Is crowdfunding the alternative to the financing crisis of cinema?

Small projects, such as the award-winning Stockholm, show that films outside the traditional circuit gain ground in the industry

Image result for crowdfundingFew people know that the crowdfunding crowdfunding , or as many people know him by name in English is a phenomenon of French origin that emerged as an option to fund charities at a time that we know today as the welfare state did not exist . It was not until 2006 when it began to be used as a method to finance cinema . It was from the hand of the film Demain la veille , by Guillaume Colboc and Benjamin Pommeraud. With this funding technique who participates in a film becomes a small “producer” who, in exchange for their altruistic donation, gets a mention in the credits, the DVD of the title supported or the possibility of attending the filming. For the first time, the citizen not only becomes a mere spectator, but participates in a project that appeals to him actively.

Of crowdfunding modalities, of course, there are many and the Government, with the recent regulation that has been put in place in recent weeks to limit investment through the Internet, taxes those who participate in these films to obtain financial compensation when the film I ended up working at the box office. It does not regulate -at least for now- the type of financing described here and that, for the most part, use the platforms that are dedicated to it, such as Verkami and -in the US. and France especially-, Movies Angels, Kickstarter, Babeldoor and Kisskissbankbank.

Thus, although the phenomenon of crowdfunding is nothing new, since the rise of VAT in the cultural sector now a year and a half ago and in the absence of real aid to the cinema to small projects, it has been gaining ground in the industry and has gone moving away from the simple anecdote that tells the curious spectator how this or that film has been financed. The titles materialized with small producers that need this “popular economic injection” to prosper every time obtain a more explicit recognition by the industry, both in the form of awards and positive reviews. Lately, films financed largely through crowdfunding are achieving relative success and some have won prizes at renowned festivals and even sneaked into the Goya and Oscars themselves.

In the case of the Oscars, the recent example is the winning piece for the best documentary short film in 2013, Inocente , produced by Andrea Fine and Sean Fine and financed by Internet users through Kickstarter. The 300 donors, who raised around $ 50,000, became the producers of a film recognized by the Hollywood Academy. It is an unprecedented event in the history of cinema and a method that begins to give new ideas to French filmmakers.

In Spain something very similar happened this year with Stockholm , directed by the Madrid-born Rodrigo Sorogoyen . The film has been the great surprise of the Spanish cinema rising with the award to the best dramatic film of the 2013 in the Feroz Awards and awarding to its male protagonist, Javier Pereira , the award for revelation actor in these recently released awards, as well as the Goya in this same category. It was also screened at the Malaga Film Festival in April in the official section where it was awarded with three Silver Biznagas, a special mention, the Signis prize for the best film and the Young Jury prize for the best film. It is one of the few Spanish films that has gone ahead thanks to crowdfunding and Sorogoyen recognizes that the film has not been for now “economically profitable” but on a more personal level “has been profitable” and has made him live one of the years happiest of his life.

Image result for Stockholm directed by the Rodrigo SorogoyenStockholm was shot in about twenty days and, to lower costs to the maximum, Sorogoyen’s own home in Madrid was used as the setting for a story that has a cleverly constructed script. This psychological film, with a daily starting point – the boy meets a girl – whose relationship is complicated to unsuspected limits, had the participation of only two actors, the aforementioned Pereira and Aura Garrido, who had no doubts in any At the moment participating in the project involving even its closest environment: “We obtained via Verkami 13,000 of the 8,000 euros we proposed, the other 50,000 are from friends and family,” recalls Pereira. Director and actor reflect on the lack of support from the Ministry of Culture for small film projects. “Now that we see that another type of cinema is possible, it would not be bad for about ten euros a year for 70,000 euros, it would be very easy but it seems that they are not interested”, says Pererira, to which Sorogoyen adds: “It is clear that Small movies are also interesting, I think there is a policy of wrong cinema aids, they look for a certainty that this film works, which then is a false security because it can fail at the box office. ” “It is an ignorance to cover your eyes and act by inertia, which is what happens in this country: half ignorance half interest,” says the director of Madrid.

The recognitions to Stockholm have made possible its replacement in some cinemas of Madrid, and in Barcelona there have been specific projections, as in the recent edition of the Social Media Week . Despite the compliments and awards, the director has not relaxed to “watch the flowers go by” and already contemplates other projects away from crowdfunding : The present , with Turmalet Films, co-producer of Stockholm with CaballoFilms, and with Daniel Remón -writer of Casual Day and Five Square Meters – and a still untitled romantic comedy that aspires to shoot in several countries.

The fact that the internet is used to obtain financing and that this platform serves to multiply the diffusion of a project and help other rewards arrive, the directors do not miss that it is necessary a greater regularization in the anti-piracy legislation. In this sense and seeing the recent modification of the Intellectual Property law that tries to fight against piracy, correct the model of management companies and adapt the concepts of private copy and digital canon, Sorogoyen complains that in the end “here only goes for the poor of the top blanket “, to which Borja Soler, founding partner of the CaballoFilms production company reflects on a measure applied in Germany that penalizes the user,” here it would be unthinkable and unpopular, “he says. As a way to watch movies at an affordable price, director and producer defend platforms like Filmin, which offer premieres for less than four euros. Pereira believes that this alternative gives comfort to see a movie at any time and wherever and that is valid because “the important thing is that it consumes cinema, no matter where,” sentence.

