Even More IndieGoGo Tips!

Yesterday we hit, NAY, exeeded our goal on our Indiegogo campaign!

It has been exactly 24 days since we started the campaign, so that gives us 10 days to spare. Here are some more tips from the last week of our crowdfunding efforts.

Set More goals: We were very close to the $5000 landmark earlier in the week and we knew from our research that once we were less than $1000 from our goal, more people would probably donate because they would feel our goal was attainable . So the first thing we did was to create another incentive program wherein we would release a fun surprise video if we hit that goal within a few days. This was our biggest incentive goal yet; 5 days to raise $420 and hit $5000 funded.

We were so grateful to see our supporters rise to the occasion again not only by donating money, but by posting our links all around the web. We had our greatest number of retweets and shared links this week since starting the campaign.

Entertaining Video Updates: So many people just rely on posting their link everywhere. The problem with this is that people begin to turn a blind eye. They see the same link over and over and they may not even read about your progress. This is why our video updates have been so successful. They create a bold new way for our supporters to interact with the campaign. It’s fresh, it’s alive and it’s entertaining (or at least we do our best to make sure it will be!).

People get tired of hearing and reading the same thing over and over again. If you want to get your information heard, package it in a new ways. Some people respond to the incentive goals we’ve been running but others like to see how you’re faring personally on the journey. This is where videos can be a great tool. They don’t need to have high production value. They just have to get the information across and they should be fun. We like to put as much color into ours as we can manage just to make the images pop off of the screen.

In our most recent video, Emily and I decided to announce some new incentives for the campaign, but in order to make that more entertaining, we decided to frame that information within the constraints of our rampant geekitude. That way, we gave some insight into our own personalities and camaraderie while also providing more insight into our plans for the campaign and our excitement over the growing community around our project. Give it a try. I filmed everything on my computer and edited it together using iMovie. I’m never the one behind the camera, but it’s easy enough to figure out and with a little time and effort, you’ll provide something fun that really makes your campaign feel alive to the people following it.

If you haven’t had a chance to view the fruits of our labors, here’s the video we released!

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Donation Matching: We were lucky enough to be approached by an anonymous donor who told us that after we hit $5,000 funded, they would match every donation until we hit our goal. This was one of the things we announced in the video and within hours of releasing this information, we had an influx of 5 new donations by people who wanted to make their contributions count for twice as much.

Now you may not be approached by a volunteer, but if there is someone who you know you can get to donate a large sum of money, ask them if they’d be willing to donate some at the outset to get you rolling and then some at the end. If they agree, approach them about helping you use the second portion to create a donation matching program. That way you can finish out the campaign with a rush of momentum that’s very exciting for both you and your donors. Most likely, your donor will be very excited to be an integral part of your campaign.

Getting people to link your campaign: Some people will do this naturally. We’ve certainly had some very kind souls who shared our campaign with their friends. If you feel this isn’t happening as much as you’d like, don’t be afraid to ask for help in your social media status updates. It will remind people that passing the word on is equally as important as donating.

This is a chance for the world to start hearing about your project. You want to get it into as many ears as possible. As for those that do help you, thank them and let them know the impact they’ve had. I told individuals whose referrals I could see on our IndieGoGo analytics just how many people they sent to our site and that over 5500 people have viewed our campaign. That’s pretty impressive considering we don’t even have a product to show yet and we definitely could not amass that many views without the help of our supporters.

Follow Up Email: When we hit exactly 14 days left in the campaign, I decided to send out my final follow up email to coincide with our video release. I was originally going to wait till there was only a week left, but I wanted to capitalize on the matching grant from our anonymous donor whilst it hadn’t been used up yet. I knew I was inundating our social media outlets with info, so I limited myself to two mass email calls to arms. The first one gave all of the info on the project and the impact the donations could have, etc., while the second one was shorter, more to the point, and mentioned our matching grant. By now, all they would have to do was to view our page on IndieGoGo to see the progress of our exciting developments for the campaign. The other benefit was that those who had seen this as an impossible task at the outset of the campaign would now see how very close we were to victory and perhaps that would encourage them to donate. This plan proved very profitable because just a few days after sending this follow-up email, we hit our overall goal.

