Power of Crowdfunding: How Social Media Transformed Documentary Filmmaking

Jul 10, 2023 | Articles, Media

If you’re a fan of film, there’s a chance that you’ve had an idea that you would like seen brought to the world. However, for most indie filmmakers, the chances of doing that are low because of one barrier: cost.

While the cost of cameras, mics, and other technology has decreased, it’s still a massive hurdle for most. In most cases, you must pay a crew, travel, and possibly rent out locations; the list goes on. Even promotion these days can be a hurdle, since you want it to succeed but need the traction and support to make this work out for your dreams. With so many living paycheck to paycheck, is it possible to make a filmmaking dream come true?

With the invention of online crowdfunding, the answer is yes. It’s possible to present your idea to the world, and if the world likes it, they can give you money to fulfill your dream. In this case, these filmmakers wanted to create investigative documentaries. Let’s look at several documentaries that have been crowdfunded. While you’re at it, you can buy Instagram live views to present your idea to the world.

Growing Back to Nature

One way that documentaries can change the world is to expose people to their impact on the environment and talk about how one can make changes to improve their relationship with nature. Filmmaker Anthony Rodriguez wanted to make a documentary about how people change their lifestyles to be harmonious with nature.

Many filmmakers use Kickstarter or Indiegogo for their dream, but Rodriguez used GoFundMe, a website commonly associated with emergencies, and smashed his $25k goal, so his plan worked. He has a website up, and his first episode is currently in production. Here’s hoping his documentary film series goes well and we can learn how people can live in harmony with their surroundings.

Gaming in Color

Video games have evolved from what some have called a mindless hobby into one with rich stories, characters, and themes. With the rise in LGBTQ+ culture in the mainstream eye, this has naturally affected gaming as well, from games with LGBTQ+ themes to communities centered around gaming as an LGBTQ+ person. In 2013, gaming company MidBoss created a Kickstarter for their film, Gaming in Color, which explored these themes around gaming and its communities. It broke its $50k goal, and the film was released the following year.


The Death of Superman Lives

One intriguing documentary premise is of a piece of media that never happened. Examining why specific media got canceled is fascinating, and it’s intriguing to think about what could have been. This is the case with Superman Lives, a film announced in the 1990s that would have Nicolas Cage as Superman, Kevin Smith as the writer, and Tim Burton as the director.

That’s quite a team, and the idea was polarizing when it was first announced. While Burton had superhero movie experience, with his Batman films having a large following, the idea of Cage as Superman or Smith, better known for writing more comedic movies, was quite odd. However, it never came out. Why? Well, Jon Schnepp wanted to find out. He made a Kickstarter for his documentary, and in 2015, his documentary came out.

Schnepp died from a stroke at only 51 years old, only three years later. His work reminds you to make your dream film because you never know when your time on this Earth will end.


Taking My Parents to Burning Man

Burning Man is an annual event that’s hard to describe. It’s an event of self-expression, art, and social media influencers. Oh, and it’s named Burning Man because participants burn a wooden effigy of a man near the end of the event.

Whatever you think of Burning Man, you have to admit; it’s an odd event and one that Joel Ashton McCarthy wanted to take his parents, who are in their 60s, to. McCarthy created a Kickstarter, and the film came out in 2014 with positive reviews. It is the oddest family vacation you’ll probably watch, so check it out if you haven’t already.


Room 237

Here is another documentary about a film, but this time, a film that was released. If you’re a horror fan, there’s a good chance you’ve watched Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, a 1980 adaptation of Stephen King’s book.

While the plot of The Shining isn’t complex, Kubrick’s version is packed with symbolism, so there are many ways to view the film. Some theories of the film seem outlandish at first, such as claiming that Stanley Kubrick hid evidence in the movie that admitted that he faked the 1969 moon landing, but once you hear the case, you may be a believer.

Tim Kirk, producer of the film, created a Kickstarter. His budget was a meager $5,000, but with the money, Room 237 was released in 2012 to critical acclaim.


Paint Drying

Paint Drying is a film comprising 10 hours of paint drying on a brick wall, with no audio or changing shots. Your immediate response is probably, “Why film this?” and “Why did this need crowdfunding?”

In short, this film was created by Charlie Shackleton, who began it as a protest against the UK’s film censorship guidelines. Many independent filmmakers have to go through the British Board of Film Classification’s rating system, which charges filmmakers per minute for them to review the film and give it an age rating.

Shackleton’s Kickstarter was designed to make the censors watch the movie for as long as possible, in this case, literally watch paint dry for 10 hours so that they could give the film a rating. The backers raised £5,936. When trolling people, we say this is an expensive yet creative way to do it.



If you have a great idea and some filmmaking skills but lack the budget to do anything to it, bring it to Kickstarter. You may just create the next documentary that can change the world

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Thomas B.