Tag Archives: filmmakers

Calling All Trigonauts! (‘Cause “Trigonaut” Sounds Cooler Than “Intern”)

The time has come for expansion, and I cannot do it alone!

As many of you probably know, I’ve been putting out crowdfunding advice for filmmakers and various other content creators and storymakers for over five years. Ever since I successfully crowdfunded my short film Cerise, I’ve been mentoring crowdfunding filmmakers and content creators in the fine art of online fundraising through Twitter, via my book Crowdfunding for Filmmakers, and exclusively for Indiegogo. But there’s so much more I want to do, mostly by way of content creation and various new ways of distributing that content and knowledge (Meerkat and Periscope, anyone?), so I’m looking for a Trigonaut –– an fellow explorer –– to work with me, to learn about and explore the chartered and unchartered realms of crowdfunding for independent film, and to help create more top quality content so that we, together, can keep the “indie” in independent film and make sure that creators are crowdfunding using only the best tools, advice and insights available.


So here’s what I’m looking for, specifically:

– Writing and editing (basic grammar and usage skills)
– Strong interest in crowdfunding, particularly for film (or creative projects)
– Graphic design (skills in Adobe Creative Suite, mainly Photoshop and InDesign)
– Editing content for social media that’s on-brand
– Organizational abilities
– Creativity and wit
– Speed (ability to execute tasks quickly)

– Owns a DSLR (or similar camera) and microphone
– Video editing skills (proficiency in either Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere)
– A moderate knowledge of digital advertising (Google AdWords, Facebook Ads / “dark posts”, etc.)
– Listens to The #AskGaryVee Show religiously

– Outreach (to film festivals for speaking gigs, blogs / movie websites, etc.)
– Writing content for Medium (will be credited as guest writer under my personal culture / branding
– Content creation (if we go the Gary Vee route; TBD)
– Filming any local events, speaking gigs
– Research on the crowdfunding space in general, but specifically crowdfunding for indie film / web / video content
– Discover and attend events, Meet-Ups, Tweetups, etc. pertaining to film and / or crowdfunding

– 2 -3 hours a day,
– Three days per week (preferably Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, to start, but I’m totally flexible here

– Crowdfunding (for filmmaking) knowledge and insights from a noted expert and practitioner in the field
– Travel to and from events (subway / Lyft)
– Lunch once a week, during our weekly meetings, preferably on Mondays
– Drinks (at events, and just in general –– there’s always something to celebrate)
– Depending on performance, we can talk…

– What it takes to be a proper crowdfunding consultant and / or manager
– How to utilize various forms of social media (FB / Twitter, plus Instagram & Periscope, perhaps) for crowdfunding
– How to build, broaden, and make “Beliebers” out of your community (really, how to turn your networks into actual relationships)

Now, if by reading this you feel like you’re standing in front of a mirror, then I want to hear from you sooner rather than later, so reach out to me at jtrigonis@gmail.com and let’s get ready to explore the ever-changing landscape of the crowdfunding filmmakers together.

Oh, and a neat hat and soul patch to match are not requirements 🙂

Looking forward to hearing from you all soon!

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TEDx Talk: “Crowdfunding Today, Tomorrow, Together” Is Here

Well, it’s finally here, folks!

I’m very proud to present to you all one of the crowning achievements of my entire life (thus far) –– My TEDxJerseyCity talk called “Crowdfunding Today, Tomorrow, Together.”

Since it’s only a seventeen-minute talk, I’m pretty confident you’ll all watch the entire talk. But if you only have a few minutes, and if you’re toying with the idea of running your own crowdfunding campaign for a film, product, or anything else, then I highly recommend you scrub toward the end of the talk (11:03, to be exact), when I begin talking about my new and improved “Three INs,” presented as the “Three Is,” as in the letter “I” (you see why it didn’t stick, I’m sure) during my talk.

See, around five years ago, I unveiled my “Three Ps for a Successful Indie Film Campaign” –– Pitch, Perks, and Promotion ––  which paved the way to my book Crowdfunding for Filmmakers. Well, as crowdfunding for indie film evolves, so did those Three Ps. it was during this TEDx talk that I introduced the Invitation, Incentives, and Interactions as three ways “in” to your crowd’s hearts. A new Medium post outlining them in more detail is coming soon.

From talking about a plethora of local campaigns to ones like the JIBO and Solar Roadways, which are paving the road to a more sustainable and Jetsons-esque future, to talking about vampires and how El Diablo knows how to listen on social media, I think you’ll get a kick out of my talk, and perhaps it’ll even inspire you to make something you’re passionate about a reality.

Special thank to Alicia Ruth and the most excellent folks at TEDxJerseyCity for getting this up and running on the TEDx YouTube page and on TED.com, and, of course, to my darling Marinell, who watched my talk five times today and realized this very important thing:


I trust that by the end of my talk, their eyes –– and all of yours –– will have been opened in the widest of ways.

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Goals Versus Commitment in Crowdfunding for Indie Film

The other day, my girlfriend Marinell told me about an interview she read in The New York Times with Hugh Martin on “The Importance of Commitments.” I took a gander at this interview myself, and of course I started thinking about this concept of goals versus commitments and its relationship with crowdfunding for independent film.

A goal of $50,000 would've made this fun campaign for Total Frat Movie more successful than the goal of $300,000.

A goal of $50,000 would’ve made this fun campaign for Total Frat Movie more successful than the goal of $300,000.

Something I see way too frequently as Indiegogo’s manager of film and video is that filmmakers wanting to raise a lot of money. I mean a lot of money. Part of my duty as the guy who literally wrote the book on Crowdfunding for Filmmakers has become talking them down from the ledge of a $1.5 million ask and settle them into a target amount that fits more their lifestyle. This becomes much easier when I frame the discussion in terms of goals and commitment.

