How to Run a Kickstarter Film Project, Part 2: From Launch to Fulfillment

Now that your project’s live, it’s time to broadcast to everyone you’ve ever met that this project exists and needs their support.

How to Run a Kickstarter Film Project, Part 2: From Launch to Fulfillment

See also: our guide to running a film project from set-up to launch.

Playland, directed by Georden West

I just hit launch. Now what?

Now that your project’s live, it’s time to broadcast to everyone you’ve ever met that this project exists and needs their support.

Here are some next steps to take:

  • Alert your closest contacts. Enlisting your closest friends and family to contribute in the early days will not only make you feel better, it may also motivate other backers to join in. There’s nothing quite like jumping on a moving train!
  • Send out the emails you drafted while you were planning your promotion. You’ll probably raise a large proportion of your budget this way.
  • Post a link to your project on social media and anywhere else you exist online.

What are project updates, and how should I use them?

Project updates let you tell your backers how it’s all going. It’s an opportunity to keep the people who’ve shown faith in you informed, and an avenue to express your gratitude. Project updates written with the update tool on Kickstarter are automatically sent to your backers by email and will be posted on your campaign page under the “Updates” tab.

You can use your project updates to:

How often should I post project updates?

One to two updates per week for the first three weeks of your campaign should be about right. You may want to increase the update frequency as your funding deadline looms and the stakes rise. After the campaign ends, we recommend updating backers on when they’ll be receiving their rewards and to share exciting news or developments about your film, like this update from Mai American about the grants and fellowships they’ve received since their campaign.

Beba, directed by Rebeca Huntt

I’ve hit a mid-campaign slump. How do I build momentum and keep my backers engaged?

It’s common for Film projects to slow down after the first few days of the campaign. Here are some tactics to keep your momentum going:

  • Post project updates. Have you sent a project update yet? See the section above for guidance.
  • Add a new reward. Introduce a new reward and announce it to your community, like the creators of The Shawl did.
  • Find a matching grant. If someone in your community is willing to give at a higher level, leverage their pledge to act as a matching grant, like the creators of Truth or Consequences did. Set up a financial limit with your backer and announce to your community that all pledges up to that amount will be matched over a set period of time.
  • Say thank you! You can message backers individually to thank them and encourage them to spread the word.
  • Set up achievable campaign milestones to rally your community, like the creators of Hangtime For example, you can ask your backers to spread the word to help you get to a certain number of backers or a certain financial goal by the end of the week or by the midway point.

What are stretch goals, and should I use them?

Most filmmakers aren’t raising their full film budget on Kickstarter, so it’s always a good idea to have a sense of what you would spend any additional funding on and how you will articulate that to your backers. You might want to include that information on your project page from the beginning—while reassuring backers that if you reach but don’t exceed your goal, you’ll still be able to make the film you’re describing. For example: “With an extra $1,000 we can secure additional music licensing rights; with an extra $2,000 we can also hire a composer.”

Here are a few examples of common stretch goals for Film projects:

I’m in the last week of my campaign. What can I do to finish strong?

A lot of our tips for the mid-campaign slump (above) apply here, too. Whether or not you’ve hit your funding goal, there are plenty of things you can do in your final week to power over the finish line:

  • Don’t forget to thank your backers for their support! Encourage them to continue to share your project with their networks. Circle back to anyone on your contact list who said they’d back your project and ask again. People might be procrastinating or might have simply forgotten to pledge.
  • Post a project update to let your backers know how much time is left in the campaign and how much you still need to raise if you haven’t reached your goal. Encourage them to increase their pledge.
  • Introduce a new reward.
  • Add stretch goals. If you haven’t already included a note on your project page about what you plan to do with any additional funds you raise, update your page to include that information. New backers might be more excited to get on board if they know what you intend to do with the extra funds.
The Disruptors, directed by Adam Frucci

When will I get my money?

