In Summary
  • “Financing has always been a struggle for me and my partner. Getting funding from financial institutions like banks, and especially for the art scene in Kenya, is almost impossible. The vetting process is very rigorous,” Betty said.

  • This is why she decided to take on crowdfunding for her newest film, Family Meeting, to be produced and released in August and December respectively.

  • Family Meeting will be produced in August and released in December.

Betty Kathungu-Furet is a film, documentary and TV producer. She is also a director, screenwriter and the owner of Furet Films with her partner Simiyu Barasa. Since inception three years ago, Furet Films has done indie documentaries, films and TV shows, meaning Betty and Barasa do it independently and without funding or backing from major film studios or entertainment companies.

SELLING TICKETS

Together, they have done a number of productions by themselves, including the award-winning feature film Kizingo. But getting finances has never been an easy task for her as a producer.

“Financing has always been a struggle for me and my partner. Getting funding from financial institutions like banks, and especially for the art scene in Kenya, is almost impossible. The vetting process is very rigorous,” Betty said.

This is why she decided to take on crowdfunding for her newest film, Family Meeting, to be produced and released in August and December respectively.

“This is the first time we’re trying out crowdfunding. It is a big thing in the United States, and not necessarily for film purposes only. There is crowdfunding for entrepreneurs, start-ups and even businesses. We decided to give it a shot.”

“We thought about crowdfunding without necessarily asking for donations, and had the idea of pre-selling the tickets for the film before producing it,” she said.

And with that, Betty and Barasa settled on rewards-based crowdfunding. The script for Family Meeting was written four years ago. It is a 75-minute drama/comedy film that casts only six people, who are award-winning actors and actresses — Raymond Ofula, Abubakar Muindi, Florence Nduta, Maureen Koech, Gitura Kamau and Akinyi Oluoch.

“Barasa and I decided to approach only the people we know. We went through our contact lists and started pitching the idea. These were people we knew understand our work and our product and are willing to trust us with their money.”

BUILD TRUST

The duo’s plan was to raise Sh1.9 million, their entire production budget, before August 5, when shooting the film would begin.

And, as Betty says, the reception and success of the crowdfunding has been overwhelming for her and her entire team.

“We still have not reached our target of Sh1.9 million in cash, but we’re close,” said Betty. “We have made over 600 ticket sales so far, and are at around Sh1.2 million. We are entirely grateful.”

The tickets are divided into several categories, each with a different benefit, reward or service. A gold member pays Sh10,000; silver Sh5,000; bronze Sh2,000; and regular member Sh1,000.

Production means a whole lot of money: paying the team and the cast, transportation, meals for the team, wardrobe and many more expenses. With that in mind, Betty decided to mitigate some costs by asking partners to come on board.

“We exchange products for exposure and placements in the film. It’s a win-win situation. At the moment, meals and wardrobe have been covered. We are currently working on transportation, whose budget is currently at Sh102,000.”

She added, “Out of the 600 people we had on the list, only six could not purchase their tickets for the simple reason that they were unable to do so at this time.”

The only challenge Betty has faced with the crowdfunding is that she did not anticipate the amount of time it would take to reach out and share their ideas with people. Her core mission was to build trust, which she believes is the most important thing.

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