Just Crowdfund the $&*# Movie!: The JOBS Act, Indie Film, Crowdfunding and Me
This was first posted on MovieMaker Magazine’s Just Crowdfund the $&*# Movie!, where indie moviemaker Jayce Bartok talks about the dos and don’ts of crowdfunding from the trenches of his own crowdfunding campaign for TINY DANCER.
Last week, the Senate approved the JOBS (Jump-start Our Business Start-ups) Act, approved by the House weeks earlier, with a 73-26 vote. The Act, which is heavily backed by President Obama and (oddly enough) both Democrats and Republicans, would relax federal regulations for small businesses and start-ups (and movies like Tiny Dancer), letting them raise capital without running into the tangle of SEC regulations I mentioned two weeks ago. The Senate successfully added a crowdfunding amendment (yay!), which means the Act needs to head back to the House for a second vote, but it seems that it will get approved fairly quickly. (Update: Already done!) “Crowdfunding will allow small businesses to bypass Wall Street and go straight to Main Street for financing, freeing every American to invest in a local business or the next great idea,” notes Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass.
What does this all mean for us, the broke-moviemaker types? Well, we will be able to raise up to $1 million a year online (and via social media) through an SEC-registered “crowdfunding portal,” which will provide investors with protection. What will this portal look like? I imagine it won’t have the funky intuitive design of a Kickstarter or an Indiegogo, but it will have the legalese to get the job done. I’m imagining something like a DMV website. Whatever it is, I’ll take it!
I foresee Kickstarter and Indiegogo working with this new portal somehow, since they’re the top dogs in the field and it would only help them to share in the new legislation. It’s kind of mind-blowing that crowdfunding began so small, and now it’s being validated on the floor of Congress as a possible savior for the economy and — bottom-line — a big job-creator due to the small businesses it will foster.
If we can hold out long enough (hopefully this SEC portal will be in place by the end of the year), Tiffany and I can go and register Tiny Dancer, fill out a bunch of online paperwork, and then get down to the business of crowdfunding real shares in our movie. Pretty freakin’ cool.
On a final note, I just want to ponder the bizarre “Be careful what you wish for” scenario that is unraveling around KONY 2012 and Jason Russell, one of the founders of the organization behind the viral video in addition to being its narrator and star. In this strange age where we, filmmakers and other creatives, long for “views” of our work, it’s so fascinating and painful to see something as persuasive and powerful as the KONY 2012 video rise and fall so fast. I can only imagine if our Indiegogo campaign had traveled around the world with lightning speed, and days later I was standing nude on a sidewalk in San Diego, banging my fists on the pavement like an animal (and charged with the M-word) because the Huffington Post or some such online news outlet discovered that Tiffany and I were really using some of our hard-earned donations for Tiny Dancer to fund a hair styling video. (Which we aren’t — The New York Times would have discovered that for sure!) Whatever the true story behind KONY 2012 is, or whatever your politics are, it’s an amazing study in the power of true indie film and what it can do, for better or worse.