By Felicia Pride and Amber S. Brown
This is a guide about the making, marketing, and distribution of tender, a short film written and directed by Felicia Pride alongside the most amazing cast and crew. And, how the most amazing team of Black women went about releasing it in 2020… yep during the pandemic. To learn more about us and to watch tender, visit www.tendermovie.com. what I expected, and it’s incredible. When I allow myself to sink into the experience of reading the book, I take my time, re-read sentences here and there — suddenly I look up, and it’s 3 hours later. …
inception of tender
Behind the scenes of tender; credit: Avery Archie
For a long time, I told myself I couldn’t direct. That I didn’t see like a director. One of those false narratives that we tell ourselves. But I realized that for certain stories, I have to be a part of the vision through from start to finish. Even though I was terrified of directing tender, I’d learned that film is a director’s medium and in order to protect the very clear vision I have for certain projects that I birth, I knew I’d have to step into the director’s chair and get over my fears.
So tender is my directorial debut. It’s a little baby, but in it, I wanted to explore the bonds between Black women. I know I’ve been fortified and saved and cared for and loved by the Black women in my life. I wanted to try to capture that sentiment.
I also wanted to explore our sexuality and our desire. So often our sexuality is shamed or exploited or lacks nuance or looks only one way. We don’t see enough queer relationships, relationships where Black women have agency… We deserve a plethora of stories that reflect our desire and sexuality in all of its shapes and forms.
Our awesome producer made this sign for me
We wanted tender to be the first project out of Felix and Annie, my Gen-X focused production company. However, I didn’t have the money to finance it myself (like most filmmakers). So we decided to launch a hybrid fundraising campaign that included crowdfunding and paid virtual events.
Our Crowdfunding Campaign
Crowdfunding is a great way to build an audience for your film from day one. We knew this was a strategy that we’d use from the get-go so that once the film was complete, we would have people invested in watching it. But crowdfunding can be hella stressful. Having a very well-thought out campaign to draw as many eyes to the project is key. We handled the execution of our hybrid campaign ourselves, but you could also outsource if you feel you need the additional push.
Narrative Drive Behind The Campaign
One very important element that made the tender crowdfunding campaign a success was the narrative drive behind it. I had this intense fear of stepping into the director’s chair and as I began sharing that with people, I realized that it was a fear that a lot of other writers and creators shared. So we used that commonality as a narrative drive for the campaign.
Length of the Campaign
Because we had our shoot date in mind when we went into the crowdfunding stage, we knew exactly how long we would crowdfund, which was four weeks.
The Platform We Chose
Crowdfunding tender wasn’t something that we planned for a long time. There had been a lot of self doubt and fear prior to me deciding to actually shoot tender, and once I made the decision to move forward, we didn’t have a lot of time to prep and plan. We were sort of thrust into campaign mode, so we decided to go with GoFundMe because it didn’t require perks and you could get money immediately. Since we were in pre-production while crowdfunding, it was important to be able to access funds.
Our awesome producer Regina Hoyles; credit: Avery Archie
Prior to launching the crowdfunding campaign, we had commissioned a budget from a line producer. This step was vital so that we knew how much it would cost to produce tender. This budget was adjusted by our producer, Regina Hoyles, as we went into pre-production, but having a good prediction of what costs to expect upfront was vital to setting our crowdfunding goal.
Speaking of our goal, we intentionally set our goal on GoFundMe to be modest and only half of what we really needed: $5,000. This was so that we could have a better chance at reaching this initial goal, gaining the trust of donors, and then work towards a stretch goal. And we were able to surpass our goal and ended raising nearly $15,000 in total from our campaign. Here’s how we did it.
Ways We Raised Money
There were three prongs that helped us reach our fiscal goal.
The primary way we raised money for tender was through GoFundMe. In order to promote our GoFundMe, we developed an editorial calendar to guide what we were going to post for our campaign on a daily basis. We used Trello to outline the calendar. It was a great way for our team to stay organized and be on the same page at all times. We promoted our crowdfunding campaign nearly every day — trying to find fresh ways to do so each time.
We created graphics and other creative assets for social media that had the look and feel of tender. You don’t have to be a graphic designer or hire one. We used drag-and-drop platforms like Canva to design high-quality shareable graphics. We made sure to update graphics as the campaign aged. For example, once we reached our initial goal, we created a graphic thanking our donors but also upping our goal and encouraging people to help us reach our stretch goal.
There was also a section dedicated to tender with a link and graphics directing visitors to the campaign on our tender website, which we created quickly as a page on our Felix & Annie website.
We also made sure to keep our donors engaged and updated on tender by sending them messages throughout the campaign. It was important to keep our donors updated on the project’s journey along the way because they were our biggest campaign sharers and cheerleaders.
Another element that we can contribute to the success of the GoFundMe page was setting a date for production. Because we had a tangible shoot date that we shared, people felt like they only had a certain window to donate. It created a sense of urgency and made people feel like it was now or never. They also felt more confident in donating because they knew there would be an end product that they could watch and share soon.
Another way we raised money for tender was through fiscal sponsorship. We used Film Independent to help execute this prong of the campaign because we knew some wealthy individuals who would be interested in using their donation as a tax writeoff. We ended up raising about $3,000 through this method.
For higher donors, we offered an even more personal touch. We picked up the phone and made calls. Crafted personal emails that exuded passion, vision, and sincerity. We didn’t spam folk. Consider creating a list of people who you have relationships with and people you believe will genuinely connect with your project. Research and see if you can find people who have a history of donating to projects similar to yours.
If you have a lookbook (which we did), you can share it with your potential donors so they can see what you’re aiming for visually.
After having executed a past crowdfunding campaign that did not turn out successful, I knew I wanted to do something extra to boost the tender campaign. Since we weren’t offering perks because of our time crunch and limited capacity, we also wanted to provide an avenue for donating where people felt like they were getting something tangible for their donation.
Since I run The Create Daily, a free online service where I help underrepresented storytellers thrive, I knew a lot of fellow creators would find value in a series of webinars.
So we launched Virtual Chats, one-hour webinars/Q&As around writing and the entertainment business. We hosted three chats, weekly during the month-long campaign: The Art of Pitching for Film and TV, Developing A Writing Process, Practice & Schedule, and What It Takes to Become A Professional Film/TV Writer, which are all still available online. We charged $25 for each webinar and allowed people to donate on top of their ticket if they wanted. All proceeds went to the making of tender. We also made the chats available online and now proceeds go toward the making of tender, the feature film.
Since this was my first film, I knew it was going to be crucial to work with a producer whom I could trust and who understood the vision for the film. Luckily, I found that in Regina Hoyles. Regina was my right hand for about a year prior. She wrote, directed, and starred in her own short film, Adullum. I saw it and was so impressed. So I asked her if she would produce tender. And she was perfect because she already knew my aesthetic and what was important to me. And she knew how to talk me off a few ledges!
Hire A Producer
You don’t want to do this yourself. An experienced producer comes at a cost, but they make production easier so you can focus on
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