Increase your GoGo Factor: This next tip is specific to Indiegogo. I’m not sure if Kickstarter has a similar aspect, but if it does, please share it and/or your advice regarding it in the comments.

IndieGoGo doesn’t leave you hanging if you take the appropriate measures to run an active campaign. They measure the activity and effectiveness of your campaign with something they call “GoGo Factor.” According to IndieGoGo:

Your GoGoFactor is automatically measured by the number of times you share your campaign, update your contributors, update your campaign, or refer people using your custom URL. It also measures the overall level of contributor activity, including funding, comments, and pageviews. Campaigns with a high GoGoFactor are featured on our home page, in our social media outreach, and at conferences or in the press.

The great thing about this is that you can control half of the things they mention. You can link your own campaign as many times as you want and you can also control the number of updates you make. Crowd funding should not have a “set it and forget it” approach. You control the activity of your campaign. How invested you appear to be in making your campaign fun and interactive has a direct effect on how much your contributors help you spread the word and find more supporters.

I’d consider us to be very successful on this front because @Indiegogo began tweeting at us and sharing specific perks of ours that they liked with their followers. They also featured our campaign in their monthly newsletter which was just so awesome!

The coolest part was that we learned that this had happened through the many people that saw us in the newletter rather than being told by IndieGoGo. It really helped us visualize how many people we were reaching. None of that would have been possible without the help of our growing This Is Art family. It’s truly amazing to think about all the people who have had a hand in our success.

* * *

I hope this insight into our campaign has been helpful to anyone considering this method of funding their work. We are so ecstatic to have reached our goal and even more happy to have the chance to raise even MORE money before our campaign ends.

Any additional funds that we raise over the next ten days will be put toward promoting This Is Art, submitting the show to festivals, and finding sponsorship for season two. If you’re wondering about the impact this kind of thing can have on a webseries, check out Emily’s recent blog post, Conventions and Community. Now that we know we’ll be able to make a great product, this extra money will help us make sure it gets into the right ears, which is exceptionally important because we don’t have any recognizable faces in the project to catch the eye of industry executives.

Lastly, I want to honor our recent donors. We are so touched by your support and moved by your will to see us succeed in this endeavor. Words will never be enough to express our gratitude.

Kathleen Moran
Wendi Richmond-Brown
Bryan Munden
Terry Floyd
Christopher Feyrer
Anonymous
Andrew and Lizzie Park-Floyd
Anonymous
J. Sibley Law
Jenna Freed
Jon Riddleberger
Nancy and Howard Ansorge
Victor Solis
Linnea Haley
Michele Baltazar
Anonymous
Hall Morrison
Anonymous
Jason Leake
Sean Fearon
Gavin Linkens
Josephine Morrison

And of course: Our Anonymous Angel Donor who provided our generous Matching Grant.

Look out information on our USTREAM party in the next few days!

Anne Richmond
@annerichmond
@followthisisart
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Indiegogo Home Stretch Video

Once again, we set a goal and our amazing community has risen to achieve it!

With exactly two weeks left in our campaign, we are over $5000 funded. Thank you so much for all of your pledges! As promised, we have attached our Homestretch Announcement video for your enjoyment. In the video, we not only have a lot of fun, but we make two huge announcements for the webseries!

 

Announement #1: Donation Matching
Now that we have gotten within $1000 of our overall funding goal, an anonymous supporter has offered to match each donation up to a limit of $500 to help us reach our $6,000 goal.

If you haven’t yet donated to get us into production, here is a chance to make your gift work twice as hard. If you have given, thank you for getting us to the point where a like minded angel has decided to make this generous challenge grant.

