Announcing Kickstarter Gold: Bold New Takes on Iconic Projects

Some of the most inventive projects in Kickstarter history are back — with a twist.

3Doodler. Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls. Music for Cats. Chineasy. These are just a few of the iconic projects whose creators are launching new campaigns today as part of Kickstarter Gold. Now through July 31, a group of over 65 exceptional artists, designers, musicians, and makers will be back on Kickstarter, putting new spins on ideas from their past projects. Whether you’re just discovering their work or you’re a long-time fan, you’ll have the opportunity to support some of Kickstarter’s most inspired creators — and collect exciting rewards that aren’t available anywhere else.

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Our Messaging Tools Just Got Better

More than 27,000 messages a day pass through Kickstarter’s messaging system. That’s a lot to keep up with, especially for active backers and creators. So we’ve rolled out something new on the Kickstarter site: a revamped messaging system that makes it easier to manage the flow.

You’ll notice that your message box has a cleaner look and some new features. A popup menu on the right lets you choose from different views of your messages — including new Spam and Archive options. And you can archive messages from here with one click.

When you’re looking at a message from a creator, you’ll now see more information about their project and your pledge on the left side. The buttons up top let you archive messages that you want to save for later, or report messages as spam.

Speaking of spam, creators have told us they get too many unsolicited pitches from marketers and other service providers. So we've added a new service that should automatically flag those messages and keep them out of your inbox. If the system doesn't catch a spam message, you can improve the filters and help everyone out by tagging it manually. You can also go to your Spam box to review messages and mark them as “not spam” if need be. 

 We’ve just made these new messaging features available to all of our users. We hope they improve backer-creator communication and make your inbox a better place to be!

Launch a Project of Earth: August 20 – September 5

Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere. — Carl Sagan

For the fortieth anniversary of the Voyager Golden Record’s launch into space, we invite creators to launch new projects inspired by its scenes, sounds, music, and greetings. Read on for the details, and sign up to receive updates about the initiative.

 

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Instructables Invention Challenge

“To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.”
-Thomas Edison

Have you ever looked at a brilliant Kickstarter campaign and gone, “Why didn’t I think of that?” Well, it’s time to put your imagination to work and invent something of your own. We’re collaborating with the how-to experts at Instructables to bring you the Invention Challenge, a chance to share your brightest ideas and invent something to share with the world. To enter, create something that completes a task, solves a problem, or just makes life more fun, then post an Instructable explaining how you did it before July 31.

To celebrate the most ingenious inventions, we’re offering some creativity-enabling prizes that got their start on Kickstarter. You could win a Nomad CNC mill, a Robo 3D printer, or a Teensy microcontroller — great prototyping tools to help move your idea forward. So brainstorm, iterate, and turn that proverbial pile of junk into something exciting and new. Maybe you’ll even feel inspired to take the next step and bring your idea to life on Kickstarter.

Here’s a bit more about the Kickstarter-funded creative tools that you could win.

Nomad CNC Mill
Cut wood, metal, circuit boards, casting wax, and many other materials with this desktop CNC mill. While this versatile machine would be a welcome addition to any makerspace, artist's studio, or jeweler’s workshop, its enclosed design means that it’s quiet and clean enough to use at home.

Robo C2 3D Printer
3D printers can help you make amazing things but sometimes getting them to work is a project unto itself. Robo’s easy-to-use, Wi-Fi–connected machines are designed to let makers focus on seamless creativity rather than technical troubleshooting. 

Teensy 3.6 Development Board 
Create robots, musical instruments, and interactive projects of all kinds with this small but powerful Arduino-compatible microcontroller that’s become a favorite in the maker community. 


With a lot of hard work and some help from backers on Kickstarter, these creators turned their imaginative ideas into real inventions that now help people pursue their own creative dreams.

Want to enter the Invention Challenge but need some inspiration? Sign up for our Invent newsletter to see the latest in design and tech on Kickstarter. And check out Instructables’ Invention Class to learn more about the process of bringing your ideas to life.

