A Kickstarter Campaign Too Far?

Randall Monroe just could not have gotten the timing of yesterday’s XKCD comic any better:

Yes, this comic is relevant to today’s post as I recently discovered over on the animation subbreddit, a campaign to do almost exactly what the XKCD comic above purports to do; that is, use Kickstarter to raise money for a pitch of the real product.

The campaign in question is being initiated by Daran Carlin-Weber whose currently (?) an animation student in Pennsylvania.

Being the smart lad that he his, there’s a trailer/promo pitch for the campaign:

So it’s actually pretty good, in fact it should be something that is right up a network’s alley given the right circumstances. Described thusly:

“Summer Rec” follows the lives of the college-aged staff at a dreary, under-funded, suburban Meadowlark Recreation Center. It specializes in its “Summer Rec” program, something supposedly fun for ages 4 to 14, weekdays from 9 to 4. The target demographic would be the Adult Swim viewing crowd. It’s loosely-based* on experiences I had as a counselor at a recreation program in High School.

Daran’s got his ducks in line with the description in that he knows who he’s aiming the show at. Again, that’s a good start and with a pitch video, Daran’s got a heck of a lot further than a lot of people get with pitches (in that they don’t even get off the drawing board). In addition, we’ve also got a rundown of the cast as well as what the pilot episode will be about.

So with a well thought out concept, cast, pitch video pilot script and animatic, why on earth is their even a Kickstarter project at all? Weeeeeeeell, that’s where we get to the sticky part:

“Summer Rec” is a passion project I’ve been working on for over 2 years now and I’m hoping with your funding to be able to give back to the people who made this project possible for me to produce. Those fantastic folks would be my voice actors, my musician, and my co-writers, who have given me their invaluable time and talents for free thus far. I dunno, I think they’re pretty worth it heh.

Well, now that part is fair enough and throwing a bone to your friends when they’ve given you a hand is a grand thing to do. Except it’s not generally something you would ask strangers money for. Moving on:

Also, I am in a bit of a pickle. My trusty computer that has stuck it with me through years of animating finally crapped out on me and I am in desperate need of a new computer. I have been animating the pilot on my girlfriend’s computer for the last couple months and you can just guess how thrilled she is about that. Heh… hmm

Soooooooo, he needs a computer, and the Kickstarter funds will provide it, right? Ehhhhh, no. Not that there is anything against him getting a new computer, we’ve all been there at some point. It isn’t a fun experience and it really can throw a spanner (or wrench for the Yanks) in the works. However, again, it’s not something that you would solicit funds for. Props for the honesty though.

All the additional money will go towards things such as submission fees to film festivals, ASIFA memberships, producing presentation DVDs and also, funding us personally taking the pilot to the 2012 Ottawa International Animation Festival and Television Animation Conference. All additional money will go towards making sure this is the best damn pilot it can possibly be!

So the money will basically fund the cost of pitching the thing. Again, this is a fair enough assumption. Being in the hills of PA that are shockingly close to where the future wife is from, pitching a TV show in person is going to require some travel/effort/money on his part.

However……

I’m having a seriously difficult time justifying my support for a number of reasons:

  1. Why ask for money after the fact? There’s some perfect pitch material already made! And a little bit more effort (and a few dollars) could get a really nice pitch packet/bible made.
  2. The wonders of the internet means that you don’t necessarily need to travel in order to make pitches. OK sure, it helps, but getting eyeballs on your content should be your number one goal. The more people that are aware of your idea, the easier it is to improve it and hone it for a real pitch.
  3. Speaking of which actual animation is waaaaay more advanced than most networks look for in a pitch. Again, it helps, but most studios/networks like to see either a pitch bible, or in Frederator’s case, storyboards. The extra effort looks good, but isn’t a guarantee of a pickup. having said that, it can hone your animating skills.
  4. Running a show takes a lot of effort, ability and trust. Networks unfortunately don’t tend to give unknown entities a budget and a crew and a promise of delivering a show. John K. was a seasoned animator and Nickelodeon still couldn’t get him to deliver episodes on time.

So I can’t back this project. It’s a Kickstarter project too far. It’s a superb idea and a great concept and is proof positive that Daran has real talent but $7,500 to fund a new PC and travel to Ottowa? [deep breath] No, sorry.

Daran wants to work for Titmouse though, and he seems like a perfect fit for the studio. Do any Titmousers (Titmice) out there know of any openings or where he could even submit his reel? If so, perhaps they could get in touch with him and give him a leg up.His resume is here for the curious.

In the meantime, check out Daran’s final school film, Cheromanchequois and Daran, if you read this man, check out my buddy Dave’s book Animation Development: From Pitch to Production. It tells you all you need to know about getting a show off the ground. You can even find it at the library!

 

 

 

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