CollabFeature Part 2

When Did You Start CollabFeature?

We started a message board in 2008.  Became an official company and launched the first feature in 2010, though it was still a part time project for both of us.  In 2015, we made the decision to focus on CollabFeature as a long term company; Marty is now mostly full time on the project. 

How Much Money Has Gone Into CollabFeature Thus Far?

All of the collaborators have pooled their available resources, in some cases private investors, grants and lots and lots of favors, for all of the overhead we've boot strapped and kept costs to minimum out of pocket

One Thing That Would Have Been Really Helpful to You, When You Were Starting Up?

A crystal ball!  Maybe funding, but honestly I think it was better that we did it the no-budget route for the first two projects. 

One Thing That Would Be Really Helpful To You Now?

We have everything we need, but the process is slower than we'd like.  Funding for filmmakers, recruiting, publicity, name talent, a little branding and another developer to help with the next version of our platform would help accelerate us to the next level. 

What Do the next 3 months look like?any specific goals?

We release our 2nd film on VOD worldwide.  We will be focused on promoting, publicizing and selling that film + packaging and launching the next feature.   

What's your vision for collabFeature at this Point?

To unite tens of thousands of driven, talented creators to outperform traditional film/TV studios which have an oligopoly on entertainment revenue.  

Your hardest experience thus far?

On the first project, we had one filmmaker who tried to take the project hostage.  Luckily we had a great attorney to help us resolve this but there was a period where we were pretty scared. 

Biggest surprise thus far?

One of our favorite filmmakers in the world, Mike Leigh, saw our first film at a festival and called it a "great piece of scorched earth filmmaking" 

most rewarding experience thus far?

There are so many, but the first that comes to mind is winning "Best Feature" at the LA Diversity Film Festival.

Marty's Story (CollabFeature)

The film industry is evolving faster than it ever has before. With the growing popularity of streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime among others, distribution models are changing rapidly. Pair that with a sky-high failure rate for independent films - 98% of which fail to make a profit - it’s an industry ripe for disruption.

This is why we founded Collabfeature.

Collabfeature is a collaborative filmmaking platform/virtual film studio, focused on multi-director features, series and documentaries. We distribute the creative process to a field of aspiring filmmakers, allowing the group to each take on a smaller, more manageable piece of each project. Then, when it comes time to bring the film to market, we have a built-in promotions machine as the team of creative directors and filmmakers who worked on the project host private screenings and market the picture.

The platform allows films to be made in bit sized chunks, and paid for in smaller dollar increments, but to still come out as feature length and with feature level quality.

We started Collabfeature in 2008 as a response to the growing trend/power of social media paired with our love for collaborating on projects. At the time it was just a website and a message board, followed by a lot of outreach to filmmakers.

Ian Bonner & Marty Shea (Co-founders of Collabfeature)

Ian Bonner & Marty Shea (Co-founders of Collabfeature)

The first filmmaker we reached out to wrote back immediately, and was incredibly enthusiastic. That provided the spark we needed to get through those early days, and the rest is history, history that is still being written!

Thus far Collabfeature has produced and released two award-winning feature films.  The first, "The Owner", released in 2012, broke a Guinness World Record for “Most Directors of a Film.” (25 directors)  

The second, "Train Station", now playing in festivals, has broken that record with its 40 writer/directors from 25 countries and was named “Best Feature” at the LA Diversity Film Festival.

We’re now filming the first season of a series, by far our most ambitious project to date, with over 100 filmmakers and will soon be launching our next feature.  

To get a truly collaborative process together, we built a platform that allows concepts, outlines, scripts and final cuts to be voted on and decided democratically. There isn’t one person “leading” the film, but rather it’s a group effort to make something that is cohesive and represent all creators.  This keeps the 150 filmmakers we’ve worked with engaged and excited, while producing riveting content.

As for the nuts and bolts of how the projects work- Collabfeature provides needed overhead funding, while filmmakers pool own equipment, cast, crews and other resources. When it comes time for release, every contributing filmmaker is credited on the project, and receives a share of the profits.

To date, we’ve had over 4000 applicants and are working on updates to our platform that will allow us to run an unlimited number of multi-director projects.  Our ultimate goal is to give any interested filmmaker access to a worldwide network of creators and a worldwide audience without having to raise daunting amounts of money or spend years of their life in development.  

Godwin's Story - YumVillage Part 2

When did you start YumVillage?

I started officially during the summer of 2012.

How much money has gone into YumVillage thus far?

I've put close to $35K over the course of ~24 months into the business.

