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This article was published 9/6/2010 (2571 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A pair of local filmmakers have turned the industry's traditional marketing model on its ear.
Lisanne Pajot and James Swirsky have sold hundreds of DVDs of their latest project -- a documentary about video games, their creators and their craft -- that they won't even start shooting until this fall.
They've also raised more than $20,000 in two days from video game aficionados around the world who want to support their film after a trailer they uploaded to a "crowdsourcing" site went viral. One game developer alone pledged $9,000.
Their initial fundraising goal for their film, which will be called Indie Game: The Movie, was to raise $15,000 in two months.
"We thought this would take forever," Pajot said. "We've done the marketing upside down. We started marketing our film, selling copies and getting people invested before it was made. We're reaching out to the community before you would in any other TV or film model."
Even before they had announced the upload to kickstarter.com via email and Twitter, one diehard gamer had seen it, donated money, tweeted about it and within two hours, Pajot and Swirsky had pledges of $3,000.
"It was crazy. We got 400 emails in two days from people wanting to be a part of it, who wanted to donate music to it or who wanted us to come to their city to find out about their independent game scene," Pajot said.
The trailer, a six-minute portrait of a game developer, was also picked up on popular gaming websites such as Boing Boing and Kotaku. Officials from film festivals in the U.K. and Brazil are planning to screen it at their events, too.
Brendon Sawatzky, manager of the Winnipeg-based National Screen Institute's Features First program, said crowdsourcing sites are new to the filmmaking industry.
"It's very difficult to find private financing and I think that's why people are very interested in crowdsourcing. In a way, it's a private financing model. You put your idea out there, the audience says, 'That's a movie I'd like to see,' so they kick in some cash," he said.
Sawatzky said because the concept is so fresh, it's still a year or two too early to pass judgment on its long-term viability.
"I haven't come across a scenario where money has been paid out and a film has been finished. There is a traditional (fundraising) system but if filmmakers can work outside of that and get their films made, I would encourage them to do it. It's really up to the audience to determine whether it's going to sink or swim," he said.
Kickstarter.com and others like it are platforms for people to market their creative projects, ranging from film to software to organic meats. You make your pitch, including a monetary goal and deadline, and hope for pledges to come in.
Depending on the amount donated, Pajot said supporters will receive a thank you in the film's credits, a DVD or a T-shirt. They've even sold a dozen spots for $300 allowing would-be developers to show their game trailer in the credits.
Pajot and Swirsky, who run their own company called BlinkWorks, have spent much of the last five years working on corporate projects. Six years ago, they won an award at the NSI Film Festival for a short film entitled Jannie Bananie Quits Smoking.
Pajot said the funds they have raised will be used for travel and accommodation "as we drive around North America in our Yaris." They plan to visit Toronto, Montreal, San Francisco and Phoenix to shoot footage. They plan to edit it over the Christmas break and release it next spring.