Friday, September 28, 2012

Kickstarter Post Mortem - Eat

So five days in almost $2500 dollars raised, press was taking an interest and I and I up and pull the plug. Why? Well, I had multiple reasons.

First off, we were not going to make our goal. $65,000 was pretty high and we had not even scratched the surface. They say that somewhere around 50% of your donations come from people you know. Well, guess what ? I had contacted pretty much everyone I know and only came up with a few grand. My reach was at its end. Sure more would have eventually donated, and as more folks I know did, others would too. Hell, we might’ve even got to $30,000, shit, maybe $40,000 who knows, but we were never going to reach the full goal. In hindsight I realize the arrogance in setting it so high. Had I been smarter, I would have tried to raise $20,000 or $30,000 for partial funding and sought the rest from outside investors. With my track record this was a real possibility.  But, I didn’t do that, so be it.

2nd thing, running a kickstarter is not fun. Yes, I know I’ve said in previous posts that is was. Let me explain,  parts of the campaign are fun. Interacting with friends and strangers over your project is fun. Seeing friends and strangers support your project is fun. Soliciting donations is not fun. It is really not fun. In fact, it sucks. It sucked so bad for me that I did want to give the kickstarter another week for a possible turn-a-round. Soliciting donations made me feel awful. I lost much sleep over it. Now I’m not saying that it is, but it made me feel like a panhandler begging for money.

3rd thing, I will get Eat made regardless. There are plenty of other projects on Kickstarter that simply will not exist if they don’t meet their goals. The same cannot be said of Eat. It’s not a do or die situation and I think if you’re going to run a successful Kickstarter it has to be do or die.

So that’s it in a nutshell. I have nothing against Kickstarter and other artists have and will continue to use it successfully. I just will never be one of them.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Kickstarter Diary - Day 5

Dear Kickstarter Diary,

Today was good day. I’m feeling a little emotional this evening. The support that I’m receiving from perfect strangers, folk I know only through social media and friends from up to 20 years ago has me a little choked up…. I promised myself I wouldn’t cry!

I also had sort of an epiphany. I had been stressing a bit over numbers and while I was responding to a tweet it just hit me. This is fun! Sure it’s work. But it’s fun work. I’m out there interacting with people, getting feedback on my work, learning about other people’s projects and supporting them. It’s fun. A kickstarter Campaign is fun, if you let be.
Then something really funny happened... the numbers started to climb.

Ok, here’s my day.

6am – up and adam. Slept a little late today. The lack of sleep over three days caught up with me.  I start with my morning interweb routine.
8am – breakfast. I cooked me a hearty serving of Biscuits and Gravy. I then took my sweet time eating it.
9am – started helping a friend edit his 1st short film. He directed it. It’s actually pretty good. Some great looking shots and solid performances. Sound is a little shaky though.
3pm – finish up with him. And jump back into campaigning.
5pm – Break for dinner and a little Parenthood. I’m almost done with Season 3.
6pm – back to the campaign trail. Oh, I forgot, today I paid to promote a specific post on our facebook. I chose a 10-dollar a day limit, just to see what would happen. We gained over 50 new followers today.
9pm – clean up my computer desktop. My organization has gotten a little sloppy. I need to get everything in order.
10pm – bed. 

Kickstarter Diary - Day 3

Dear Kickstarter Diary,

Today I got up at 430am and composed about a dozen emails. Then I went through all the Eat interweb stuff.
This is my usual routine when doing so.
  1. Check Email. Respond to any new ones.
  2. Check Twitter. Respond to any new tweets or mentions. Follow back new followers.
  3. Check FB. 1st my personal page. Respond to any posts, messages ect. I also take a few minutes to check out my news feed. Share and like some other people’s stuff.  Then I head on over to the Eat page and do the same.
  4. Head over to google. Run a search for a few different iterations of Eat, using the last 24-hour search. Then post any relevant new links that may have popped up on either Twitter or FB. I try to stagger this post. With so many popping up, I’ve actually created a word doc with a complete list that I can pull from.
  5. Head over to the kickstarter. Respond to any new comments or messages. Gotta stay interactive with the donators.  While there I’ll also go through some other active projects to see how their campaigns are going. I try and donate to others as much as I can.
  6. Start composing private emails. Again, I’m going for 40 plus a day. Each of the individual and personal.

My day job sliced out 8 hrs of my day from 6 to 230. I got home at 3, went through my interweb routine quickly and had lunch with some friend. All the while my iphone in hand, responding to emails, tweets, fb messages ect.

