These independent filmmakers are amplifying their audience reach with crowdfunding

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Hollywood may be the film mecca of America, but about two hours south of Tinseltown there is an emerging film scene in San Diego, Calif.

And KPBS, San Diego’s local Public Broadcasting Service, wants to turn a lens on San Diego’s booming film community with their six-part part series “Film InDiego.”

“There’s been a very strong, growing momentum of local independent filmmakers producing work, getting more attention and coming together and building community,” said Jodi Cilley, the producer behind the project. She said KPBS felt was worth exploring more in what this community is doing: creating local content on its TV channel.

KPBS is partially funding the series, mainly footing the cost of closed captioning and insurance, leaving Cilley and her staff to go the crowdfunding route for the rest of the funds needed.

In other words: Come up with the money and we’ll agree to broadcast your show.

“KPBS generally doesn’t give a whole lot of funding for stuff like this,” she said. So in order to create the type of TV show she wanted, she decided to raise more money through a crowdfunding campaign.

This isn’t the first time Through the Cracks has seen crowdfunded content being published by mainstream publications and reach a larger audience.

New York Times currently hosts a series of documentaries funded by fans on Kickstarter.

The Internet’s Own Boy was crowdfunded in 2013 shortly after the suicide of Aaron Swartz, and after years on YouTube, the documentary is currently one of the most popular videos on Netflix.

Mizell Stewart, Managing Director of Content for the Journal Media Group, a company that owns metro daily newspapers from Wisconsin to Florida told Through the Cracks editor Khari Johnson he would welcome the opportunity to publish content that was successfully crowdfunded.

See this story for more on how crowdfunding may make a magazine article pitch more appealing to editors.

That approach isn’t just good news for filmmakers and journalists who want distribution beyond their smaller network or monetization beyond a single crowdfunding campaign.

It’s also good news for funders.

A survey of donors to crowdfunded journalism found that the subject matter and dissemination of a story matter a lot. They don’t just want the story made, they want it to have an impact, and wider distribution may increase

Cilley wants “Film InDiego” to be an adventure tourism style show where the film crew goes out into the community to meet people in their element at their venue as opposed to doing interviews in a studio in front of a green screen.

Cilley, who was approached by KPBS for the project, has raised more than $11,000, surpassing a $10,000 goal with 10 days to go.

The money received so far will fund one episode, with stretch goals of $40,000 to finance six shows and $60,000 to ensure everyone receives a fair wage.

The funding for the show will be used to pay host Dallas Mclaughlin, the film crew, hair and makeup, buy some wardrobe and just about everything else needed in the filmmaking process.

“It’s expensive trying to make a 56-minute TV series episode, especially in the way we’re trying to do it,” Cilley said.

She said most of the donors have been from people in the industry.

“The film community in San Diego is rapidly growing,” she said. “It’s very tight-knit. It’s very community and collaborative oriented and it’s positive. You have thousands of people here working together to make film on very, very little resources.”

Cilley isn’t a stranger to crowdfunding. In the past, she crowdfunded projects like the San Diego Student Film Festival.

The series will be filmed through Film Consortium San Diego, a social venture dedicated to building a film industry in San Diego from the ground up.

“It’s such a huge opportunity to promote the local film community,” she said. “And by proximity that will elevate all the efforts we’ve been making in the city to bring attention to the filmmaker.”

“Film InDiego” is set to air in January 2016.

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Robert Moreno
Robert is a full-time reporter for the Chula Vista Star-News covering local government and education beats and writing human interest stories. He is a believer in nonprofit journalism.

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