Announcement #2: We’re having a USTREAM Party!
We’ve noticed an amazing community growing around “This Is Art.” Emily and I want to bring the community together in cyberspace to celebrate the home stretch of our campaign and to make sure all of you have a chance to meet each other. That’s why we’ve decided to throw a USTREAM Party so that you can interact with us in real time and living color while getting to know the many incredible individuals who have been getting involved with the show. This is your chance to ask us any questions you might have about our project and/or our process. We will be announcing the date of this LIVE streaming event as we approach our final $6000 goal. Make sure you follow us on Twitter, Like us on Facebook, and check here on our blog so you don’t miss out on the event details.

Lastly, we want to take a moment to thank our most recent donors. Without you, none of this would be possible!

Kathleen Moran
Wendi Richmond-Brown
Bryan Munden
Terry Floyd
Christopher Feyrer
Anonymous
Andrew Park-Floyd
Anonymous

I continue to be profoundly moved by your support of our show.

Anne Richmond
@annerichmond
@followthisisart
Facebook
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More Indiegogo Tips

I’m very pleased to report that we are 77% funded on Indiegogo after two weeks! We are just $1430 from our goal with nineteen days of fundraising left. Not only that, but we are the fifth most popular campaign on Indiegogo and we’ve been featured on the front page of their website for a few days. That’s pretty incredible and it’s all due to to our supporters out there in cyberspace. All your liking the campaign on IndiegogoLiking us on Facebook, retweeting us on Twitter, and emailing your friends is very visibly paying off judging by our campaign diagnostics. Whatever you’re doing to help us get the word out, please keep doing it!

 

Here are a few tips that we can pass on to all of you who might be currently conducting or planning to conduct your own crowdfunding campaigns.

Avoid the lull: After raising over half our funding in one week, we expected a bit of a lull in donations and we planned accordingly. In order to keep the momentum going forward, we strategically pulse out ask letters to new groups of people every few days so that we can keep the money coming in regulary, even if it is in smaller amounts as we approach the tail end of the campaign. People like to see progress and it gives us something to report and therefore gives us an excuse to send out our campaign link on all of our social media outlets whenever we hit a new milestone.

Use every tool available to you: If you are a member of an online forum, post your info. Contact friends with blogs or podcasts and see if they’ll interview you about your project or help you retweet your information to their followers. Go to the facebook pages for your high school and your college and post your information there to drive more attention and more traffic to your page. Find relevant fan pages on facebook and like them as your show. If there are industry events that you can go to, attend them and meet people. They might contribute to your show, but more than that, they may have very useful tips on how to improve your strategies. Your peers are one of your greatest resources so support them in their work and they will support you in yours.

How to handle friends that say they can’t donate: Continually encourage these folks to help you spread the word about your campaign. It’s not all about making money here. It’s about making sure your project falls on the right ears. Treat your friends like gold and make them feel like they are valuable assets to the team, even if they can’t help you monetarily. They can still help reach untapped audiences.

Continue to set attainable goals for your contributors: When we got close to the $4000 mark, I decided to launch another incentive. I talked about this a little bit in our other post and I’ve found it to be one of the most useful ways to inspire people to donate. I announced that if we reached it within two days, we’d release another exclusive character sketch. True to fashion, our supporters rallied to our battle cry and helped us reach our goal. Monday morning, I released the following character sketch for Cami: The Musical Theater Fanatic, played by Emily Floyd. Nothing says “razzle dazzle” like fringe!

Facebook Tagging is your friend: One other tip that was given to us early on by one of our cast members was to tag as many relevant people as possible when posting on Facebook. Inspired by this advice and by a campaign used by our friends at the Beautiful Soup Theater Collective to promote their show, I decided to launch a campaign introducing all of our actors and crew. Each day, we release a bio (written by the actor/crew member) and a headshot in order to introduce a member of our team. This way, it shows up on our stream and also on their page so that others may discover our show and hopefully our Indiegogo campaign. Today we began this series with Clint Okayama!

