“Crowdsourcing” and Democratic Filmmaking

“Crowdsourcing” is an innovative approach towards getting fresh ideas tested, funded, produced, and distributed into the market. CambrianHouse is the central hub on the net for crowdsourcing. Through their “IdeaWarz” competition, anyone can post ideas, instantly receive feedback, secure funding, and/or build a team of supporters to get the idea launched.
One of the ideas to come out of this competition is FilmRiot.com. On FilmRiot, you can watch trailers of independent films that are currently seeking funding. If you like what you see, you can become a supporter for as little as $10. Once the movie reaches its financial goal, filmmakers receive the money to complete the rest of the feature. Supporters can submit feedback during the production process, receive a digital copy once the project is finished, and join an affiliate program to receive further monetary benefit through referrals. Most importantly, supporters get to watch movies they want to see made. It’s democratic filmmaking at it’s finest!
This afternoon, I spoke with Don Holmsten, founder of FilmRiot, to find out more about how this model works.

What is “crowdsourcing”?
It can mean a lot of things. In our case, we’re building in mechanisms for people who watch films to benefit from the film. The crowd is involved in funding the film and marketing the film. The people who contribute are not investors in the technical sense. They are pre-buying a copy of the film, join an affliliate program (like Amazon’s affiliate program), and earn revenue by referrals through myspace, email, blogs, etc.
What is the average level of funding you expect from supporters?
The model we’re proposing is similar to that of Sellaband.com. On Sellaband, roughly half of supporters give the minimum of $10. The other half give substantially more. On average, they receive $50 from each supporter. We’re expecting the same response on FilmRiot.
Who ultimately benefits?
Everyone benefits. We become more in control of what are entertainment options are. You can find filmmakers from all over the world on FilmRiot who would have never been able to produce a feature before had they not had this platform.
Do you see FilmRiot acting as a “change agent” in the film industry?

That’s what our goal is. Obviously the industry is still controlled by Hollywood and the major networks. But the film industry is being pressured by broadband distribution, just like the music industry. At the same time, the technology to produce a film is relatively inexpensive now, thereby making independent film a more viable option. The main costs now are people’s time and skills. That’s where FilmRiot can really help. Of course, we don’t expect to compete with the “big hits.” But we think that the “big hits” are becoming less and less relevant. We provide a new level of open-ness. It’s what film fans want.

Shannon Arvizu, Ph.D., is a clean tech educator and cutting-edge consultant for the auto industry. You can follow her test drives in the cars of the future at www.misselectric.com.