The Seed&Spark Blog

Film Crowdfunding
The Lowdown on Loans

May 13, 2020

• Bri Castellini

When it comes to building a budget, most filmmakers will agree that often money isn’t what’s important- it’s what money buys. And when non-filmmakers look at the enormousness of a film’s budget (even for smaller projects) they can get a little intimidated, especially when being asked to contribute. Seed&Spark’s platform speaks to both of these facets- the things your fundraiser will buy and the lack of transparency between filmmakers and supporters. It’s called The Wish List.


Wish list quick tips


  • Break up your Wish List into at least 3 items so audiences get an itemized, visual breakdown of what you’re raising for.
  • Make sure each item has its own image associated with it. The images shouldn’t include text (you have the ability to add labels and descriptions to explain the images separately) and should be square dimensions to look the best on the page and avoid strange cropping.
  • The more specific you get with equipment, locations, wardrobe, and props, the easier it will be to utilize loans


How do loans work?


Loans are proposed by your supporters and approved and valued by you, the filmmaker. For example, let’s say one of your wish list items is a Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera and a few lens options. A DP in your network, or who has come across your campaign, has that very camera and a wide angle lense she’s willing to lend you for the length of your production. She would click the “loan” button next to that wish list item, which would notify you of the offer. You would then contact her to figure out the details, and once both sides agree on the terms, you would set the monetary value of the loan and approve it from your project dashboard. We recommend getting the agreement in writing.


The monetary value of the loan does not have to equal the entire wish list item- perhaps you still need funds for a few other lens options than what this DP has to offer, so the value of the loan is only 75% of what you need to fulfill it.


The same process works if someone wishes to loan you their apartment or business as a location, or a piece of wardrobe or production design, or even wishes to make lunch for the team for a shooting day.


Services and labor can be loaned as well. For instance, if a crew member is cutting their rate for you, having them loan a percentage of their day rate could be a way to give them that public recognition and boost momentum for your campaign.


High-level facts about loans:

  • The value of a loan adds to your total funded meter (if you value a loan at $500, your meter would show you as being $500 closer to your overall goal)
  • The filmmaker can turn down a proposed loan
  • Filmmakers can only use loans for up to 40% of the total campaign goal
  • Seed&Spark does not take fees on loans
  • Seed&Spark also does not verify the validity of a loan- all details and agreements are between the filmmaker and the loaner and happen off-platform


How do I set up my wish list to utilize loans?


  • Get granular. The more items on your wish list that are singular (‘$20- Doctor Who Funko Pop’ rather than groups of items like ‘$500- Props’), the more opportunities for a supporter to see a loan opportunity
  • Descriptive language. Particularly for location wish list items, be clear in the description text what kind of space you need for filming
  • Promote separately. Linking to your overall campaign page over and over again gets old pretty quickly, and a big part of keeping your marketing fresh is having something new to highlight. Link to your wish list page instead and highlight a new item each day, and cater your outreach that day to people who may have a lead on a loan.


Bonus- creative wish list examples

Sam and Pat Are Depressed

This web series (full disclosure- mine!) was designed around prop gags, so when creating our wish list we laid out every single strange item we’d need for the season. This doubled as an opportunity for folks to loan us individual items as well as a teaser for what was to come in the new season. It also allowed supporters with less disposable income to feel like part of the show- one item on the wish list was a $1 measuring tape prop, used in season 2, episode 3, and was purchased for us by a supporter who loved the first season but didn’t feel like a contribution they could afford was going to be valuable. When we pointed to this wish list item, though, they got to join the wild ride of our silly campaign and see their contribution concretely on screen during that episode.


Forgotten Animals

This pilot is all about animals- specifically, for less-than-cute creatures (think rats, fire ants, and alligators). Their wish list section utilized silly animal photos for each item, and broke down the price of different elements of production by day so that supporters saw exactly why they needed to raise their goal. It also allowed them to really showcase the tone of their comedy series (see: $10 for ‘Artificial Tears,’ description: “It’s our pilot and we’ll cry if we want to!” and $100 for ‘Fireman’s Helmet (Realistic),’ description: “Karen seduced him. It’s a long story.”)



Bri Castellini

Bri Castellini is the Film Community Manager for Seed&Spark, a graduate-level adjunct professor for digital media, an award-winning independent filmmaker, and, regrettably, a podcaster. She's known for the web series Brains (creator/star), Sam and Pat Are Depressed (creator/star), Relativity (executive producer), and Better With You (director), as well as the short films Ace and Anxious and Buy In (writer/director for both), and for her podcasts Burn, Noticed and Breaking Out of Breaking in, covering the USA television show Burn Notice and practical filmmaking advice, respectively. She has been described by collaborators as a "human bulldozer" and is honestly kind of flattered.



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