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Thank You Igniters…and Advice for the Next Team

Over the past few days, I've gotten several emails and messages from filmmakers asking me what "worked" in relation to our successful Doc Ignite campaign. If there are any other filmmaking teams who catch Hot Docs' eye and are invited to participate in Doc Ignite, or if you plan to launch a similar crowdfunding campaign for your own film, perhaps this will serve as a useful tool.

1. The first thing we had to get over is the terrible and uncomfortable feeling of asking family, friends, colleagues and strangers for money. Avi was great at this. He's so straight and direct with people. I, however, found myself using other words to make it sound less like I was asking for money. Instead of "please give" and "donate", I used the word "contribute". That's a bit better. Contribute sounds like "participate" and participating in a film is pretty cool. And once you clicked on the "participate" link, it brought you to the ignite page...where you could see all the options available for getting involved at a financial level. Sneaky, huh?

2. Campaigning is a job.  It's working a few hours every day to ensure you have new content to blast out and make sure your information isn't repetitive. We tested the limits of our personal time, energy and creativity. Highlights from the campaign include engaging with long lines outside the Bloor Cinema during the Toronto After Dark film festival, gluing Halloween candy to 30 Ghosts postcards and giving them out to kids on my street, and quickly editing a silly commercial at 3am one night when I couldn't sleep. The quality reflects the time of day it was produced, but the heart is there.



3. Thank your contributors publicly. After the first wave of contributions came in, we came up with the idea of thanking people via video - a small clip that contributors could proudly display on their own social media pages, which, in turn, would theoretically spread the word for us. Check out the video clip below. Everyone who contributed has their name said by the star of our documentary. Not a bad little freebie thrown in to the mix, huh?



4. Have a support system. Good God, we worked with a great group of people at Hot Docs who guided us along and kept us on track. Stephanie McArthur, Elizabeth Radshaw and Chloe Sosa-Sims are three of the smartest, creative and organized people you'll ever meet. LOVE THEM! Truth be told, we probably couldn't have done this without the support the Doc Ignite team and the Hot Docs community. 30 Ghosts is not a film that sets out to change the world's perception on a specific topic, nor does it feature lush cinematography in an inspiring foreign land. It's a raw, intense study on a fascinating character. Without any social justice sort of hook, I felt like we could have doomed ourselves before even attempting to crowdfund. But through the Doc Ignite team's support and know-how, our team accomplished what we set out to do.

Our next step involves something equally as challenging...yet much more rewarding: fulfilling all of your incentives! Give us a day or two to recover from the campaign and we'll be in touch as to when you can redeem/expect your selected incentive.

On behalf of the 30 Ghosts team, thank you.


We Did It - A Special Shout Out to our Igniters

Dear 30 Ghost Doc Igniters,

We did it! After a whirlwind month of emailing, facebooking, tweeting, broadcasting, blogging, crashing live events, and bonking you over the head with our repeated messaging, we finally reached our goal of raising $15,000 so we can finish our film.  Thanks to YOU! 

Insert huge sigh relief here.

Over the last few weeks, 157 separate contributors took time out of their day, and money out their wallets, to contribute to the making of 30 Ghosts. With the dwindling public support for the arts, you've all privately stepped up to the plate to ensure that this raw/funny/tragic/gritty/spooky/heartwarming/Canadian tale is told. Because of your generous contribution - whether it be via credit card, or the toonie that little Sarah down the street pitched in for us - you've allowed us the chance to potentially premiere at Hot Docs, one of the biggest documentary festivals in the world.

Even though we've reached our set goal, we could still use a bit of help over the remaining 2 days to license some Canadian music for use in our film, as well as cover the submission costs for applying to the various national and international documentary festivals. So if you're reading this for the first time and would like to get involved and be part of the inside club in making a feature film, click that crazy "Ignite" button and join in the adventure.

