Writing an IndieGoGo Campaign / by Chris Weigl

The first script that I wrote for our IndieGoGo campaign was a single spaced outline that ran a little over two pages.  Everything was scripted and we stuck to the scripted outline which I wrote in Microsoft Word, going against my initial gut instinct that it’s bad to write scripts in Word.  Always trust your gut as a filmmaker.  If something looks off it usually is.  That outline turned into an all-day shoot when we went to film it.  The video that I cut from that shoot ran almost seven minutes long.  It was atrocious.  I was embarrassed that I had written it and I could barely make it through the editing process to show to me colleagues and crew.  We didn’t post that anywhere (thank God!)  I did learn my preferred shooting style from that shoot however and because I learned that the shoot was totally worth it.  We may not have created a video that was ideal for what we were doing, but we did shoot a video that I learned a great deal about production from.  What’s most important about that shoot is that I learned a lot about how I want to operate from that shoot.  You as a filmmaker are different than your idea of yourself as a filmmaker.  That was an important lesson that I had yet to learn going into that shoot.  I was glad to learn the things I did when I sat down to write our second attempt.

I had to do some soul searching after that first shoot.  I realized that the content – in and of itself – was not that interesting.  We needed a way to shake it up.  I started brainstorming ideas and we went through some minor tweaks and things, but nothing got me excited to shoot the next video.  Finally, I was trying to think up a way to get people interested in the video and I thought: “well, what if we tar and feather something.”  Tar and feathering was very big during the Revolutionary era in America.  Someone told me that there were racial connotations to tarring and feathering so that basically killed that idea.  My mother however came up with another idea.  She proposed that we break a TV.  Just walk in with a baseball bat or a sledgehammer and smash the things to bits.  I thought that this was the kind of attention getter that we needed and was genuinely excited about it.  The business-minded braintrust of the company was not amused by the “joke” as they kept putting it.  I didn’t view it as a joke, but as more of a statement.  I didn’t expect people to laugh, I expected people to root for the TVs destruction thus striking an emotional chord with my audience.  As a filmmaker that’s vital to making quality content.  You’ve got to connect with your audience, but again the business folks thought it was “offensive.”

It was hard for me to fathom how the business types could be genuinely excited about pitching our business model and five year plan.  I always associated five year plans with communist government because every communist government institutes a five year plan to bolster industrial growth.  Communism is economics, so that’s what their governments are focused on.  I didn’t want to send the wrong message to businesses with this talk of a five year plan, but there seemed to be genuine concern over whether or not we would be viewed as a legitimate entity.  As my dad told me: “people want to make sure you’re going to be around six months from now.  There’s no point in going into business with someone who has no idea about the future.”  Point taken.  I had a problem on my hands.  I couldn’t destroy a TV for a number of reasons.  First, apparently it’s really bad for the environment.  Second, some TVs have components that contain lead and mercury.  You can’t really expose your staff to those chemicals and expect to stay in business very long.  Third, it was tough to find a place that would let us destroy something.  Nobody wanted to be associated with the production team that wanted to break something.  I chalked that up to no one wanting to take a risk and I think that actually was the big concern.

Our issue with Hollywood is that no one is willing to take a risk anymore.  Where are the original concepts?  Where are the original stories with original characters?  Heck, can you name a film you’ve seen this year that HAD original characters?  It’s a serious issue that no one seems ready to address.  Well, here we are with tons of original content and we want to address the issue head on.  The problem is that we needed to do it in a way that got people’s attention and sustained their attention for the duration of our video.  That’s how the final draft of our script came about.  I started thinking: “who says we have to destroy anything?”  Sure, as a filmmaker I wanted to break something because it makes for an awesome shot, but if it’s not going to serve a purpose I’m not going to destroy something just for kicks.  My challenge fell back to how to get and keep audience attention and that’s how I came up with the idea for our video.  I initially thought back to all the hoopla surrounding Lebron James’s “The Decision,” but then it was pointed out to me that few people (outside of die-hard sports fans and disheartened Cleveland fans) remembered the huge spectacle.  I still liked the idea though.  So, I thought: okay, we’ll put a TV and a cable box up on a ledge and we’ll debate the pros and cons of destroying them.  The audience is interested to see whether we break something.  That gets them interested and keeps them interested.  The only problem was that in the end, if you don’t deliver, then they’re not going to be all that happy with you and that’s why I picked the ending for the video that I did.  I hope you check out our video and support our campaign to bring change to the film and television industries.