The Kickstarter Blog

Shortening the Maximum Project Length

  1. Project Detours

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    Canine Chronicles — by Winnie Au

    Last fall, my sisters and I ran a Kickstarter project for a book called Canine Chronicles. We were looking to create something we could all collaborate on, and a book project featuring my younger sister Winnie’s photography seemed like the best idea. We set up a project and promised to have a book ready to print by Spring 2011. 

    That deadline has now come and gone, and we’ve had to push our release date back to Fall 2011. So far, our backers have been wondrously patient with us as we go through this process with them. This is due in no small part to Winnie, who has been putting together these great “here’s where we are now” progress reports and updating our backers every few weeks. Her latest is a video which takes you behind the scenes on one of our photo shoots:

    As many of you who’ve worked on projects already know, the path to completion is never exactly how you planned it would be. When we brainstormed our book idea, we just thought it would be fun to dress dogs up as historical figures. What we didn’t think about at the time was that because some of these famous people are still living, we would need to do a lot of research about fair use, copyright, trademark, and the legal definitions of satire and parody.

    Then there were the photo shoots themselves. Casting all of the dogs, finding the right costumes and props, coordinating and finishing the shoots ended up taking much more time than we’d first anticipated. Shirts we ordered on the internet that looked perfectly dog-sized showed up in the mail and ended up being very much not dog-sized. Our Charlie Chaplin pug looked great on camera but was too tiny to wear the bowler hat we’d bought for him (it covered his whole head!). The flight jacket we ordered for the yellow lab playing Amelia Earhart wouldn’t fit over his legs. Our Lucille ball dog looked mid-sized in the images her owners sent, but ended up being much smaller in real life. So we improvised. 

    Now, the photo shoots are done and it’s up to me to write the stories that will take these ten images of dogs in costume and turn them into a coherent fictional history. It’s fun and daunting and stressful all at the same time. My older sister is waiting on me to finish the stories so she can begin the process of laying out and designing the final book. My mom calls me every weekend to ask how the stories are coming along. I want to do justice to the images my sister worked so hard on, and I want our backers to feel like they made the right decision in choosing to support our project. No pressure, right?

    While many Kickstarter projects finish everything right on time, delays in the timeline are a reality of the creative process. It’s why project updates and maintaining open lines of communication — both during and after the project — are so important. Kickstarter backers are amazing people, genuinely interested in helping you reach the finish line. When you share with them your creative process, you also communicate that you’re aware that they’re there, and that without them, there is no project. 

    And for those of you wondering, I’ll be finished writing all the stories by the end of this month. 

  2. Time spent crying over Time With Leonard.

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    Time With Leonard — by Walter Kevin Eubank

    Time With Leonard is a Kickstarter project to fund a book of the same name, about Leonard Knight and the legendary Salvation Mountain. If you haven’t heard of it, or seen mind-blowing photos of it in luckier friends’ Flickr account like I have, Salvation Mountain is some crazy cement mountain in the middle of the desert in Niland, California. This precious old man is 80 years old and has been camping out here for 30 years, painting and re-painting colorful messages of faith and love with what he estimates to be about 100,000 gallons of paint (all donated by the mountain’s visitors).

    Despite being an unbeliever who has never made it out to Salvation Mountain, this video had me crying at my computer monitor, wanting to hug everyone (although Project Videos That Make Me Cry could probably be a weekly feature).

    Leonard greets hundreds of people a day and tours them around the mountain and its gift shop — where he’s been living the past 18 of 30 years — and I imagine sharing the same message he talks about in his video, with a tone of conviction and this perfect old man squint:

    “God loves everybody in the whole world. Period. That’s everybody. That’s all people, everywhere, period. Love can get so big that in can cover everybody in the whole world, if you’ll let it.”

    For much of the 90’s, Leonard was embattled with local supervisors over alleged toxicity levels in the surrounding area (lead paint), but the issue was resolved and in 2002, Salvation Mountain was entered into the Congressional Record of the United States, proclaiming it a national treasure. 

    “Somebody told me on the internet there’s over 100 different countries now that know about the mountain here in Niland. So it’s slowly getting it out there.”

    It’s clear that this is his life’s work. To sit in the desert painting, greeting tourists and pilgrims alike, sharing his message with a contagious joy.

    “It’s a easy message,” Leonard says in the video, “— to love somebody is the most easy thing in the world to do,” the way he says easy breaks my heart for some reason, maybe because it always feels so much less that that. “Just love somebody,” he says, “Be nice to ‘em. And all of a sudden that guy’s gonna be nice back to you, and nice gets bigger — oooh— and it’s gonna spread the whole world. Love is gonna do it.”

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