Last spring, filmmaker Alison Klayman launched a project to raise finishing funds for a documentary she was making about the Chinese activist and artist, Ai Weiwei. The course of her project witnessed much more than funding success, though — as world events, including the Beijing Olympics, saw the world turn an increasingly inquisitive eye on China, Ai Weiwei's profile as an outspoken dissident skyrocketed, and awareness of the film rose in tandem. Today, bolstered by a warmly received premiere at Sundance, the completed documentary opens at theaters all across the country. Early acclaim is high, with the pictures deemed a critic's pick by New York Magazine, an A by Entertainment Weekly, and "stark, beautiful, haunting" by the New York Times. A full listing of showtimes and theaters is available on her site.
Klayman's film joins a slew of other Kickstarter projects making exciting strides in the real world this week. Read on!
In October of 2009, indie animator Vance Reeser came to Kickstarter to fund his passion project: a short animated film called Lake Beast about a man haunted by the strange, glowing face he once glimpsed in the bottom of a polluted lake. After keeping backers continually updated for three years, and premiering the film exclusively to them, he's released it for the whole wide world to enjoy, for free. Notably endearing, from a post this summer: "I'm ecstatic right now. Nearly 3 years after I initially storyboarded and pitched this project to a then-new company called Kickstarter, asking if they'd let me use their site, it is finished!"
Ted Rall, the adamantly independent, self-described "comics journalist," raised funds to travel to Afghanistan in April of 2010. He would travel the country, reporting back in the form of comics uploaded on a regular basis to his website. Today, you can see those comics here. And in the coming year, Farrar, Straus & Giroux will be publishing them in a book.
Two years ago, Henry O. Owings, the no-holds-barred editor of music magazine Chunklet, used Kickstarter to fund "a broadly written and obsessively crafted multi-faceted standardized exam to pick apart the reader and underground culture in general." He called it The Indie Cred Test, and after a successfully run project, it was released to skeptical hipsters worldwide by Penguin. (After they bought a copy off his site.) Now, it's about to be reprinted.
Another from way back in the day (June, 2010 to be exact), photographer Rachel Sussman raised funds to complete her book, The Oldest Living Things in the World. Already five years in the making at the time of project launch, the wildly ambitious endeavor called for her travel the world, finding and photographing continuously living organisms that were 2,000 years or older. With 25 under her belt, she needed the funds to find and photograph ten more, including a banyan tree aged 2,300 and 100,000 year old Spanish clonal sea grass. A few days ago, she announced that the completed book had found a publisher:
In the winter of 2009, a little design studio called Lumi Co. launched a project centered around a new textile printing technology they were developing out of their LA-based loft. They raised just over $13,000 — enough to start printing their custom-designed coasters and wallets and open their doors to collaborators. They stayed in touch with backers, sharing big news (like cover stories and appearances in ABC Carpet & Home), and just a few months ago, they launched their second project. This time around, they're crafting a line of home-dye kits that are can be developed using nothing but all natural sunshine. Enthusiastic backers have flocked, to the tune of over $235,000 in funding so far.