A filmmaker may need $250,000 to produce his or her feature-length film, but that goal won’t mean much if the filmmaker can only realistically commit to raising, say, $20,000, based on a variety of factors like the size of one’s current network and the amount of time he or she can devote to running the campaign. Therefore, my question to prospective campaigners isn’t what’s your goal?, but rather how much are you committed to raising?

Now, I’m the kind of person who truly believes that if a filmmaker wants to raise $1.5 Million for a film, he or she certainly can. But a look at some of the most successful Indiegogo campaigns –– Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie, for instance, clocking in at 325,327 before their game was over, and Shemar Moore’s The Bounce Back, bouncing even higher up at $638,483 –– have been triumphant because of certain factors, specifically a passionate core fan base. But even still, angry video game nerd James Rolfe committed to raising $75,000 and was able to double-up that number instead of trying for $500,000 and coming up short at just over $300,000. Now, if we as filmmakers have less of a fan/subscriber base than these heavy hitters, it’s safe to say that $250,000 may be a difficult number to reach. But if we commit ourselves to raising a more reachable amount, then we open wide the possibility of shooting past our own commitment level and surpass even our most ambitious crowdfunding goals.

So before you crowdfund your next indie film, ask yourself not what your goal should be, but what you and your team can commit to raising, and then go on raise it!

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Auteurs Rising: Filmmaking’s First Act Revisited

I recently had a brief but insightful discussion with a screenwriter friend of mine about just how long it should take to write a short script. Apparently, someone mentioned she’d taken a while to finish her fifteen-page script,  suggesting that in the time it took her to finish writing it, he or she could’ve completed the entire film from Final Draft to Final Cut, perhaps. It got me thinking about this lightning-fast world of ours and the many filmmakers in it who hold to this mentality, that the more films they make, the better their films will get in time. While this makes perfect sense from a technical skills standpoint, it says nothing about quality storytelling, and for a film to be as good as it can be, the script needs to be as good as it can be.

If the three acts of filmmaking are writing, shooting and editing, then quality can only begin in that first act, like the exposition of any great movie. It comes down to a question of quality versus quantity, and the former in any film, indie or otherwise, begins on the page. So every filmmaker should practice being a filmwriter first and foremost. Innovation in filmmaking is another integral part of the process, but a filmmaker should know his or her story inside and out and work out any kinks on paper before they can discover interesting and effective new ways of progressing that story from beginning to end.

But today, since new toys are readily at every indie filmmaker’s disposal and at relatively cheap prices, just about anyone can shoot some footage, edit it together on an iPhone and swiftly move on to the next. At this year’s Cannes Short Film Corner, for instance, my short film Cerise was one of 1900 other short films that’d been registered at the festival’s Digital Film Library. With this faster workflow in mind, it’s no wonder there are so many more auteurs out here making movies on more regular bases, and each time hoping one of them might afford them their big break.

It’s the same procedure that screenwriters undergo, really. They slave over laptops tapping away at their next feature with the same levels of hard work and hope that filmmakers exhibit when they bring those words to life on the screen. But screenwriters know the importance of composing coherent and compelling stories before the cameras start capturing them in HD; you can easily revise a few pages of dialogue, but you can’t revise a few slapdash shots that were slapdash because they weren’t fleshed out enough in the first act of the filmmaking process. Then, two wicked words are born: “Reshoot” and “Overbudget.”

Nowadays, though, it seems indie filmmakers––most of whom don’t necessarily consider themselves screenwriters––choose quantity over quality in the hopes of perfecting their storytelling skills that way because of the belief that “film is a visual medium.” This crutch seems to excuse most filmmakers from ever honing their skills as filmwriters, which might be acceptable if the story you’re telling with the camera isn’t your own (here’s the other crutch, that “film is a director’s medium.”) But with most indie filmmakers I know, the stories are our own, and stories aren’t told through storyboards alone; even comic book panels need words.

As a filmmaker second and writer first, shooting a script that’s not 100% camera-ready can be counterproductive, not to mention pricey––a laptop and a latté look better on the budget sheet! I work on a script for as long as  it needs, getting the dialog right, describing the action on paper so well that my crew will see the shot the way I see it (I rarely use storyboards, though drawing was my first art), and then shoot it swiftly and without much extraneous thought on set. It’s the only way I can ensure the quality in my work.

Aside from the two features I’ve been working on, I’ve been slowly crafting two short films in a “Memory Trilogy” I’m piecing together. The first film, Statuetory, is five years old and wasn’t entirely working until I decided to challenge myself and tell the story in a nonlinear fashion. That was all it needed; now, a story that was a bit confusing and as preachy as early Woody Allen is now a bit less talky and much more filmic. I couldn’t have rewritten this short script back then the way I’d recently done; I needed the experience of writing Cerise, then rewriting it mere days before it was shot. Now, Statuetory and the second installment of the trilogy, Café Mnemosyne, are both ready for the 5D Mark II.

This question of quality versus quantity reminds me of what a screenwriting professor told me once, which I’m sure I’d mentioned in a previous post. He said that back in Hollywood’s heyday, creative writing classes were a required part of students’ studies as tomorrow’s screenwriters. Nowadays, creative writing’s not even on the lunch menu for most filmmakers. That’s probably why there’s not many Billy Wilders out there anymore. Quality begins in Act One, no matter how beautiful and innovative your images are in Act Two or how innovative the edit is by Act Three. If it takes you a week to write a three-page script or six months to draft a twenty-pager, let it be. The audience doesn’t care how much time you spent writing the story, but it’ll be the first thing they critique if you didn’t spend enough on it.

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