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Story Consultant Fernanda Rossi answered the following question for our DOC BC members in anticipation of the upcoming workshop LSD: Loglines, Synopses and Demos to take place in Vancouver, BC on February, 2nd.

Q: What’s the difference between a fundraising demo and a marketing trailer beyond the obvious purpose?

Fernanda Rossi: Fundraising and marketing trailers are very VERY different. At the dawn of fundraising trailer history, some 10 years ago, people thought that a sample was a cross between a music video and a film preview. Nothing could have been further from the truth.

A fundraising demo has to convince a few people to spend a long time with you and a lot of money on the film, so there better be a story somewhere there. The marketing trailer has to entice a huge number of people to commit a few hours and little to no-money; in that case eye candy goes well with the popcorn.

Therefore a fundraising sample is more like a short without an ending: it has full scenes revealing excerpts of the story to-be and a cliffhanger in the end to imply potential for a longer story. On the other hand, the marketing trailer also known as a film preview is more like a music video: catchy sound bites, flashy montages and graphics. The main goal is to dazzle prospective lay audiences not to reassure investors and funders.

Having said that, crowfunding is blurring the line of what’s fundraising and what’s marketing. Such demos do both, they raise money as well as awareness on an upcoming film. Striking a balance is key in making the story viable yet wow these first viewers. As if documentarians needed another challenge!

 Fernanda Rossi
Author • Speaker • Story Consultant

 Internationally renowned speaker and story consultant Fernanda Rossi has doctored over 300 films, including Academy Award nominees® The Garden, by Scott Hamilton Kennedy, and Recycled Life, by Leslie Iwerks; as well as hundreds of trailers, many of which received funding from ITVS, NYSCA and NFB. She is the author of the book that, according to industry professionals is the bible on demo production now in its 2nd Edition: Trailer Mechanics: How to Make your Documentary Fundraising Demo.


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