About Me

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Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Founder of SoKap, crowdsourcing and crowdfunding go to guy, indie filmmaker, father, mustard maker, meat lover, pseudo vegetarian, devout humanist and overall good moralist.

Sep 30, 2009

An Open Letter to Bill Mechanic

Dear Bill Mechanic,

I am writing you this letter as I have just finished reading your speech and the countless reviews online about your "state of the film union address." Added to this, I wanted to let you know that I heard the exact same information only yesterday at the Vancouver International Film Festival from keynote speaker Peter Dekom. I know times are tough but I am asking you to read this letter carefully.

I heard from someone (who will remain anonymous) that you had a poster of a Tarkovsky film on the wall in your office? If so I must commend you on your artistic integrity as a mogul. I also know that you had issues with the bosses regarding a little film that I loved called FIGHT CLUB. The way I see it Bill is that the people who restrict artistic license and fill the screens with boring brands are doing this because they too have to answer to the banks, investors, lawyers, sales agents, and foreign market buyers who are all for the most part years out of touch with what the people really want. At the same time we need to realize that business is business and that we need a way of creating a system that creates a risk mitigated approach to filmmaking while allowing creative genius to flourish without having to put unwanted hair and teeth in play to make sure of an opening weekend.

Bill...have you ever heard of Crowdfunding? Essentially this is the art & science of empowering the audience to help assist you raise unencumbered funds for your production by pre-selling the film in advance to the people who support your creative endeavors. Imagine if 1 million people around the world gave you 15 dollars to buy a copy of your 15 million dollar indie film? Imagine if you had no one to answer to and that negotiating of talent deals had nothing to do with "if and when" scenarios regarding distribution mg's from overseas buyers. Imagine not having to put a bad actor on the poster just so you could satisfy the German cable network....imagine being debt free on the delivery of your film with 1 million marketers behind you telling their friends to go and see your picture.

Of course crowdfunding also works for the industry in other ways as well. I can think of about 100 films that if you presented the idea to the crowd they would never have let it get made in the first place. Perhaps crowdfunding is the film business litmus test or market maker as films made in this manner become more of a futures product, not unlike oranges...or pork bellies. I mean once you've consumed a film you rarely revisit the experience.

Anyway...the real reason I am writing you is that our little group have developed a fantastic crowdfunding engine/utility for filmmakers to use and quite frankly Bill...we'd like you to try out our system.

We think that we've done a great job and we are inviting you to the BETA of our project over at www.biracy.com

We saw this state of the union coming 24 months ago so it is timely that your address comes on the eve of our launch. It's like we're connected Bill.

As far as I see it Bill there are talkers and doers. We're doing it in a couple of days with or without you. We'd like a guy like you to come along for the ride because hey.....you have a Tarkovsky poster on your wall and you made FIGHT CLUB!

Put some skin the game over at www.biracy.com or contact me directly at dgeertz AT biracy DOT com

P.S. Can you also tell David Fincher that I want to talk to him as well?

David Geertz
Founder + President
The Biracy Project

Sep 23, 2009

How to raise funds for your indie film

You're a filmmaker and you have decent little project that you want to get made that is creative, not quite a genre pic and definitely not bankable with overseas buyers using pre-sales. You need 1 Million dollars and you're going to get it by raising it in chunks of 25 bucks at a time using the SOKAP system developed by the guys over at www.biracy.com

SOKAP stands for Social Kapitalist, or someone who loves being social, being part of group projects and likes making some money along the way.

What separates a SOKAP member from other participatory culture projects....We believe that part of participation is being compensated for your efforts, but - that you are partially responsible for how much you earn.

Anyway, SOKAP is a FOAF marketing platform that allows media fans to fund projects as well as participate in their ongoing production, and reap rewards from the sales of the finished product. Essentially were a hybrid between a member driven cooperative, online social network and network marketing engine.

So back to the Movie -

You need 1,000,000 dollars and you are going sell memberships of your film for 25 bucks. To do this you need to allocate a certain percentage of your sales back to the members who are your sales agents. In the past I've worked with some sales agents that charge 40%! So lets use that as an example here. Keep in mind that this number can be flexible and is only being used as an example. In order to make this work what you really need is 1.67 Million, or 66800 fans!

Jeez Dave...how do i do that?

Our crowdfunding engine is all about these 4 principles:

1. Engage - put some skin in the game!

2. Refer - tell some friends because unless you hit all 66800 fans...you're not going to camera

3. Participate - the more you assist the producer by being active online in contests, voting, and tendering of crowdsourced service bids....the more of the film you own as a member

4. Promote - The film is partially yours so when it comes out - be an advocate of the project.

If your fans are your sales agents....should they not be paid for creating the viral buzz around your project. We think so, and here is how that part works.

