Prosumers: Key Factors for Successful Filmmaking Crowdfunding Projects

Prosumers: Key Factors for Successful Filmmaking Crowdfunding Projects

Mina Fanea-Ivanovici (The Bucharest University of Economic Studies, Bucharest, Romania)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/IJESMA.2019070104

Abstract

During the current digital (r)evolution, consumer and producer roles have started to converge, with consumers becoming value creators and, to a certain extent, producers. This phenomenon is particularly enhanced on online platforms and social networks, especially in creative-cultural industries. The goal of this research is to discuss the role of the prosumer in the film industry in the context of crowdfunded projects, with a focus on the Romanian experience. Through an empirical analysis of successful filmmaking crowdfunding projects, the backers' role in the film production process is investigated. The eight cases analysed within this research represent the quasi-totality of the successfully crowdfunded filmmaking projects via Romanian crowdfunding platforms. The research reveals that the active involvement of backers-consumers into the film production process represents one of the most valuable rewards offered in exchange for the highest financial contributions, with the majority of successful filmmaking projects including it in their reward strategy. According to the research findings, filmmakers understand that, on the one hand, fans can financially contribute more by being provided with such an opportunity, and that, on the other hand, prosumers can use their skills and expertise and translate them into creative input, execution, assessment, and testing of the project. The author posits that the opportunity to become producer in a film is an incentive to financially (and additionally non-financially) contribute to the project, thus increasing the odds of the project to be successful. Such conclusion can improve the reward scheme in crowdfunded filmmaking projects as well as their rate of success.
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1. Introduction

The ongoing rapid development of digital technologies and of Web 2.0 has fostered and facilitated prosumerism – the active involvement of consumers in the production process of the goods and services that they buy and then consume. The concept has its roots in Alvin Toffler’s work (Toffler, 1980), whereby the author distinguishes among three waves. During the first wave – the agricultural revolution – most individuals were prosumers. A prosumer consumes a product after it produces it. The second wave – the industrial revolution – led to a separation of the consumer and producer functions. Nowadays, during the third wave, the roles of consumers and producers have started to converge again, a process which is particularly and rapidly amplified by the development of digital technologies. Certain authors (Romele, Emmenegger, Gallino, & Gorgone, 2015) call the latter technologies of voluntary servitude because they facilitate such a double behaviour. The re-emergence of prosumerism has especially occurred in the case of creative-cultural economy, predominantly in the following industries: film industry, TV programmes, music, books, comics, game industry and software development, fashion design, but also in popular culture and in educational and learning activities (Siuda & Troszynski, 2017). It goes without saying that production by consumers in such areas of activity depends on their creativity and skills, while the existence of the new media and technologies only amplify the process. Thus, we are witnessing an intertwining of the roles of consumers and producers, whereby the consumer plays its part in the decision making of the creative business, bringing its contribution to the concept, design or functionalities of the final product or service. The consumer’s contribution to the production process is not limited to a creative one, although this might be deemed as its central part. In addition, consumers become producers and create value by proposing solutions, offering insights, contributing with physical resources and manpower during the various stages of production, pre-testing and assessing the product before its launch, providing constructive criticism, etc.

Moreover, there are cases in which consumers also become funders or backers for the creative business involved in the production of the good or service they are interested in. More precisely, the consumer financially contributes to the achievement of a creative project through a crowdfunding platform. Crowdfunding is one of the opportunities for alternative financing ways that the digital (r)evolution has opened up. Fund searchers (entrepreneurs or project initiators in search of finance) and the community (the public, the funders, the backers or the consumers) are brought together by means of an online platform where projects in need of funding are displayed and calls for fundraising are made public by the fund searchers. Project initiators provide the public with a thorough description of the project on the crowdfunding platform and ask for financial support from the online community in order to complete and implement their projects. In the context of the cultural economy, if the project involves the production of a good or the provision of a service, then the interested community is represented by would-be consumers or fans of projects belonging to the creative-cultural industries. Crowdfunding is novel in that it aims at raising funds through small contributions from large communities via new digital technologies and the web.

Crowdfunding proposals are further promoted through other channels belonging to the social media and social networks by project initiators or by the community itself. The public may choose to finance projects based on their interests and on creative-cultural consumption preferences.

The objective of the paper is to discuss the role of the prosumer on crowdfunding platforms for film industry projects. To this purpose, the author performs a qualitative analysis on a selection of successful cases of Romanian filmmaking crowdfunding projects within which funders are motivated to substantially financially and non-financially contribute to a certain project by being provided with the opportunity to gain an important role in the film production. Using empirical analysis and the previously mentioned case studies, the author posits that the opportunity of the public to have an active part in the production of a film is an incentive to financially and non-financially contribute to the project, thus increasing the odds of the project to be successful.

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