The other week TPB AFK was selected to pitch at Hot Docs Forum in Toronto – ‘North America’s essential market for the international documentary community’. It’s great news! (Swedish article). It’s also cool to see that Hot Docs and the traditional documentary world is teaming up with Kickstarter with their own curated page.
Financing an indie docu is pretty far away from financing say, the movies that the companies suing the Pirate Bay are producing. At Hot Docs you get seven frantic minutes to pitch your film to a sea of TV-commissioners, distributors and film institutes. If you do well at the somewhat artificial moment on stage, the meetings after your pitch might lead to funding and/or distribution.
The typical hesitant response I got from TV-commissioners before I did the Kickstarter campaign was ‘Why would viewers in my country want to see a story about Swedish hackers?’ Our crowdfunding campaign put an end to that discussion and taught me that the documentary industry, much like the music industry’s A&R’s, don’t always know what their audiences want.
I also learned that the industry call the people that back or follow my unfinished film a ‘built in audience’.
Funding TPB AFK is pretty close to what’s been happening in the music industry over the last years. Musicians hook up with their audiences through Facebook, Youtube and Spotify (RIP Myspace). The likes and the views are the currencies they use to negotiate their deals with lables and publishers. I use my traffic the same way – to show traditional financers that backing a project with an existing audience means less risk for them.
The crowdfunding part in TPB AFK shouldn’t be seen as a substitute to traditional documentary funding, but as a powerful tool within the multi faceted funding model we’ve ended up with. Plus it’s great fun. The instant feedback from thousands of internet strangers is the strongest motivational force I’ve experienced.
Now I just gotta figure out how to get my tuk-tuk to Toronto.