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Sheffield Doc Fest's Crowdfunding Initiative


Sheffield Doc Fest's Crowdfunding Initiative

Sheffield Doc/Fest logo

Courtesy Sheffield Doc/Fest

Seeking Contributions to Supplement Dwindling Public Funds

Sheffield Doc/Fest is appealing to the general public -- its local and worldwide audience -- as well as all those who work in and are concerned with the documentary filmmaking realm -- filmmakers, commissioning editors, independent film backers, nonprofit funders, distributors, sales agents and theater owners -- to help build its 20th anniversary budget by contributing to its recently launched SuperConnector crowdfunding initiative.

The always innovative documentary and digital festival was the first festival to establish a festival-based crowd funding forum for independent nonfiction filmmakers. That was back at the 2010 festival. Two years later, the festival is supplementing dwindling government and public sector funding by launching its own crowdfunding campaign, attempting to raise $25,000 in 43 days.

The monies contributed are slated to be used in support of 2013 festival, set to take place from June 12 to 16, 2013.

The Importance of Alternative Funding

"It's important for Sheffield Doc/Fest to take a creative and alternative approach to funding because festival funding, like everything else, is getting tighter. We are always looking for ways to bring in funds from a variety of sources so that we can continue to deliver a world class festival and facilitate all the connections that happened between buyers, filmmakers, producers, crew and more, and our local audiences and others who come from around the world to attend the festival each year," says Charlie Phillips, Marketplace Director at Sheffield Doc/Fest.

Staged on the Indiegogo crowdfunding platform, the Sheffield Doc/Fest SuperConnector crowdfunding initiative offers contributors various rewards for a dozen different specified levels of participation. The contribution levels range from $30, for which patrons are designated Doc/Fans, to $2,500, which earns the Doc/Patron title.

In between those sums, the various contribution levels include the Doc/Fire for $200 -- Doc/Fire as described as 'walking on fire with the Doc/Fest team,' and only they know whether that's meant to be taken literally -- and Doc/Interview, which entitles the donor of $750 to conduct one of the post screening Q&As with a favorite filmmaker at Sheffield Doc/Fest 2013.

Among the many other perks, rewards and goodie bag items that are being presented to contributors are on screen acknowledgments presented before each screening at the festival, contributor credits in the festival catalog, special Sheffield-made Doc/Fest sweets, a DVD signed by Louis Theroux, a book signed by Michael Palin, two-hour one-on-one intensive documentary mentoring sessions, and an original and unique original piece of personalized art by Sara Smizz, Sheffield artist-in-residence.

To review the full range of perk packages and make your contribution, visit the Sheffield Doc/Fest SuperConnector page on Indiegogo. And, aptly illustrating Sheffield Doc/Fest's fun-loving and generous spirit, there's a delightful video to promo the festival's cause.

Being Part of It All

Of course, contributing also gives you the simple satisfaction of knowing that you're helping to support Sheffield Doc/Fest. It is the UK's leading and longest standing documentary and digital festival and marketplace, an annual event that has consistently supported nonfiction storytellers with a great venue for presenting their projects and meeting their audiences, as well as well-structured events, including valuable practical workshops, informative panels and stimulating debates about core issues -- including funding -- that are being faced by filmmakers and other members of the documentary community worldwide.

"We've always been passionate about crowdfunding, so this is a natural progression for Sheffield Doc/Fest," Phillips continues. "And, for all Sheffield Doc/Fest friends and fans, this is a chance to be part of something exciting and meaningful."

Efforts To Avoid Corporate Branding

Hopefully the crowdfunding approach will help Sheffield Doc/Fest avoid having to enter into controversial funding partnerships with corporate sponsors -- such as General Electric and Red Bull Media House, two corporations that have that have been funding film projects and making funding inroads into film festivals of late -- with overt or hidden marketing agendas that include connecting their brands and logos with nonfiction film and/or the venues that present nonfiction film.

At its 2012 festival, Sheffield Doc/Fest presented panel discussions covering some of the concerns about corporate funding and/or branding of documentaries, acknowledging concerns about the inherent dangers of undue private sector influence and/or potential conflict of interest issues involved in the trend to accept corporate funding in the nonfiction film realm. View the panel discussion.

If the crowdfunding helps Sheffield Doc/Fest shun corporate sponsorship, perhaps it will lead the way for other festivals to do so, as well.

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