Ever thought about kickstarting your own anime project? Well here you will find enough information to get you started.

I created a paper on how I believe you could create a succesfull kickstart campaign and share a lot of information and insights. Not only that but I keep track of which kickstart anime campaign gets funded and which not. And especially why they succeed or fail.

This page is entitled to handdrawn anime as well as 3D.

You are looking for an oppinion or looking for advice? Do not refrain from contacting me.

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Breakdown of an anime kickstart project

By Wasili Novratidis

This paper is my personal view of how a kickstart project concerning anime (2D or 3D) can be made successful. It is absolutely not any guarantee that if you follow everything it will succeed. There are many factors concerned. But I strongly believe that this is a guide and study for doing your utmost.

I examined the following anime:
Under the dog
Little Witch Academy 2
Santa Company

But also:
The Goon
And some projects which failed.

The beginning
Starting a kickstart project is nothing more or less then selling a product. People are not telepathic, so they will not understand what you are selling or what your ideas are. You have to express them and communicate them in the right way. That sounds easy but you have to make use of techniques that already have been used by marketeers and already successfully applied by previous kickstart projects.

So what is the right way?

Well a wrong way is to state that ‘I want to make animations but lack the funds’ kind of way. Nobody cares if you state it like that and this is surely to fail. But it still amazes me how many successful projects there are for things I would not expected that people would pay for.

Well maybe the most important attribute in any project is simply ‘trust’ from your backers. Now this is not a simple thing to achieve. What defines trust and how can you achieve it.

Previous works
Trust will be build more easily if you are an existing company or artist which has produced previous movies, anime, etc. A link from the kickstarter site to your portfolio or company site will give people a better impression of what you are capable off. But even that will not get you to your goal.

So starters are at a disadvantage? Yes, but the main ‘trust’ comes from a trailer. In fact this is the main selling point. A well executed trailer will surely tangle backers to spend their money. The higher the quality of the trailer, the better the ‘trust’ factor will be. But a good trailer might cost money. In fact this is a chicken egg problem, which comes first? You need the kickstarter to raise money. Sadly, you have to invest first to get anything from the ground. Allegedly the ‘Under the dog’ trailer costed USD 100.000 and was incorporated in the project goals to be funded. Now not everybody has this kind of money but it is the way of thinking that counts.

For instance Makato Shinkai quit his job and worked for 8 months on his 20 minute movie ‘Voices from a Distant Star’. No funding there, he did it on his own and used computers to get cheaply to his goal. Afcourse he was pretty gifted in a lot of areas and already did some award winning 5 minute shorts before he made this step. Still he invested first before he could reap.

A lot trailers for projects are actually 2 or 3 minutes long and have a word from the producer or the team. See the trailers for ‘The Goon’, ‘Little witch academy’ and ‘Santa company’. In fact I see this often and it is even possible to make a trailer that contains not so much of the work you are gonna make and only explains what you are gonna do, still that needs a lot of other magic to make the goal happen.

Another ‘trust’ factor is managing the expectations and questions from your backers. For instance explain what you are gonna do with all this money you are getting.
- How is your budget divided?
- To which goals are you gonna spend money?
- What will be the time when you expect to be finished?
- Will you communicate with your backers even after you reach your goal?
- Is there an official website?
- If the goal reaches a surpluss what are you gonna do with it?

Beeing honest will work two ways. When people see how you are gonna spend your money they might not feel this is such a good idea or is a waste of money. The other side of things is that people know up in front what you are gonna do and they do not have false expectations. It is fair to point out that nothing in this world is ‘free’ and that to produce art simply costs money. The way you point this out should be subtle and should reference the cost of other productions.

Another important success factor is simply the story itself. The more accessible the story is for people of all ages the more potential backers you can get. The more violence your story contains the more specific your audience will be. That does not mean you can not get your project funded, but it will be harder. So a story containing lovely girls with big smiles and small skirts could draw backers more easily then a story containing a girl with a scar and waving an uzi.

Afcourse the originality of the story is important as well. Having a story which has been told many, many times over and over again will not get an instant success. If the same kind of story is currently airing on television or internet anime websites, then few backers will add to your cause. In fact a previous kickstart project could already been started successful or otherwise. But the result is that because of that previous action your project will not be easily be accepted.

No matter how good even your trailer was. People just want to get amused and seek for the newest kind of things instead that what they already have seen.

Well this is very important as well, many people back up not only to get help fund the projector to be part of something special or a team. Nope they want something they can posses or that is absolutely special nobody else has.

Still here comes an important part of the marketing. Selling your product. All anime campaigns had a similar approach but there is a huge difference if you are a start out or an established company.

What draws people to invest are certain “ extra's “. All extra's cost money to give back to the funders but if you keep a base funding threshold in mind it should work out. The kickstart project 'Under the Dog' had a huge expenditure in costs (some 25% to 35%) for giving the kickback attributes to investors.