 

‘Spa Night,’ the Award-Winning Film that Almost Didn’t Get Made


When the investors in Spa Night, Andrew Ahn's first feature film, unexpectedly backed out, Ahn was suddenly faced with the possibility that the project he’d poured his heart and soul into might never get made.

But he wasn’t about to give up on the story he’d been working for years to tell — an intimate, atmospheric exploration of immigrant and LGBTQ identities, set against the backdrop of Los Angeles’ Koreatown. So in October 2014, Ahn launched a Kickstarter project to fund pre-production. With the support of 592 backers, he raised $62,915 to bring Spa Night from script to screen. 

“The most difficult thing in creating a film, or any sort of art project,” Ahn said, “is that you just have to get out of your own way. Kickstarter gave me that extra energy and motivation to just do it.” 

The film premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, where lead actor Joe Seo won the Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Performance. Spa Night also took home the John Cassavetes Award at the 2017 Film Independent Spirit Awards, where Ahn delivered a moving speech about the importance of telling stories that reflect the diversity of the United States.

Watch the video above to learn more about Ahn’s path from Kickstarter creator to award-winning feature filmmaker. 

Inspired to bring a project of your own to life? Get started here.

MAKE Vinyl with Kickstarter and Qrates

Today Kickstarter is extremely excited to announce a new collaboration with Qrates — an award-winning, one-stop service for creating and releasing vinyl records. The initiative, called MAKE Vinyl, helps music creators access more tools and resources to successfully fulfill their projects and develop their careers. Through MAKE Vinyl musicians enjoy support from the Qrates team, which has expertise in budgeting, designing, pressing, fulfilling, and distributing vinyl records. The Kickstarter Music team will help set up your projects for success with pre- and post-launch tips and if needed, feedback on your projects before they’re live.

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Announcing Hardware Studio

Let’s face it: Some Kickstarter projects are trickier to execute than others. If you want to bring a new piece of technology into the world, for example, you need to think about selecting components, pricing them, connecting with the right factory, and so on.

All of that is easier to figure out than it was just a few years ago, thanks in part to the paths blazed by Kickstarter-funded hardware creators. But we think it could be a lot easier. That’s why we’ve teamed up with two industry leaders in this area, Avnet and Dragon Innovation, to develop something new: Hardware Studio.

The idea behind Hardware Studio is that independent hardware creators could use some help mastering the challenges of design and manufacturing well before they launch on Kickstarter. The first piece of this effort is Hardware Studio Toolkit, a new community site with valuable tools and tutorials for tech and design creators, along with contributions from Dragon and Avnet engineers, Kickstarter staff, experienced creators, and industry experts.

The second piece is Hardware Studio Connection, which will allow creators working on more advanced projects to get personalized advice, feedback, and services from engineers at Avnet and Dragon. Creators can apply for this program through a simple application, and participating projects will have the opportunity to be highlighted on Kickstarter.

We’ve chosen two terrific collaborators for this. Dragon Innovation are a team of hardware manufacturing experts who bring years of experience and smart software to helping companies make things, while Avnet is a global technology distributor with expertise in helping customers design and make their ideas and bring them to market. Kickstarter has had a relationship with Dragon for several years, and both Dragon and Avnet have guided dozens of Kickstarter creators through the manufacturing process.

Hardware Studio is set to launch in September. You can find out more and sign up to be notified of the launch here. Along with Dragon and Avnet, we look forward to helping many more innovative hardware projects come to life.

Handpicked Happening: MST3K’s Joel Hodgson

This edition of the Happening newsletter is brought to you by Mystery Science Theater 3000 creator Joel Hodgson. In 2015, with the help of 48,270 backers on Kickstarter, Joel and his team raised $5.7 million for a reboot of MST3K — making it the most-funded Film project in Kickstarter history. “Using Kickstarter gave us the same level of creative freedom we had when we first started the show almost thirty years ago,” he says of the reboot, which is now streaming on Netflix. Here, he shares some insight into his creative life. (Sign up to receive Happening in your inbox here.)

