Notes From Sundance

01.20.11

How Crowdfunding Can Get You Money Online

As the Sundance welcomes its first crowdfunded film, here's a look at the rise of websites that make it easier than ever to get funding from strangers online.
sundance-film-festival
Sundance Film Festival 2011 (Frazer Harrison / Getty Images)

Matthew Lessner has a lot of strangers to thank.

As the clock strikes midnight tonight inside Park City’s Holiday Village Cinemas on the second day of the Sundance Film Festival, his indie satire The Woods will make its premiere in front of a sold-out crowd.

It nearly didn’t happen.

It was late summer, in 2009, and Lessner was running out of money as he neared the completion of his film. His credit was drying up too. So he turned to a website called Kickstarter.com. “With your help and support (whoever you may be) we hope to make the dream of finishing and releasing—what we believe to be a truly unique and dynamic film—a reality,” he wrote to nobody in particular. “Help us save The Woods!”

Before long, nearly 100 people he’d never met had given him $11,584 to complete his project and help send it to the prestigious annual festival in the mountain town of Park City, Utah.

With budget cuts drying up arts funding, the internet is fast becoming a reliable stream of revenue for people who have a dream and a plan—but not a lot of cash. And it’s not just for professional filmmakers, writers, artists, and inventors. Kickstarter and other websites like it are letting just about anyone with an interesting concept grab some free cash from their fellow benevolent web surfers to make their idea a reality.

Click here to read the rest of this article.

Click here to see the coolest crowdfunding projects.