After digging deeper into the history of crowdfunding in film with Shyam Benegal, and exploring director Navneet Prakash’s journey working on his racing documentary ‘Sons of Speed’, we decided to cut to the chase. As we continue exploring the relationship between crowdfunding and films, we go, this time, straight to the sources — collecting opinions from filmmakers who have crowdfunded for their films and thus, had their audiovisual dreams see the light of day because of it.
In Part I of this series, we look at the journey of the team behind upcoming documentary Proposition for a Revolution by Khushboo Ranka and Vinay Shukla, to distil the essence of what it is about independent filmmaking and crowdfunding that make them such a natural fit.
Proposition for A Revolution chronicles the journey of the Aam Aadmi Party from its genesis, right up till its first Delhi Assembly elections.
“The project started with the two of us going to Delhi in late 2012, to find out what exactly was happening on ground with the AAP,” Khushboo tells us. “The news reports that were coming were largely dissatisfactory, so we decided to make a trip. Once in Delhi, we realised something very unique was unfolding, and we began to document everything on camera, simply because there was nobody else documenting it.
“Slowly, the AAP phenomenon became bigger and the story began to play itself out. We had been filming all along so the project really grew organically from one stage to another.”
Khushboo explains that while the initial funding on the project came out of their own pockets and from Anand Gandhi, their first and strongest backer, many that they showed their material to, loved it — but didn’t necessarily want to put money on it. “We were looking for funding continuously, but most private investors in India found the idea of a political documentary rather dangerous and unsavoury,” she explains. Some very prestigious international documentary grants kept the project afloat for a while, until finally, they turned to crowdfunding as a last resort.
Creating their own platform, they set up their own website, borrowed a friend’s payment gateway and got the ball rolling. With a dedicated crowdfunding campaign team in place, headed by ‘whizkid’ Zain Memon, they set up all the technical, design and organisational workflows for the campaign, which helped them stay on top of things as they went along.
Their campaign ended up raising over 180% of its intended target, to their genuine surprise. Khushboo highlights an important point, “More than money, there have been so many people who have come forward and offered us their resources, and a chance to collaborate. It’s good to know when your work resonates with people.”
When asked for three tips they’d give someone looking to start a crowdfunding campaign, Vinay says, “Firstly, get a dedicated team for your campaign. You will probably have to pay them but you’ll need a dedicated team. Secondly, be prepared to adapt. It may just turn out that your campaign gets a lukewarm response and you have to rethink your strategy. And lastly, get an accountant/money person on board when you are planning your campaign. Our accountant helped us understand the financial liabilities attached with our campaign and it’s deliverables which in turn helped us plan better. I know this sounds boring but just do it.”
Khushboo’s take addresses different aspects, “Firstly, identify captive groups and online communities which are likely to identify/empathize with your cause. Secondly, your pitch/trailer is the most important part of your campaign. Aim for clarity and a compelling narrative. Thirdly, engage with your backers. You’ll be surprised with what can come out of such interactions.”
When asked if they’d turn to crowdfunding again in the future, their answer’s a no-brainer, “Definitely.”