Meet Clint Okayama (KUKAOO)! He grew up in Honolulu, Hawaii. He thought he was going to be a novelist or a chemist until 8th grade until he acted in the modern masterpiece There’s a Boy in the Girl’s Bathroom as an 8th grader. As testament to the power of arts education, he has pursued acting ever since. He also soloed with the Honolulu Symphony on the 1st Rachmaninoff and 2nd Prokofiev concerti, and won the Hawaii high school division of NATS in classical singing. At NYU, he performed in numerous productions including the role of Song Liling in M Butterfly. He is currently auditioning like a madman, writing a screenplay entitled “Green Dreams” and is very, very pumped about This is Art.

Lastly, I’d like to honor our week two donors. These are the incredible people who are allowing us to bring our story to life:

Joseph Amiel
Anonymous
Michele Jarrett
Justin Nichols
Annie Stoll
Sheila Floyd
Anonymous
Agatha Bochenek
Yelena Sabel
Eileen Murphy
Hanna Floyd
Tim Ferrara

You guys are the best and we wouldn’t be here without you. We cannot wait to share this project with the world!

Anne Richmond
@annerichmond
@followthisisart
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P.S. If you live in the NYC Area, Emily and I are both performing in Alice, a new Off Broadway adaptation of Alice in Wonderland written and directed by Steven McCasland and playing at The Soho Playhouse. We open this Saturday and have an open ended run, performing every Saturday at 1PM. Tickets are $25. Come enjoy the show and romp through Wonderland with us!

P.P.S. Bloggers get in free in return for writing about the show! Contact me at thisisartwebseries (at) gmail (dot) com for more info!

Launching our Indiegogo Campaign

Things have been very busy for the whole This Is Art Team. We had our first table read of the script with our cast and we have been tweaking it and making some changes that were illuminated by this process. After a year of hard work, writing, and planning, I’m very proud to announce that our fundraising campaign on Indiegogo is now LIVE!

We have 34 days to raise $6000 in order to fund our project. Our production team is currently ready to shoot the entire first seasons if This Is Art at the end of August. We have a big idea, the passion, and the drive to make this happen, but we’re reaching out to everyone we know to ask for your help.

So please, take a moment to view our introductory video featuring test footage and behind the scenes interviews with some of our cast. You’ll find more information about the show and our goals listed below it on our campaign’s page. Spread the word on Facebook, Twitter, and by email. Each donation comes with it’s own thank gift or “perk” so take a look on the right side of the campaign page to see what we have to offer! Please consider donating to our project because you’ll not only be helping us realize our dream, but you’ll also be supporting new media entertainment, an industry that redefines what art is every single day.

 

 

Anne Richmond
@annerichmond
@followthisisart
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5 Tips for Standing Out at an Audition: Lessons from the Other Side of the Table

As most of our followers probably know, we recently held auditions for a few open roles in our webseries, This Is Art. This was not only an exciting milestone for our show, as we got to see our characters come to life in the hands of strangers, but it was also an important experience for me as an actor.

After all, this was my first time being on the other side of the table. For years I’ve been coming into auditions blindly, singing “God I Hope I Get It” on repeat in my head while I nervously lock eyes with this mysterious person whose job it is to judge me. Later, when it’s all over and I’ve received no phone call and my hope starts to dwindle, I always find myself asking, “What could I have done differently?”

Unfortunately, casting is such a subjective business. As actors, we’re trained to assure ourselves that we just “weren’t what they were looking for.” Usually, this is true. I learned that the hard way while casting This Is Art; there were a lot of really talented people who, sadly, just weren’t what we were looking for.

However, I also learned a lot of other important things about casting and auditioning during that experience. I can truly say that after sitting on the other side of that table, I will never go into an audition the same way again. It is now my sincere belief that every actor should get this experience at least once. So my first big acting tip is this: write a fake show, post auditions all over the internet, throw down a few hundred bucks for renting an audition space, and hold yourself some fake auditions!

Ok, maybe that’s not the most practical way to learn these lessons. How about I just share with you all of this priceless knowledge I gleaned from my own personal casting experience?