This is part of the marketing campaign and those extra's can be defined as follows:

Btw, kickback are mostly 'stackable' i.e. when you invest at a specific high tier, say 100 USD, you get everything as well from lower tiers.

1) Name on website or name in movie, mostly for low kickstart entrances. There are few costs involved in this. It does not give that a high rate of return but its better then nothing.

2) Wallpapers or trailers. Same as 1)

3) Digital artbook, I like this one. It does not cost anything to print and can be made from good concept art or just art.

4) Download episode or soundtrack. In fact the actual product , but just a link to the downloadsite and thats it.

5) A real artbook, a here the cost for production kicks in and this is mostly priced at higher tiers. It would not be to difficult to find a publisher but you have to inform before you invest. It will be very likely that you have to order a minimum.

6) A deluxe dvd set. Same as 5, you need prints and the DVD will need a print as well. Think about making the DVD region free.

7) Cover art or script, same as 5 you need posters.

8) Soundtrack CD, same as 6 you need more disks.

9) T-shirts, same as 5. Print them.

10) Various stuff like coins, film reel cut, deskmat, metal bookmark. You have to find somebody which can produce this stuff and add a print to it.

11) Characters or anime figurines. Now these are hot and people are willing to pay for them. There are Japanese companies which are specialized in making them but it will be costly. Afcourse if you are creating a 3D anime movie you could just 3D print the figurines. Either way make sure the quality is good.

12) Sign everything. Dunno why but people like this. Just put your signature on everything you give. Afcourse depends who is signing but if you would use real voice actresses for instance that would be a nice plus.

13) Create your own character to be starred in the movie. They sell at insane tiers around USD 10.000. Afcourse there is a whole circus involved in this and somebody whit artistic qualities has to guide this process. Still its an ultimate kickback.

14) Legally bug the staff and go to a yakuzi with the director. Well not quite but this is also a circus. You show somebody around and give him the feeling he is very special.

Well this list is not complete and people will be inventive enough to add more to the list. If you get the picture, its all about the kickback. Let me show you this in figures:

Only 17% for Under The Dog and 6% for Little Which Accademy choose a tier which did not give anything physical. A.k.a. the biggest funds came from people wanting something that they could feel and touch.

The biggest kickback tiers in both productions where those ranging from USD 100 to USD 300. The tier for USD 500 in Under The Dog could be included as well, which held the figurine. Afcourse the higher the tier the more costs you have but still it will give more funding as well.

Talking about costs, kickstarter costs money as well. As does the creditcard company.(both estimated at 10% of the fundraising)

This one surprises me the most, how bad prepared most campaigns can be. Beeing shown on kickstart does not mean that people will invest that easily. You have to reach out to those people who are interested in investing and are close to your product. Because a kickstart project has a timelimit you have to do the rights things at the beginning. Do not hope that people will catch on, it will happen but mostly at a slower pace then you would expect. So what to do?

a) Make an account on social media just for your project. This is crucial because you will be using this account to post your trailer and a link to the kickstarter webpage. Search for anime forums and post your message, there are hundreds of them so it will take you a while. In the bigger forums you could post daily, for instance with new concept art or not previously shown stills from the movie.

Think carefully about communicating in different languages, afcourse also depended from the subtitles for your movie. But there are a lot of people in this world and they do not always speak english. To bad I still have no feedback on from which countries kickstart backers are from.

b) Anime newssites. This is a bit harder because you can not post directly to some newssites directly. Still if you can cover a lot of them others will pick up the news as well.

c) If you have done a previous kickstart campaign as well (fail or good) contact those people again.

d) This is harder but try to make sure that you are beeing discussed on internet for a which has a lot of followers. Allegedly Under The Dog was such a big hit because they made top on the website 'redit'. Other chances could be anime fansites. Have no experience in this matter but it could be another channel to find backers.

e) Afcourse a nice website to support the campaign is handy enough and supports the trust factor as well.

The evil side of things
There is an evil side to kickstartprojects which is closely related to the trust factor.

Not all projects who where successfully backed came to life. This will turn off backers. Afcourse this paper is intended for fair and square projects but there is no saying that above points will be used for fraud. I can not help this but hope it will not happen. Still on searching for projects I encountered some projects which did not produce anything after 2 years. Another one did produce something (very good btw), but only after 4 years.

Something to note is who is in charge of the money? Can you really trust people if you have a big sum of money at stake. Think about this before you even start.

What if you are so close to reaching the goal but you are almost out of time. Well you could fund it yourself for a bit and get the money back later. This does not mean you got your initial goal but its pretty hard to go for a second time.

This paper is not completely finished but the main things are in here. I hope the guidelines where good enough to get you started and maybe I will be off any assistance in the near future.

Wasili Novratidis

Gorinchem, The Netherlands

16 october 2014

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