I will personally cover 157 drinks when I see you next/meet you for the first time,



Lighting 30 Ghosts - a Director of Photography blog entry

The “run and gun” style used for most documentary films makes lighting both a luxury and an inconvenience on many shoot days. As a Director of Photography who loves lighting it pains me to say this, but most of the time we either don’t have the time to light, or the situation and location doesn’t allow it (no access to electricity, location is too small or sensitive, equipment is not allowed, etc). However, recently I purchased a set of LED light panels that have changed the way that I shoot my docs, and everything else for that matter.

Just so you know, I don’t have any equipment sponsorships and this is not a paid advertisement. This is just to review a piece of equipment that I have recently purchased that I really like, and I wanted to share the love.

About a month ago I bought a set of Dedolight Felloni LED light panels from Imagegear in Toronto. If you’re familiar with lighting then you’ve probably heard of Dedolight or used their lights at some point. After just one day of using these lights I fell in love with them.

Firstly, they are bi-colour. This means that with a mere turn of a dial you can change the colour temperature of these lights from 2900K to 5500K or anywhere in between. This means that you can match the warmth or coolness of these lights to their environment instantly. Perhaps to a lamp in someones living room for a night scene or the bright sunlight coming in through a window for a day scene. No more fumbling with gels or hunching over to switch bulbs while everyone stands around and waits for you.

Secondly, these little wonders are also dimmable from 0% to 100% which is a huge time saver. The dimming is very gradual whereas certain dimmable light fixtures will dim in steps rather than a smooth accurate transition from one intensity to the next.

Lastly, and perhaps most thrillingly, these lights are battery powered. They can still be run off of regular AC wall power but also take V-mount batteries, the same batteries I use to power my RED camera. These larger lithium-ion batteries will last all day!

When shooting on location for 30 Ghosts I was able to set up these lights without any extension cords, match colour temperature, and move the lights around, all basically using one hand. These fixtures are light as hell. In fact, they are so lightweight that I questioned the build quality because they are made entirely of plastic. So far they have handled the rigours of production without any damage.

The speed and ingenuity of using these lights makes them ideal for documentary filming. Their size, weight and use of battery power allowed me the time to use them whenever I needed. Normally Kino’s are my go-to lights for quick lighting setups but even those take too long and require bulky cases and long extension cords running around locations.

There are some cons however...

The Felloni’s don’t have any barndoors to control light. This is a real drawback when it comes to controlling the spill and direction of light. I’ve been trying to come up with a homemade solution but haven’t executed any of my ideas yet. It involves a lot of foamcore and velcro; not the most elegant of solutions.

The lights have a slight green cast. To the untrained eye these lights probably don’t look green at all but compared to Kinos, which have a magenta cast to them, it becomes obvious. Green is not great for skin tones and can makes subjects look sickly by washing out colour from skin and enhancing blemishes. Green and magenta are opposites on the light spectrum and therefore the effect becomes exaggerated when mixing LED’s and Kino Flos when colour correcting in post. The solution is to add approximately ¼ minus-green gels to all the LEDs so they will match the Kinos. Not a big deal but the gels do cut down the light transmission by 20% which can be significant when every photon counts.

All in all I’m quite happy with these little guys and would like to add more to my kit. Perhaps I’ll wait for a model with barn doors or some sort of light control or even a double wide model that is twice the size in one unit.

30 Ghosts - Tales from Moscow

Sean here. I recently spent a few days in Moscow, Russia for a film festival that I was invited to attend. Armed with 30 Ghosts postcards, I decided to hit the streets and find out what I could about local ghost lore. Aside from stories about disappearing black cats and strange flute music coming from a cemetery on the outskirts of the city, I came across a cool story about the elderly Kysovnikovy couple.

Before the revolution, this husband and wife were well known for their luxurious lifestyle and terrible greed.  They kept to themselves, never socialized with any friends, and did not help any struggling members of their community. They simply guarded their money.  To foil any potential home invasion, the couple would drive around with their money in a trunk at night until the following morning.

A still shot of Myasnitskaya Street.


One day, the Kysovnikovys went out to an appointment, and while they were gone their home caught fire, and all their cash and bonds were destroyed.  The woman died on the spot while the man slowly went mad and disappeared. Moscow legend has it that the ghost of Mr. Kysovnikovy still wanders Myasnitskaya Street, mumbling, “Oh, my poor money”, even stopping strangers to tell them his tragic tale.

