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Crowdfunded Films Go to Sundance Festival
© Image: Flickr.com / Ethan M. Long
editorial

Crowdfunded Films Go to Sundance Festival

The Sundance Film Festival is currently taking place, bringing some of the most influential and talented individuals in the filmmaking industry to one place.

This year, the festival's selection committee has chosen a number of crowdfunded films to be shown at the festival. Most of these – sixteen, to be exact – have been funded through Kickstarter, though a few got the funding by turning to other platforms.

First, the Kickstarter crop. The crowdfunding platform has released a list of films funded through its platform that are at Sundance. Fifteen films have already successfully completed their funding, while the sixteenth film, Linsanity: The Movie, has three and a half weeks to meet its $117,000 goal. So far, it looks to be on track to reach that sum. It may get a healthy boost in funding throughout the next few days, as news surfaced this morning that Jeremy Lin himself will attend the movie's screening on the festival’s final day.

So far, though, the most-funded of Kickstarter films is Inequality for All, a documentary that looks at the widening income gap in the U.S., having brought in $83,000. In total, the fifteen films (not including Linsanity) raised over $360,000.

Indiegogo, which launched at Sundance back in 2008, is also represented at the film festival. Perhaps most notable is the documentary Blood Brothers, which follows a tourist in India who meets a group of children infected with HIV. Not all filmmakers have used Indiegogo to actually shoot and edit their movies – the lead of the film This is Martin Bonner, for example, raised money to attend the screening.

Though Indiegogo and Kickstarter are the leaders in the crowdfunding field, not everyone turned to those specific platforms while crowdfunding their projects. Computer Chess, for example, was able to raise over $50,000 on the platform United States Artists.

Two people intimately familiar with crowdfunding for films are Karen Worden and David Branin, hosts of the Film Courage podcast and filmmakers themselves. (They also created the Film Courage site, which has great tips for those looking at crowdfunding their movie.) The pair isn’t surprised that a number of crowdfunded films are going to the festival.

“You’re seeing a higher caliber filmmaker [turn to crowdfunding], a higher caliber of product and talent,” Branin told Crowdsourcing.org.

That's part of the reason why Branin and Worden also believe any sort of stigma against crowdfunded films that may have existed in the past is going away, especially with money for films getting increasingly harder to come by.

But, that doesn’t at all mean that crowdfunding films will get any easier moving forward. With more high caliber projects appearing on platforms, Worden thinks the initial “honeymoon period” with crowdfunding is wearing off, and it will take serious efforts for individuals with little or no fan recognition to reach their campaign goals.

How the crowdfunded films do at Sundance (and how crowdfunding for movies evolves over the next several years) remains to be seen. Now, however, the time is for celebrating and recognizing the talented individuals whose films – crowdfunded or not – were selected to be shown at Sundance. Check out the complete list here

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