Fractured Land Crowd Funding Campaign Hits Target

Fractured Land crowd funding campaign hits target!


Following a last-minute outpouring of support from around the world, the crowd funding drive for Fractured Land achieved and surpassed its target late yesterday. The campaign surged past its $50,000 goal around 6 pm January 18, finishing with $52,520 by the midnight deadline. Remarkably, close to two thirds of those funds came within the final 3 days of the campaign.

Fractured Land, a feature documentary film-in-production, co-directed by Vancouver filmmaker Fiona Rayher and myself, examines our key energy challenges through the eyes of a compelling, young First Nations law student from northeast BC. In a recent Globe and Mail story, reporter Mark Hume described Caleb Behn as “one of B.C.’s bright, emerging native political leaders”, working to “move the debate over oil and gas development away from the confrontational front lines and into the living rooms of the nation.”

At a time when conventional funding sources for documentary films are drying up, crowd funding has become an important new tool filmmakers can leverage to make their projects happen. As we learned through this process, running a successful campaign is a team effort – and demands a significant commitment of time and resources. Our team included talented designers, organizers, and hardworking volunteers, led by our digital media strategist Hilary Henegar.

Crowd funding is not only a valuable fundraising tool, but an ideal way to build an audience for a forthcoming film, as well as a strong social media presence. Our campaign was successful in both regards – the weekly reach of our relatively new facebook page climbed to a quarter of a million people (a thousand-fold increase from just a few months ago!) and garnered close to 2,500 page “likes”, mostly in the past few weeks. We’ve received hundreds of questions about when the film will be finished and how people can see it (answer: likely early Fall, via film festivals, public screenings and broadcast television).

The campaign undoubtedly benefited from all the tweets we received from eco-celebrities – actor and fracking critic Mark Ruffalo, Gasland director Josh Fox, author and activist Naomi Klein, founder Bill McKibben, and socially-engaged Canadian pop star Bif Naked. We were also helped by Occupy Wall Street’s twitter feed and the official Idle No More facebook page. National Geographic explorer-in-residence Wade Davis, who appears in the film along with a number of the above people, donated 40 copies of his Sacred Headwaters book to the cause, which crowd funding donors snapped up.

We’re beyond the era of slaving away behind the scenes for a few years and coming out with a completed documentary. Our team is actively building a “transmedia” project around the film. That means that our social media tools, website, youtube channel, etc. become a forum to engage the public in a discussion about our energy future and how Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples can work together to heal historical fractures and confront our key challenges going forward.

So you don’t need to wait until the Fall to be a part of Fractured Land. Building on the social media presence and audience we’ve built for the project during the crowd funding campaign, we’re now very well positioned to continue growing this dialogue, starting immediately.

The campaign also provided the media a reason to discuss the project and issues it deals with. We had a number of good stories in the Globe and Mail, Huffington Post Canada, Vancouver Observer and Yukon News – each of which spotlighted fracking and larger, inter-related energy and Indigenous issues. Interestingly, we were able to do what we did largely through online media – with the exception of Mark Hume’s Globe and Mail story (which has a significant online presence beyond its traditional print reach), the coverage and traction we received derived almost entirely from the Internet.

While our team certainly believed in what we were doing and very much so in the film, it’s fair to say we were all pleasantly surprised and deeply humbled to exceed our target. This past week required a full court press and it was very rewarding to see everything click into place on the final day.

Sometime Friday afternoon we began to realize that we just might pull it off. There was a genuine excitement amongst our supporters, rooting us on, demonstrating how invested they felt in our success and in helping to share Caleb’s story with the world. In the end, that’s probably the mark of a good crowd funding campaign – when your supporters become a part of your team.

There are a number of possible reasons for this last-minute rally. It could be interest in fracking, the ramp up to the BC election, Idle No More and indigenous politics stoking the national interest in these matters. We also released a new trailer this week, which we would have and should have done sooner, but for the fact we’re also busy trying to shoot this film and document all the events and people and stories going on right now that pertain to it.

Our eventual success was likely a combination of all these factors gelling together at the right moment.

Besides being incredibly heartened by this vital support for our film – and knowing that we now have what we need to finish it well – I’m happy to see that these issues are becoming interesting to a broader public. I’m pleased to know this film has the possibility of being commercially successful and seen by a lot of people. I’m also thrilled to see how this crowd funding medium can really work.

It’s been a huge learning curve and a lot of work – more then we were honestly able to commit while being full throttle chasing our story and finishing shooting the film. So to see it all come together is a very nice feeling.

I also believe it’s a testament to Caleb and the fact that he is such an inspiring, young leader, to whom so many people can clearly relate.

Our whole team is incredibly thankful to everyone who has supported our campaign. We are building a platform to engage these issues on a much larger stage and we hope you will join us there – and come see the film when it’s finished. Stay tuned!


About Damien Gillis

Damien Gillis is a Vancouver-based documentary filmmaker with a focus on environmental and social justice issues - especially relating to water, energy, and saving Canada's wild salmon - working with many environmental organizations in BC and around the world. He is the co-founder, along with Rafe Mair, of The Common Sense Canadian, and a board member of both the BC Environmental Network and the Haig-Brown Institute.

1 thought on “Fractured Land crowd funding campaign hits target!

  1. 2 comments (Archive) add comment

    Sunday, 20 January 2013 16:46 posted by J
    Congratulations ! Can’t wait to get the signed DVD and t-shirt. The Indiegogo campaign site was a great teachable moment for my high school English students to learn about how independent filmmakers can gain support to tell important stories. My class had just finished viewing “The Last Mountain” as a documentary extension to the novel “October Sky” to reflect on how coal mining has changed and how West Virginian communities’ relationships to the mining industry have been impacted as a result of this shift. These types of documentaries include important stories that really open the eyes of students. The educational guides that accompany “The Last Mountain” and films like “The Corporation” and “Rip A Remix Manifesto” help educators to work these films into various subject areas. Your film has a lot of multidisciplinary educational potential, so it would be great to see an educational guide developed to accompany the DVD.

    Sunday, 20 January 2013 12:45 posted by erik
    Well done Damien and team.
    The global distribution of energy, in its various forms, is evolving around owership concentration by those who seek to be the primary and private beneficiaries of that ownership.
    The proponets of global free trade used David Ricardo’s “law of comparative advantage” as the rationale to resist the tendencies of nation-states to use trade barriers. At the root of this “law” is the belief that more people would benefit if nationalistic behavior was supressed.
    This concept has been undergoing transformation to where the multi-national corporations are simply replacing the nation-state. A form of assault on democracy.
    Fresh water ownership will follow the same pattern we are seeing regarding energy.
    The irony is that global free trade is now sabotaging David Ricardo’s “law”.

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