As any self-respecting producer does, we’re always thinking about the next movie possibility. Having spent a few days there, Moscow is a strong location choice for 30 Ghosts: Part 2.  I wonder if there is a Muscovite equivalent for Kim Hadfield? Doubtful.

30 Ghosts invade The Bloor

Special blog entry by the 30 Ghosts production intern, Sherman...

At the recent Doc Soup screenings at The Bloor Hot Docs Cinema,  our now famous 30 "G-hosts" Jessica Holmes interview was screened, bringing our Doc Ignite campaign directly to documentary lovers.

The crowd instantly fell in love with the bantering between the host and the creators of the film, Sean and Avi.

After the feature, I spoke to some of audience members about 30 Ghosts. Dom from Toronto stated, “if this is a teaser, we are definitely teased.” interesting! Holmes' witty humor addresses the key struggles faced by our lead doc subject, Kim, and of the nature of documentary itself.  Adds Craig from Toronto, “that definitely makes me want to see the film”.

Nice! Reaching out to the documentary community one person at a time,


30 Ghosts at Toronto’s Doc Summit Event

This past weekend, the 30 Ghosts team was asked to participate in a series of panels and seminars, as they offered insight into every aspect of the filmmaking process. Here are some thoughts from each team member

Executive Producer – Avi Federgreen

It was a great time at Doc Summit yesterday.  Doc Summit is a very informative two day event for those who want to sink their teeth into documentary filmmaking.  I met a lot of great people and we talked a ton about all aspects of distributing documentary films.  I think we all agreed that the most important thing is to get as many eyeballs to see your film as possible and to never take “no” for an answer.

The Summit was also a great opportunity to discuss our 30 Ghosts Doc Ignite campaign and our film.  Thanks to everyone for all the support and encouragement especially the gang from Raindance Canada, who were also in attendance.

Many thanks to Andrew Zinnes for creating such a great forum for aspiring documentary filmmakers to congregate and discuss documentary filmmaking.  I encourage everyone to check out Andrew’s various books including the THE DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKERS HANDBOOK. It's a great read.

Director of Photography – Carl Elster

On Saturday, I had the pleasure of sitting on a panel entitled, “Storytelling during Production II - DP” with Mark Bochsler and François Aubry. It was a fantastic event hosted and moderated by Andrew Zinnes and the whole 30 Ghosts family was there all weekend speaking about their documentary filmmaking experiences.

As you can tell from the title, my panel discussed how a Director of Photography helps to tell the story with various camera techniques, and how their relationship with the director and documentary team influences these choices and their outcomes. I found my panel particularly interesting because the three participants each spoke from a different perspective. François spoke very articulately about the philosophical side of lighting and cinematography. Mark, having just completed shooting in Asia as both cinematographer and director, spoke about the choices cinematographers need to make while shooting on location and the equipment they use. I had a more practical low budget perspective and spoke about overcoming the limitations that a DOP has while working on micro-budgets. All in all, we built and added onto each other to make for a lively discussion that covered a lot of ground.

A big thanks to my co-panel experts. It was really gratifying to be considered a peer to two such experienced and well-established cinematographers. And a big shout out to the audience who asked thoughtful questions and were very engaged throughout.

Director and Producer – Sean Cisterna

I sat on a panel entitled “Crowd Funding – Still the Future?”

While I said my spiel about what 30 Ghosts is about and how I came across my subjects, the real draw of the event was my co-panelist, Hot Docs’ Stephanie McArthur. She is modest about it, but she is a guru on crowd funding and has incredible insight on the subject, and can speedily back her statements up with informative statistics and facts.

At the time of writing this, we’re a little over halfway through our campaign. I gotta be honest. I don’t know if we could do this crowd funding endeavor ourselves. I mean, I know it can be done, but I really have to give sincere thanks and a round of applause to the Hot Docs team, especially Stephanie and Elizabeth Radshaw, for not only being so supportive but for being brutally honest with their thoughts those moments we started to stray. It’s so rare for people to come out and say when something isn’t quite working and we as filmmakers have learned so much about how to engage with audiences clearly and directly at an early stage.

