Stareable (Part 2)
Engage Your Community, Or Die Trying
In filmmaking, and in life, it benefits you to empower those who support you.
By Sarah Hawkins
Editor’s note: This is an article about the practical logistics of community engagement in web series creation and crowdfunding via our friends at OR DIE TRYING. Read part 1, about mentality, here.
Your community is as important as the team you build to create your project. It’s the measure to whether your project is relevant. It’s the pipeline to new ideas and a better conversation. It’s the lifeblood to your project’s success.
If you’ve grown out of touch with your audience while in the creative bubble, here are some things to think about to help engage (or re-engage) with the people who you are serving.
Competition Isn’t Cute
Hollywood has enough competition in it without our help. Practice altruism instead.
A lot of filmmakers, particularly those having to crowdfund, tend to get into a me-first mentality. “This is my project. Please give me money so I can go and make it (without you).” This way of thinking can bleed into how you relate to your audience; closing off the opportunity for dialogue in fear that by supporting another project you will be taking away from your own. I’m here to tell you that is an irrational fear.
It’s inspiring how tightly knit our women-in-film community can be when we reach out and ask to support one another. For OR DIE TRYING, the moment we decided to support other women in the industry, our community opened up to us. Not only is our series about creative millennial women in Hollywood, we are these people ourselves. This is our tribe. When other women succeed in this business, we all do. The more women we can give a practical leg up to, however simple that action may be, we all benefit.
Also, it just plain feels good.
Create Ways Everyone Can Get Involved
Don’t exclude someone who might have a nontraditional way of contributing to your project. At the end of the day, it comes down to the vision you are bringing to life. How you get there doesn’t necessarily matter. If someone can’t contribute financially to your project, what is something that you budgeted for that is an item or service they can provide? What besides funding adds value to your project?
One great thing about Seed&Spark is the opportunity for your supporters to loan items to you that you would have normally budgeted for. This instantly brought a communal sense to our series and continued throughout the rest of production and post production. People offered their homes, food, equipment, product, music, etc. As a result, it became a way more collaborative project than we could have imagined, and it was made all the better for it.
Give Support Freely & Frequently
Don’t be stingy with your (social media) love.
It doesn’t cost you anything to retweet a tweet, to do a #FollowFriday, to share a cool article, or to even interview someone who is doing inspiring things that align with your conversation. It only requires a little bit of time and energy. At the end of the day, if it made someone’s day and built up someone who encourages and empowers you, wasn’t it worth the two seconds to tweet or share?
Over the stretch of the past two years, Team ODT has met some of the coolest, and most empowering women ever. Many other filmmakers themselves, producing their own projects and running their own crowdfunding campaigns or press sites.
Check out some of the cool women in film we’ve interviewed for our blog:
Create Sincere Opportunities to Connect
More than frequency or quantity of items you can activate to support your community, focus on creating opportunities to connect.
Ask yourself, what is the conversation we are building together? What are practical things that can support our audience?
For us, one answer to this question was to host a networking party. A good majority of our audience are other women in the film industry. As women are still at a major disadvantage in the industry, a practical (and fun) way to chip away at the celluloid ceiling is to is break out the business cards and see what connections we can make together. The event was a success and everyone left with a few more contacts to call upon down the road.
Here are some other ways to create opportunities to connect:
Host a weekly Twitter Chat
Pose a daily question
Host a FB Live video Q&A session
Run a user-generated contest
Throw a party!