Now, there are 2 important factors for doing well at an audition:

#1: Obviously, the thing that will help you most at an audition is talent. You have to be good at it. But I hardly possess the ability to help you with that, especially through this blog. Let’s assume you’re confident in your talent (and you should be! You’re an ACTOR! And you’re fantastic!) and just focus on the other thing:

#2: You have to stand out. It sounds easy enough, and I’m sure you’ve heard it before. You already know that at every audition you’re competing against everyone else in the waiting room – sometimes hundreds of people! Now think about it this way: That person on the other side of the table, the one casting you, has been sitting behind that table for 3 hours when they see you. Five minutes after you finish singing your sixteen bars and reading your sides, they see another person who looks remarkably similar to you. And so on and so forth, for another 3 hours…

It took being subjected to this for three hours myself before it finally sunk in for me just how important it is to stand out. And here, my friends, are the easiest ways you can do it. From submission to audition, follow these tips and I guarantee you’ll be more than just another 5 minutes.

 

1. Submit yourself, not just your headshot.

When Anne and I first looked at all our submissions on Actor’s Access, we were overwhelmed with just how many faces were staring back at us. Unfortunately, the evil truth IS the truth – our first step was to go through, face by face, and determine which faces we wanted to see in person. We essentially looked at every headshot and every resume and formed a gut-instinct Yes Pile and No Pile. It was grueling and made us feel dirty and shallow. But! Every now and then we’d come across a submission that had a note attached: “I can definitely connect with this character!” or “The project sounds like a lot of fun, I’d love to be involved,” or even just plain old “Please consider me.” These notes were few and far between, but they made the actors who wrote the notes stand out. Often, someone would be heading for the No Pile, but we’d see that they “really loved the concept” and we’d put them in the Yes Pile just because they showed genuine (or non-genuine? Who knows, or cares?) interest. Long story short: When you are submitting to a project or asking for an audition, include something that denotes your interest in the project. If you’re submitting via e-mail, write a cover letter! This takes a little extra time, but it shows you’ve actually read the breakdown and aren’t just blanket-submitting to every project you see. Note: Yes, I’m aware most actors blanket-submit to every project they see. But you don’t have to make it so goshdarn obvious!

2. Répondez s’il vous plaît!

Simply put, if you get called or e-mailed to come in for something, respond! If you’ve recently submitted and know you should be expecting a call, then don’t freak out when you get a call from an unknown number. I called people to offer them audition slots and got treated like a telemarketer. That just… baffled me. It also surprised me how many people I’d call to offer an audition, only to hear “And what is this project?” I get it. It’s that whole blanket-submitting fiasco again. I’m not going to delude myself into thinking that every person who submitted for This Is Art desperately fell in love with our project just because of the breakdowns, BUT I will say that some of the people we called had no idea what a “webseries” is. Pro tip: If you are submitting for something, please know what it is. A little research never hurt anyone.

And while we’re on the subject, keep in mind a little enthusiasm never hurt anyone either. When someone sounded happy or excited to get the chance to audition for my show, or was even just polite about it, it made me all the happier and more excited to see them in the audition room.

3. Remember: You’re at an audition, even when you’re outside the room.

You know that person who sits outside and hands you your sides and tells you when it’s time to go in? For bigger-scale auditions, this person may just be hired to do that portion of the job, or may be volunteering and have no connection to the project. But if you’re auditioning for more independent projects, like webseries, independent films, or small-company theatre, that person outside the room is probably somehow connected to the people inside the room. I’m not saying to be fake to them, or feel nervous around them, but I WILL say that if you’re nice and personable to them, that person might remember you. Remember: People want to work with people with whom it’s easy to get along.

Please allow me a mini-tangent about this stage of the rehearsal process: You know that little sheet you usually get at an audition, with a few questions for you to fill out and turn in with your resume? Everyone is turning one in, and everyone is answering the same questions. Don’t be afraid to use this space to really express yourself. It’s just another chance for you to stand out! The people for whom you’re auditioning may never even glance at that sheet while you’re in the room. But later, as they’re rifling through endless piles of headshots and trying to narrow things down, they will read what you wrote, and it CAN make a difference.