If you are a filmmaker and are looking to work with the Doc Ignite team, I can’t recommend this experience enough. Other crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo pale in comparison to the support you’ll receive - both creatively and emotionally - from the talented Doc Ignite team members.


Andrew Zinnes (author of the Documentary Filmmaker's Handbook) and 30 Ghosts executive producer Avi Federgreen.


30 Ghosts director Sean Cisterna and Hot Docs/Doc Ignite's Stephanie McArthur.

30 Ghosts - Feliz Dia de los Muertos

Today, November 1st, is the Day of the Dead. It is a Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico and around the world. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died.

Our documentary 30 Ghosts begins with a simple tale of an injured 9 year old girl in the hospital, who is visited by her grandfather. Her grandfather comforts and consoles her, and makes the young girl forget about her injury.  It is later revealed that the girl’s grandfather was already dead at the time of her injury, making it physically impossible for him to have visited her in the hospital.

This little girl is the Kim Hadfield, the lead subject of 30 Ghosts, and it is this event that leads her on her powerful and emotional quest to prove to the world that ghosts walk among us every day.

If you are feeling sentimental today and would like to give life to a feature documentary, visit

Feliz Dia de los Muertos!

Happy Halloween from 30 Ghosts!

To get into the Halloween spirit, the 30 Ghosts team decided to take a night off yesterday for a screening of Paranormal Activity 4. I, along with my documentary subjects Kim, Leah and Kimberley, went down to the local multiplex, picked up some tickets for the show, and before the film started, we just started engaging with as many people as possible about 30 Ghosts.

Now Paranormal Activity is certainly not a documentary, and the entire subject and tone of our film couldn’t be any different, but it was really beneficial to interact with an audience full of phantasm-loving ticket buyers. Kim, Kimberley and Leah handed out postcards and signed autographs, and you could tell that the audience was just so supportive of us being there. All except for the curmudgeonly manager who swiftly told us that we couldn’t promote our film in his theatre after catching wind of us.

By that time everyone in the audience had received postcards and heard our pitch. This morning, we awoke to a nice little spike in our social media following, and some extra Doc Ignite contributions flowed in too. It just goes to show that year after year, ghosts are a hot topic, which gives us great hope that our documentary will grace the airwaves every Halloween season.

Score one for the little indie guy!




30 Ghosts Incentives Commercial

Hallowe'en is almost here, and with the increase in paranormal activity, we thought we'd call attention to our amazing 30 Ghosts incentive packages.

Check out this short commercial to hear some of our perks, including a private home investigation up for grabs.

We thank all of you for your support and interest in our project so far. Thanks for all the inspiring messages and for simply reaching out to us! Can't wait to share the film with you in a few months.


1/3 of 30 Ghosts

Well, we’re about 1/3 of the way through our Doc Ignite campaign and we’ve raised about 1/3 of our goal.  Things are looking great for us, and we couldn’t do it without the support of our friends, family, colleagues and documentary fans! So thank you!

In working with such a small group of people on a project, it can sometimes feel like we operate in a bubble. So we want to reach out and ask you, the film-loving community, for some help.  While we put a lot of thought into our campaign incentives as rewards for contributors, is there anything else we missed? As naviagate the bumpy waters of crowdfunding campaigning, what incentives could we offer that would encourage you to click on the “Contribute to 30 Ghosts” button?

Tweet us or Facebook us your suggestions…crazy suggestions are encouraged! We're just the team to make it happen.

Twitter @30GhostsMovie


Kissing Babies

I was told that "shaking hands and kissing babies" was an effective way to help spread the word about our 30 Ghosts Doc Ignite campaign.

So I went down last night to the Toronto After Dark Film Festival at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema with a stack of our film's postcards.