One thing that would have been really helpful to you, when you were starting up?

Knowing the difference between MVP and Initial Product Offering

One thing that would be really helpful to you now?

Greater access to influential social capital

What do the next 3 months look like? Any specific goals?

Over the course of the next 3 months, I will be securing a fixed location to operate as a base for YumVillage. I will also begin implementing an education curriculum associated with becoming a managing director of food operations within a restaurant along with increasing the frequency in which YumVillage events are held. 

What's your vision for YumVillage at this point?

To operate as a hub and practicum for chef run and operated food ventures. Ultimately to be like a record label of sorts for chefs (no 360 deals or anything though!)

Your hardest experience thus far?

Failing financially with a big name event, it was a ~$10K mistake

Biggest surprise thus far?

Understanding the variety of economies of scale associated with transactions. 

Most rewarding experience thus far?

Connecting people across the social spectrum! 


Godwin Ihentuge's Story (YumVillage)

More people than ever are chasing their dream of making it big as a “foodprenuer”. In recent years, culinary school enrollment has rapidly increased, while tuition rates and student loan debt has risen alongside it…

The successful foodprenuer must continuously practice their craft to perfect their style, while also working hard to master the art of building a business. It is the combination of a strong need for: great food, quality control, operational excellence, financial discipline, waste management/efficiency, and marketing prowess, not to mention the large amount of direct and indirect competitors that make the restaurant business one of the hardest industries to succeed in. Mr. Godwin Ihentuge felt that he could help change this dynamic, below in his own words, we are pleased to share with you Godwin’s story…

3 years ago (2013), alongside the WAB’s executive chef and my partner Brent Foster, I had a vision. I wanted fast and affordable vegetarian options at ball games. I was so sick and tired of eating chips, nachos at hotdog stands and I wanted something more. I looked into starting a restaurant around this concept and found out (read: was absolutely shocked) that the upfront costs would be upwards of $500,000. I had maybe a little over a few thousand in my bank account at the time so starting a restaurant was no longer looking promising. I then looked into food trucks, but the ongoing costs married to running a food truck were not too much better in my opinion. I wasn’t really sure what to do. I wasn’t able to qualify for a loan... My only option that was cost effective was to begin popping up, so I did.

Our 1st popup up, by definition was small and humble. We invited friends to try out veggie dogs made from scratch. We had mixed reviews but with each new popup we began to grow into a mildly successful operation. We finished off the year at Dally in the Alley, a long standing midtown tradition of merchant fair and boy did we come a long way! We were now, at this time, selling out of food EVERY time!

Funnomenom Popup Dally in the Alley

One big take away as we reflected on the year was the amount of time we were putting into other aspects of our business. All I wanted to do was make good food and share it with people that I felt would appreciate what I had to offer. What I ended up doing was everything else but. I started looking for options to help alleviate my workload and I couldn’t quite find the solution I was looking for.

Ultimately, if you survey this industry there’s a surplus of chefs and would be foodprenuers and their main breakout outlet of starting a restaurant is prohibitively costly and takes them away from the food. Dining popups pave the way toward exposure, validated traction and low risk innovation without the stress of overhead costs and rigid fixed menus. But the process of popping up isn't as simple as it could be. You've got to find a location, negotiate and secure agreement, AND get people to come. The Chef has to become a full-fledged event planner and business development guru before the plate hits the table. They are taken away from the very thing they set out to share…the food.

Godwin at work

I felt like I might be on to something as I talked to my chef friends they agreed with my sense of “Damn it, I just want to cook the best food ever, forget everything else…” I knew I needed money though to put my newfound insight to work. I decided to work as a mortgage banker at Quicken Loans. The days were long and really tested my mental capacity. I would work 60-80 hour weeks at Quicken. I would then come home and put the rest of my time towards building out the structure of YumVillage. I sacrificed relationships, time… I was determined. While working at QL, I decided to infuse some of their pillars of operations or ISMs to lay down the foundation of YumVillage, which is just so you know, an outlet for up-and-coming chefs to gain validation and exposure by creating engaging dining experiences for diverse audiences through culinary pop-up events. By managing the process we let the chef be a chef. We would handle everything else!

YumVillage is now concentrating on raising money to promote local economies and activate an industry that’s starved for innovation. We feel through various events we’ve held we’ve proven our model… With foodies always on the lookout for the next big thing and chefs always eager to provide a unique culinary experience YumVillage looks forward to creating a platform that makes it easier for both sides to find each other and satisfy their desires. It’s been a journey to get to this point, but in the grand scheme of things, we’re only just beginning!