Archive for September, 2014
Crowdfunding has been a game changer for the independent content creator. No doubt about it. A person with an idea, a clear and inspiring presentation, and a lot of luck has a better avenue than ever for getting the cash to make their project happen. Our audience has been very generous to us over the years and it always floors me that they’re willing to put their personal money into our project. We’re currently in the tail end of our fifth fundraising campaign for the show, raising money for our second-to-last episode. At this point, it’s not looking like we’re going to make our goal. That doesn’t mean we won’t make the show. As always, what it means is that it’s going to be a lot harder to make the show. It also means we’ll be relying on the cast and crew to be generous with their time more than usual since they’ll be getting paid WAAAAAAAY less for their participation this time around.
I remember the feeling of getting that first donation on the first day of the first campaign. My stomach dropped and I felt a whole new level of responsibility to the audience. Now they weren’t only giving us their time in watching our show. They were putting their money on the line in the belief that we would give them their money’s worth. It changed everything for me. That’s when episodes went from taking seven months to make to taking 11 months to make. I wanted to make sure to get everything just right. I also upped the scope of the show to make sure to get the audience’s money on the screen.
But here’s why crowdfunding has always been a struggle for me:
- I feel an intrinsic sense of failure asking for people’s money. Like I can’t provide for myself. Like I’m begging. It doesn’t matter that I can provide for myself, and Eliza and I have jobs that keep us in rent, food, and entertainment money. It doesn’t matter that this is for a side project. All I know is there are many videos of me online asking for people to give us money and every one of them has been a battle against my very nature.
- Cast and crew morale is tied into the outcome. If we make our goal, everyone is bolstered by it. If we don’t make our goal, we still sally forth, but there is a little underlying current of—Well, maybe this show isn’t as good as we thought it was. Logic be damned. The fact that people put ANY money into the show obviously means we’re doing something right. But if we only get half our goal there’s that little voice that says—You’re only half as good as you thought you were.
- In order to run a successful crowdfunding campaign, you have to constantly keep bugging people. Keep tweeting, Facebook’ing, uploading campaign videos, spreading the word, bugging other people to spread the word. It feels like I’m being a nuisance. I don’t like being an irritant or making people feel guilty if they enjoy the show but they can’t afford to contribute.
- It’s completely out of my control. With every other aspect of the show, if something doesn’t work out I can figure out a workaround or pick up where someone else left off. This is one aspect that I have completely no control over. All I can do is say, here’s what we do with your money, here’s what you get for your money, please help us continue to produce this show at a high level. And wait. And wait. And feel a warm sense of gratitude with each donation that comes in. And an uneasy sense of failure as the campaign end date approaches and the donations slow.
The silver lining is that there are quite a few people who still think PoPS is worth their money. And making the campaign videos is a lot of fun. Here are a few of them.
Thanks for reading.
It has been a week of ups and downs, you guys. Serious ups and downs. After the disappointment on Friday of not advancing in Project Greenlight, I was deep in planning mode trying to get ready for the upcoming shoots on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights. I was having a hard time getting my hands on fake guns that look legit, but I had my shot-listing done for the 16 pages we were going to shoot and was starting to call the actors for brief one-on-ones about their characters.
Then I got the call. Like I said in the above update video I got a call about a catastrophic location debacle. Not a we-need-to-schedule-this-for-another-time call, a it-would-be-great-if-we-never-dealt-with-this-location-owner-ever-again call. I spent the day trying to figure out how to keep the scenes essentially the same in a new location, but was having a really rough time. Luckily, my wife is a super story editor as well as a producer and she helped me come up with some interesting alternative ideas. So, I started rewriting. And I will continue to keep rewriting tonight. One of the main storylines of the episode needs to be re-worked about 30 to 40 percent and a lot of location justification needs to be threaded in. But I’ll figure it out. It was just a tough pill to swallow on top of everything else.
Luckily, it’s also been an amazing week. My friends Craig and Chyna got enganged! And he proposed to her in his 1,000th YouTube video where he revealed he’d been working on the proposal for weeks. Then the video went viral. His first real viral video. As I type this it’s got 1.3 million views and it keeps collecting more as sites like huffingtonpost do more “YouTuber Proposes in 1,000th Video” posts. So amazing. Here’s the proposal:
Part of my creative process is a fierce period of focus and productivity followed directly by a desire to do nothing. Seriously. Nothing. I just want to lay down on the floor and stare at the ceiling until I hear my mind whir down like a shut down computer tower. My time in LA was really nice for that, actually. I was halfway through a great book called In the Woods by Tana French when I got there and, after a super busy (self imposed) first two days, I spent LARGE portions of my remaining three days drinking coffee and reading the rest of the book.
And even though we didn’t win for Best Indie Series, here’s a picture of Rob and me laughing in front of one of Howard Hughes’s helicopters, now a permanent installation at YouTube Space LA:Special props to Rob for rocking the PoPS episode 7 fundraiser shirt in that photo and the PoPS episode 8 fundraiser shirt in the last update. And for letting me crash on his floor for four nights.
While still on the subject of the Streamy Awards, I want to point out that while driving from Los Feliz to Beverly Hills, where the event was to be held, I noticed some particularly gold and dangly earrings catching the sun from the car behind me in my rearview mirror. Upon closer inspection I saw some really bright lipstick and what appeared to be two very manicured people. The lady was driving and the dude had, like, really sculpted stubble. Like, Harrison Ford stylie. They looked red carpet ready and they were rolling in an old green Honda Civic. Just a regular old work-a-day sedan. I thought—Yep. Here we all are, playing grown-up. It’s probably exactly the way most red carpet attendees feel their first time.
Anyway, enough about the Streamys and LA. The subject of this blog post is the forced momentum that’s been chasing me the last few episodes. As I was saying, after a period of intense focus and hard work, for instance, writing a 80+ page script. I just want to laze around for a week. But the last two episodes have arrived full force right after I finish writing. We’ve had a very strict deadline to catch.
Last episode it was an actor moving to LA. Rob up there. I had independently set the wheels in motion for the character to be retired, but when he announced his departure I called him up and asked what he wanted to do. He delayed his departure by two weeks to shoot with us and also attended last year’s Halloween franchise Nightmarathon. Good times.
This time it’s an actor moving to central California, and I want to wrap up his character as well. Now, I’ve known he’s been going for a long time, but with everything else we’ve been doing at the same time—Streamys, Project Greenlight submissions, working for a living—I only got things lined up to shoot for the last few days before he left. Not an ideal situation when you’re moving across the country, but the dude was a trooper and said he could do it. Then my location fell through. Fortunately for me, my buddy Craig cast him as the lead for another project, which extended his stay in Chicago by a week, during which my location had availability for us. So we start shooting in four days. We need to get the first three shoot nights out to wrap the character and then I can sit down and try to figure out and schedule the rest of this thing.
Forced momentum, you guys. Here we go again.
Thanks for reading.