All the while, I kept thinking "no one wants to talk to me. These people are busy waiting in line". But after engaging with a few people and sharing stories about our project, I quickly realized the power of the human connection. People seemed genuinely interested in talking to usI

It didn't hurt  that the movie being screened was My Amityville Horror, a documentary about the supposedly real paranormal events that inspired The Amityville Horror films. Simply by being in that lineup, I knew I had a captive audience of likeminded people who would be interested in 30 Ghosts, and receptive to a quick pitch.

Check out the pic below of Sherman, our beloved prodution intern from the York University Film Program, spreading the the rain. Whatever it takes!


Jessica Holmes interviews 30 Ghosts filmmakers

Check this out, Doc Igniters! Here's a Monday chuckle for you!

Canada's favourite funnywoman, Jessica Holmes, interviews filmmakers Sean Cisterna and Avi Federgreen about their new feature documentary, 30 Ghosts.


To contribute to their crowdfunding campaign, please visit

30 Ghosts: Can a Documentary Deliver Ghostly Chills?

"Behind every man now alive stand 30 ghosts”, said Arthur C Clarke, “for that is the ratio by which the dead outnumber the living".

Several months ago I was listening to a CBC radio program when on came the troupe from Halton Paranormal. I had recently wrapped up a festival tour of my previous film, a quirky narrative comedy called Moon Point, and wasn’t really looking for a new project…but the voices on the radio were just too compelling to ignore.  I did a bit of digging around and eventually got a hold of the group and arranged to meet them, just to see if there was anything else to their story that could justify spending an hour’s worth of screen time with them. It was at this meeting I met Kim Hadfield-Verheul, the eccentric, charming and intense lead investigator of the group.

The stories they told were both exciting and terrifying! Tales of dark moving shadows, doors opening on their own, children's voices on recorders, and the occasional hopping of fences to get to that perfect abandoned home to investigate. I was pumped, and started shooting production footage a week or two later, hoping for a legitimately raw and spooky documentary, not the contrived  reality show type of ghost hunter programming on cable tv networks.

As our crew started filming Halton Paranormal's investigations, I came to a sad realization. Ghost hunting is kinda like fishing. It’s really boring. You’re constantly waiting for something to happen, and you can sit there for hours just holding a rod. But if you’re lucky enough to get a nibble on your line, things can get exciting. Most people don't know that spooky things rarely happen while investigating. It's in the evidence review phase (listening to EVP recordings and hearing voices of beings that you know were not in that room with you!) that you can really start getting the chills.

And this is where our documentary took a different turn. We decided to scale back on shooting the actual paranormal investigations and put to the forefront the story of lead investigator, Hadfield, who has such an incredibly compelling tale, even if she were not a ghost hunter. She manages a barn out in rural Ontario, adding “I’m a horse farmer, so yeah, I’m broke”. She takes a series of medication to control a variety of ailments caused from head injuries. And she’s incredibly obsessive about pursuing her passion to find proof of the paranormal. Not to give too much of our doc-in-progress away, but it is Kim's story that delivers the chills...but in a different way.

I am confident that when we unleash this sucker to audiences next year, it'll be a unique viewing experience, full of dramatic real life chills set against a creepy paranormal backdrop. And, for the most part, it's full of humour. Though others who have seen some edited footage are even going so far as to calling it a tragedy. There are multiple facets to people's lives that can't be pigeonholed into one particular genre - which is why I love working in documentary.

Luckily for us, the Hot Docs Festival team has seen some of our test footage and liked it so much that they decided to jump on board and help us finish the project through Doc Ignite, their online crowdfunding site. From October 15th to November 20th, you can get involved in our production and contribute so we can reach our fundraising goal to help pay for a sound mix and colour correction in time for the Hot Docs entry deadline in early January. Each contribution comes with its own unique incentive for you, from autographed swag and t-shirts to even an appearance as 1 of 30 ghosts on our theatrical poster.

Visit to contribute.

I hope you enjoy 30 Ghosts – a portrayal of ambition, obsession, and one woman’s quest to capture something that may not exist - when it is released through Indiecan Entertainment next year.

