The other day we got an incredibly kind note from Roddy Bogawa, the man behind the excellent documentary Taken By Storm, which tells the story of legendary album cover designer Storm Thorgerson, a regular collaborator with Pink Floyd. In it he talked about the incredible community that has developed around his project — no surprise considering his amazing project updates, which are among the best we’ve ever seen.
We invited Roddy to share some thoughts about how his project has developed for the Kickstarter blog. You can read his awesome response below.
As a documentary on possibly the most prolific record cover designer in the history of music, Storm Thorgerson, my film project TAKEN BY STORM is a really interesting match for Kickstarter and its founders’ notion of what constitutes a “community”. When I first started interviewing Storm, he half jokingly would say how he had no idea how much his images fit into the grand scheme of culture and I realized that there was really no feedback loop for him - there was certainly until recently no website, email, or internet blog for him to get a sense of the importance of his creative drive – and perhaps indeed he didn’t know!
When I conceived of putting my project on Kickstarter, it was motivated by a provacative comment by Yancey Strickler on a panel proclaiming “all funding models are broken..and that a big part of Kickstarter’s function is to bring attention to your project, get people invested in seeing it completed, and spread the word as pre-publicity”. While I understood this idea in theory, I hadn’t really thought it through in practice. What is the Kickstarter community? With the explosion of online-gaming and social network sites, it seems like people are yearning some kind of notion of community via the technologies that mediate nearly everyone’s daily existence. As much as humans create systems that fracture their identity and experiences, they long to communicate, feel a part of a whole (check out the recent success of the Kickstarter project Diaspora).
My project has less than half of its time up left on Kickstarter and it’s been a fascinating process so far (one that will be much better of course if it reaches its funding goal!) and I’ve thought a lot about this notion of “community”. I’ve done outreach every week or so (not wanting to annoy your friends too much, I’d suggest keeping your pleas to the minimum) and luckily have had a few friends actually jump in and become advocates for the project to their friends, something I see a success to the notion of what the Kickstarter community can be (I thank them publicly here and want them to know how their commitment to my project has energized my own). Probably one of the most interesting aspects of the Kickstarter experience has been the possibility of communication between the backer and project maker. I’ve received extremely encouraging emails from backers, not only voicing support for the project but also how in fact, they can help in its completion in other ways besides financial pledges – connections to various other blogs, radio DJs, and other possibilities of continued support. This perhaps has been the most eye opening component of Kickstarter, the true realization of the notion of its community. In such a fragmented and mediated world, this has given me intense moments of emotional connection to people I’ve never met, people that will indeed now be part not only of the completion of the film but also its existence in the world. Making films one often feels in total isolation and one often forgets that you make films to send them out into the world, communicate with others, and hopefully create a dialogue of ideas. I also publicly thank my backers for this part of the Kickstarter experience as this has made me profoundly remember why I make films!
Storm has told me in many interviews and in conversation that he goes to such extreme lengths for his art “because of the punters, the fans” and it’s amazing that he has done so for over forty years without truly having a grasp of what his community has been, how large of an influence his images have had over music, and how deep into culture they have seeped. He often talks about the intense amount of work that goes into his imagery as his end of the bargain to the fan – that his amount of work should equal that of the work that went into the creation of the music – and that anything short of this, would be a breach in this contract (strange to think that with this attitude, that HIPGNOSIS at one time had a “pay what you can” policy for the musicians requesting their services). One of the goals of this project is to re-connect audience to maker and so it is completely fitting that the completion of this project be via Kickstarter. TAKEN BY STORM needs the punters and with your help will get completed by the end of 2010. However one defines a community now in such disconnected times, this is certainly an interesting one…
Roddy Bogawa 6/19/10