I met Karl-Martin Pold in 2009 when he interviewed me for his first master thesis on “Film and Web 2.0”. He wanted to find out to what extent Social Media plays a role in the promotion of a documentary film. His fictional example at that time was a documentary about Bud Spencer. But the project quickly became reality and now ten years later, after an extensive cinema tour, the film can be seen online and on DVD.
Every now and then I asked Karl-Martin how he was doing and questioned him about the project that was made possible with the help of three successful Crowdfunding campaigns. Unfortunately, I never made it to the theatrical release, but with the release of the “Sie nannten ihn Spencer” (translates as “They called him Spencer”) via Amazon Prime a fe weeks ago, the filmmaker once again won my attention.
So I asked him for an interview, he agreed. And here it is – the interview with Karl-Martin Pold.
Wolfgang: Karl-Martin, you made a film about Bud Spencer. Who was he again?
Karl-Martin Pold: Hahaha – an Italian cult star. A legend that has inspired many millions of people worldwide and that will still be admired 100 years from now. I recommend to take a look at my new website www.sienanntenihnspencer.com. There you can read a lot about my film or Bud Spencer 😉
Wolfgang: Your film took some time. Why?
Karl-Martin Pold: Yes – a total of 8 years. Puh, there were many hurdles to overcome. For one thing, I had to get to Bud Spencer and Terence Hill. Not so easy, if the gentlemen has no management, no website (Note: that was 8 years ago, this changed in the meantime). Bud Spencer had a secretary, Miss Nelly. She was also over 80 years old, didn’t speak a word of English and didn’t even have an e-mail address. So you can imagine how difficult it was to make contact. Well – and then the problem of film financing. The film was rejected six times by the funding agencies in Austria. That was always very bitter, because after a few years I had the world stars Bud Spencer and Terence Hill on board. Had a grant from Germany, two big established film distributors and 270,000 followers on Facebook. Nevertheless, there was another rejection.
Wolfgang: Parts of the film were financed with the help of Crowdfunding. What experiences did you have with it?
Karl-Martin Pold: I had great experiences with Crowdfunding. Back then, 7 years ago, I was a pioneer in the German-speaking Crowdfunding-world. Firstly, I had to explain to people what Crowdfunding actually means. Today this term has already found its way into the mainstream. Of course, we weren’t able to raise the huge sums due to this fact, but we managed to make all three campaigns successful.
Wolfgang: Crowdfunding and film – a dream couple?
Karl-Martin Pold: Crowdfunding and film can become a dream couple. There are many wonderful examples like Iron Sky or Stromberg. But of course it is becoming more and more difficult to attract the attention of the masses to one’s film project. Film production, direction and Crowdfunding are three totally different areas of work. As a successful Crowdfunding project owner, you have to master the rules of communication. How do I ensure that my project gets the necessary attention in the online world or – best of all – in the classic offline media? Attention is the currency that counts – also in Crowdfunding. You can have the greatest project. But if nobody knows about it, you’ve already lost. Either you’re a market crier yourself or you have to get someone to join you. It’s clear to me that the established film producers still completely underestimate Crowdfunding as a form of financing, but above all as a marketing tool, or – even worse – don’t have it on their screens at all. But that’s mainly due to the funding system. As soon as a film or the distributor receives a subsidy, a film no longer needs to earn any money because the distributor or producer has already earned his salary. That’s why Crowdfunding sometimes is the only way to realize films, especially in the indie film production sector.
Wolfgang: The crowd for your film is now very large (almost 260,000 fans on Facebook). How involved were the fans in the project?
Karl-Martin Pold: As I said, there were even 270,000 followers at peak time, more fans than Austrian soccer club “Rapid Wien” or the radio station “FM4” has. But in the meantime it has dropped a bit again, because the project is finished and this Social Media channel is not so intensively supported anymore. But to your question: The fans were very involved in the project. We had over 100 fans who were actively involved in the film project. From translators, programmers, graphic designers, cameramen, sound engineers to car mechanics. I could continue the list almost endlessly. These were all people who not only invested money, but also their man-power/woman-power in the project, simply because they wanted to support it. You can see what fanpower can do. From an idea of a dreamer to an international feature film that was shown in over 400 cinemas and became the last joint feature film with Bud Spencer and Terence Hill.
Wolfgang: Now “Sie nannten ihn Spencer” got published on Amazon Prime. What are your future plans?
Karl-Martin: I’m working on three new film projects. One of them is about the “super noses” – german actors Thomas Gottschalk and Mike Krüger. That was by far the most successful German duo in the cinemas. And their “super-nose” films have also achieved cult status. Interestingly, there are many parallels between these films and the Spencer/Hill films. The aim of this documentary is to find out why the films were so successful and why this kind of humor no longer exists today. So it’s a film about the Zeitgeist of the 80s, but much more natural. There is already a title: They called them “Supernasen” 😉
Wolfgang: Your tips for those who are planning a Crowdfunding project?
Karl-Martin: I could give a lot of tips. In all the intensive Social Media years I gained a lot of experience, but maybe to put it in a nutshell: like in many areas of life, it’s important to reaching people emotionally. You need to be authentic and to be convinced of yourself. Only then can you convince others to support you and your project. Many paths lead into people’s hearts, but with humor you can overcome most hurdles.
Wolfgang: True. I really laughed – while reading your Facebook posts and of course when watching the movie 😉 Thank you very much for your the conversation.