Funding for Documentary The Mushroom Hunter

morel mushrooms, indie, film, Winamac, Indiana, France Park

There’s a poll at the bottom of the post.

This isn’t me asking for money.

This is me asking you to help me plan to ask for money.

Have you heard of Kickstarter or Indiegogo? In short, they’re websites that help people raise financing for projects. I’m going to try using one of those platforms to raise money to send The Mushroom Hunter (and sometimes me) to film festivals.

These websites ask me to pair donation amounts with something in return for a contribution.

For example, someone might give $20, and I’d mail them a handwritten thank you note and send a copy of the DVD when the film is completed. I hope to add lots more creative “rewards” and I’d love help coming up with some ideas.

I don’t actually think the DVD would be a huge motivation to give. It would be something else, right?

I suspect people who give money will be more apt to believe in the power of stories. I’ve travelled to Jefferson, Texas and made a film about Kathy Patrick and the Pulpwood Queens. (some of you bought DVDs; Thank You!) and now I’ve travelled home to Winamac and followed my dad and his friends around and made a film about he and his mushroom hunting buddies. What I discovered is that the film is about much more than hunting the roonies: it’s also growing older, having good friends, losing some of those friends, and the rewards that come with a walk in the woods.

I have some more (maybe weird) ideas for what people who support the project might get:

  • feedback on manuscripts
  • my buddy Jeremy coming to give a concert at your BBQ (an expensive one)
  • dinner with me…and/or Jeremy…and/or me and my wife
  • me cutting your grass or lifting heavy stuff
  • secret treasure mushroom guide maps (have to convince my dad on that one)

So as I plan this financing project, do you have ideas for reward levels?

Someone gives ________ and they receive _________.

Here’s another big one: How much should I ask for?

I’d like to think about entering fifty (???) or so film festivals and attending as many of them as possible. There’s also some more immediate needs like having a pro video account to share films and then actually paying for the rewards if the goal is met. In other words, if you donate $20 to the project, then I have to arrange to get you a film and have it shipped to you.

But for now, to think out loud on this blog post…

If the average festival entry costs around $50, then I’m looking at $2,750. If I’m going to these festivals, then I’m arriving at something like $4,000. That reads like a fortune to me, and I think that I should greatly reduce how many festivals I might enter. On the other hand, I think if 1,000 people give 5 bucks, then the goal is met. There’s also equipment that would help me tell these stories more effectively  (for example lights and lav microphones) and I bring that up just as a little hint that telling these stories is also an investment of time and money that I’m blessed my family has been willing to make with me.  It was my wife Megan who convinced me to proceed with the mushroom film that even put me in a space where I could run into the Pulpwood Queens and tell that story.

Thank you for reading this far. Below are some links that explain a little more about how this might work.

A little bit more about the mushroom project

A Ted Talk Video About Asking for Money.

The basics of Kickstarter

A Kickstarter project I thought was pretty cool

An alternative to Kickstarter

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