Filmmaker David Barker offers tips – 51 to be precise – to producers on how to tap into the public’s purse.
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14 Jan 2013 - 12:31 PM  UPDATED 14 Jan 2013 - 1:33 PM

The crowdfunding campaign for Australian thriller The Second Coming raised nearly $77,000, among the most successful results in an increasingly popular technique of seeking donations for feature films, shorts, documentaries, books and other enterprises.

So that film's writer-director David Barker is a voice worth listening to when he lists 51 lessons he and producer Angie Fielder learned from raising money on Pozible.

Barker is making his feature debut on the film, which starts shooting later this year, based on a novel by Andrew Masterson. Sam Reid will play Joe Panther, a rebellious prophet who becomes the prime suspect in a murder investigation, with Sarah Snook (Not Suitable for Children) as a lesbian friend of Joe's.

Among the Australian projects that tapped crowdfunding sites recently are the feature film Super Awesome! and documentaries Gayby Baby and Chalky. Tango Underpants, a short film starring Emma Booth and written by John Collee, generated $106,539 via Pozible, boosted by a 3-1 grant from Screen West which allocated a total of $250,000 to assist crowdfunding projects.

Wolf Creek writer/director Greg McLean raked in $37,643, beating the $35,000 target, via Pozible for graphic novel Sebastian Hawks-Creature Hunter, which he created, written by Tristan Jones and illustrated by Chris DiBari.

Currently in the market, also via Pozible, is The Trouble with e, a road movie/love story/thriller about a sexy DJ (Zara Michales) who is forced to flee after she stumbles on a bag of cash.

In his how-to list, Barker advocates using every possible means to publicise projects, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, email, the press, YouTube, Vimeo, blogs, text messages and word of mouth.

Announcing the film's two leads during the campaign helped create a buzz both online and with PR. (Reid is a fast rising star, having completed Jonathan Teplitzky's The Railway Man opposite Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman, Stellan Skarsgård and Jeremy Irvine, and Susanne Bier's Serena, in which he co-stars with Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. His latest film is Amma Assante's Belle with Tom Wilkinson, Miranda Richardson, Matthew Goode and Emily Watson.)

The most popular pledge, Barker discovered, was $100. Among other tips: Be confident, but not arrogant. Always thank people for pledging and putting up with a barrage of online banter about the campaign. Always be polite. Use the word please. Take the piss out of each other. Respond to positive feedback every time but ignore negative feedback.

Despite the successful raising, Barker seems ambivalent about the process. “We were very fortunate to get a great response,” he tells SBS Film. “One of the bizarre things for us was that after the campaign we all felt that our social media lives didn't have as much meaning or purpose. Very strange. It was like post-CF-depression, or something. Though that sounds a whole lot more serious than what it actually was.

“It will be interesting to see where we are at in 12 months with crowdfunding. While it's great for film projects, I actually believe it's better suited for new products and start-ups. That seems to be what's happening in the US.”

The Trouble with e writer/director Louise Wadley and producer Jay Rutovitz have raised nearly $20,000 and are aiming for $88,000 through the ubiquitous Pozible. “We have already raised $220,000 from private investors but need this last amount to go ahead,” they say. “We need your help to get [the film] onto the screen and get more lesbian and gay films out there. We need many more of our stories told.”

Matt Zeremes and Guy Edmonds raised $14,050, well short of their $50,000 goal, via Indiegogo, for their gay marriage comedy Super Awesome! But Zeremes says it was a worthwhile exercise and they secured sponsorship from other sources, including a camera rental hire firm, during the campaign.

Via Pozible, the public stumped up nearly $105,000 for Gayby Baby, producer Charlotte McLellan and director Maya Newell's doco which looks at children raised by gay and lesbian parents. “The film will take you behind closed doors into the private lives of three gaybies to look at what it's really like to grow up with same-sex parents,” they say.

Gracie Otto raised more than $48,000 through Indiegogo for Chalky, her doco about English film and theatre impresario Michael White. That paid for archival footage, music and post-production.

Inspired by a short story by Carolyn Swindell, Tango Underpants will be co-directed by sister-and-brother duo Miranda Edmonds and Khrob Edmonds, produced by Cottesloe Films and executive produced by Tania Chambers and Impian Films' Stephen Van Mil. Booth will play an Australian backpacker who loses her mojo after a bad breakup and heads for Buenos Aires where she discovers Tango dancing and the importance of wearing the right underwear.