4. Dress the part!

At Tisch School of the Arts, we learned that when getting dressed for an audition, you should always wear what the character would wear if they were getting dressed-up. In other words, you want to look nice, but show a little hint of the character. Even the prominent New York casting director Bernard Telsey once told me a story of the time a girl auditioned for the role of a princess character in a full-on princess gown. It was a little much, but he and his staff remembered her and ended up calling her in for other things.

I’ve always followed this rule religiously. Once I even auditioned for the role of Ophelia in a Steampunk production of Hamlet wearing a huge pair of custom-made Steampunk goggles. I don’t think it’s always necessary to go this over-the-top, but a suggestion of the character in your wardrobe really helps you stand out at an audition.

For instance, the actress Melanie Portsche was auditioning for a role in This Is Art which we had described as a “feminazi.” She came in to her audition wearing a nice black shirt paired with army-green cargo pants and boots. The moment she walked in the door I instantly took notice! During her audition, as Anne and James were complimenting her performance, I jumped in and complimented her outfit. Anne proceeded to hastily cover up for me with a quick “And your acting was good, also!” Of course, I didn’t mean that Melanie’s outfit outperformed her audition. I merely appreciated the fact that she’d put some thought into the character, and it showed in ALL aspects of her audition.

Later, as we were narrowing down our picks, Melanie endearingly earned the nickname “Cargopants.” What really pulled it off for her was a fantastic audition, but the detail she put into her audition, including the way she dressed, really helped her stand out to us so that we could REMEMBER just how fantastic her audition was. In the end, she got the part! She’s now a member of the This Is Art cast, and… hopefully still likes me even now that I’ve told you all this story.

5. For the love of all things holy, Make A Choice!

Seriously, this is the most straightforward tip I can give you. Make. A. Choice. If you get the sides beforehand, read them carefully and Make A Choice. If you get the sides right before you go in, read them quickly and Make A Choice.

Here’s something I think we actors forget: We’re not expected to nail the character perfectly at an audition. That’s not what they’re looking for at all. Instead, it’s more important that we prove our chops as actors (ie, Make A Choice) and that we can follow direction. If you come in having Made A Strong Choice, that shows the casting team that you are capable of Making Choices and it is most likely assumed that, given the context of the script, the Choices You Make will greatly influence the character during production. If you come in Making a Ridiculously Wrong Choice, it really doesn’t matter. The director will probably just tell you “This time, do it this way,” and then you have a chance to Make ANOTHER Choice. That’s Two Choices! In one audition! Do you know how much that will make you stand out?

 

So, there you have it. Five very important tips for standing out at an audition. Most of these primarily apply to auditions for independent projects, like our own, but even if you’re going to a Broadway Equity casting call, following these steps can only help you.

Finally, please keep in mind that even if you stand out really well at an audition you will not always get the part. Sometimes you just “weren’t what they were looking for.” Le sigh. The bright side: when they tell you they’ll hold on to your headshot, or keep you in mind for future projects, it’s probably not a white lie. What benefit do they gain from falsely boosting your confidence? If they’re not interested in you, they won’t pretend like they are. But if you’ve stood out to them – if you’ve proven that you’re a polite, fun to work with, smart choice-making machine – then they probably DO want to work with you.

Anne and I saw a lot of people at our auditions that really inspired us, even if they weren’t right for the part. In some cases, we even wanted to write new roles for them. In most cases, we hung on to their headshots and information so that we can call them in as soon as we have a place for them. It’s not a myth. You’re not just auditioning for the role for which you were called in, you may be auditioning for every role that the casting director will ever cast. That’s a GOOD thing!

Now, since we’re all learning here, I highly encourage you to comment with any other audition-related wisdom you might have.

 

Emily Floyd

@emilythespoon
@followthisisart
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