Interview with successful crowdfunder Erica von Stein

Posted: Wed, 24 July 2013 by

By Bloom intern Jamie Moore

We get to do loads of exciting things here at Bloom and visiting finished projects is one of them. I got to play film journalist for a day and visit successful project owner Erica Von Stein. Erica was kind enough to show me around her successfully crowdfunded film set and I was there to watch a pivotal scene get filmed (don’t worry no spoilers!). Afterwards Erica let me ask her a few questions about her film and about her crowdfunding experience.

Q. Tell us a little about your film

The film was originally titled "The Eyes and Ears of Van Gogh" which I later changed to "Little Vincent".  I wrote the script a few months back after looking at some of Van Gogh's paintings and asking the question: what would have happened to him if he didn't kill himself? I wondered what direction his life would have went in if he hadn't suffered from mental illness. Would he be the same? Was his suffering necessary for his success? etc. I wrote this piece based on Van Gogh, it's a very emotionally charged contemporary film which intricately explores mental illness and art. Suicide and mental illness is something I feel very strongly about so I wanted to create a film which would provide people with a bit of hope.

Q. Where did the idea to crowdfund come from?

The projects I have made in the past have all been on a no budget basis, so I am very good at creating something with minimal resources - however in this case there were things I just had to pay for. The locations, make up art, food for my cast and crew and there was no way I could have managed it all myself without crowdfunding. I have always known about crowdfunding but never used it until I had a project I believed in enough to make other people believe in it too. If you have strong support behind you I would definitely recommend it.

Q. What do you think made your project successful?

My project was successful because of the amount of time and support everyone put in. I am very lucky to have had so many people invest their energy into the project  and they have been there every step of the way. Equally, I think if you are passionate about something your passion will rub off onto others and they will believe in you too. Believing in yourself is the key.

Q. What tips would you give to others who are looking to crowdfund?

Make a very strong promotional video to begin with. Go on camera yourself and speak from the heart and let the beauty of your project shine right through. Dedicate yourself to the project for its entire duration. I crowdfunded for over a month and spent hours online every day promoting it. Write to local newspapers and magazines, they love to hear local success stories and are always willing to help. Understand that no goal is unrealistic. I crowdfunded £3000, which is 300 donations of £10 - sounds like a lot but the average person has over 300 followers on Facebook/twitter ... it's achievable! Arrange other funding events outwith social media; I held a talent evening to raise funds for the project for people who couldn't afford to donate a large amount, they paid the £5 for their ticket and every sale went into the pot which was a massive help.

Q. How important do you think social media was in crowdfunding?

Social media was crucial. Without Facebook my pledges would likely still be sitting at zero! And of course YouTube is excellent for hosting the promotional videos.

You can see Erica’s successful project here http://bloomvc.com/project/The-Eyes-and-Ears-of-Van-Gogh-short-film