We’re Making a Movie!

I have an excited feeling in the pit of my stomach. Suddenly, this “idea” is feeling very real. I just hired Alex Lianopoulos, producer, director, and photographer to create a compelling video for our Kickstarter project page. Here’s how it all came together.As I researched what makes a Kickstarter successful, one thing became very clear: Successful Kickstarters generally have great videos – failed Kickstarters have no video at all or some really poor ones. And great Kickstarter videos don’t just give you the ABC’s of a project – they create a brand image, a sense of wonder and excitement, and a sense of urgency to back a project. For example, Bomber Barrel, the $15,000 Kickstarter that raised $430,393 selling a bag.

Here is another great example of a Kickstarter video with a completely different feel for a project (that is still live as I type this): TUFFNotes. This is a super personable video that highlights the awesomeness of the product and compels the viewer to back the project. In fact, you should. Back their project that is. I did. Go back TUFFNotes right now and I’ll wait.

Back? Didn’t that feel good?

My research on Kickstarter centered pretty heavily around notebooks and beer related products. That is how I found Bull & Stash, a leather notebook which raised $69,829 against a $5,000 goal. Their video was the perfect vlend of a Bomber Bag and TUFFNotes style. When I saw this Kickstarter project two thoughts occurred to me. First, I should talk to these guys about making a custom cover add-on for my journal. And secondly, I need a video that feels a lot like theirs. And who directed their video? None other than Alex Lianopoulos. So I reached out.

Getting started

It only took a few emails for Alex and I to discover that we wanted to collaborate together and the services she offered were exactly in the right price range for what I needed and could afford. Not only would Alex shoot and direct a video, but she would also shoot lifestyle and product photos of my journal, and promote the Kickstarter on social media. We set a target date for deliverables, and that was that.

The first thing I had to do was come up with a compelling script. It needed to accomplish the following:

  1. Hook the listener in the first ten seconds.
  2. Tell who I am and my personal story.
  3. Explain how my product solved a problem.
  4. Explain my awesome project rewards.
  5. Call viewers to act with a sense of urgency.

Alex helped me workshop the script and of course, I ran it by several friends and family first to make sure it struck the right tone. Wow. Getting all that information into three minutes was really hard – for me, especially!

As I was working on the script, I also went to work picking out some music. I wanted the script to time perfectly with changes of tone in the music, so I needed to have my music set for sure before the video. That’s where audiojungle came in handy. There, you can find hundreds of thousands of royalty free audio that can be licensed for very low prices. I settled on two tracks: a two minute track called Acoustic Sunrise, and a three minute track called Acoustic. Real original names, right?

Next, I had to record the script and time it perfectly with the music. For that, I turned to a local recording studio in Ukrainian Village, Soundscape Studios. Sound engineer Aidan Sigel-Bruse was able to help me get a good sounding audio of me reading the script and get it matched up to the music. Let me tell you, that was even harder than writing the script (and involved a few on the fly re-writes)!

What’s next?

The next big hurdle was getting “camera ready” prototypes out to Alex in a hurry so that she could get photos and video of them. After all, you don’t want to have a Kickstarter video without your product in the video. This turned out to be a bigger challenge than I thought it would be.

Up until now, I had been testing my notebook in a very practical sense: material and durability testing various components, computer designs and mock-ups, pricing out various material costs. I hadn’t yet built a fully “functional” notebook that actually looked good. So, I plopped down a couple hundred bucks to ordered short runs of various materials to build camera ready notebooks.

And that was the first delay in production. And an important lesson: When working with third party vendors, build plenty of time in for production and delivery. Unfortunately, everything took about a week longer to arrive than I expected it to. Fortunately, I was only working on a self-imposed deadline and it was no big deal. And the good news is that I have now built several camera ready prototypes and they have been overnight mailed to Alex for her first shoot this Friday. Things are getting exciting!

So now Alex has my music tracks and my voice over narration. She has some prototypes of my notebook to film and photograph. She has a good sense of what I want to appear in the video and how I plan on selling this Kickstarter. What comes over the following weeks is just shooting and editing. And letting Alex’s wonderful creative style flourish. There is a lot of trust involved in hiring someone to make a video for you.

Because this product has a Chicago specific element to it, we’ve also decided to hire professional film & photography guru, Eric Floberg, to shoot some B-roll footage in Chicago and we may combine that with some royalty free stock footage of Chicago available online.

The clock is ticking

In about two and a half weeks I should be ready to unveil not only our new video but also our Kickstarter project to the world! And then we only have 30 days to raise at least $15,000. But there is a lot more preparation that needs to go into this Kickstarter if I want it to be successful. A lot of that involves P.R. and media – and lots and lots of emailing. And that is where the race against time begins. How do I get the necessary thousands of emails out to all the media outlets, influencers and tastemakers so that when my Kickstarter launches EVERYONE who might be interested in backing it at least has a chance to hear about it?

Coming up next: I Need a Hero – I can’t do this alone. If I want to make this Kickstarter work, I am not only going to have to be smart, resourceful, but I will also need to have an army of helpers who are all those things and more.