It’s CROWDFUNDING WEEK at Film Sprites PR!

Crowdfunding for Filmmakers

The film funding landscape has changed over the past 10 years. With the advent of crowdfunding, the ability to secure funds for films and webseries has been put into the hands of filmmakers across the globe. It’s a very exciting time to be involved in film, because crowdfunding gives you the ability to manage your funding on your terms. It also has the added benefit of growing and maintaining an audience for your film or webseries.

So…what’s my background with crowdfunding, you may ask? I started my career in film publicity and social media marketing through assisting with crowdfunding campaigns. Initially, this was just by amplifying the signal via social media. When Film Sprites PR was established, this extended to securing publicity for filmmakers and their crowdfunding campaigns and actively assisting with the creation of campaign strategy. I’ve assisted with the successful campaigns for Magpie, Arcadia Bay, Vampire Mob Graphic Novel Issue 1 and RAIN: A Fan Film About Storm as well as the Kickstarter for the award-winning short film Hello World. Most recently, a film I assisted with post-production crowdfunding, Us Among the Stones debuted at the 2019 BFI London Film Festival.

In addition, I also worked at Boosted, the crowdfunding platform of the Arts Foundation of New Zealand as Projects and Operations Assistant, specializing in film crowdfunding. Including 5 years under the Sprites mantle, I’ve had around 7 years of crowdfunding experience across various platforms, including Kickstarter, Social Screen and IndieGoGo. I’ve seen the good and bad of crowdfunding, the pitfalls, the triumphs, the things that people don’t necessarily think about when they set out to crowdfund their film or webseries. Crowdfunding can be exciting…but in order for a campaign to be successful it also requires a lot of planning.

This week on the blog and on our social media we’ll be looking at various aspects of crowdfunding; from planning to some of the unusual things that may crop up in your campaign. If you’re not following Sprites on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, make sure you follow so you don’t miss a second. PLUS- there’s going to be some great FREEBIES headed your way too!

 

A Creative’s Guide to Ditching FOMO and Comparison on Social Media

Ditching FOMO on Social(2)

Our world has changed significantly since the advent of social media. In fact, I once said on a podcast that Film Sprites PR wouldn’t have been possible without things like social media and the ability to work with anyone in the world from my home office. It connects us to like minded individuals, broadens our perspectives, and allows us to grow an audience for our work as creatives, whatever those creative endeavours might be.

But on World Mental Health Day for 2019 I wanted to talk about the downsides of social…because they most certainly DO exist. As you scroll through your Instagram feed featuring your colleagues and friends, it can be very easy to experience FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), comparing yourself to what you see on your screen. It can be so easy to have a Pavlovian response to an alert on your phone and get gratification from likes, re-tweets, or comments, and feel your heart sink when there’s no responses or feedback. In my working life, it’s common for me to look at social media analytics and apply rationality to the statistics I’m seeing, but when it comes to my personal social media? I’ve been terrible with regards to FOMO and comparison. I’m going to not only share with you my personal experience, I’m going to give you the steps I used to help shake the FOMO and ditch comparison. It’s definitely an on-going project- you have to repeat the steps daily to stop yourself from slipping back into comparison mode, but it’s worth it.

lonely man on log

Sharing My Story

Earlier this year I had the great privilege of being the Wellington Communications Assistant for this year’s New Zealand International Film Festival. I had a wonderful time, working with some incredible people and being immersed in the world of fantastic cinema. But once the Festival had wrapped up and I had gone back home (I had moved to Wellington temporarily to take up the position), I came home…and hit a low. A very hard low.  In the midst of this low, I found myself scrolling through my social media feeds with FOMO growing steadily. Why wasn’t I at a certain point in my career? Why do I feel SO sucky, despite what I’ve managed to achieve this year? It started to get ridiculous, and I started to feel even worse. I also felt unsupported in my endeavours, like no-one was acknowledging the work I had put in over all of these years and that it meant nothing.

I knew I had to do some radical things to change the situation. I had to do things to address the FOMO and comparison. Below are the methods I’ve used to combat FOMO and comparison when using social media.

instagram on phone

Take a break: it can be difficult to step away from social media temporarily (especially if you have to use it for work purposes), but a break can do you wonders. I recently took a social media sabbatical after coming back from Wellington and I was amazed at how much it helped my perspective on things. As I use my phone to listen to podcasts (and I’m obsessed with podcasts), in order to make my sabbatical completely effective I deleted all of my social media apps off my phone temporarily. My phone was for texting, listening to music on Spotify, or listening to podcasts.

