Crowdfunded Film On Swedish Tax Waste Allows Filmmaker To Stay Independent

    Before Martin Borgs joined the crowdfunding scene, the largest amount raised for a Swedish film was 393,646 SEK (€45,000) in a month. On FundedByMe, the largest amount raised for any project on the “classic crowfunding” site was 257,914 SEK. Borgs made more than that in the first 2 weeks that his latest film project was on FundedByMe. He raised 550,000 (€63,000) SEK in total to “granska slöseri med skattepengar” or examine the waste of tax money in Sweden.

    Best known for his internationally acclaimed film “Overdose”, about the financial crisis, his latest film takes a look at Sweden. Planned for release in 2014, a big election year for Sweden, he plans to use humour to document the waste of tax money in Sweden.

    Borgs emphasises marketing as key to raising funds. Before he even began crowdfunding, he did some analysis: “I wanted to target my audience and find out who was willing to donate money, what would motivate those people, through what channels could I reach them, and what activities would that take.”

    In his case, the people likely to support his film were those who had a vested interest in seeing it produced – Swedish taxpayers. Setting up networks and rallying support became a key part of the fundraising process; so much so that by the time his campaign was over, not only had Borgs amassed 550 000 SEK, he also had 25 000 people following his work on Facebook, he’d been in contact with traditional media and he’d sent mass mails targeting individuals across the country. This, coupled with talking to as many people as possible and giving the odd speech generated buzz, he says.

    He says he was hesitant at first, believing that that crowdfunding was not really a fully established form of funding in Sweden. Indeed, the low amounts raised on FundedByMe’s donation- and reward-based site would not suggest that crowdfunding is terribly lucrative. But Borgs took a chance – and says that crowdfunding in the face of his hesitancy meant “meeting the challenge”.

    “I tried to make my offer as simple as possible. In my words: ‘I will monitor the waste of your tax money, and if you’re willing to support that, here are some attractive awards’… It’s great, with movies, you can offer people a role in the film or their name in the credits. And it was great for me to have those rewards to offer.” He joked that perhaps he’d take on Brussels next – and then wouldn’t even need to give out rewards.

    Borgs gave four reasons for why crowdfunding was his best bet:

    Firstly, he wanted to retain his directorial independence: “I really wanted to rely on voluntary financing instead of turning to the government, since I want to monitor the government.”

    He also hoped that by engaging the network he had built up, some of the funders would turn into ambassadors for his work: “It turned out that 775 individuals wanted to contribute and, of course, I hope that they will turn out to be ambassadors for the movie as well.”

    Thirdly, he hoped that raising a significant amount of money and attracting lots of backers would be evidence of support for his project. Using this market validation, he could convince other sources of funding for their support

    Last, but not least Borgs says that having crowdfunded some of the money for the film gives him “some kind of moral fuel for the project, the sense that a lot of individuals have given up a lot of money for me to do this, so whenever I need some extra energy I think about them.”

    Borgs plans to start filming this Fall – and hopes to have the Gala opening, for which he’s already given away tickets as part of his crowdfunding campaign,  in 2014.