If your campaign has reached its funding goal, Kickstarter will begin to collect and process pledges from your backers as soon as the funding period ends. You’ll receive the funds 14 days after the funding period ends. (Depending on your bank, it could take an additional three to 14 business days for the funds to appear in your account.)

If your project has not reached its funding goal by the end of the campaign, your backers will not be charged and you will not receive any funds.

What is the backer survey, and how should I use it?

The backer survey lets you collect information from your backers—their email addresses, shipping addresses, and anything else you need to deliver their rewards.

You can start drafting your backer survey anytime after you launch your project, but you can only send it out once your campaign’s funding period ends. You can only send one backer survey, so make sure you’ve thought through all the information you’ll need to collect.

Remember: You are responsible for keeping your backers’ personal information safe. Don’t collect more information than you need to, and don’t share it with services or third parties you don’t trust.

What happens if a backer doesn’t answer the survey and I can’t ship their reward?

If a backer hasn’t replied to the backer survey and you need their information to deliver their reward, you can message them directly. We’ll also show them a reminder the next time they visit the site. After a certain amount of time, you may want to post a project update to let all of your backers know that it’s their last chance to fill out the survey.

What if there’s a problem with a backer’s pledge?

If we can’t collect payment from a backer, we’ll email them with instructions on how to fix their pledge, and will continue to do so every 48 hours for seven days. They’ll also be able to fix their pledge by logging in to their Kickstarter account and clicking on the "Fix Payment” banner at the top of the page. You can also message the backer directly to encourage them to fix their pledge.

What sorts of updates should I post after the project has ended?

We recommend updating your backers regularly after your campaign wraps up but before you’ve completed your film or fulfilled your rewards. After that, send them an update whenever you have something interesting to share. For example, you can post a project update to let your backers know that your film has been accepted into a film festival, or that there’s going to be a public screening. (When the short animated documentary Valentine was accepted to the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, the team sent out this lovely update.)

We recommend employing a principle of radical transparency in your post-campaign updates. That means letting your backers know when things aren’t going as planned. It’s not unusual for creative projects to hit speed bumps, and the more open and honest you are with your backers, the more likely they are to understand when things go wrong, and even come to your aid in your times of need. Keep them informed if you run into obstacles that slow down your progress; that way, you’ll avoid awkward or even angry interactions with backers who don’t appreciate being kept in the dark.

Here’s a great post written by the team behind The Viking of 6th Avenue that outlines the enormous amount of work they’ve been putting in, as well as the unforeseen developments that contributed to their delay in finishing the film. We think it’s a great example of being radically transparent with your backers.

The Viking of 6th Avenue by Dog Day Films
The Viking of 6th Avenue by Dog Day Films

What should I do with my film once I’ve finished it?

This can be a very personal choice. In their still-relevant guide to releasing a short film, the team at Short of the Week reminds filmmakers to consider what they want to get out of it.

Short of the Week’s advice is to “be everywhere all at once”—get your short film on as many platforms as you can, and compress your release window to build momentum.

How do I produce and ship my rewards?

If managing all the logistics of your project starts to feel a little overwhelming, or you wind up with more backers than you were prepared for, don’t worry—you don’t need to do everything yourself. There are businesses that specialize in things like mass mailing, warehousing, packaging, and more. If there’s a part of the process you feel comfortable outsourcing and you can find a partner you trust, working with a fulfillment service can help lighten the load and create a better experience for you and your backers.

With the help of many Kickstarter creators, we’ve compiled this list of services that help with everything from packaging and shipping to manufacturing.

For distributing digital downloads, our filmmakers often use WeTransfer or Dropbox. For password-protected digital links to your film, many Film creators use Vimeo or Reelhouse. For more tips on releasing your film, check out this guide from Short of the Week.

Leer en español. Disponible en français.

Ready to launch a Film project of your own? Get started here. And stay in the know about what’s happening in Film on Kickstarter by subscribing to our newsletter.