According to a study by the University of Pennsylvania, published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology (and cited in this article), participants of a study who limited their social media use to 30 minutes a day for three weeks reported reduced depression, loneliness and less FOMO (I love that FOMO is being studied academically!). As the author of the study, Melissa G. Hunt said, “When you look at other people’s lives, particularly on Instagram, it’s easy to conclude that everyone else’s life is cooler or better than yours.”

Can’t take a complete temporary break from social? Stick to a reduced time for social media use for a week.

Everyone’s journey is different: it can be so difficult not to compare your career progress or goals when you see glowing photos on Instagram. But the bottom line is this: everyone’s journey is different. For instance, if you’re a filmmaker and seeing your fellow filmmaking colleagues and acquaintances winning awards or attending events you’d chew your arm off to be at, don’t forget that they may be at a different career point to you. You might be at year five of your journey, and they’re at year ten. Their goals might also be wildly different from yours, so your path will take you to other destinations that you can’t even imagine right now.

For instance, my journey has been an exceptionally unconventional one. Having an entrepreneurial brain meant I didn’t want to wait for an opportunity to come along, so I created the opportunity myself (and hence Film Sprites PR was born). But it’s been a difficult road at times. Anyone who is a freelancer knows how tough things can be, so it was never going to be a fully conventional road. Add in the fact that I was doing film publicity and social media marketing instead of doing publicity and social media marketing for other things, the nature of the market, etc…yeah…it was never going to be smooth sailing. And you know what? That’s okay. I love what I do. I’m passionate about the services I provide. I’ve come a long way and although I haven’t achieved all of my goals yet, I’m aware that it takes time (and I took a weird road instead of the conventional road!).

friends with fairy lights

Catch up with people that don’t live on your screen: social media makes it so easy for us to quickly send a message to friends or family instead of meeting face to face, but sometimes catching up with the people you love offline can be exactly what you need. Schedule a coffee date with a friend, pop over to your mum’s place or schedule a short road trip with your besties. If you think you could do with a hug…ask for one! There’s some serious health benefits to hugging. I can testify to that: I have a friend who is quite possibly the reigning champion of hugs, and even though I used to be resistant to hugging I know how beneficial they can be.

People are icebergs- we only see a fraction of their lives: it’s really important to bear in mind that social media is very much a curated version of our realities; a version that tends to lean towards the positives and not the negatives. We’re basically seeing (and sharing) a ‘highlight reel’. You have no idea what’s been left on the cutting room floor at any given time.

Mindfulness helps: we spend so much of our day automatically responding to stimuli, and that includes our thoughts. Mindfulness and meditation can be a huge help when it comes to those thoughts of FOMO and comparison. There’s lots of resources out there to help, including mindfulness and meditation apps. I fell out of my regular meditation practice when I was working in Wellington (I used to meditate twice a day), but I’ve picked it up again and it really has helped. You may also find Byron Katie’s The Work really beneficial, as it forces you to examine your thoughts.

Write out a ‘have done list’: sometimes we spend so much time looking at the achievements of others that we forget just how much we have achieved ourselves. It’s common to make ‘to do lists’…but what about a ‘have done list’? You can choose to examine all of the things you’ve achieved this year, or look at what you’ve achieved in your creative career- it’s entirely up to you.

For example, I looked at what I had achieved this year: I had written articles for The Big Idea, appeared on Radio New Zealand as a result of that, assisted with the social media marketing for a film which won two awards at SXSW 2019, ran a Social Media Marketing for Filmmakers workshop, worked as Wellington Communications Assistant for the NZ International Film Festival 2019, and most recently a film that Sprites had assisted with crowdfunding in post-production had its debut at the BFI London Film Festival 2019. It’s been a busier year than I gave myself credit for. Once you jot your achievements down, you’ll see the same is true for you.

Replace social media time with more beneficial habits: if you’re doing a social media sabbatical or limiting your social media usage, it gives you time for other things. Been putting off a new exercise regime? The time is now. Get your taxes done, declutter a room, get a health check, or do some goal stalking.

While social media is so beneficial when it comes to assisting with creative careers like filmmaking, music and theatre, it’s important to maintain a balance.