Sean Cisterna
Director/Producer, 30 Ghosts

Twitter @seancisterna

Follow us at and on Twitter@30GhostsMovie




Blog originally written for

Documentary Versus Fiction: A DOP’s Perspective

I am often asked, “What kind of stuff do you shoot?” I usually reply with something like “a little bit of this, a little bit of that.”

Lately, I’ve been working with the venerable Avi Federgreen. In fact, we just returned from Israel where we shot some preliminary footage for a new documentary. We are also wrapping up principal photography on another doc directed by the amazing Sean Cisterna, called 30 Ghosts.

30 Ghosts is a true documentary in the sense that the content often takes precedence over the imagery, much to the chagrin of a DOP like me. I have shot many fiction projects such as Moon Point and, most recently, a children’s web series. Shooting for a documentary is a very different beast. Often there is no lighting involved only natural light, something that can irk someone like me coming from a background working as a lighting technician. Especially being from the school of thought that as a cinematographer you are essentially “painting with light.” But often one has to let go of his or her hang ups and open his or her mind to a different style of storytelling.

Working in the documentary style, I’ve learned to let go of my obsession with the perfectly exposed image and focus on telling a story, all the while making the images as aesthetically pleasing as possible. Documentary filmmaking is about engaging the subject rather than “painting with light.” Sean and I developed a shooting style where we create scenes that tell small stories while on location. I’ve learned to shoot so things can be cut together in the editing room creating scenes that fit into the larger narrative of the film, something that would normally happen in pre-production on a fiction project. In a documentary the story evolves as you tell it and the director and DOP need to keep on their toes to evolve as it does.

It helps that Sean and I have a great working relationship where we can communicate on the fly and complement each other while shooting on set which is key with documentary filmmaking. I need to know what is going on, how our subjects feel and how each shoot fits into the larger picture that is 30 Ghosts. This is especially true since we have been shooting this film on and off for the past year.

In the past, I’ve told people that I don’t really like documentary style shooting because it’s more about the content than the image. To me, filmmaking is finding a balance appropriate for each project and I’ve finally found that on 30 Ghosts. As mentioned, I love “painting with light” (okay, last time I’m going to use that phrase) and the “run and gun” nature of docs makes me feel more like a human tripod than a cinematographer. However, over the past year I’ve found that I can still make beautiful images while running around madly trying to capture my subjects. I’ve learned to engage my subjects and tell stories with a sympathetic eye. I can release my hang ups about not being able to light everything and still make beautiful, meaningful images that ALSO tell a story.

As the focus of my career shifts to feature films, I still plan to pursue fiction filmmaking, but working on 30 Ghosts has opened my eyes to a style of filmmaking that I love watching and now love to make as well.

To contribute to our 30 Ghosts Doc Ignite campaign, please visit  -


Carl Elster

Director of Photography

twitter @30GhostsMovie

Crowd Funding….A New Model To Help Finance Your Indie Film

It’s becoming harder and harder to finance your films no matter where you are in the world.  The normal funding agencies don’t have as much money to shell out to as many projects anymore so we have to find new ways of raising money to make our films moving forward.  

Sure, there is the chance that you might meet someone or some company that might be willing to invest their money into your film.  The problem is, and I will be the first one to admit, that these people are really hard to find.  I have found a few over the years but in almost every case when it comes time to sign on the dotted line they either disappear never to be heard from again or they just decide it’s too risky f0r them to get involved and then walk away.  In Canada it’s really hard to get a private investor to invest money into your film when it’s 100% risk with no guaranteed rate of return.  Unless you can prove that they will see their money back, which depending on the film may not be possible, it is hard to convince them to take the risk.

