What We Can Learn From the 'Iron Sky' Sequel's Success
The Nazis-on-the-Moon sequel Iron Sky: The Coming Race just completed a successful Indiegogo campaign. The sci-fi dark comedy, directed by Timo Vuorensola, did not get strong reviews the first time around. In fact, it is not easy to find a good review of the film online. That said, Vuorensola was able to raise more than a tenth of the sequel's budget from fans, and to do it easily. If a dark "Nazispoitation" comedy can make its crowdfunding goals, then there is hope for any filmmaker on the Indiegogo platform. Here is some of what the Iron Sky creators did right:
They built a dedicated cult audience. Although the original film didn't do gangbusters at the box office (total gross a little over $8 million), it has a rabid international following - particularly in Germany, Finland and Sweden. The film's concept also gets a lot of traffic online and on social media. Their ability to get this funding - $176,053 of their $150,000 request - while totally scriptless and with principal photography not even planned until the start of 2015 - says a lot about their fan base. And their social media team is in contact with those fans, leading the campaign to get distributors on board.
Let's face it: no one is going to the theater or streaming the original on Netflix because of the script or the acting.
They promise the moon. There are lots of interesting teasers circulating around the web about this film, some in character, some serious, all entertaining. We are told there will be dinosaurs this time around. Udo Kier, the most popular member of the cast, makes a personal pitch while in character. And Timo Vuorensola has declared that Iron Sky: The Coming Race will be the best sci-fi film ever. The team around this movie certainly have healthy egos.
A great pitch. "The story of Iron Sky began a long time a go in a sauna far far away, when a friend of mine told that he's got an idea for a new film – Moon Nazis," reads the pitch. "We were laughing at it, but decided – let's make this happen!" A very simple, but interesting pitch. Also: "The first African-American on the moon."
The filmmakers' social media team is in contact with 250,000 fans a week.
A Collaborative Process. The Finnish filmmakers have a history with crowdsourced campaigns and their social media team is, according to their Press Book, in contact with 250,000 fans a week. The first Iron Sky film raised one tenth of its funding, around $1 million, through a crowdsourced campaign. "The financing includes 1 million from the Iron Sky Fans, from which 40% is cleared and 60% gapped by a Finnish bank Nordea," says the press book. The rest of the funding came from traditional sources. Further, Iron Sky engaged a collaborative filmmaking platform, Wreckamovie, in which fans can "participate" in the process, doing tasks like naming characters or suggesting special effects ideas.
Give them what they want. Although the film has generally not been favorably reviewed, all swear by the CGI effects (Energia Productions in Finland). On such a small budget, the original does an extraordinary job delivering special effects. Let's face it: no one is going to the theater or streaming the original on Netflix because of the script or the acting. This is entertainment, pure and simple. The film is funny and self-mocking, if you go in for that sort of thing, and very good on the special effects. Citizen Kane this is not, and its fans, quite frankly, wouldn't have it any other way.