You need 1.67M or 66800 fans.

If you can tell 7 friends to sign up, and then tell those friends to sell to 3 people who are close to them and so on and so on....you will have 68887 fans using friend of a friend (FOAF) marketing techniques with only 9 levels of referral. Our platform helps you do this!

Your fans as a result of this are also paid out for their efforts by being given a percentage of the membership that they sell to their friends. Knowing this your fans will be divided into 4 categories:

1. I'm a fan but I don't want to tell or sell to my other friends because I'm too cool for that.

2. I'm a fan and I'll send out a couple of emails as I do want my friend to get his project made but I really don't care about the commissions.

3. I love the aspect of marketing something that I believe in and I will probably outsell everyone and make some good bread on the side of my day job.

4. I'm a die hard marketer, film fan and contributor to the film in all aspects of selling, voting, applying for the jobs within the film, and everything else. Move over...I have arrived!

Categories 3 & 4 make up for the lack of marketing provided by 1 & 2....so your in good hands with the fans using this system.

People will say....sounds like a pyramid!

A pyramid or ponzi is an investment vehicle that has no end and eventually collapses on itself when the number or potential funders runs dry. In most cases there is also no product that can have a value attached to it.

Our engine provides filmmakers a system to provide their fans with a "capped" and "limited" membership which allows people to buy a copy of the film in advance and participate with the filmmaker in its production for the chance to win and earn extra stuff. If you need to a million...we cut you off at a million, and this is displayed online as you near your funding goal.

People who buy a membership are not entitled to sell anything; although they can, and will be paid if they so choose to do so.

If the filmmaker has no ability to fund his or her project as a result of not getting enough members, the amount allocated to production, in this case 60% will be given back to the members, for them to place their membership with another film project on the site that may have a better chance of being funded.

The 40% that you relinquish as a member or in this case 10 bucks is paid out to the person or persons who brought you to the site. This is considered a commission for work performed and is not refunded. In most cases you would have also earned a few bucks for telling your friends so it works out in the end.

If you really feel as a member that you should be repaid all of your 25 bucks....don't sign up...because we really don't have time for people like that.

In a couple of weeks we will be launching the BETA of the SOKAP engine which you can find at www.biracy.com The Biracy Project will demonstrate the system and show fans, marketers, and producers how our system works. Once The Biracy Project is funded, we will open the SoKap engine to those producers who wish to use it. This will be done by making contact with us and having a discussion about your project. All projects will be vetted internally at no cost to the producer; however, we will only invite projects that we feel have a proven ability to be made on time and an on budget.

We are now accepting BETA testers to preregister at launch with us at www.biracy.com. Those people who register now (free) will be given a first look at using our system once we launch the SoKap public site shortly after BETA.

We are looking for journalists, marketers, filmmakers, bloggers, and film fans from all over to assist us with this project, and we will answer all questions in a timely manner.


This is crowdfunding....Welcome to THE BIRACY PROJECT

crowdfunding - a solution for the starving (commercial) artist

As we prepare to go live in a few short weeks with our crowdfunding engine, we now understand that we may have a solution for the expression "starving artist" as it pertains to filmmakers.

We believe that fans will dictate the market, and that if these films do not reach critical mass or 100% funding, perhaps what the fans or market is saying is that the project being addressed is not strong enough for worldwide appeal.

I'm not speaking of video artist projects or short films. I'm speaking of feature film proposals that are intended for a theatrical release. These projects, using our engine will be able to predicate whether or not they will have an audience in advance, and this is great news for exhibitors, dvd manufacturers, and content delivery networks. Its also good for the filmmakers as all films funded using this system will have no debt, and I think everyone can agree that the last thing people need in their lives now is debt.

The one thing that the filmmakers must wrap their head around is the process of sharing revenue that is made with members within their project. In a traditional deal filmmakers are basically put out to pasture when it comes to the revenue side of the film business. This is the way it has been and will continue to be in the traditional world of film finance and distribution. That being said it will be interesting to see if filmmakers that use our system will allocate a fair percentage of the revenue back to the fans that funded it in the first place. The percentage that they share with the fans is determined by the filmmaker and not by our engine, so it will be interesting to see if fans support filmmakers who appear to be more ego driven or greed driven in their ownership proposals. The market will speak and from this we will be able to find an optimal formula that best serves the fans and the filmmakers.

We know that some filmmakers will reach 100% funding using our system and this is our ultimate goal....to have a creative project that is unencumbered by banking, legal, and distribution decisions, and that the fans and the filmmaker can together shape and deliver the project to the screen with no debt, and an army of marketers.