 

Bewitching Ways to Connect With Your Audience Via Social Media

Bewitching Ways to Connect With Your Audience Via Social Media

Recently on Sprites’ social media we’ve been revisiting the most annoying things you can do when using social media for your film, but with a decidedly fun and spooky twist. After looking at some scary social media habits to avoid (and given that we’re heading towards Halloween), it’s a good time to look at some great ways to connect with your audience via social media. Here’s some ways to bewitch your fans instead of having them running for the hills- no potions or incantations needed!

student making potion

Let your fans in on the process: people absolutely love looking behind the scenes of film productions, so embrace that on social media. Whether you share stills on-set, quirky boomerang videos on your Instagram or Facebook stories, or do quick live videos on location, your fans will appreciate it. Plus, it serves as a poignant record of the process, which is something you can always revisit on social media at a later date for a Throwback Thursday (#TBT) post.

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Start a conversation: there’s so many ways to engage with your social media audience, and starting a genuine conversation about a topic is one of them. It can be as simple as discussing a director and asking your fans to chime in on their favourite film from that director, having a poll via your Instagram or Facebook story, or, if you have a webseries, getting people to guess what they think might happen in the next episode.

tarot cards

Go live: this ties in with letting your fans in on the filmmaking process. Think about live streaming a Q&A session, getting someone on your team to live stream your red carpet premiere (and interview some of your cast and crew), or provide quick production updates.

sparkles

Share fan content, rave reviews and great posts: how many times do you hear from people “oh my gosh, [famous person] re-tweeted me/shared my post”? Make sure you share fan art that’s been shared with you, glowing reviews and great feedback. Even just sharing a heartfelt YouTube comment from a fan can not only make their day, but shows your audience that you genuinely care about their love of your work.

hands with pink glitter

Let your creativity lead the way: social media isn’t just about posting content. It’s about creating a story and starting a dialogue. And doing that doesn’t have to be dry and boring. In fact, the sky’s the limit when it comes to the ways you can engage with your fans via social media. In pre-production but want to give people an idea of the mood and vibe of your film? Think about creating a mood board on Pinterest, or sharing a collaged mood board via Facebook and Instagram. Listen to certain music while you’re working? Share a Spotify playlist of those songs. People genuinely appreciate creative touches that help with the anticipation of your film or webseries.

So don’t just use social media…make magic happen with it!

Want someone to help you with your social media magic? Check out our services HERE.

 

Contacting People About Your Film Via E-Mail? Avoid These Mistakes!

Email Mistakes

When it comes to connecting your audience to your film or webseries, social media is fantastic. But combine that with pitching to media and doing outreach to interest groups and influencers via e-mail, and you’ve got a winning combination. There are, however, some things to avoid when pitching; common mistakes I see happening every day, especially when they land in my inbox!

Have I made these mistakes before? Oh yes, absolutely. When I first started out I made many of these mistakes. I’ve always vowed to be honest on the blog!

Here are some mistakes to avoid so your e-mail isn’t instantly relegated to the trash folder, as well as some handy tips to get the most out of your e-mail exchanges:

Not Doing Your Research

email

I cannot tell you how many times my inbox is full of people who haven’t done their research about Sprites, and what we do. Their emails contain references to the possibility of me writing a review and ‘sharing with [my] readers’. I’ve seen frustrated journalists on Twitter talking about people who e-mail them with an inappropriate request, like asking them to write about a beauty product when they’re a tech journalist, and so on. I cannot stress how important it is to do your research before contacting someone.

Whether it’s pitching your film for a potential story in a newspaper or contacting a reviewer, check out whether your film is a good ‘fit’ for that particular avenue. For instance, if you’re looking to receive coverage in a regional newspaper, what connections does your film have to that area? What’s ‘newsworthy’ for that particular newspaper that would encourage them to do a feature or interview?

Research also avoids embarrassing faux pas, like contacting someone who is a vegan and animal rights advocate when your film has hunting in it, or reaching out to an organisation without vetting them first and then finding out that they have ideals that don’t align with the message of your film. The advantage of doing thorough research instead of just firing out e-mails haphazardly is that you get to know who is interested in covering what, and who you may potentially be able to contact again for a future project if it aligns with their interests and the interests of their audiences.

Copy and Pasting Messages

checking emails

I can always tell when someone has copied and pasted their information, because it will contain things that raise red flags. Sometimes, they’ll mention that they love something I’ve done…but I haven’t done it. Or it’s so generic that there’s not even a greeting at the start!

