduce people to topics on which they knew little to nothing before. So please don’t take it lightly when I tell you that you could, literally, make my dream come true.
Thank you, once again, to all who have been helping us in spreading the word about the project. But the truth is that “liking” it won’t get us anywhere. Liking, and contributing, will. I am here to listen to your questions and criticisms, so don’t hesitate to do so. You can learn more about the project, and contribute, here. If Portuguese poses a problem to you, contact me. I’m all ears. Thank you.