IFA #13: Emily Best, founder of Seed&Spark

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Today we are talking with Seed&Spark founder Emily Best.

Emily talks to us about the ways that Seed&Spark has been able to not only survive but thrive in the midst of other larger crowdfunding platforms. What makes Seed&Spark unique is that it is the only crowdfunding platform specifically designed for filmmakers. They have created a number of innovations, such as their own platform for distribution as well as the concept of creating a gift registry where supporters can offer things other than money.

You can find Emily on twitter at @emilybest

From Emily’s profile on Seed&Spark:

Emily Best is the Founder and CEO of Seed&Spark. She loves storytelling, storytellers, and stories. She was lucky enough to make a movie with some of her closest friends, a project called “Like the Water” that inspired this whole crazy idea.

Here are a few more videos featuring Emily.

From Seed&Spark.com

We started Seed&Spark because we want to make films but we needed a healthier environment in which to make them. We believe the art of storytelling is about expanding imagination, shining a light on the world inside and deepening empathy for the world outside. In the current social climate where many consider the arts a luxury, we believe artists are responsible for teaching their audiences why they are essential. We also believe films are not just art, they are business ventures. They require the seed of an idea and the sparks of human and capital investments to bring them to life. Yet the film business has grown removed from what it really is: playing make believe. That’s something we all know how to do. The make believe we played as children was essential to our development: brains are firing on the most cylinders when the imagination is stimulated. It’s creative, inclusive, expansive, and playful. We want Seed&Spark to be a platform that reflects this spirit, expanding the space for more, different kinds of stories to be told. With an audience’s early support, a storyteller is emboldened to take greater risks. With the storyteller’s passion, the audience is enticed to become included in the process. Together, they create an ecosystem for truly independent film!

If you add up the cable bills, the video streaming subscriptions, and all the movie tickets sold, Americans spent $120 Billion—$396 each—on video entertainment in 2012. And somewhere between 80 and 95 percent of that money went to the companies that delivered the content—not the filmmakers who created it.

Back when movies were struck on real film and projected at movie theaters, the distributors who made those prints and transported them to cinemas around the world had a major cost to bear. But now that content is distributed digitally—even movie theaters rarely project film—it’s time to revolutionize how the audience’s dollars get allocated.

At Seed&Spark, we’re challenging you—the audience—to start thinking differently, to start spending your entertainment dollars in ways that directly benefit creators. After all, without creators, we wouldn’t have anything to watch.

On our platform, we give you an opportunity to follow a film from its earliest stages of development. Check out our Studio. It’s full of incubating films you can help hatch. Contribute funds, loan or gift production items, or simply sign up to follow a project as it progresses. You’ll earn Sparks! They’re rewards points you can spend to watch finished films of exceptional quality.

Because Seed&Spark is about more than simply making movies. We exist not just to facilitate funding, but to make sure audiences can see those films when they’re done.

Watch incredible, truly independent films in our Cinema—knowing the creators keep 80% of that streaming revenue. Filmmakers crowdfunded well over $200 million in 2013—which is a really astonishing number—but until money spent consuming that content surpasses the amount raised to produce it, the crowdfunding revolution won’t be televised.

And that’s where you, the audience, come in. Do you know the main reason The Avengers grossed $655 million in the U.S.? Because Disney spent more than $100 million marketing it. To create a viable, Fair Trade  Filmmaking ecosystem where creators are paid a living wage, we the audience not only need to help fund the content we want to see, but we also need to spread the word to our families, friends, and communities to get other people to see it—on platforms that return more to the creators. We ourselves have to be the $100 million marketing campaigns for truly independent film.

But don’t just think of your support as blind patronage. Fair Trade is just that: a trade. Filmmakers get your support, and you get access and creative control, helping make the films that matter to you. Vote with your dollars for what gets made. Help grow the audience for the filmmakers you love by spreading the word about the artists and work you’re supporting.

Join us. Let’s build a Fair Trade Filmmaking movement together.

Let’s make what matters and make it matter to the people who make it.

We will deepen conversations. We will employ people. We will build houses. We will grow communities.

 

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