The Vulnerability of Crowdfunding

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One of my favorite TED talks is by Brene Brown. I often turn on TED talks while I am doing something else, but Brene’s resonated so deeply with me that I quickly found myself just listening to her talk, The Power of Vulnerability.  I’ve never heard of anyone like Brene Brown. She actually studies human connection for a living. She investigates vulnerability, courage, authenticity and shame and how they affect human connection. Human connection is something that I think about often and it’s a driving force behind why I want to make films, act and tell stories. Connection, human connection, is important and the future of humanity is going to rely on it.

I quickly found Brene’s second TED Talk, Listening to Shame, which led me to buying her book, “Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead.” I was blown away multiple times while reading her book. As I sat and composed another email asking for people to support my Crowdfunding campaign that I was running at the time, I had an AHA moment. Putting myself out there and asking people to support art that I have yet to create may be the most vulnerable thing I’ve ever done.

Vulnerability has got to be one of the most terrifying human emotions. Vulnerability is often perceived as weakness. Brene defines vulnerability as “uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure.” In Brene’s book, she says, “To put our art, our writing, our photography, our ideas out into the world with no assurance of acceptance or appreciation — that’s also vulnerability.” I’m an actor, I write and now I produce projects. I’m used to putting vulnerability out in the world. If you’ve read my blog or other articles at all, you know that I often share things that most people wouldn’t tell their best friends. I know that in order to connect, you have to be vulnerable. That doesn’t make it any easier. I’ve struggled with it in acting class and had Dee Wallace screaming at me, “If you want to act, you have to bare your soul. The reason people love actors is because they allow real vulnerability to be seen in every moment.” (She doesn’t scream very loudly and she’s actually quite nice.)

To ask for help is one of the greatest ways to make you vulnerable. With my crowdfunding campaign for my short film, “Tactics”, I hit the vulnerability jackpot. Not only was I asking for help, I’m was asking you to support my art before its become a full fledged vision. Its one thing to make it, put it out in the world, and let people judge it. It’s quite another to ask for help before there’s anything to show for it. I have the script written, I had a very talented director, J.T. Mollner on board to helm the film (why he ended up not doing it is another story) and I knew that it was going to be great.

That didn’t make it any easier to reach out consistently, daily, numerous times a day to ask for help, to ask people to support my dreams.

The outpouring of support that I received was amazing. I received donations from people that I would have never guessed would donate to my film. I got amazing letters, notes of support and FB posts from old friends reaching out; telling me they are proud of me, and admire that I’m actually living my dreams, pursuing my passion and honoring my creativity. It’s inspiring, comforting and just plain nice to hear.

Within the support there were also numerous questions that I was asked by friends, acquaintances, strangers. “Why do you need so much money?” “You can make a short film for less than that.” “Why would you pay yourself to make a film that you’re asking people to donate money to?” (If it were a SAG project, I would technically pay myself as the actress in the film). With every question I was forced to look at myself and re-evaluate whether I had the right to ask for this amount of money, any money, the ability to make movies at all. I know that some of these questions come from my own hesitations and doubt, from being raised in a family that taught me not to ask for money from friends ever, from the vulnerability of putting myself out to the world and asking for help. I don’t like asking for help. I don’t like being in a state of weakness, which is how I would have perceived vulnerability before I came across Brene Brown. I know now that asking for help, standing in my power and knowing that my art, my creativity is worth the effort IS actually strength and power.

I know that the amount of people that seem to be crowdfunding these days can sometimes be overwhelming but the next time you come across someone’s crowdfunding campaign remember how much vulnerability and risk went into them being able to ask you for help. We live in an incredible world where you can actually contribute to films, albums and art projects that you want to see, that resonate with you or that open your hearts. We are in the midst of watching the world of creativity change! Make sure that you contribute to it with an open heart, an open mind and compassion.

Here’s to DARING GREATLY!!

Elizabeth Mihelich

About Elizabeth Mihelich

Elizabeth was born in Pueblo, Colorado, the land of nothing, brought up on movies like Airplane!, Naked Gun and Clue! She quickly developed a razor sharp wit and repartee that sometimes only her siblings and cousins can truly understand. She loves to laugh and cause others to dissolve into laughter. After a childhood of running down dirt roads barefoot, creating chalk cities on the driveway and running a roller rink in the garage, she attended the University of Northern Colorado. She has a degree in Theatre: Directing and Journalism: Telecommunications. Elizabeth is graduate of iO West and Second City’s Conservatory. She currently performs with Simpatico, a house team, at Now Improv! Elizabeth is also a screenwriter and producer. Her short films, “Just Like the Movies”, “Circle Yes or No” and “Tactics” can be seen online and in film festivals. A One Stop Shop. Actress. Writer. Producer. Humanitarian. Accomplished Hugger. Consistent Dreamer.