"…it’s far better to be the train than it is to be the guy standing around waiting for it. Don’t wait around for it to happen to you. Get out there and make it happen. Be the train."
—The Granger Bros
The Granger Brothers' IndieGoGo story is a classic example of why having an audience or building one plays a major part in crowdfunding. Read and learn.
Q1. Tell us about The Charlie the Clown Show. What was your inspiration for the project and its goals?
Charlie Da Clown and his partner Sprinkles were born out of a short film we shot back in 2006 called “Operation Roxanne.” At the time, they were a pair of retired clowns who fell off the entertainment radar long ago and yearned for the fame they once had. It always led to the question of what their glory days must have been like. So, with that in mind, we spent time developing their back-story and discovered that Charlie and Sprinkles were once the hosts of one of TVs most popular, long running TV variety shows. The Charlie Da Clown Show (featuring Sprinkles). The project we developed and funded through IndieGoGo is the first episode of Charlie’s twentieth season. It’s 1984 and Charlie’s rat-pack style and sensibilities aren’t fitting into this new neon world. The project is being used as a twenty-minute presentation pilot to augment our pitch package for a weekly TV comedy. It’s been described as a live-action Muppet Show with a healthy dose of South Park and a sizable chunk of the Rat-Pack.
Q2. How are you identifying, reaching and building your audiences?
For the last eight years, we’ve been making insane short comedy films as ‘practice.' These comedies were always on the edge and pretty unique. It was those films (close to twenty) that identified our online audience. Some of these films were licensed by Lionsgate to appear in one of their features and another featured both Harrison Ford and Robert Patrick in cameo roles. In August of 2009, MTV and Quentin Tarantino selected one of our shorts as the winner of MTV’s Basterdize Tarantino Spoof Contest. This helped to further solidify our fan-base and help build our audience. It’s these same folks who have followed us over the years (on MySpace, then YouTube and Facebook) who were the people who donated to our show and helped to make it a success. It was really all those years of making them laugh that had them asking (and helping to pay) for more.
Q3. What role does the Internet and social media play in your DIWO (Do-It-With- Others) efforts?
It played an incredibly crucial role. We created several social networking sites that all funneled into IndieGoGo. The most effective were our Facebook pages and the pages of our supporters. We had amazing support from friends and fans, who would continuously repost our bulletins, updates and promotional materials. We did it old school too. We handed out flyers, business cards and even postered stores and lampposts all over Vancouver, but it was our online presence that truly made all the difference in the world. The ruckus we were making even caused “BC Business Magazine” to approach us for an article on crowd-source-funding and a large two page story was done on us in their August issue. It truly helped to legitimize what we were doing with IndieGoGo.
Q4. Tell us about your recent IndieGoGo campaign? How'd it go? What worked? What didn't work? Any surprises?
You better believe there were surprises! Getting a single dollar for our hair-brained scheme was the biggest.
We have always subscribed to the ‘moving train theory.' Meaning it’s far better to be the train than it is to be the guy standing around waiting for it. It was with this in mind that we set forth in getting the project made.
We set our budget goal at $6000 and gave ourselves 60 days to complete our funding. It seemed a pretty reasonable thing to ask. We started strong. Several donations came in in the first few days and we made our first $1000 by the end of week one. We were definitely on pace. But as in any endeavor where you ‘put it out there’ you experience a ton of ups and downs. We certainly did. We had big days, we had small days but we never had a nothing day. For us, the scariest moment was hitting the half-way point of our goal. We had a ton of success but still a long way to go and not much time to do it in. Point of no return. Keep in mind, while we were waist-deep in our IndieGoGo campaign, we were also prepping the project to shoot. Arranging our location, our insurance, our sets, cast and just about everything else imaginable that costs money…without any actual money. We achieved our goal of $6000 eight days before our deadline, but the donations kept coming in. In the end, including private donations, we raised close to $9000. It was quite an achievement and we have a lot to live up to. It’s half the
inspiration to do an awesome job.
What we learned was to never underestimate the peoples’ kindness and willingness to get involved. We had donations from an incredibly diverse cross section of people. Here’s a segment of my ‘Thank You” post to our donors…
“In our interview with BC Business magazine about this new phenomenon called 'Crowdfunding' the reporter asked 'who are the people who donate?'
My answer was that it's not the Hollywood people, it's not the rich people nor the ones with extra money to throw around…it's the people like us. It's the people who CAN'T afford it.
It's people like Sharon Goodrich, a stranger whom I have never met from the East Coast of the states, who works a temp gig to make ends meet and donates THREE TIMES because she likes what we do and has a good heart.
It's people like "The Stragglers" a struggling band, who collected 10 bucks from each member so they could get a band Thank-You credit in the finished movie.
It's people like Colby Atchison and Wendy Groen whom I have known for twenty years and haven't seen in fifteen who find a way to contribute even though they have a young family and home to care for.
It's folks like Rob Minhas who donated what he could and then reposted our link on Facebook every day to help out for two months.
The people who made this happen are real people. They're people like us. They’re the t-shirt and jeans wearing, I work hard every-day to keep my life on the rails type of folks. They're the people that I am proud to call my friends.”
Q5. Any tips / advice for other aspiring creative entrepreneurs?
Don’t wait around for it to happen to you. Get out there and make it happen. Be the train.
Q6. What is next on your radar? And where can folks follow your efforts?
We’re currently in post-production on The Charlie Da Clown Show and as our director and editor are slaving away like mole-people in their dark little editing dungeon, we’re assembling our pitch package for the show in a bright and well ventilated coffee shop. We’ve written several new episodes and have already outlined our entire first season. We’re budgeting out the cost of this proposed season and preparing to screen the film in early November here in Vancouver before shopping it to distributors. Our website will be going live at www.thecharliedaclownshow.com in early September and we can always be found at www.facebook.com/thegrangerbros doing something foolish.