There are new and creative ways for filmmakers trying to raise money for their films.  Casey Walker (Little Bit Zombie) raised a significant amount of money for his film by selling each frame of the film to potential investors though an internet site that he created.  The money that was raised in combination with tax credits and other funding sources allowed Chris to make his film become a reality.  James Cooper  (Elijah The Prophet) used Kickstarter to try and raise money to shoot his short film.  He asked for $20,000 and in the end was able to raise $21,600.  Because of his successful experience he wrote a book entitled “Kickstarter for Filmmakers” that is available for any e-reader and I encourage you to read it as it’s a great tool for you to use.  You can also contact James at

There are two main sites out there that filmmakers use to help raise money for their films - Kickstarter and Indiegogo.  The issue with Kickstarter is that you must have a U.S. Mailing address and also if you don’t reach your fund raising goal you don’t get any of the money that you have raised.  As for Indiegogo any money that you raise you get to keep with the exception of a percentage that goes to Indiegogo.  Personally I think it’s too much of a risk to use Kickstarter for the simple reason that if you don’t hit your goal your get nothing.  I know a lot of filmmakers that came within a few thousand dollars of their target and walked away with ziltch. 

You have to also know that the majority of the money raised on these sites is usually raised in the first week and the last week of the campaign.  So the key is to find interesting ways to keep your audience involved and to get their friends, family etc involved in your campaign.  This can be done by regular blogging, video blogs, updates on the film, contests, whatever you can introduce that can engage your audience to not only donate but also stay involved and attract more of an audience.  Conversation is the best form of advertising…the more conversation people are having about what you are doing the more likely your campaign will be successful.

Awards (prizes) are also a very important key to any good crowd sourcing campaign.  The awards people will receive depending on the level of contribution they make to the campaign has to be really great…giving your audience the REAL incentive to contribute is invaluable.  Awards need to be fun and stuff that they would appreciate getting for their donation.  One very important point is to NOT offer anyone a producing credit as this will affect your tax credits!

I could go on for days about crowd sourcing as a way to help finance your film but there are other really great resources out there like James’ book.  Also please check out the recent study by Nordicity contracted by the Canadian Media Fund:

I am seeing first-hand the dedication required for crowd-funding campaigns with a new documentary I am involved in called “30 Ghosts”.  The doc will be a textured yet entertaining chronicle of rural Ontario horse farmer and part-time paranormal-investigator Kim Hadfield, over a year of intense struggle as she pursues her dream of proving to mankind that ghosts exist. In attempting to raise awareness and capital to complete to complete our film we have teamed with Doc Ignite, HotDocs’ own Indiegogo-like service, a crowd-funding arm for Canadian docs. Participating in Doc Ignite and HotDocs allows us to truly target the passionate and dedicated documentary community around the world, and bring them on board in a big way.  But this is easier said than done, and will require constant creativity and vigilance from myself and the producer/director, Sean Cisterna. Our introductory video is just the beginning, the real test will be if we can create and sustain the interest in our film necessary to hit our funding target. 

Please check out our 30GHOSTS Doc Ignite campaign to get involved and contribute at:

Crowd sourcing can be a great way to raise financing for your film but remember there’s more to it that just posting the campaign up on the site.  It requires constant (and I mean constant) attention to make it pay off.

Good luck!


Avi Federgreen

Executive Producer/Distributor of 30 GHOSTS

twitter @30GhostsMovie

Igniter Comments

Good luck guys! Congrats on hitting your target!!!
- Noah Bingham

You dudes rock!! Excellent!
- Elizabeth Radshaw

Great pitch!
- Barbara Shrier

Hey Avi and Sean, thought I'd help you guys with your film smile Good luck with everything.

Junie Boudreau
Producer and Director
In My Blood

- Junie Boudreau

Looking forward to seeing the final product! All the best as you finish up the film.
- Brooke Smith

Dear Filmmakers,

I am pleased to support your project. I do NOT wish to receive any incentives/swag.

Good luck!

Bonnie Elster

- Bonnie Elster

So excited to see this! Sean, Avi, and Carl make a fantastic team.
- Paula Brancati

Keep up the good work Sean. Can't wait to see the final project.



- Carlo Molle

Dear Sean,

On behalf of the Deverett family, we wish you much success!!!

Michael, Sally & David & family

- Michael Deverett

Looks great, good luck! BTW, I don't need all the incentives, save the t-shirt and postcard for another sponsor. Look forward to seeing the film!!
- Marike Emery