The above video is a trailer for the documentary Don’t Follow Me (I’m Lost), which was funded and finished with the help of two Indiegogo campaigns. This feature length documentary follows the talented musician, Bobby Bare Jr., through his life at home and on the road.
Through the team’s hard work, excellent filming, and the crowd’s support, the documentary will be premiering next month at DOC NYC:
Sunday, November 11th @ 9:30 pm (Bobby Bare Jr. will be in attendance!)
Thursday, November 15th @ 9:00 pm // Buy tickets here !
I got a chance to speak with the filmmakers, William Miller (director) and Lee Baker (producer), about their project, their experience crowdfunding, and what’s next for them:
Andrew: How did you find out about Bobby Bare Jr. and why did you decide to make this documentary?
William: Ever since I had D. A. Pennebaker as a professor at NYU, I knew I wanted to make a rock film in the same vein as Don’t Look Back, I just needed the right subject. I had never heard of Bobby Bare Jr. until two friends of mine came to NYC and took me to see him play at City Winery. It was just him solo acoustic and he totally destroyed the place. I was completely captivated by the raw emotion – and I was shocked I had never heard of him before. For that matter, I was shocked the whole world did not know him. After the show I went up to him and asked if he was interested in ever making a film, he said sure and to email him. I am not really sure if he thought I was serious or not, but it just shows Bobby’s accessibility and openness. After that we kept in touch and I got two of his songs in another film I was working on. Then Bobby left his label, was about to release a new album independently and he was about to embark on a nationwide tour. I knew this was the time to start making this film. I called him and said – let’s do this and when Bobby hit the road, so did we.
Andrew: Why did you decide to use crowdfunding?
William: I met Bobby in Apri,l and he was going on tour in June, there was not a whole lot of time to plan and fundraise. The tour was happening whether we were ready or not, so we launched our first campaign to help raise funds to get our very small crew on the road and for some of the various equipment and travel expenses.
Andrew: Why did you choose Indiegogo?
William and Lee: We chose Indiegogo because we knew that we had very little time to raise funds for the initial production and we needed every dollar we raised even if we did not meet our goal. Indiegogo had the flexible campaign. We did two campaigns on indiegogo. The first for initial production and the second for finishing funds. We decided to go with Indiegogo for both campaigns because of there amazing support and willingness to really be there for us, the filmmakers and help get the word out.
Andrew: Can you tell me a little about your crowdfunding experience?
William and Lee: We have a built in audience with Bobby’s fan-base, but we also knew this film would find an audience with anyone that loves music & is interested in what it takes to make it on the road / on tour. We had exclusive and unlimited access to Bobby and his life so the viewer will come away knowing considerably more about the reality of a life in music. Our first campaign was not as successful as the second. With the initial campaign, we launched it in conjunction to getting ready to get on the road to shoot. We had limited time to maintain the campaign and no experience with crowdfunding, but needed to launch – if nothing else to help with gas money. We also had very little video content ready, but we did come up with some unique and cool perks and then basically – we went live! We were successful in raising some funds to help get on the road, we did not reach our goal — but more importantly for this campaign, we started to build up and tap into an audience for the film. This campaign helped to make people aware of the film and get people interested in it. We also learned a lot about what it takes, how much time and work goes into crowdfunding. When it came time to finish the film, we decided that we would do another crowdfunding campaign using Indiegogo. We knew we would need to do it differently. In general, raising money for documentaries is extremely difficult but Indiegogo is a great fundraising tool. We spent a lot of time researching successful campaigns, successful tactics, reading articles and posts on the Indiegogo blogs and asking questions. We also came up with a schedule and devised a detailed weekly plan for the campaign. We had a plan for leaking new content and information, posting updates and announcements and for communicating with funders and other people interested in the film. We saw a spike in contributions! All of this hard work began to prove successful which was an amazing feeling!
Andrew: What is a non-monetary benefit of your campaign?
William and Lee: One non-monetary benefit occurred during our second campaing — we were chosen as IndieWire’s Project of the Day – that was an amazing benefit!! We also got a lot of exposure for the film – great all around!
Andrew: What is your best piece of advice to other filmmakers looking to crowdfund?
William and Lee: We had a small, dedicated crew on the road shooting the film, but besides that this film has basically been made by a team of two. It was us, this team of two who created and maintained our Indiegogo campaign… I really want to stress – this is a lot of work and takes a lot of planning. To be successful, everything with your Indiegogo campaign must be strategically approached and strategically planned and realized. We were the most successful when we posted new content, mainly new video teasers. Throughout the production stage of the film, we were able to start to create an audience and with Bobby’s pre-existing fan base, there were people looking for and looking forward to seeing new footage. We were also successful when we made direct contact with our funders, our fans (those on our mailing list, people that ‘like us’ on Facebook, follow us on Twitter ETC.) and asked them to help us spread the word. We wrote / sent blurbs – along with the embedded Indiegogo link (to help get our gogofactor up) and asked people to post on their Facebook pages, Tweet, tell friends ETC. We began to see a jump in the number of campaign views, visits and in contributions. It became very apparent that if we just asked, most people were more than willing to help in some way. If someone is interested in your project, they will most likely want to you’re your campaign in any way they can. Not everyone can afford to contribute funds but people can help in other ways and they can help to make a difference. Like I said, when people helped us spread the word, we saw an increase in contributions. I suggest doing the as much of the legwork as possible; send pre-written blurbs so basically you are just asking someone else, someone outside of the project to just pass along the messaging.
Andrew: What’s your next project?
William and Lee: I am currently going into post production on a new feature documentary, Time Bomb, which is a modern conversation about the morality of bombing civilians during war time and is anchored in Dresden, Germany 1945. I am also producing a new music documentary about Long Island Hardcore.
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