For smaller budget independent shorts, feature projects or video game development, crowdsourcing can be very successful. This includes online sites like IndieGoGo or Kickstarter. European leader SeedUps, and UK-based Crowdcube.

Kickstarter leads all crowdfunding sites for most funds raised, claiming over $1.1 billion (yes, billion) pledged to over 60,000 projects since they opened for business in 2009. Among the most successful was the Veronica Mars film which raised $5.7 million on the site. The most successful crowdfunding venture ever started on Kickstarter, a video game called Star Citizen. It raised $2.1 million on the site, developed a following, and has continued on their own to raise a mind-boggling $44 million — and the game is still a year away from release!

Indiegogo’s overall haul may be just 1/5th of Kickstarter’s but it’s worth a look. The site was built specifically to support film projects and have thousands to their credit. It’s open to campaigns from virtually every country (Kickstarter only serves the US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and The Netherlands). Unlike Kickstarter, you can elect to receive the funds you raise even if you don’t reach your goal.

Both sites have had films go to major festivals and get picked up for distribution. A great example was the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival where the People’s Choice Documentary Award went to The Square, a film about the Egyptian Revolution that raised funds on Kickstarter, while the award for Best Canadian First Feature went to Asphalt Watches, an Indiegogo-funded film.

SeedUps is more like a gap financing service. Projects looking for up to $500,000 submit their projects to pre-qualified high net worth investors who will take an equity position. Crowdcube is similar.

As we were updating this section a great example of the power of crowdfunding emerged. Actor LeVar Burton proposed bringing back his PBS program Reading Rainbow. His initial goal was to raise $1 million in 34 days. He met that goal in just 11 hours.

Burton was able to generate the buzz using Twitter, where he had already nurtured an audience of well over a million followers.