Independent films like the Rite of Spring-inspired Vernae seek funding at Join the Crowd.

What do independent moviemakers do if they want to produce a film today? Perhaps it is an erotic thriller with a queer sci-fi twist set in a pilgrim colony and they need money for bonnets, muskets, a whole colony and an angry mob? Or what if they’re making a highly conceptual dance film set to Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring with an international cast of performers and want to make sure that all of the cast are paid for their time? These questions may seem absurd at first glance, but they are actual issues some Seattle filmmakers are currently facing.  Increasingly, crowdfunding has become the solution to these independent film project quandaries.

Recently Courtney Sheehan, Program Director at Northwest Film Forum, found a growing number of local filmmakers coming to her with their crowdfunding campaigns. “They’re asking how we can help,” says Sheehan, “I always like to say to people we can (post it on our Facebook) but it won’t help you that much; it’s just another post in the social media galaxy.”  Pondering this problem led Sheehan to an epiphany. “It occurred to me, why not have an event that is a regular opportunity for filmmakers to spread awareness about their crowdfunding campaigns?” says Sheehan. “It’s becoming this really crucial and integral part of making movies, and most people working independently determine that they do need to do one. Then it becomes this world of decision-making: which platform, when to do it in the production timeline, how much money to ask for, and how to get the word out about it?”

Taking the general model from other community building events that the Film Forum already hosts (such as the popular music video screening event VideOasis), Sheehan put together Join the Crowd, the first crowdfunding forum for filmmakers and the general public interested in supporting the production of independent films. Filmmakers, who are all at a similar stage of raising funds through online platforms (such as Kickstarter, Seed and Spark, and Hatchfund) can meet and support each other while exposing their projects to a wider audience. “One of the reasons that crowd funding works so well and is a self-sustaining mechanism for funding is that people give to each other,” says Sheehan. “These individual communities are supporting each other’s work. It’s part of the bigger trend that is being called the sharing economy.”

The inaugural Join the Crowd on Wednesday, November 19 at the Film Forum will feature four projects and the program will be anchored by a crowdsourcing success story. This edition’s success story comes from filmmaker Gisella Bustillos who raised over $40,000 for her feature length documentary A Brief History of Time Travel. The event is free (with a required online reservation). “We’re not charging admission, but we are very strongly suggesting that in order to attend you give a minimum of $10 to one of the projects that is highlighted in the event,” says Sheehan. “This is what people are doing already anyway and we are just adding the human element, which is what the Film Forum is all about.”

Join the Crowd
Nov 19 at 7:30, Northwest Film Forum, Free (reservation required; suggested $10 donation)

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