Announcing the 2014 Kickstarter Film Fest

If you’re anything like us, you’ve been anxiously watching and waiting to learn the exact date and time you can head over to our fourth annual Kickstarter Film Festival. Who wouldn’t be excited to spend a great evening under the stars, eating food, listening to music, watching amazing film, and having an all-around blast?

Well, the wait’s over, and the 2014 Kickstarter Film Fest is nearly here. The festivities will kick off on July 18th, at 7:00 pm in Brooklyn, NY’s beautiful Fort Greene Park. And that’s just the beginning. This year we’ll also be bringing the fest to Los Angeles (September 12), London (TBA), and — wait for it — your house! That’s right, your house. The 2014 Kickstarter Film Fest will be free to watch online, so we encourage you to toss a blanket down in your backyard, hang a sheet on a clothesline, load a cooler up with some cold beverages, and enjoy the show with friends and family. (More details on that to come.)

This being our fourth time hosting the film fest, we decided to switch things up a bit, so early this year we announced an open call for submissions — for features, shorts, animations, documentaries, webisodes, music videos, or any other film work coming out of the Kickstarter community. We received 1,069 submissions, watched every single one of them, and didn’t even get in any fistfights over which were best. We’ve put together an incredible program for you, featuring everything from a love story about animated sheep to a documentary about Libyan rebels to — you knew this was coming — a star-studded zombie comedy.

That’s not all. In Brooklyn, we’ll also have live musical performances from the Asphalt Orchestra marching band and singer/songwriter/guitar-genius Kaki King. Plus treats — sweet, savory, and occasionally both — from friends like Brooklyn Soda Works, Butter and Scotch, La Sonrisa Empanadas, and the popcorn scientists at Pop Karma. Plus more! Including hundreds of your friends and neighbors who love film as much as you do.

Join us, will you? Friday, July 18th. 7:00 pm. Fort Greene Park, Brooklyn. Or L.A., or London, or your house — see you there.

Final Countdown: How Three Projects Made it Just In Time

Some projects make their goal in the first few days. More often, though, we see the ones that inch toward their goals slowly and steadily. And on occasion, it comes down to a photo finish as the project crosses its funding threshold in the last few hours (or even minutes!). Those are the projects that we, at the Kickstarter office, are watching, refreshing, and obsessing about.

We thought it would be interesting to talk about this final-day phenomenon, so we picked out three creators with projects of varying goal amount, and asked them to talk about the last day. What was it like, with its anxieties, triumphs, and emotional moments? Those three creators were Remy Karns from Classroom Aquatic, Tina Essmaker from The Great Discontent, and Anna Wilson from Delta Mouth Literary Festival.

The funding graph for Classroom Aquatic
The funding graph for Classroom Aquatic

The graphs for Delta Mouth and Classroom Aquatic show a pretty gradual climb. How did that feel?

Anna: We have some dyed-in-the-wool supporters, but we have to work pretty hard to remind a lot of busy folks that our fundraising efforts come with expiration dates and that we really truly cannot make the festival happen without grassroots funding. Overall the response was positive and people admired the effort we had to put into the project to maintain activity. Some folks questioned the validity of this type of fundraising, with comments like, "Why doesn't the school just pay for the festival?" This was an opportunity to share information and stories speaking to the need for crowdsourced arts funding, both practically, as states slash arts and education budgets (hello, Louisiana?), and ideologically, as state-funded event will inevitably support a different group of artists than an independent event.

Remy: The gradual climb was something we were very pragmatic about. Despite this being our first Kickstarter, we were all aware of the "bathtub" nature of how projects received funding. Everyone was very excited about the working on the game itself, so we never let a middle-period day with very low funding get us down.

The funding graph for The Great Discontent
The funding graph for The Great Discontent

Conversely, The Great Discontent had a strong start and then plateaued. How would you describe the response?

Tina: Our community is extremely enthusiastic about The Great Discontent. Our readers are very loyal, and many of them have sent us messages about how the stories of the people we’ve interviewed have had an effect on them, from providing general encouragement to helping them make major career decisions. We’ve always encouraged our community to take risks, and this was a really cool experience because the tables were turned—we were the ones taking the risk, and our readers were the ones encouraging us!

How would you describe your communities in general?

Remy: Wonderfully supportive! It was great to see all the community feedback about the game, whether it was private messages sent to us or people making videos of themselves trying out the demo.

Anna: The LSU literary community is pleased that student organizers have been moonlighting to bring this event together and we have received support from both the English Department and the English Graduate Student Association. A lot of our organizational efforts strive to make the festival truly a community event, and we dedicate significant resources to bringing innovative literary artists out into the larger Baton Rouge community--readings/performances take place at venues around town. We're still building awareness in Baton Rouge but we have received significant support from Baton Rouge Gallery and from businessman Dave Remmetter, an owner at Chelsea's Cafe and Radio Bar.

