In the 2013 Cannes issue of World of Shorts, we represented a great  project in the Pitch Page section, called The Queen of England Stole my Parents, by Ernestas Jankauskas.

A year later we were extremely happy to see the film in the Short Film Corner of Cannes, and we asked the producer of the film, Monika Sakalauskaite to tell us the success story of the film in the 2014 Cannes issue. Here’s the article:

Raising funds for parents rescue mission (words by Monika Sakalauskaité)

The Queen of England Stole my Parents, a Lithuanian short film is screened at the Cannes short Film Corner in 2014. We started as most short films usually do – The Queen of England Stole my Parents had a catchy idea, great team and… no money. The idea to use crowdfunding wasn’t in doubt – we knew we had to use all the possible opportunities to get the film funded and crowdfunding with  Kickstarter was too promising to be left unused. After analysing other successful projects, our goal was set – $12,000 in 45 days. And that was something that no Lithuanian project had ever aimed for before.The funds for the making of the film were raised through a successful crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter. The producer of the film gives a first-hand account of their journey from the first idea through the excitement of the campaign to the last thank yous.

Starting the vehicle

Trying to figure out the reasons our campaign was successful – precise preparation is the first thing that pops into the head. Being sincere, giving yourself enough time, investing maximum energy to make your project look its best is the only way to survive among the variety and beauty of other international projects. And this rule can be applied to each part of your project, as in the end, it’s pretty hard to say which one is more important – an entertaining video presentation, attractive gifts or descriptions, revealing your true intentions or the project’s transparency.

Moreover, it’s not enough to have an outstanding presentation, as it is equally important to make sure that as soon as you start the actual campaign, your news will spread fast and you will be able to reach as many of the right people as possible. In our case – we  created our project’s Twitter related Facebook account half a year prior to the campaign and it has become our basecamp for contacting all the people and organisations that might be interested in the topic. We also created our website and registered our project on all the major websites and communities that spread the word about short movie projects. As our movie is based on the topic of emigration, all the newspapers and magazines that create content for Lithuanians abroad were also informed about our project .

Riding along

One of the most common mistakes of the failed campaigns is a belief that after you launch your campaign, you can relax and wait for the backers to give you their money. The reality is that you have to work twice as hard. Kickstarter statistics show that projects are mostly supported in the beginning or the very end of the campaign. And that’s a good tip as it lets you know when you should be concentrating on the information flow. Another important goal is to be noticed by the Kickstarter crew – their “Staff Picks” selection highlights your project in front of the millions of backers. We were fortunate enough to be selected for the “Staff Picks” and as a result, less than 24 hours after we launched our campaign we already had reached 30% of our goal, as we were supported by an angel investor from Abu Dhabi.

Taking care of karma

The joy of our awesome start had slowly faded away, as we managed to double the success of the beginning only after one month of the campaign, so we were coming to the end with only 60% of our financial goal achieved. However, the good thing was that we knew it would be an emotional rollercoaster from the beginning, so we were still hoping for the best and just kept on doing the job – releasing new updates, publishing articles in the press, organising parties, bombing the city with our posters and continuously speaking about our campaign to all the relatives, friends and strangers on the way. Therefore, it was not a surprise to see an increase in support towards the end of the campaign and we reached our goal a few days before the deadline.

…But the end of the campaign is not the end. After cashing out the money and shooting the movie, you have to remember that you owe your backers for their trust and sending their gifts on time, and therefore keeping them updated is the least you can do.

Another very good thing to do (and it doesn’t really matter if you failed, had a successful campaign or you are just planning to start one) is to become a permanent backer and to give the joy of being supported to other creators.

I had read a prediction in an article that one day, crowdfunding might become so important and natural that we will no longer judge people from the books they have at home, but rather from projects they support on Kickstarter. Well, I believe it’s possible, but only if creators do not forget to be grateful to their backers.

P.S. Long live the backers of The Queen of England Stole my Parents!

If you want to show your shortfilm project too for the readers of the 2015 Berlinale issue of World of Shorts, apply here!