The Taxing Question of Land: “without crowdfunding, the film would not exist”

This blog was originally published on September 10th 2014 on www.crowdfunder.co.uk

Towards the end of 2012, a group called The Coalition for Economic Justice (CEJ) ran a poll with IPSOS MORI to find out how many people in the UK are aware of a tax reform known as Land Value Tax, a fair and sustainable fiscal revenue source that allows for us to lessen or abolish other unfair taxes through Tax Shift.  The results of the poll were that only 1 in 8 had heard of it, but, crucially, of those 1 in 8, 80% of them thought it was a good idea. CEJ felt that what was needed was to communicate the idea to as many people as possible with a view to changing the zeitgeist and bringing about political and legal change; leading economic justice.


The plans were put in motion to create a YouTube film that could be used for educational purposes and would communicate the ideas of Land Value Tax to as wide an audience as possible. The CEJ and affiliated groups had very limited resources so we decided to pursue a crowdfunding route to gain the finances for the project and we were amazed at the rewards, not only financially, but in creating advocates for the project.


We ran our Crowdfunder campaign in April 2013 to raise funding for documentary film The Taxing Question of Land, available on Youtube.  Simply put, without the crowdfund, the film would not exist and would not be the most watched film on its subject in the world with close to 20,000 views.


We managed to raise £9,000 in 30 days and the following day received a further £5,000 off the back of the success from the crowdfund.  It was an amazing challenge and success as this enabled us to make the film in time for release in September 2013.


Crowdfunding requires a lot of hard work and personal input. The method was complimented by a social media campaign involving blogs on our own site set up for the campaign as well as a supporting Twitter account and Facebook page. The culmination of these elements has allowed the film to reach a very wide audience, with screenings around the globe and the film being currently translated into Korean.


As part of the crowdfund, a blog was released every few days reviewing other films of a similar topic. We managed to gain the support of many filmmakers within the field and they offered the support of the communities they represent.  One such relationship, with the organiser of LVT, a relevant international Facebook community, involved generating about 10% of the total funds through that online group.  That group also helped to run an online collaborative edit of the research-based script which greatly helped in the formulation of ideas.


The crowdfund also provided a platform from which to engage and drum up interest in the project.  One such relationship resulted in the Royal Society of Arts holding the launch event for the film with a Q&A debate with an all star cast of experts on the film’s topic.  Roehampton University made a short film about that event that can be viewed here: http://taxingqofland.org/blog/2014/1/11/film-of-the-rsa-lvt-debate-and-an-invite-to-host-your-own-qa


One year on, things have changed in a positive way for LVT in the UK and many more have joined the cause.  It has support from individuals in all parties, journalists from a range of papers (The Financial Times, The Independent, The Guardian).   LVT is also considered part of the Fair Tax campaign and organisations who agree with it since the film’s release includes World Bank, New Economics Foundation and even Wolmar for London – potential London mayoral candidate Christian Wolmar.

 

We were also able to produce two other films following on from the success of this crowdfund. An Ode To LVT – by poet Rachel Rose Reid (above) is a poet’s take on the concept and Land: Earthsharing.org asks Londoners what they think about land and ownership.  The second film was recently nominated in The Smalls Film Festival 2014.

 

Crowdfunding isn’t the whole solution, but a tool to be used at the crux of a wider campaign.