Tina: In general, people are very supportive. Our readers are amazing, and so are the people we interview—many of them have become friends.

The funding graph for Delta Mouth Literary Festival
The funding graph for Delta Mouth Literary Festival

How did you keep people engaged with the project throughout its life?

Anna: We used a combination of social media and in-person hounding.

Tina: We did a few things; some were planned, and some were spontaneous. We posted the campaign link in the about section on all of our social accounts (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.) and on our site. We posted daily updates on Twitter and Facebook to remind people that the campaign was happening. We added new rewards halfway through our campaign to keep things exciting. And a little over halfway through, we added two print-first features to the magazine, one which we chose and the other which we asked our backers to choose.

Remy: We kept the community engaged by listening to their comments and criticisms about our Kickstarter, always letting our backers know that we would answer any and all questions they had, and tailoring our updates and edits based on what they wanted to know more about and what they responded most enthusiastically to. The community around the game was indispensable in helping direct the idea of the game and how we pitched it.

A lot of your support came from the very last day. What did that day feel like, and how did you get through it?

Anna: I sort of pretended that I didn't have room to consider that our project might fail. Yes, it was nerve-wracking, a bit, but I believed in Kickstarter stats that indicated that if we funded substantially we were very likely to make our goal. I deeply believe in the festival's mission and I think this helped a lot. I I just focused on my faith that people would come together to support art and community!

Remy: It was an incredibly emotional experience. On the final day, we were quite a ways away from our goal, and by that time we had come to accept that we weren't going to make it—we were even in the process of mapping out our eventual relaunch! We were all being very pragmatic and objective about it— "Oh, well, you know, it was our first try, we learned so much and can do it better, it was a valuable learning experience and we'll get them next time," but despite all that, I remember feeling a wave of sentimentality towards everyone who had contributed to our project. After I began posting my updates thanking everyone who had supported us, people began taking to social media en mass to bring about support for the game: friends, family, designers I consider my heroes, people who had covered the game or interviewed us, all these wonderful people began working to help us reach our goal. I'll admit, I was bawling. I couldn't suppress how grateful I was to everyone who had help make this a reality.

Tina: When we woke up on the last day of the campaign, we still needed over $35k to meet our goal. We weren’t sure if it was possible. We had raised $30k in the first 24 hours of our campaign, but we had less time than that to raise even more money! In the morning, people were already buzzing about it online; some said it looked like we wouldn’t meet our goal and others were showing support and urging friends to donate. We had already accepted that we might not meet our goal, but we decided to give it one last shot and really promote it.

We spent the day hunkered down at our computers. It was hard to focus on anything; the excitement was palpable, and we were running on sheer adrenaline. We felt like underdogs, but our community carried us over the finish line. It was a true testament to the people who believe in The Great Discontent and us. By the time we reached our goal, we were exhausted, but in honor of the campaign, we met up with Frank at The Meatball Shop for celebratory drinks and ice cream sandwiches. That night, we went to sleep feeling extremely grateful.

Meet the Team: Julie and Jake

We thought it would be nice to introduce ourselves. So every week, a couple members of the Kickstarter team will be saying hello, and picking out a few projects — past or present, successful or not — that they're especially fond of. (They will also be posing for GIFs. The GIFs are mandatory.)

This week, meet Julie and Jake:

Julie Wood (@juliewood)

Job: "I talk to reporters and producers and bloggers about Kickstarter and awesome projects."

  • Happy Trash Day — "Sanitation workers have the hardest job! This little art project throws surprise parties for them when they come around to pick up the trash."
  • Grow Urban Farms in Brooklyn's Empty Lots — "Pretty simple: productive green space > vacant lots."
  • Korengal — "This film depicts the daily-life experiences of American soldiers in war. I backed it for a ticket to the premiere, where brilliant filmmaker Sebastian Junger shared some important wisdom about promoting a culture that supports veterans, and how we can just all be better to each other."
  • Bring Sunny's Back Home! — "This was the first Kickstarter project I backed. Sunny's is the best. Red Hook! Cheap beers! Tunes!"

Jake Loeterman (@jakeloet)

Job: "I investigate risky behavior and figure out how to keep our system healthy."