Fan art by Benjamin J. Colon
Fan art by Benjamin J. Colon

 

MST3K is back! What should everyone know about the reboot?

Well, if you already knew MST3K, I hope you'll be pleased with the feel of the new season. But you know, if you've never seen MST3K, don't worry: you can jump in anywhere, in the new or old seasons. We didn't want to make the show a love letter to the past — we actually wanted to make it a love letter to the future.

As someone who works in so many different creative fields, what are your go-to resources for creative motivation?

Music. Hunter S. Thompson said it really well:
“Music has always been a matter of Energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel. I have always needed Fuel. I am a serious consumer. On some nights I still believe that a car with the gas needle on empty can run about fifty more miles if you have the right music very loud on the radio.”

Keeping notebooks. Ever since my freshman year of college, I've kept a hardbound blank notebook with me. I take notes and draw pictures of ideas as they occur to me, even if I don't know the purpose of the ideas yet.

Transcendental meditation. I started about eight years ago, just prior to starting the journey to bring back Mystery Science Theater, and I still do it twice a day. The way I describe the benefit is: Imagine your life if you landed two really good naps every day.

Who is your dream collaborator, and what would you make together?

I'd love to spend a couple of weeks working for Penn & Teller, coming up with ideas for their live shows. Honestly, I would take my vacation time to go work for them. But the sad truth is that they’re such creative dynamos, they really don’t need the help.

Four standout projects

A Trip to the Moon Coloring Book
The magician Georges Méliès is known as one of the earliest fantasy filmmakers. He also reinvented the entire filmmaking process, from printing his own film stock to creating his own studio, and everything in between.

1977 EPA Graphic Standards System Reissue
The EPA can always use a little help, especially these days, and a physical graphics manual is an incredibly valuable innovation that a lot of people never get to see.

The MicroMill: A Desktop CNC Milling Machine
Projects like this can really change the ways we rapidly prototype ideas, explore unusual craft projects, and even fix things around the house.

Paperhand Puppet: 18th Annual Puppet Performance
Puppetry is this wonderful, primitive art form that's constantly being reinvented, and this looks like a lovely project.

Three requirements for crafting a great movie riff

Respect: Collaborate with the movie, don't just mock it. It's really hard to make a movie, even a bad or cheesy one, and it deserves some respect.

Humility: We tend to shy away from sardonic know-it-all types. They're not that much fun to work with, and the goal of a good riff is to point attention to the movie, rather than the person writing the riff.

Fascination: All of our writers bring all of their personal fascinations and interests to the table, so we end up with a really varied set of references and topics in the final riffs.

Fan art by Todd Nauck
Fan art by Todd Nauck

 

Recommendations

In & Of Itself
Derek DelGaudio is an amazing performer who is re-inventing the way that magicians and audiences work together to create mystery. If you're in NYC, go see this.

Bob Dylan x Bill Flanagan
Bob Dylan seems to have reached the point in his life where he's willing to reveal some of his tricks, techniques, and influences in this interview. Totally worth the read.

"God in Chicago" by Craig Finn
On this wonderful track from the album We All Want The Same Things, Finn (from The Hold Steady) tells a beautiful and haunting story that starts to behave like a memory.

Trouble Boys: The True Story of the Replacements, by Bob Mehr
The Replacements got inside my heart somehow, and Bob Mehr does a really apt job of describing the world that they inhabited while they were doing it. It’s a modern tragedy, for sure, but the good news is that almost all the players survived to tell the tale.

Fan art by Emily Kardamis
Fan art by Emily Kardamis

Etc.

Songs that inspired the new season of MST3K, curated by Joel Hodgson (register here to read the playlist's backstory).



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