The unprecedented success of this title and other small works that have achieved a place among the big productions in film festivals has prompted other directors to try to finance their projects in this type of platform. This is the case of Luis Endera, who considers himself an “expert” on the subject because they have needed two crowdfundings to pull forward his debut feature Desde el Infierno , a horror story based on the book by Enrique Laso, also producer of the film . The first was through Verkami and ended without success, since of the 44,000 euros that aspired to raise only about 28,000 were achieved. “It was an important downturn, I did not know what to do, but dozens of friends on social networks encouraged me to try again.” In Lánzanos there was more luck and although they only asked for 30,000 they managed to surpass this figure in more than 4,000 euros. Now the first editing of the project is practically finished, “it’s an exciting moment,” says an enthusiastic Endera, who hopes to have the tape finished in less than a month. (In addition to the mentioned Verkami and Lánzanos, Goteo is another of the platforms that in Spain support cultural or social projects financed collectively)

Precisely, one of the main characteristics of people who choose to move forward their projects through crowdfunding is the passion they print on their projects. “We never thought about throwing in the towel”, remember Pereira and Sorogoyen when Stockholm was still a dream. Endera has not renounced that From Hell is a reality despite the difficulties and ensures that he would repeat the experience.

Image result for Anna Maria BofarullIn Catalonia we find an example of a director who has repeated the crowdfunding formula for two of her productions that were thought in parallel. Anna Maria Bofarull has financed her debut feature Sonata for cello , a film that will be released at the end of the year that addresses the complicated issue of fibromyalgia, (a silent illness that manifests itself in the presence of accused physical pain without known cause), with small private contributions, although he has done it from the web of the film www.sonataparaviolonchelo.com. Bofarrull assures that they used this way and not a crowdfunding platform because “they wanted to be freer and accept any contribution they received”. An option that has also been used for the historical drama Barcelona 1714 , shot entirely with chroma and in 3D to achieve a comic book aesthetic. To finance this film that began to take shape in January 2013, both she and her partner, the producer Heiko Kraft, had their doubts about Verkami and also started their own campaign through their website. In it the user can choose between several economic contributions and, from 50 euros, can become a member and receive a percentage proportional to the contribution in relation to the final budget of the film, which is already shot by 80%. Kraft aspires with this work, with which it is possible to contribute economically until the day before the premiere, to show Catalonia’s past to an international audience.

According to a recent study released by Liberation , the public has invested nearly 100 million dollars in the financing of feature films only in the last two years. From the point of view of distributors, the fact that a film has been financed in part by crowdfunding “is a positive symptom of its potential interest among the public,” says Pío Vernis, Marketing Director of DeAPlaneta, who believes that it deals with a very suitable financing system for very small quantities (with respect to the total cost of the film) and for paying very specific items for pre-production. Those who do not seem to have it so clear are the cinema exhibitors. This support that the distributors show towards the projects financed with crowdfunding has not found the same echo in some of the main Spanish exhibitors. Lavanguardia.com has tried to collect their opinion but they have not shown interest in assessing how the phenomenon affects their business. The Film Academy, also consulted, has shown equal indifference.

Many times the crowdfunding is another way to complete the financing of a film. As was the case of the media El Cosmonauta, with an estimated cost of almost one million euros, which collected some 400,000 via crowdfunding . Another example is the Finnish-German-Australian science fiction co-production Iron Sky (2012) that drew on a mixed model with crowdfunding and economic support from small and large investors.

The model is not only used by emerging directors or those who pretend to be. He has also convinced veterans like David Fincher, producer of the animated film The Goon that raised $ 450,000 via Kickstarter to adapt the comic to the movies, or Oscar-winning Charlie Kaufman, who got $ 406,237 – double what he needed – by this means to the animated adaptation of Anomalisa . The filmmaker Evan Glodell, author of the apocalyptic Bellflower , has not seen another way to take forward his second feature film Chuck Hank and The San Diego Twins’ , currently in the post-production phase.

According to the Industry Report of Crowdfunding 2013, in 2012 an acceleration of this market of 81% was produced worldwide compared to 2011 and through the more than one million campaigns carried out, 2,700 million dollars were collected against the 1,100 from the previous year. They are general data, not specifically of the cultural sector, but eloquently illustrate the growth of this global phenomenon that has opened a gap to be considered by the film industry about a new way of making films that is now reaping its fruits. The phenomenon has become so strong in Spain as an alternative route to the lack of access to public and private financing that has even recently emerged a Spanish Crowdfunding Association, with the aim of promoting crowdfunding . Forbes magazine speaks of the model as “a revolution that can change the world.” And to paraphrase Einstein: “In times of crisis, only imagination is more important than knowledge.”