Got home at 5. Spent a few hours doing more general Kickstarter research. There’s tons of material out there about prepping your campaign. But it’s harder to find info about what to do once launched. I’m always looking for new ideas.

Did some editing on our BTS stuff til about 9 and went to bed.  I’ve been operating on little to no sleep the last few days. Tomorrow is going to be a major day for me. I’m going to try some new stuff campaign-wise to see what happens.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Kickstarter Diary - Day 2

Dear Kickstarter Diary,

Today was the 2nd day of our Kickstarter. I’ve heard many other Kickstarter users talk about the rollercoaster of emotion you go through during a campaign. There are on days and off days. The on days feel great, the off days, well not so much. The day started out really slow, donation-wise and I was really down. Then it picked way up at the end, and.... well you can see where I'm going with that.

5am – Up to check stats. Nothing. No new donations and pretty much crickets on FB and Twitter. I was a little taken aback considering the deluge of press we got yesterday. We had write ups on at least four major horror sites. I expected at least an increase in traffic.
I worked till about 630 drafting and sending emails and then buckled down for some day job work.

7am – 230 day job.
I’m also finishing up two feature film editing projects. I’m uploading one while I encode and build the DVD for the 2nd.

3pm – Back at it. I just had a cool interview posted. I
We picked up some new donators. Things are starting to look up.
4pm – Looking over our Kickstarter strategy, trying to figure out some new ways to bring in some backers. At the moment I’m perplexed. We have a great pitch video. A good trailer. A fairly solid social network. I expected our opening days to be bigger.
5pm – Eat dinner and try to relax for half an hour.
530pm – Got some last minute notes on Worth. Gotta make a few changes.
630pm – back to composing emails. Can’t remember if I mentioned it but my goal is 40 a day.
9pm -  Send out a few facebook messages to some old friends.
930pm – bed.
4am comes early.

What struck me most about today is how supportive strangers and old friends have been. People I haven’t spoken to in nearly 20 years have donated 100’s of dollars and shared the hell out of the page. Yet, we have a nearly zero balance from anyone who I actually hang out with now. This whole experience really has me questioning some of the personal choices I’ve made over the past few years.

Anywoo, I’m beat. Good night Kickstarter Diary.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Kickstarter Diary – Day 1

Dear Kickstarter Diary,

Today is the 1st of our 32-day campaign. I had originally planned to do a 30 day campaign, but chose 32 to give us a 2 day “soft launch,” in order to get the url active and work out any bugs.

12am- LAUNCH!
12:01 – start composing personal messages for my close friends regarding the support of the kickstarter. I went through my email and social networking contacts and came up with 800 people that I actually know. There’s plenty of other “friends” but I’ve chosen to leave them alone for now.  I plan to send individual messages to each of my 800 contacts over the 1st three weeks of the kickstarter. That’s 800 folk divide by 21 (we’ll say twenty for easy math sakes) days.  So roughly 40 people a day need to be contacted. I did 34 before 2am. In addition to monitoring all the social media and laying in the music for the documentary I’m editing. (hey, a guy’s still gotta eat.)
2am – nap. Hadn’t gotten any sleep in 24 hrs.

4am – Start composing emails for press. They are notoriously shy when it comes to promoting Kickstarter projects, but I’ve built many solid relationships over the years with online journalists and expect a decent response. Plus I have some good material to share; a kick-ass teaser trailer and a ton of new art, photos and one-sheets.
 I’ll up my email writing with social networking, trying to get some last minute non-eat related tweets and FB posts in. I think its super important when using social media to promote anything to break up your self-promoting posts with regular posts, retweets and support of others. For every one of your promotion posts, you should be making at least 3 regular ones.

5am – another quick nap. Yeah, I’m sounding lazy now.
7am – wake up to discover we’ve raise $300 bucks between the hrs of 1am and 7 am with minimal notice. Is that good?  Then I compose a quick update to the supporters so far, giving them my email. I want to stay in touch with everyone, if they want to.

8am – edit some more behind the scenes material to intersperse throughout the campaign.

830 am – Eat. No really, have breakfast. 50 minute time out to munch and watch an episode of Parenthood. WHAT!?

930am check on the campaign. Reply to messages, donators and social network stuff.

1030am – receive and fill out an email interview for a crowd source-funding site

1130 am – bath
1145 am – more social networking.