We also know that some filmmakers will not reach their funding goals, and to this we say that in a way its perhaps the opinion of the masses that you should not be looking at this project as a commercial vehicle that you are using other people's money to make. We're not saying that the project does not have artistic merit...what we are saying is that the market demand for your story does not work at the price tag of production.

Finally, we hope that the films that are funded by fans can successfully earn more net revenue after exhibitor and distribution costs. What this would prove is that fans and filmmakers could work together to create a sustainable film economy....and that would be really fantastic!

We encourage anyone who is interested in the crowdfunding, social media markets, motion pictures and fan based web 2.0 to sign up for our BETA at www.biracy.com In a couple of weeks time we will be walking producers, writers, marketers, journalists, distributors, and film fans alike through our process and from this we will select one project to move forward with.

If you have any questions regarding the project please contact me in writing and I will address all of your questions in a timely manner. You can reach me directly at dgeertz AT biracy DOT com

David Geertz

Sep 8, 2009

Can fans replace sales agents in motion pictures?

In the past, the job of a sales agent on a motion picture was to procure financing for the producer by way of pre selling the film through to territories in advance thus allowing the producer the ability to fund his or her project through discounted contracts at a bank or B lender. Now that banks are shying away from doing this as a result of too many of the buyers not putting up guarantees the question we need to ask is are sales agents becoming a thing of the past?

For years, the buyers relied on the relationship that they had with these sales professionals to mediate the deal between the producer and what the public was more than likely going to want to watch. Times have changed. Social media has allowed for the fan to become involved with projects at various stages of a films production, distribution and exhibition. So the question is...Can the fans replace the sales agents? If so, what will the structure look like?

So here's a scenario....

Joe is a good producer with a bit of a track record for making decent cult films in the 1MUSD range. Joe decides that because he makes his films for his fans that this time he wants them to fractionally own and benefit from the making of his next film. He creates a page that allows people to prebuy a copy of the download or dvd of his film for a set price. Lets say for this its 25 bucks. If Joe needs a million bucks to make his new flick he needs 40,000 fans to prebuy his film.

The dilemma is how you create a buzz that will engage 40,000 fans to pony up 25 bucks!

There are lots of sites out there that enable the crowd to swarm around a project and get involved but I have yet to see a site that has been able to garner 40,000 fans around a single project prior to its production.

Again...what if you made the fans...sales agents? What if you monetized the monetizer?


Go and preregister....we go live in a few short weeks!

Sep 2, 2009

what is crowdfunding in film?

Anyone who has had the opportunity to finance a decent sized motion picture through pre-sales knows that this is one of the oldest forms of crowdfunding. Essentially the producer takes the property to a domestic distributor who then takes it to a broadcaster, video distributor and exhibitor, and those groups send back info through the chain as to what they think based on past crowd performance the project will do in the monetary performance. The Producer also does this with other countries making each territory a separate sales account and the hope in the end is to have numbers that outweigh the budget of the film.

They then try and get enough of these groups to pre buy the film in advance and at a discount for the right to own parts of specific revenue streams either ongoing or in perpetuity. Essentially the sales groups and middle men who control the territories use knowledge from the crowds spending habits based on stars, directors, genres, and franchises to predicate what the market will take. That was before people got wise to twitter and facebook and went to movies based on what critics had to say in the papers....remember Rex Reed?

Now the film industry is in a bit of a jam as these numbers can no longer be reliable because even though Movie Star Joe did huge numbers in his last film, if his newest film stinks....the fans will know about it before the end of opening night, and the banks and lenders...well they just can't take that risk anymore.

So how do you ensure your audience will go to the film, mitigate risk and still make a film that is not a 25K micro mumblecore epic? Crowdfunding is one option that numerous groups are trying and experimenting with to assist them with funding a project.

CROWDFUNDING definition (as per wikipedia) has taken on many shapes and strategies but it is yet to be seen if anyone will be able to produce a project that is of any size or quality, and that makes more money than it cost.

Having now been involved either directly or indirectly with more than a couple of these projects I think that our group has come up with a solution to the problem. The solution is a hybrid approach to using social media, experts, crowdsourcing, and crowdfunding, and not just allowing the crowd to fund your project but to actively participate in the build out of the project and to earn from their hard work and effort. Why should participants of participatory culture not be rewarded for their time? Time is money and we could all use a bit more money at the moment so we could enjoy our time off!

Having said all this I would like to invite all of you to our BETA launch that is going to occur sometime during the next month. We are only allowing people to preregister (for free) until the beta. At that time the pilot project using our platform will be limited to a set number of users. If you are interested in crowdfunding media projects, or are a producer looking for ways to fund your next project I suggest your register and spread the word of our launch date.

You can register for THE BIRACY PROJECT here

Thanks and good luck with your projects!