A while back, I did a comparison of three, quite different Kickstarter campaigns for animated projects. Today, we’re taking a look at three more. Again, they’re all quite different but all hope to raise enough money to fund the production of top-quality animation. They are: Bee & Puppycat, Dead Meat and Morph.
Bee & Puppycat
The previous post looked at the three campaigns from the viewpoint of what exactly they were raising money for. One was an entire series, one was a film by parts and one was a highly polished short film.
Bee & Puppycat falls under the umbrella of the first category: funding an entire series. Where it differs though, and what this post will revolve around, is how much money the campaign is attempting to raise, and why they using Kickstarter to do so.
If you are not aware, Bee & Puppycat is a Cartoon Hangover short by Adventure Time alum Natasha Allegri. The first pair of shorts have already been created, released and have done pretty well; comparable to other Cartoon Hangover series.
What makes this show stand out from the others though, is that producing studio Frederator have turned to Kickstarter to fund the rest of the series. It’s a proven tactic for Kickstarter campaigns to create a test run or prototype and sell the campaign based on that. Since the original shorts clearly found an audience, the ambitious $600,000 goal of this campaign seems within easy reach. All magnified by the fact that it got 50% of that within 24 hours.
There’s a few things about the Bee & Puppycat effort that make it worthy of discussion. Firstly, the fact that Frederator felt the need to turn to Kickstarter to raise funds, the actual cost of individual episodes at c. $100,000* and of course, what it is exactly that fans will receive in return.
The studio gives the following as reasons for turning to Kickstarter:
While all are valid reasons, I find it amusing that Frederator states that outside investment equates to outside influence while at the same time offering a $10,000 donation level with no input possibilities whatsoever. To play devil’s advocate for a minute, if I were paying $10K for something to be made, I would most definitely like to have a say in the process.
The final point about Bee & Puppycat is that it’s 4 million+ views have translated into (as of writing) just under 8,500 backers. That represents 0.21% of viewers of thereabouts. On the one hand, it’s great that just 8,500 people are willing to pay a combined $414,000 (as of writing) to have a series made. On the other hand, shouldn’t 4 million views results in a higher percentage of backers? Plenty of internet-based donation/pay systems seem to be able to convince at least 1% of users/viewers to pay. Is content really that hard to sell, or does the quality of the show itself play an important role?
*this isn’t an exact figure as it encompasses not only the cost of production, but Kickstarter’s fee and the cost of rewards too.
The second campaign we’re taking a look at is by Maxwell Atoms, acclaimed creator of the Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy. He’s looking to create a web series of the “post apocalyptic black comedy/social satire/puppet gore” kind.
First things first, Atoms is quite honest and blunt about why he’s using Kickstarter. He thinks he has a great idea that people will love and that the current system for creating it would dilute the result to the point of worthlessness. His desire to make his series in the R-rated age bracket have no doubt sullied any chance he has with traditional channels, but then that is the point of appealing straight to fans, isn’t it?
I couldn’t find any details on the length or number of episodes he’s hoping to make (if anyone else has, please chime in) but at $50,000, Atoms is asking for substantially less than Bee & Puppycat. Granted it’s a different kind of show, but both are web series and both are speculative campaigns. In other words, they’re asking fans to assume some of the risk. Dead Meat also has s $10,000 tier but has no takers as of writing.
This project is more in line with what many think that Kickstarter is really supposed to be for; namely giving independent creators the financial leg-up that they need. Atoms is asking fans for money because he simply doesn’t have it himself. Unlike, say, Zach Braff’s gaffe a while back when the millionaire actor asked fans to fund his own film because he just didn’t really like the traditional method.
The nature of the series and the fact that Atoms is chasing a more niche audience than Bee & Puppycat is another aspect to his campaign that makes it seem like the more quintessential Kickstarter effort.
All New Adventures of Morph
Lastly, we have a campaign that represents a bit of both of the two previously mentioned campaigns. Morph is an independent production from Aardman, but is also a popular, well-known property that has been around for many years.
With this campaign, Aardman is also going directly to fans as a way of mitigating the financial risk associated with productions but they are also using it as a way to continue the life of a known animated character. In that respect, they are echoing Bee & Puppycat insofar that they are creating new animation, but not necessarily new ideas.
The campaign’s goal is 75,000 for 12, 1-minute episodes. All told, that is on par with what Frederator are spending on Bee & Puppycat but far above Atom’s requirements.
Of the three, Morph is in the middle. It is not as independent as Dead Meat, but it is not as mainstream as Bee & Puppycat. Appealing, as Morph does, to an audience of a particular age, taste and cultural background.
Personally, I am not in favour of Kickstarter campaigns that are speculative in nature, especially when asking backers to fund content that does not exist yet. Something akin to funding production of an existing object is more in line with where fans should be asked for money. They are mitigating risk after all, and it’s only fair for them to know exactly what they are getting before they stump up their hard-earned cash.
Of the three campaigns, all show equal promise, but all exemplify the need to have a substantial backer pool from which to draw from. They all also prove the need for content that is the very best. Anything less will come up short.