There are 5 days left to see if crowdfunding with Patreon will successfully launch the Banting’s Ghost documentary project. My Patreon is at $391/month pledged by 29 backers. We need to reach $500/month in order to launch. I have gotten some questions about the way I am attempting to fund this project–specifically if it wouldn’t be more beneficial to use a platform like Kickstarter which would allow one-time contributions of a larger amount rather than seeking the smaller, monthly pledges by crowdfunding with Patreon. Here are some facts about this project that you may not have known–and that I hope will clarify the choices I’ve made in funding it.

  • Banting’s Ghost Documentary Project is an ongoing effort; a series. This isn’t a one time production of one piece of media or even a predetermined number of pieces. It’s an ongoing effort to document the lives of real people who are wrestling with the challenges of access to insulin. I believe that the greatest impact this project can have is if it’s responsive. Light and fast. Guerrilla media–not one monolithic production that simply takes a position and holds it. I’ve chosen this kind of delivery of the documentary not only because it’s what I can do best but because it’s aligned most closely with how people consume media today.
  • Fewer and fewer people  sit down to watch a 90 minute documentary on Netflix. Everyone has the time to watch a 1-3 minute short on social media–or a series of stills that bring an issue to life. Sharing happens and on it grows. Shorter, episodic projects leave more flexibility and room for failure. Even the best effort sometimes misses the mark. When you’re telling an ongoing story you have many more opportunities to explore different perspectives and even take risks because you’ll have more chances to try again and connect with a variety of people.
  • The problem we are attempting to address through this project is complex. The solution must also involve complexity and the episodic approach is better adapted to this.
  • Having done a handful of successful and unsuccessful crowdfunded projects I know how incredibly hard fund raising is. I also know that I’m not naturally gifted at sales, specifically when I have to sell the value of my work. I want to DO the work, not sell the work. Still, unless the funding is there, nothing can be done. Patreon (monthly contribution model) allows me to do the fundraising once and then gives me a sustainable outlook for future funding which allows me to use more of my time as a documentary storyteller and less as fundraiser. If I have $750 pledged in monthly support, I can make a plan for the best work I can do with that funding. One time contributions can give a bigger bump in support but can’t really be factored into planning.

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So why not accept one-time donations in addition to monthly support? What’s the harm in adding more ways for people to give?

At the time of this writing I am not certain that Banting’s Ghost will “go” since we are close to the end of the launch funding window and we haven’t hit our target. If we can’t cover the base costs then I will hold the contributions via Patreon and pause the campaign until we decide how to move forward–and no one gets charged in the meantime, no refunds have to be processed and all the support for Banting’s Ghost will be managed through ONE platform. The alternative of having to chase down individual contributors and return funds adds more complexity to the endeavor.

If the project gets funded and is growing, then accepting one-off donations is no problem because I wouldn’t need to be focused on building a base level of support but rather on growing the already established project.

Stephen Richert is a photographer and filmmaker who happens to live with type 1 diabetes. You can see his professional portfolio here.

To support this project and all the creative efforts of LivingVertical become a Patron and get prints, ebooks and early access to media as part of the group of insiders driving the creative efforts of LivingVertical also please know that non-monetary support is always greatly appreciated. If you can share our work or connect us with your friends, it would be greatly appreciated!