Raising $80,000 in 60 Days, Crystle Roberson's New Project

If you hang around the Atlanta filmmaking community long enough, you'll eventually hear the name Crystle 'Clear' Roberson come up at some point. Since being awarded Women in Film & Television's Woman to Watch award back in 2008, Roberson's been busy building up a healthy resume including working on some of Georgia's most high profile productions including Zombieland, Vampire Diaries, Footloose and of course several Tyler Perry projects. She's currently working on her next project, Echo at 11 Oak Drive, and along with her producer they've set the crazy, insane goal of raising $80,000 via iFundie in the next 51 days.

The project itself, three stories set in 1951, 1973 and 2010, in the same house, and all sharing the same dialogue, sounds intriguing and also a bit dangerous, but in a good way. It's taking what has been done in movies such as HBO's If These Walls Could Talk and its followup If These Walls Could Talk 2, a few steps further.

One of the most basic acting exercises actors go through is making a scene out of raw dialogue stripped of cues, context and direction. At first glance it can be daunting and most beginning actors go for the obvious choices. However, when an actor is on top of her game, and she takes a few risky gambles, you can get something really powerful.

A director upping that ante across time, and three radically different eras, and in something much more complex than a single scene, is something that excites folks like me. Hopefully Roberson can pull it off.

First though, is the funding. While the goal is ambitious, other folks have been able to raise 80k (although I'm curious why link to Kickstarter for examples of projects that succeeded when they went with iFundie).

Four things I really like about the way Roberson and her producer approached this is:

  1. They edited in previous work. Too few crowd sourcing campaigns from filmmakers include any examples of previous work to illustrate what the money raised might help fund.
  2. Roberson has a well written, and updated bio that exudes confidence.
  3. Offering some unique items. At the magic $20 level (that's where most donations come in) they're sharing a private link to "a never-before-seen music video" with The Wire actor Idris Elba that was directed by Roberson in San Juan, Puerto Rico. It's a nice bit of exclusivity--it's one of the reasons we all love special features on DVDS, getting to see the unreleased footage. And at the $100 level they'll let you in on the behind the scenes info of the film's making. Including sharing script changes, shot lists, casting decisions and more. Most folks won't dig all that deep into the info, but by offering such an intimate look into their process, the filmmakers are both acknowledging and honoring how much trust is involved in crowdfunding.
  4. They made the accompanying pitch video fun. There's no indie filmmaker, I'm broke, hand wringing. It's clear these two young ladies love what they do, have great personalities, and are excited about their project, and that's infectious. It also shows how much faith they have they'll reach their goal. Raising $80k? They got that.

As I'm wont to do, I do have one suggestion. Their logline is more of a tagline and they could use a succinct logline that gives a little more story detail. As someone who has to read lots and lots of loglines, vague ones are a pet peeve of mine. And, since the tagline includes, even if it's unintentional, the title of the aforementioned If These Walls Could Talk, a stronger logline would help their project stand apart more.

You can check out their pitch video below and the Echo at 11 Oak Drive iFundie page here.