Personalising your emails takes time- and that doesn’t mean just changing the name of the person you’re sending it to, and the name of their blog/publication/website, etcetera- but it’s worth doing. Make sure you tailor your e-mails to each person, including the tone of your message. If you’re corresponding with a hip influencer, you can afford to be a bit more informal. If you’re reaching out to a journalist, your tone might be a bit more formal. The personal touch really means a lot, but also people can definitely tell if you’re sending out generic copy and paste e-mails. That often says to people that you actually don’t care about their specific publication or organisation, you’re just flinging e-mails out there and hoping something sticks. And speaking of copy and paste, this next no-no is the one that is the most infuriating of all…

Sending Unsolicited Links Without Explanation

email sign

I’ve previously written about the one thing we have to stop doing on social media, and it ties in with this. There are countless times I have opened an email to see a copy and pasted synopsis of a film, with a link. No salutation, not even an ‘ask’ to share or for any other assistance. This habit ties in with the two above to make for an infuriating e-mail experience! People can’t tell from this interaction what you’re looking for. Are you wanting them to share the information via social media? If so, that’s not the right way to go about it. Again, it’s better to personalise your e-mail, and ask for what you want to happen with regards to that link. It doesn’t guarantee that person will comply, but it makes for a much nicer experience (and your e-mail won’t end up in the trash folder).

E-mail is a tool that has been a part of our existence for so long now that I think people have forgotten the art of conversation. E-mail is a conversation, so make sure it’s a good one. And I’m going to play Devil’s advocate here: you might be thinking; “I don’t have time to do that.” It may mean that you spend a bit longer with your e-mail communications, or, if you can’t hire a publicist, allocate the task to someone on your team. The benefits of being mindful about your e-mail communications are numerous, including forging positive ongoing relationships with journalists, having the support of influencers and organisations you can potentially call on again in future, and having your creative endeavours viewed in a tremendously positive light.

Your “Creative Brains Trust”: People Who Are Invaluable in Your Career, and How to Find Them

brains

Remember the story of the Little Red Hen? TL;DR for you: this little lady sets out to make bread and asks the other members of the farmyard if they want to help her with the various tasks, including grinding the wheat for the flour and churning the butter to spread on the finished loaf. Every one of them declines…but when they smell the smell of the freshly baked loaf, they come running. Nobody wants to help make the bread, but they sure want to eat it.

Sometimes I feel like creative endeavors are just like the Little Red Hen story. You hear stories of people who are heralded as ‘overnight successes’, which doesn’t take into account the YEARS and sometimes decades of hard work that they have put in without praise or assistance to get to the point where people applaud their efforts. Sometimes the grind can be exhausting and a little deflating. There’s far too many people who don’t acknowledge the grind when someone is coming up in their career but will be the first to say they knew that person way back when!

That’s why it’s vitally important to surround yourself with people who are the polar opposite of those people. Every creative, entrepreneur and dreamer needs a ‘Brains Trust’: people who support you and your efforts and can assist you in various ways. I’ve found the majority of these people seem to pop up almost magically. Sometimes they will be friends, sometimes employers or ex-employers, sometimes people you least expect. I like to think of them as being like the people who give water to marathon runners; refreshing and replenishing them on their route so they can continue to success.

giphy

Here’s the kinds of people you need in your own “Brains Trust”, regardless of whether you’re a filmmaker, entrepreneur, creative, or all three:

The Sounding Board

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The Sounding Board is the type of person who will stoically listen to you when you need to get something off your chest or test out a theory. The key to having a great person as your Sounding Board is to BE a great Sounding Board yourself. This is not a one-way relationship, nor should it be. It’s give-and-take. These are the people you can be 100% candid with, because a lot of the time you will find your Sounding Boards in your friendship circle.

The Professional Mentor

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A while back, I wrote a post about how to find mentors (and how to be a great mentoree) which outlined how to seek out a mentor, but I particularly wanted to make mention of having a professional mentor as part of your “Brains Trust”.

Footnote: When I set out to write this post, I stumbled across an interesting LinkedIn article about Little Red Hen Syndrome and dysfunctional team members. This post, thankfully, is not going to be about those types of people but it’s definitely worth a read nonetheless. These are people who are usually completely removed from your circle of friends (or who may be acquaintances) who are leaders in your field. While you can actively seek out a mentor yourself, I’ve found that along the way I have been very fortunate to have had mentors appear out of the blue. In my case, my mentors have all been incredible women in the film industry who not only believe in my work and my potential to go further, but who have also, at times, provided opportunities and connections which have been invaluable. Professional mentors are truly magical people, because they see the ability in you even when you (or other people) can’t. Chances are, they’ve had similar experiences. If you are fortunate enough to have a professional mentor or two, don’t forget to become a mentor on your journey and help others along the way.