  • Introducing Art History to Inmates — "Learning about art can often be a transformative experience. It would be amazing if this became a trend."
  • High Voltage Image Making — "These are prints of film exposed to a blast of electrical charge, the effect of which is something like scientific tie-dye: the fractal-like networks, set against blurred abstraction, create a cosmos. They're totally mystical."
  • Dorrance's "It's All About Mimi" — "My mom and I loved this book. A minimalist chic mom understands her newfound motherhood through an aesthetic. It's hysterical."
  • NeoLucida - A Portable Camera Lucida for the 21st Century — "I wrote my senior thesis on Vermeer, so when I saw this affordable remake of the camera lucida designed by two art professors, I was stoked."

The Dunk Contest of the Century of the World Actually Happened

The hoop before the contest by Mark Campbell
The hoop before the contest by Mark Campbell

Comedian Ben Larrison wanted to organized an elaborate dunk contest that involved competing against WNBA legend Sheryl Swoopes, dunking over a baby doll, dunking while taking a selfie, dunking with scissors and generally just slam dunking in as many inventive ways as he could think of. Larrison turned to Kickstarter, got Swoopes involved and put on the event. We liked the sound of it, so we asked him to send us a brief rundown of how it went. Spoiler alert: he lost.

For far too long, dunking has been the domain of the tall, the skilled, and the athletically gifted. Shorter-but-willing dunkers like myself were excluded from the joy that comes with soaring through the air and thrown down a sick jam, just because the majority of basketball hoops are an arbitrarily-cruel 10-feel tall. It was, simply put, unfair.

No longer.

On Wednesday, June 11, I competed against basketball legend Sheryl Swoopes in a slam dunk contest on a Fisher-Price children’s basketball hoop.


Sheryl Swoopes wooing the  judges/sitting on one of their laps by Mark Campbell
Sheryl Swoopes wooing the judges/sitting on one of their laps by Mark Campbell

The event will forever be known as The Dunk Contest of the Century of the World, and its impact will hopefully resonate throughout the dunking world for weeks—or even months—to come.

Sheryl Swoopes doing her best  Michael Jordan impression by Jesse Gomez
Sheryl Swoopes doing her best Michael Jordan impression by Jesse Gomez

The dunking was fierce and inventive, ranging from the innovative (Swoopes taking a mid-dunk selfie, to the absolute delight of the crowd) to the adventurous (me dunking while running with scissors and simultaneously being shot at with Nerf guns by a former U.S. Marine.) In the end, Swoopes—a three-time Olympic gold medalist, three-time WNBA MVP and four-time WNBA champion—was ultimately crowned The Dunk Contest of the Century of the World champion, because obviously. But together, we proved that, just as Kevin Garnett predicted, anything is possible.

Sheryl Swoopes dunking over two  members of her staff by Nicole Vespa
Sheryl Swoopes dunking over two members of her staff by Nicole Vespa

Now sure, this epic, five-round, winner-takes-all slam dunk extravaganza between a celebrated, world-renowned athlete and a 5’5” comedian/ridiculous person most likely had no real excuse happening. But somehow, thanks to Kickstarter and some amazingly awesome and generous people, it did, and the result was one of the coolest, craziest, most fun things I have ever experienced. The fact that there is a platform like Kickstarter that allows crazy people like me to pursue ridiculous ideas like this—all for the sake of making the world a little more weird and a little more fun—just makes me unbelievably happy and hopeful and thrilled. So thank you, Kickstarter, and thank you my Kickstarter friends, for being a part of this ridiculous thing.

Ben Larrison dunking over a baby  (doll) by Paul Lorsbach
Ben Larrison dunking over a baby (doll) by Paul Lorsbach


Ben Larrison decked out in some swag he’d just be given by Sheryl Swoopes, celebrating after the judges award him some points by Mark Campbell
Ben Larrison decked out in some swag he’d just be given by Sheryl Swoopes, celebrating after the judges award him some points by Mark Campbell

Ben Larrison is a writer and comedy person living in Chicago.

Introducing Play now

Since Kickstarter launched in 2009, people all over the world have pledged more than $250 million to over 10,000 games projects. That’s more than any other category on Kickstarter. A lot of these projects are tabletop games, but many are video games. Any way you look at it, the numbers are staggering.

These are games by independent developers and studios, sometimes just one or two people, and sometimes the tireless efforts of many, all working to create something for other people to enjoy. These are games like FTL: Faster than Light, Wasteland 2, The Banner Saga, Octodad, Castle Story, and, of course, Broken Age.

Today, we’re excited to create a new home for these games. It’s called Play Now, and it’s a collection of over 100 Kickstarter-funded games that you can play right now on Steam. From retro zombie survival games like Organ Trail, to vintage reboots like Shadowrun Returns, to platformers like the magical Creavures, Play Now highlights all the incredible ways game developers are exploring the medium. And this is only the beginning. We’ll be adding new games to the page as they arrive, and working with Steam to make sure we’re featuring as many Kickstarter-funded games as possible. Whether you’re a seasoned gamer or just curious about what’s out there, you’re sure to find something you’ll want to play. Not sure where to start? No worries, we spoke with many of the people behind these games and got their take. See their picks here.