12pm – start encoding documentary I’m working on. Still gotta eat.
Hit a lull in donations. We were going strong in the morning. Nothing for the past few hours. Trying hard to resist the urge to twitter and Fb blast.

2pm – Meet up with the Producer to go over our Kickstarter campaign one last time and to collect some graphic art material he’s been working on.

3pm – Go over some other kickstarter campaigns both successes and failures.
4pm – make new changes to the documentary. Got some last minute credit changes. Then re-encode the movie.
7pm – catch up on twitter, facebook and the kickstarter.
8pm – draft an update to our current donators.
830 – dinner.
9pm – author final documentary dvd.
930 – start dvd upload. Make final tweets and fb posts.

Turn in. Cuz 4am comes early.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Director on Director: KICKSTARTER EDITION


Tomorrow we kick off our Kickstarter for Eat. See what I did there?
While waiting for documentary to finish encoding, I had a minute to sit down and ask myself a few questions about Eat and it’s Kickstarter Campaign.

Me: So, What is Eat?

Myself: Eat is the story of a dysfunctional family trying to survive a zombie ap—

Me: Yeah, yeah, yeah, sell that shit to the tourists, dude. I’ve read the synopsis. WHAT”S IT ABOUT? What kind of movie is it? Tell me something I haven't read already.

Myself: Oh, well simply put, it’s a zombie movie. More specifically, it’s the kind of zombie movie Romero was making in the 70’s and 80’s. It’s about a family that is broken by the zombie apocalypse and their struggle to put the pieces back together.  Even more specifically than that, it’s the story of Maxie McCarthy (our heroine) and her character’s journey from a mousey, insecure young girl to a independent, kicking ass, woman.  I’m not reinventing the genre or the concept of zombies, although I am adding a few of my own flourishes. I’m just telling trying to tell a good story.

Me: Ok, that sounds cool.  Where did this idea come from?

Myself: The idea came organically from the themes I was trying to explore.

Me: A less artsy-fartsy answer please.

Myself: I was hired and wrote a series of faith-based Christian features for a producer. Which is odd, because of my past work and the fact that I’m neither religious nor more specifically Christian. But I took the gig and wrote the very best Christianly scripts I could. During the process, I really began to warm to the themes that are inherent in the genre, like hope, forgiveness, redemption and family. Even when writing a darker, more nihilistic piece like EAT, I think it’s important to have these themes underlining it.  But don’t get me wrong. Eat is not an ABC family version of the Walking Dead. It’s a hardcore, splatter-zombie flick.

Me: Good, I was getting worried. Why go with Kickstarter?

Myself: First off, I'm an all or nothing kinda guy. I like that about Kickstarter. I decided to pursue crowd-source-funding because of the negative experiences I've had with some financiers in the past. One the cooler aspects about doing a movie this independently and with Kickstarter funding is that I can do WHATEVER I want, without having to worry about financier or producer interference or ratings. I plan to take full advantage of this and push things beyond their boarders. There are a few kills in this movie that will raise a few eyebrows, will be controversial.

Me: ooo, ooo! Example!?

Myself: Gotta save something for the release. You know, spoilers and all.

Me: Well, that’s all we got time for right now. I have to get back to editing this thing and prepping this Kickstarter.

Myself: Good talking to me. Nice hair.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

A Day in the Life of a Low Budget Moviemaker - Pre-Kickerstarter Edition

The past three months have been intense. I’ve edited five features and written another, all while prepping my own flick, EAT, for production and putting together it’s Kickstarter.  This is an important weekend. I’m wrapping post on one feature and making final preparations for Eat’s Kickstarter.  So let’s get on with my day.

4am – up. Don’t pass go. Don’t collect $200. Straight to work. I laid out all the footage for the feature documentary I’m editing last night. 1st step is to organize the footage on the timeline into what will become the final order.

8am – break for breakfast. Biscuits and Gravy if you’re interested. While eating I’ll catch the Sons of Anarchy Premier I missed this week.

9am – compose kickstarter promotion instructions for cast and crew of Eat.

930am – do some social networking. I’ve been working really hard the past few months to build a strong support system for Eat. Hopefully this will pay off Monday when the Kickstarter launches.

10am – re-review our kickstarter page.

1030 am – back to the doc. Clean up and finalize the 1st 30 minutes.

2pm – break for lunch.

3pm – more social networking. More Kickstarter research.

4pm - clean up and finalize 2nd 30 mins of doc.

8pm – break for dinner.

9 pm – finalize final 30 minutes of Doc.

2am – more social networking, followed by bed.