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Oz crowd-funding platform starts to see results

Pozible, Australia’s first and largest crowd-funding platform, has helped filmmakers raise $1.37m (A$1.3m) since its May 2010 launch, while total pledges have quadrupled in the past year.

“At the moment it is sustainable but not profitable,” said Rick Chen of the company that he set up with Alan Crabbe in May 2010.

Yet the potential of crowd funding, said Chen, is unlimited: “We’re still in the very beginnings of this phenomenon … I believe it’s likely that we will start to see bigger projects raising hundreds of thousands, and millions, in a short space of time.”

Pozible has helped musicians, designers, visual artists, software developers, and other project creators raise $4.94m (A$4.7m) in all from 64,000 donors, an estimated 10% of whom have supported more than one project.

Of the 1,500 projects that have sought funding, 475 have been films, but principally shorts and documentaries. The general success rate is 45% but film rates slightly higher. Because he has been so often surprised by outcomes, Chen now thinks there are no rules around what genres or content attracts the most support.

“Film is our top category partly because there are not a lot of funding options available and partly because it is easy to demonstrate (with videos) what a film is going to be like,” said Chen.

Most features that have used Pozible to date are either very low budget or the creative team is looking to raise only a relatively small amount of cash for a specific purpose.

About $24,000 (A$23,000) was raised for aspects of post-production on Canopy, debut feature writer/director Aaron Wilson’s $780,000 (A$750,000) drama about one Australian’s struggle for survival during the Japanese invasion of Singapore.

“It does not seem much compared to the amounts being raised on Kickstarter or Indiegogo but Australia is a large land mass with a small population,” producer Katrina Fleming told Screendaily.com.

The unofficial co-production between Australia’s Finer Films and Singapore’s Chuan Pictures was principally filmed in Singapore and the creative team has been supporting Pozible’s aim of expanding into the Asia Pacific.

Fame Entertainment has signed on for distribution rights to Canopy in 13 Asian territories and Objectifs Films has distribution rights in Singapore. The film should be completed by late November and the creative team has already filmed the sequel Triple Happiness.

Producer Angie Fielder expects to need another $200,000 once she locks in Screen Australia’s letter of intent and other promised financing for The Second Coming but her target on Pozible is a more realistic $78,800 (A$75,000): unlike some other crowd-funding sites, Pozible takes an all-or-nothing approach in that the project creator gets nothing if the target is not reached.

The film noir murder mystery will be a debut for writer/director David Barker, who is adapting it from a novel of the same name by Andrew Masterson. The sales agent is LevelK, which also handles Sundance opener Wish You Were Here, Fielder’s previous film.

The Second Coming campaign was launched two weeks ago and 138 people have committed a total of $21,200 (A$20,350). Each gets a “reward” in proportion to the size of their pledge and the reward package for donations of $15,770 (A$15,000) or more includes an associate producer credit.

Pozible takes five per cent of the funds raised or four per cent from return project creators. Fielder researched several crowd-funding platforms but opted for Pozible because she could have direct contact.

Another feature raising money on Pozible now is Arrowhead from writer/director Jesse O’Brien, who has made a short about a mercenary in the desert as a proof of concept. He has until November 10 to raise $41,740 (A$40,000) and said he feels excited and encouraged that about a quarter has been pledged so far.

“The day-to-day challenges are refining the platform to make it user friendly, strategising on how to find money for the projects, and involving business,” said Chen. He recently signed a deal with Western Australia’s state government film agency ScreenWest, which will match 3:1 what local filmmakers raise on Pozible up to a maximum of $260,830 (A$250,000).

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