Amy Jo Johnson has had a long film and television career since 1993, but you might still remember her first role — as the Pink Power Ranger on Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Though she might be cringing that we’re bringing up that piece of 90’s nostalgia, it’s worth mentioning because, the whole time she was karate chopping Putty Patrollers, she was dreaming of directing. Through crowdfunding, she’s been able to do just that.
Last fall, Amy Jo ran an Indiegogo campaign to fund her writer-directorial debut, “Bent” — a short about cancer, infidelity, and a religious cult. With a goal of $20,000 her dram-com ultimately raised over $28,000 from fans, friends, followers, and beyond.
Since then, the short was produced and selected for a number of film festivals, including Athens and Miami Women’s International — and it won the Audience Choice Award at Toronto’s Women in Film & Television Showcase. It will also be screening in September at the Long Island Film Festival!
With her directing career properly launched, it was time for her next project, and Amy Jo is back with a campaign for her second short, “Lines.” This one is based on a true story about a disturbing encounter with a cosmetic surgeon and underscores how empowering it can be to “embrace our wrinkles.”
Using what she learned with her first crowdfunding campaign, she’s quickly surpassed C$20,000 and is on her way to her C$25,000 goal — nostalgic fans of Power Rangers should check out her perks. Her experience is a great example of the power of running multiple campaigns, whether or not they’re for the same project. Not only do you come prepared with the knowledge of what works and what doesn’t, but you also have a group of prior contributors who believe in your work and are excited to get involved in your next project (or next part of an ongoing project).
We spoke with Amy Jo about her experiences as a crowdfunding filmmaker and the explosion of inspiring crowdfunding in Canada:
As a filmmaker, why did you decide to turn to crowdfunding? Why Indiegogo?
My dream has always been to some day direct. I’ve found crowdfunding these short films the perfect vehicle to actualize that dream. And not only am I honing my craft and creating stories from my heart, but It also gives these little movies a life and people a chance to be a part of the process with me. In the end it has helped create an audience for a film that might otherwise never see the light of day.
Can you tell us about your campaigns?
My first campaign BENT was about lifelong friendship. It was a 30 day launch and went amazingly well thanks to the help of my twitter followers. I’m now in the midst of my second campaign Lines, which is a comedy about the pressures in society to stay looking unnaturally young. It’s actually a true story that happened to me last summer. I’m so excited to have Enrico Colantoni play the RUDE doctor! And again twitter and my fans (I hate using that word) how about my helpers, for me has been the true ingredient to making these campaigns work.
What’s the crowdfunding experience been like?
The crowdfunding experience for me has been AWESOME. Like I said it’s giving me not only the funds to actually make these films but also the audience to have them be seen upon completion. I’m thinking at this point even after my directing career takes off and I don’t need to crowdfund I still will! I like the process. I like getting people involved. It helps fill the spirit of the film.
Why do you think crowdfunding has become so popular in Toronto and greater Canada?
Well, it looks like crowdfunding is a splash all over the world not only Toronto. It’s nice to have control and not have to climb major ladders. It is the wave of the future. Oh, wait it’s happening right now. I love it!!
What strategies have you used to run successful campaigns?
For both campaigns I’ve started with a photo shoot of the cast. It has helped me make the movie a reality before filming and also gives me great content for the campaign. AND Update, update, update. I find that every time I tweet about the campaign a flux of contributions are made. And I try to do it at all different times of the day. Also, making interesting perks that people will want.
What’s next for you and your team?!
Shooting the short! We are set to shoot August 17th and 18th. Bent is also in the middle of the festival route when that is complete I’m going to check out indiegogo’s https://www.distribber.com/ If Bent and Lines can be available on iTunes my work is complete and I can move on to the next MOVIE!!