The Kickstarter Blog

Creator Q&A: Stumbling Towards Damascus

  1. Saving Blue Like Jazz

    “The hero of this story is you.” — Don Miller, The Story of Blue Like Jazz the Movie 

    On September 16th, Don Miller, author of the bestselling novel Blue Like Jazzannounced on his blog that the film adaptation he had spent four years working on was dead. Funding had been lost, and the movie could not be finished.

    Or could it?

    A week later, two fans of the book, Jonathan Frazier and Zach Prichard, decided to take things into their own hands. They convinced Miller and director Steve Taylor to let them launch a Kickstarter project to raise $125,000 — the minimum needed to complete the film — with a bold campaign: Save Blue Like Jazz.

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    The project launched on September 24th. After three days they had a measly $300. On September 29th Miller blogged about the effort, and the internet woke up. Within a week the project had astonishingly raised its full $125,000 — Blue Like Jazz was saved.

    In the two and a half weeks since, the project has gone on to double that total. It ends at midnight tonight, and it’s rapidly closing in on an astonishing $300,000 — the largest amount raised in Kickstarter’s history, and the largest crowdfunding total ever for a US film. Not bad for two fans with a crazy idea.

    In the past fans have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars buying billboards, full-page ads, and other public pronouncements to save their favorite shows. The results have been mixed. Hapless executives are hardwired to value dollars over fans, and these fan-funding campaigns have traditionally fallen on intentionally deaf ears.

    But to see fans use their voices and dollars to make the thing happen on their own is a whole other thing. If fans are willing to pony up for the production, what recourse do executives have? What’s there to say if fans declare they want to see the thing so badly that they will pay for it? 

    Where Hollywood has failed we fans can step in. We know what we want to see, we know what we want to exist. Blue Like Jazz spectacularly demonstrates that we can, in fact, do something about it. Congratulations to the filmmakers and — most of all — to the fans. Now what are we saving next?

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  2. Pop-Culture Paper Dolls: Backers Pick!

    Melissa Nieman has been making paper dolls since she was old enough to color in the lines. “I loved the idea that anything I could draw I could have,” she explains in her project description. “So often the toys I wanted just didn’t exist at the store.” The enthusiasm has carried into her adult years, and Melissa is now sitting atop a miniature paper doll empire, although her methods have become a little more grown-up: each doll is now crafted through a combination of collage art and computer graphics. 

    The Pop Culture Paper Doll project sprang from Melissa’s desire to make the old-fashioned toy more relevant to our current cultural climate. Her mission, she says, was “[to bring] the paper doll medium back in a way that’s applicable to life as we live it now, with characters that interest us, and in a format that’s user friendly to the modern life.”

    In order to accomplish this, Melissa used Kickstarter to open up her creative process to the community, offering to let backers vote on which pop icons would be transformed into her super-crafty, quirky cut-outs. The response has been tremendous! 

    In the last few weeks, we’ve watched the comments section on her project blog come alive with suggestions, good-natured debates, and feisty commentary. Everything from the merits of Johnny Cash’s cowboy boots to the potential for Betty White accessories is discussed with enthusiasm. It’s been awesome fun for us to watch it unfold. Melissa, understandably, is also excited about the development: 

    “It has been SO much fun, and I’ve just been filled with ideas on fun ways to make the dolls! I wanted it to be more of a collaborative/group art project, rather than a ‘I’m starting my business’ type project,” she explained to us in a recent email exchange. ”This collection is built by my backers and I want it to reflect their tastes and enjoyments as much as possible.” 

    Based on the enthusiasm we’ve witnessed so far, there’s no question about her backer’s enjoyment of the process. Below, some commentators respond warmly to a choice between Betty White or Conan O’Brien, with one even offering some artistic inspiration: 

    Picking between Paul McCartney and Johnny Cash gets a little more involved, with backers hypothesizing on potential accessories and comparing musical merit: 

    We love it! We’ve never made our affection for small projects a secret at Kickstarter, and Melissa’s fun, all-inclusive approach is a great example of how a project can be a tool for cultivating an engaged, excited community. “The end result is always fun!” Melissa tells us.  ”And if it’s not, then I want to redo it until it is fun.” To us, that seems like some sage life advice!

    You can check out some more sneak peeks at the upcoming collection below.

    Betty White loves muffins:

    The man in black, Johnny Cash:

    The unstoppable Chuck Norris:

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