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Over on the Sundance website, Liz Holm — Kickstarter’s Film Program Director, as well as being a film producer in her own right — has a piece up about The Canyons, the collaboration between director Paul Schrader and novelist Bret Easton Ellis. The project is arguably the most high-profile film to turn to Kickstarter for funding and, understandably given the talent involved, it has already surpassed it’s fundraising goal of $100,000. (As I write this, it’s $40,000+ over its target, with 8 days still to go.)

What I think is most interesting about Holm’s piece is not so much her focus on this particular project, but how she uses The Canyons as a springboard for a discussion about how Kickstarter is just as much for the ultra-accomplished writer or director as it is for the first-time filmmaker, and how its merits far exceed the ability to simply raise capital.

Here’s some of what Holm had to say:

[F]ilmmakers of all kinds are turning to Kickstarter as not merely a platform for funding, but — all the more critical — a space for engagement. And whether you’re finishing your thesis or gunning for an Oscar, Kickstarter is a place to connect and conspire.

Every so often I’ll be chatting with a filmmaker about Kickstarter (weird, right?), and they’ll say something to the effect of “Oh yeah, I’ve been thinking about that, but I’m just not into begging for money.” That’s cool, dude; pretty sure no one is. Good thing Kickstarter is not a place for that, or I would definitely work elsewhere!

The truth is Kickstarter is about much more than money — it’s a place to create lasting and meaningful relationships, to invite people to participate in your process, test ideas, showcase progress, generate excitement, cultivate a community who’ll actually see your film, and retain creative control throughout. A successful campaign can be an opportunity to attract a variety of in-kind support, assure grant-givers, declare yourself an artist with a unique vision, and validate that vision with public support. Strategic filmmakers walk away from Kickstarter campaigns with previously unknown Executive Producers, a mailing list, slew of press, stack of DVD orders, and most of all, a community that’s proud to be a part of it.

Whether your funding goal is seven or 75 percent of your total budget, running a Kickstarter project has become an essential component of any independent filmmaker’s outreach, which is an essential component of making a film that people see, which one would hope is at the very least a goal of your being in this business in the first place!

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