P.S. If you have a Kickstarter-funded game coming out on Steam, and you want us to feature it on the Play page, email us at and we’ll add it to the page!

Games You Can Play: Creator Picks

Today we unveiled Play Now, a collection of Kickstarter-funded games on Steam that you can… play right now! It lists over 100 games, which is an awful lot. What to play first? To help with that question, we asked some game creators and other gaming friends to pick one Kickstarter project that you should check out on Steam. Here are their selections. We’re going to take July off and play them all. (Spoiler alert: A lot of people recommend The Banner Saga.)

Brian Fargo, founder of inXile, makers of Wasteland 2 
Pick: The Banner Saga 

It's been so refreshing to play Banner Saga, with its rich visual style and great tactics to explore. The animation reminds me of the old Ralph Bakshi animated films, which brings back good memories. I definitely recommend picking up this game to experience the passion and detail the developers poured into it. 

Jake Elliott, half of Cardboard Computer, makers of Kentucky Route Zero 
Pick: Octodad: Dadliest Catch 

Recently we've seen several high-profile videogames assign the player to the role of "father" as protector, aging ultraviolent breadwinner, and gruff man who makes the hard decisions because it's his paternal mandate. Octodad is a welcome counterpoint: a warm and playful slapstick game about love and self-doubt. And the sound design is fantastic! 

Kelly Wallick, overlord at the indie game showcase Indie Megabooth 
Pick: Legend of Dungeon

Dynamic lighting and music play along with this fun, stylistic cooperative beat-’em-up. It's built a strong community and has a fun take on the traditional genres it's working in. Plus the development team are an amazing husband-and-wife duo who previously lived in a treehouse. What's not to love? 

Peter Molyneux, video game designer and creator of Godus 
Pick: FTL: Faster Than Light 

I adore the sense of freedom in the game. I find it utterly absorbing. You can love and protect every last one of the crew, or you can be a bastard if you like and flush them out the airlock. I love all the little surprises -- I can be flying along or in a battle and an asteroid will hit me in an unexpected spot and all of a sudden a new story has started. 

Jordan Weisman, chief executive of Harebrained Schemes, makers of Shadowrun Returns 
Pick: The Banner Saga 

The Banner Saga looks absolutely stunning! Stoic's expressive 2D character animations and Eyvind Earle-inspired vistas really come together, and the end result is a breathtaking fantasy Viking world. It's also a great RPG adventure in its own right. Well worth your time.

Brandon Boyer, founder of the Kickstarter-funded gaming site Venus Patrol 
Pick: Kentucky Route Zero 

At a glance, Kentucky Route Zero bears little similarity to the concepts originally Kickstarted in early 2011, but, importantly, it's lost none of the tone that originally made that pitch so compelling. A true modern videogame masterpiece about being down and out and lost in America, the game has learned how to create a sense of place from some of the best cinematic and theatrical designers in the world, and has already (even at only halfway complete!) become one of the most surreal and essential adventures the medium has ever seen. 

Adrian Husby, PR at Krillbite Studio, makers of Among the Sleep 
Pick: Broken Age 

Broken Age is an obvious product of love and dedication, with as much charm and character as you'll ever see. 

Kevin Zuhn, creative director and lead designer for Octodad: Dadliest Catch 
Pick: Retro Game Crunch 

Each of the games in Retro Game Crunch is a worthy standalone experience, and swirled together they're irresistible. Whether you like exploring, evolving, or shooting demons with your friends there's something here for you. The chiptunes are pretty great, too. 

Jim Mummery, creative director at Born Ready, makers of Strike Suit Zero 
Pick: Shadowrun Returns 

Feels like nostalgia wrapped in a cyberpunk freshness. It reminded me of days playing the classic RPGs: Baldur's Gate, Planescape: Torment, etc. 

Ryan Wiemeyer, owner/designer at The Men Who Wear Many Hats, makers of Organ Trail 
Pick: Risk of Rain 

Despite the name that has nothing to do with anything that happens in the game, playing Risk of Rain is deeply satisfying, like sliding a hot dog into a perfectly fitted tubing. Uniquely featuring a "race against the difficulty curve" mechanic which forces you to supercharge yourself with more power-ups than you can keep track of in a vain attempt to not have wasted the last half hour of your life. I'm going to play it right now! 