The Connector

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Connectors are some of my favourite people. They’re the ones who have absolutely no qualms with introducing you to people they think you need to know, or suggesting that you reach out to a certain person. The Connectors in my circle have been the first to send me a link to a project or short-term gig they think I’d be a great fit for. If they don’t know something, you can be sure they know somebody who does, and they’ll very happily introduce you to that person. If they were magicians, they wouldn’t pull a rabbit out of the hat…they’d pull out a unicorn. They can also identify useful resources you should check out: books, podcasts, articles…you name it, they have a magical index of resources!

The Muses

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Every great artist had their muse. Creatives and entrepreneurs often cite people, books, speeches and other resources that have helped spur them to greatness. Tap into your muses and inspirations, both real and fictional. Chances are, you might not meet Michelle Obama, but you can read her autobiography. You can tap into the character strengths of a person you admire to help you summon courage in a moment. I’ve been known to draw on the words and music of Patti Smith and Amanda Palmer, the courage and creativity of Frida Kahlo, the genius and detail of Stanley Kubrick, and the joie de vivre of Rita Hayworth, just to name a few!

You will probably find that some people you know will have multiple attributes. I have a few friends who are Sounding Boards who are also amazing Connectors. If you find that you identify in one of these categories, why not think about helping your fellow creatives in your Brains Trust capacity? Believe me, it really is appreciated and it goes a long way.

I want to make mention of a fantastic article about dysfunctional teams and Little Red Hen Syndrome that I discovered while I was writing this post. It identifies some really toxic team members and behaviours that exist in a teamwork capacity, and is well worth a read to find out who you really DON’T want on your brains trust.

Wellington Film Folks: You Won’t Want to Miss This!

WELLINGTON

Over the years at Film Sprites PR I’ve had many people wanting to ‘pick my brains’ when it comes to social media for filmmaking. If you’re in Wellington, New Zealand on May 25th, here is your chance to do so!

Thanks to the Emerging Women Filmmakers Network, I’m bringing you Social Media Success: How to Make the Most of Social Media for your Film or Webseries. In this 1 hour presentation, I’ll be filling you in on the current research into where audiences in Aotearoa are finding out about films, as well as a solid formula for social media success that will connect you to your audience and bring new fans to your work. There will also be a Q&A where you can ask all your burning social media marketing questions!

In addition, there will be drinks and nibbles and an opportunity to network with other members of the filmmaking community, so don’t miss out on what I hope will be a really exciting and fun afternoon.

For further details and to book tickets, visit the Eventbrite page. Know someone who might be interested in attending? I’d love it if you would share this post with them.

What to do When Social Media Outages Affect Your Film’s Marketing Plans

facebook outage

If you use Facebook and connected social media like Instagram, you have probably been affected by the recent outage. Outages often mean that social media marketing plans are revised as a result. Any automated posts you had planned become redundant…or worse yet, you have to re-post and/or re-plan once the outage is over! It’s proof that while we can have social media marketing as part of an overall publicity plan, social media (like traditional media) is not infallible.

The recent outage provided a shared moment that was relatable to anyone who uses Facebook and Instagram. So here’s an idea you can use today: you might want to find some clever way to integrate it into your social media posts. The more something is relatable and resonates with an audience, the more engagement it will receive and the more likely your post will be shared. Remember when Kim Kardashian broke the Internet? Think about how YOU ‘broke the Internet’ today and run with it. In Sprites’ case, the outages happened after ALICE, the film we’ve been providing social media marketing for, won the Narrative Feature Award and CherryPicks First Female Feature Award at SXSW. ALICE broke the Internet!

social media outage-1

But what happens if you’re running a crowdfunding campaign when an outage happens on social? I’ve had this happen several times in the 7 years I’ve been assisting with crowdfunding campaigns, and while it’s not ideal you can work around it to make sure that you can still make the most of it. You may want to expand on the previous idea and use it as a call to action with your mailing list. If one platform is unavailable, channel your social media marketing efforts into the platforms you still have available to you at the time. Time really is money with a crowdfunding campaign!

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If you have a release that is affected by the outage, the above suggestions definitely apply- when you don’t have access to certain social media platforms during an outage, concentrate on the social media platforms where your film has a presence that are still available to you. You can always repurpose any content you had planned during an outage at a later date while still keeping the remainder of the social media marketing plan active and current.

Most importantly, if you have the time available to you…get away from the screen! This morning before I started my hours at Boosted, I could see how the outages were affecting my workflow when it came to social media marketing for Sprites clients…so I walked away. I went outside with a cup of coffee and watched the world go by so that when I returned to the computer I would be fresh as a daisy and raring to go.

Outages are awful, but unavoidable. It’s a reminder that no system is perfect!