Reposted from Documentary Tech Magazine
Nathaniel Hansen is getting ready to take a cross-country road trip to find his film, a documentary called “The Elders,” but he’s found his funding for the journey through the kindness of both friends and strangers, and their belief, in dollars, in what he’s doing.
Hansen, an Oregon native living in Boston, and with a degree in documentary filmmaking from Emerson College, is one of those filmmakers who is inverting the formula for how it’s done.
One of the ways he has is by mounting a successful crowdfunding effort through Kickstarter.com, which bills itself as “a new way to fund and follow creativity.”
Kickstarter allows filmmakers and other artists to propose a project, with a defined amount of funding requested and defined window of time in which to raise it. If the funding goal is not met, all pledges are wiped clean, a kind of all-or-nothing prospect that can be both inspiring and daunting, seeing if your idea is as viable as you think.
Hansen says, “I’ve been following Kickstarter not quite since they launched, when a friend of mine sent me an email and said, ‘Have you seen this?’ I was a little frustrated because it was by invitation, and it was a bit of a mystery to me how you got invited. But I kept following it, and in the back of my mind I kept thinking, ‘What kind of a project would get me the widest possible support from friends, family and strangers?’
It’s not just the idea, it’s the execution, and it was a matter of both finding the right idea, and then proving he could manage it.
As a documentary filmmaker, you have this kind of “idea bag,” a grab-bag of potential ideas that you’re flushing out, trying to determine what’s feasible or not. Last fall I’d started a short exercise, to test out an idea I’d had a couple of years ago, which was to do a documentary project online that had a linear DVD film that accompanied it, that was interview based, and more portrait documentaries that were all connected by some narrative thread that I would try to establish.
I interviewed five people I came in contact with on a regular basis, people I called “familiar strangers” who I saw on my walk around town or in my neighborhood. I created five portraits and found I got an overwhelming level of response from throughout my network, my friends and colleagues and family, and people on Facebook and Twitter. Over a couple months on Vimeo, my videos were getting over 1,000 views a week. That woke me up to the fact I was on to something.
“The Elders” spun off that. Hansen, who has done a variety of commercial work including a spot that will run during the upcoming World Cup soccer event, had been giving thought to the sometimes-unnoticed bank or wisdom among the older people who are the same “familiar strangers’ in our lives.
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