Thomas Lund, chief executive at Full Control, makers of Jagged Alliance: Flashback 
Pick: Expeditions: Conquistador 

Not too many titles dare take up non-standard themes, but Expeditions really got me into the entire colonization era in a great way. It reminds me a lot of Heroes of Might and Magic, while giving it a personal twist and challenging combat. Great job as a first title by the team. 

Wiley Wiggins, actor and creative director at Karakasa Games, makers of Thunderbeam! 
Pick: Retro Game Crunch 

Retro Game Crunch is an unparalleled feat in the annals of games: six incredibly polished games made under classic NES constraints in almost as few months, each an interpretation of a backer-submitted theme. "Immortal, learn to die" became End of Line, the Retro Game Crunch title that was included in last year's Fantastic Arcade in Austin, Texas (and my favorite of the six).

Justin Ma, half of Subset Games, makers of FTL: Faster Than Light 
Pick: The Banner Saga 

I strongly recommend The Banner Saga. It's a lovingly crafted world where the strong characters, beautiful setting, and wonderful music draw you into the story immediately.

What are your favorite games from our Play Now page? Let us know in the comments! And be sure to drop us a note when your Kickstarter-funded game makes its Steam debut, so we can add it to the page:

At the White House Maker Faire

Last week the White House hosted the first ever White House Maker Faire. Countless Kickstarter creators attended, including Lisa Q. Fetterman, creator of the Nomiku sous vide machine, who was kind enough to recap her afternoon with the president for us.

Awaiting the President
Awaiting the President

Ceremonious music played and the room got silent; President Obama was about to get on the podium to decree June 18th as the National Day of Making. “Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow,” I said to myself, cupping my face in my hands. “I didn’t know I was sitting in front of the doge meme,” joked a fellow maker. I had to laugh! That comment was so indicative of the people in the room — we are all a little nerdy (okay, maybe more than a little), and I was totally out of my element but delighted like an internet Shiba Inu.

The OpenROV guys all suited up
The OpenROV guys all suited up

Imagine being amongst people whose open-source projects you admire. The White House Maker Faire was like opening up MAKE magazine and having the projects pop out. I salivated over the Pancakebot, gave a glorious connected-circuit fist bump to MaKey MaKey, and got super giddy when I saw the typically laid back OpenROV underwater explorers in their crisp suits. We shared a ribcage-crushing hug so tight that my heart felt a squeeze. 

Lisa Fetterman and Yancey Strickler
Lisa Fetterman and Yancey Strickler

Besides being a dream come true for a maker and science fangirl, the White House Maker Faire validated and introduced a decades-old movement that is starting to dramatically shape the economy from the bottom up. When we first made a prototype of the Nomiku Sous Vide, it was exhilarating but lonely. It wasn’t until we stumbled across Mitch Altman, who was getting interviewed as a “maker” at a Lower East Side vegan restaurant, that we found an ally. Mitch gave us a key to his San Francisco makerspace, Noisebridge, and taught us how to solder in a Brooklyn basement. 

This man probably needs no introduction
This man probably needs no introduction

On June 18th, President Obama invited us over to his house. If Mitch could inspire so many people and change so many lives, just imagine the revolution a “National Day of Making” could set off. We are living in one of most exciting and creative times in history. In his speech, President Obama explained that everyone is a maker: “It’s in our DNA."

I can’t wait to see what we make together.

New Security Features: Two-factor authentication and IP history

Making sure that your Kickstarter account is secure is a huge priority for us, and we’re sure it is for you, too. Today we’re happy to be unveiling two new features, both of which will help keep your account and data safer than ever.

The first is two-factor authentication, which adds an extra layer of protection by requiring a second step to log into your account. It’s now available to all users — all you need to do is turn it on in your Account Settings. If you’ve never used two-factor authorization before, here’s how it works: whenever you (or anyone else) try to log into your account from an unfamiliar device or computer, we’ll generate a special pass code, and send it to you via text message, voicemail, or an authorization app. You’ll be prompted to enter that code before you can access your account.

Why enable two-factor authorization? More security. This way, even if someone did manage to figure out your password, they wouldn’t be able to access your account without having your phone in hand, too.

And you’ll know for sure that your account’s safe, thanks to another feature: IP history. Take a look at the bottom of your Account Settings page — you should see a list of each time your account’s been accessed, complete with the IP address and location of each login. (Note: locations aren’t always perfectly exact, so don’t be too alarmed if you see the location of your service provider’s hub in the next zip code.) If you notice any activity you can’t explain, just change your password, consider turning on two-factor authorization, and let us know.

With these tools, it’s easier for you to know that your account’s safe, sound, and locked up tight.