11 Kickstarter-Funded Films to Watch at SXSW 2018

Photo by Carol Watson, courtesy of SXSW.
Photo by Carol Watson, courtesy of SXSW.

Meet a pepperoni-loving Instagram celebrity in the throes of an identity crisis. Hear the stories of the women who fought for social reform during Nicaragua’s 1979 Sandinista Revolution. Learn about the man behind the papier-mâché mask of a beloved Manchester comedian.

This year, eleven Kickstarter-funded films will screen at SXSW, ranging from inventive narrative films like Nijla Mu’min’s Jinn and Charlene de Guzman’s Unlovable to powerful documentaries shedding light on social issues past and present like Nick Budabin’s Chi-Town and Jenny Murray’s ¡Las Sandinistas! — and much more.

Join us in congratulating the Kickstarter creators whose films will screen at this year’s festival, and read on to learn more about them.

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Introducing Kickstarter Patrons

Kickstarter is a place where the world can value creators for the value they bring to the world. Since our launch in 2009, more than 14 million people have directed $3.1 billion dollars to independent creators here. Today we're happy to announce the launch of a new program to bring them even greater support — Kickstarter Patrons.

Kickstarter Patrons is a pilot program we’re developing, which creates a bridge between institutions that champion creative projects, and the creators bringing those projects to life. Patrons can be nonprofit or for-profit, but they all share our belief that creative works are essential to a healthy and vibrant society.

Each Kickstarter Patron we select for the program makes a public commitment to support campaigns through a series of pledges that are $1,000 or greater. Our team then points them toward projects that align with their mission. And they select which projects they want to get behind just as any other backer would, to push them one step closer to reality and follow the journey along the way. Patrons create a profile where anyone can learn more about them and see the projects they support.

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Bento Lab: Making DNA Analysis More Accessible

One of the things that really excites me about DNA is that it’s almost like a map of your future,” says microbiologist Bethan Wolfenden, co-founder of Bento Lab.

As a PhD student, she and her partner, Philipp Boeing, wanted to create an an easy-to-use tool that would allow anybody interested in working with DNA to conduct a simple genetic analysis. So they designed Bento Lab — a small, portable machine that could do just that.

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From Kickstarter to the Academy Awards: Three Questions for the Creators of ‘Loving Vincent’

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“This will be the world’s first feature-length painted animation,” animator Dorota Kobiela and director Hugh Welchman wrote on the project page for Loving Vincent in early 2014.

Nearly 800 backers supported their project to make a animated film exploring the life of Vincent Van Gogh, and over the next three years Kobiela and Welchman set about bringing their vision to life. They filmed live actors on a green screen, and recruited 125 painters to meticulously animate some 65,000 film frames in the artist’s trademark gestural style.

After winning acclaim on the festival circuit, Loving Vincent was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature — making this the eighth consecutive year a Kickstarter-funded film has been nominated for an Oscar. 

Read on to hear from Kobiela and Welchman about how they used Kickstarter to connect with their audience, as well as their advice for emerging filmmakers. And join us in cheering on the filmmakers this Sunday, March 4, at the Oscars.

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Sew Your Soul: Lucy Sparrow’s Felt-Art Installations

Inside “The Felt Cave,” a workshop on a farm in Essex, a few dozen miles north of London, Lucy Sparrow fashions boxes of candy, jars of peanut butter, bottles of grape juice, cans of Coca-Cola, and just about anything else you can imagine out of colorful felt. She’s been working with felt since she was about eight years old — “but now I just take it to extremes,” she says with a laugh.

In January 2014, Sparrow raised over £10,000 (over $13,500) on Kickstarter to create The Cornershop, transforming an abandoned London newsstand into a quaint corner store where everything — from the newspapers to the chewing gum at the cash register to the register itself — was made of felt. And in 2016, she did it again with 8 Till Late, an all-felt convenience store in New York City. It was a sensation, selling out all 9,000 felt objects Sparrow had made by hand for the installation.

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New: Find Creators in Search Results

Some Kickstarter creators have built up quite a following over time. The writer and publisher Elly Blue, for example, has launched 25 projects, with new fans discovering her work all along the way. So we thought, why not make it easier for people to find specific creators on Kickstarter and check out their latest projects?

Now, when you use the search tool on our site, you’ll see the names of some of our 320,000 creators included in the results when relevant. This feature rolled out to all users today.

Once you find the creator you’re looking for, you can hit the “Follow” button to be notified when they launch a new project.

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A Snapshot of Industrial Design's Bright Future

15 student projects from University of Illinois at Chicago School of Design

Every year, we look forward to seeing students from the University of Illinois at Chicago’s School of Design launch Kickstarter campaigns as the final project for their Entrepreneurial Product Development class. For most, it’s their first experience with designing and offering an original product, and we love seeing Kickstarter used as part of this learning process. This year, UIC Professor Ted Burdett is leading the class. As the co-owner of Strand Design, he has created many products of his own, including the Kickstarter-funded Fourneau Bread Oven. Here, he shares a bit of the philosophy behind the class and introduces his students’ work.

When you graduate from design school, you often wind up working for an agency or as an in-house designer at a company. But I’ve noticed that a lot of my students dream of being independent — starting a studio, making things for a living, or pursuing a venture based on a social or environmental mission. Most don’t take that road and it is no mystery why; they’re saddled with debt, have limited experience, and are short on resources. Yet, In many ways there’s no better time to pursue independent creativity than when you’re full of youthful energy, bountiful creativity and optimism, and haven’t got a whole lot to lose.

Blazing an independent path is far more feasible now for young designers than it was in the past, given the abundance of digital platforms that facilitate community building, prototyping, manufacturing, marketing, and selling. When I think about these new possibilities, paired with my students’ desire to make a positive impact on the world, I see a very bright future.

We created the year-long Entrepreneurial Product Development (EPD) course at UIC to give students the chance to try out entrepreneurship firsthand, within the confines of school, and at a small scale. We help them learn a user-centered approach that embraces validation through prototyping and iteration. Through developing a self-directed project, running a Kickstarter campaign, and coordinating production, students are better equipped to decide whether they want to pursue an independent practice when they graduate.

And that is where we are now: the beginning of our Spring semester marks the launch of our Kickstarter campaigns! You can check them all out below — please share your feedback and help spread the word.

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Welcoming Kickstarter Fellow Fabrice Nadjari

Today, I’m happy to announce the appointment of Fabrice Nadjari as our newest Kickstarter Fellow.

Originally from Paris, Fabrice trained as an engineer and a sociologist, specializing in innovation. He then pursued a globe-spanning career as an independent creator and entrepreneur — with his work taking him to places like Bolivia, Bhutan, and the Central African Republic. In 2011, he and a childhood friend set off for Afghanistan, where they shot a photography project documenting the lives of a nomadic tribe in the country’s remote Wakhan corridor. The work caught the attention of the United Nations, earned Fabrice an Emmy nomination, and won accolades from National Geographic.

Residents of Sarhad-e-Broghil, a remote village in Afghanistan's Wakhan region.
Residents of Sarhad-e-Broghil, a remote village in Afghanistan's Wakhan region.
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