More details about the Popular Romance Project and its funding
Jane at Dear Author posted today about the Popular Romance Project and our Kickstarter campaign. First of all, I want to thank everyone who has commented today at Dear Author for their thoughtful comments on her blog. I have read what’s been written, and the discussion has been very interesting and worthwhile. (I’ll make specific responses to the comments later)
What follows is my reply to Jane, which I left as a comment at Dear Author, also:
I appreciate the points you make in your blog, Jane, and I am very glad that you are in favor of this film (Love Between the Covers) being made. I am happy to answer the questions you have raised. I’m sorry I didn’t get the chance to provide answers to your questions before you posted your blog. I would have been glad to explain my funding.
Your research about typical feature-length documentary film budgets (between $500,000 and a $1,000,00) is correct. My total budget for the production of this film is $851,000 and I am currently $235,000 short of what I need to complete the film and launch it.
I realize it’s hard for people who aren’t in the film business to evaluate a film budget since they don’t have any/many points of comparison. Most people coming to Kickstarter do not want to see explicit budgets and figures, but I’m willing to share the details. I want EVERYONE in the romance community to know just what’s up, at whatever level of detail they desire.
You’ve asked for 1) more information about my funding sources (and my reasons for doing a Kickstarter campaign) and 2) actual figures and more details about how the Kickstarter money will be spent. Here are your answers:
1) the money raised to date has been:
• A $5,000 research grant from RWA for which I am very grateful. It got this project going, allowing me to do research, contact key scholars and members of the romance community, and conceptualize the project.
• A $10,000 development grant from Mass Humanities, which allowed me to travel to conferences (where I’ve seen you, Jane, and made many valuable connections for making this film). I also used the grant to develop the team that is behind the Popular Romance Project, and to develop the ideas for the entire project (which encompasses FOUR programs: the documentary film, a symposium at the Library of Congress, a library program with the American Library Association, and a large interactive website with the Center for History and New Media). With this grant I also wrote an NEH application for development funds, a process which takes 3 months of solid work (these proposals look like PhD dissertations).
• A $2,500 research grant from the Tavris Fund at the Womens Studies Research Center at Brandeis, which allowed me to pay for the transcribing of many (not all) of the interviews I shot during the development phase of this project.
• A $48,000 DEVELOPMENT grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities in 2010. This grant was rewarded to pay for further research, some research travel, the writing of a film treatment, the submission of a production proposal to the National Endowment for the Humanities, and NEH-required, modest, per-day stipends for the humanities advisors for the project (who, by the way, I’ve always identified publicly. They are listed, and have been listed for months/years --with their photos-- at both blueberryhillproductions.com/new-projects/the-popular-romance-project.html and at PopularRomanceProject.org/about/
With the initial NEH money I did everything listed above. However, I also did much more. I stretched the NEH dollars far beyond their intended purpose and I’ve also used profits from other work I’m doing for the NIH and other clients. I shot footage at multiple romance events in 2011 (with a crew or by myself): at RWA in NYC, at the IASPR conference in NYC, at Authors After Dark, on a trip with Beverly Jenkins and her fans, at Moonlight and Magnolias conference in Atlanta, and in NYC with Eloisa James teaching in Fordham. I also shot at various conferences in 2012: the Popular Culture Association conference, several local RWA conferences, and the McDaniel College conference on romance studies.
In addition, the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media and my company, Blueberry Hill Productions launched PopularRomanceProject.org in February of this year, a site that has already gotten hits from more than 120 countries. Each week two new posts have been added at the site. With no pay whatsoever, I have been cutting videos from the footage shot for this project (interview excerpts for the “Interviews” section of the blogsite and behind the scenes videos for the “Behind the Scenes” section of the blogpost). Sarah Frantz and Eric Selinger have been commissioning and editing unpaid essays by scholars all over the world about popular romance (from a dazzling range of perspectives) for the section of the blogsite called “Talking About Romance”. This has been a labor of love for all of us. But it was important to do. Having the site up and running and well received has proved to the NEH that our concept is viable.
In January of this year I applied to the NEH for PRODUCTION funding (decisions were expected in August). In this day and age it is VERY VERY difficult to get NEH production grants. I was sure I was NOT going to get production funding. But it was very important for me to shoot at RWA in Anaheim at the end of July since several of the characters I’m following were up for GH and Rita awards, and I needed to shoot more interviews, and it’s very efficient shooting interviews when everyone is under the same roof. So several months ago, like most filmmakers in this decade, I decided to launch a Kickstarter campaign.
The amount it has cost to get this project to the point where I can launch a Kickstarter campaign is far greater than the total of what has been received to date from the grants listed above. The extensive shooting, the launch of the website, the editing of a Kickstarter reel were, for the most part, NOT covered by those grants.
The timing of the Kickstarter campaign:
I began editing the Kickstarter reel in June with an editor whose salary came out of my savings. That took three weeks of solid work (you can see the reel at kickstarter.com/projects/1162698421/love-between-the-covers). I then had to clear the music rights which is a bear. And when RWA agreed to show the reel at the opening luncheon of the conference in Anaheim, I decided to launch the Kickstarter campaign just as the RWA conference got underway, while excitement and interest was building.
While I was at RWA, the NEH made its announcements (unexpectedly early – they were expected in August) and to my great surprise, the Popular Romance Project received a $616,000 PRODUCTION GRANT. Needless to say, I was elated! I immediately posted an update at the Kickstarter campaign page about the NEH grant. I also sent an email to all of the project’s partners and advisors telling them the news and asking if I should pull the plug on the Kickstarter campaign. They all said no. You don’t have your full budget, they said. Carry on. (FYI, I changed the front page text at the Kickstarter campaign as soon as I could, when I returned from Anaheim. It’s much easier to add a separate update page than it is to make front page edits. While in Anaheim I was too busy shooting; we were working14-16 hours days.)
2) where does the money go? (in more detail):
Our total film production budget is $851,00 which covers making the film, launching it in the world, and also keeping PopularRomanceProject.org alive and growing. This is not an overblown budget for what we will deliver. I’ve got high standards, and that’s a good thing in my book. My films have been recognized with the industry’s highest awards, and I’m not going to lower my standards on this film. I run a lean operation, but there are sizeable unavoidable expenses. My film includes characters from different continents. There is a lot of travel involved (airfare, hotels, meals, etc). I am also working with people who are keeping video diaries. I take 25-30 weeks to edit my films, and that kind of care makes a big difference. I want to get it right. In addition, I am covering much more of the romance community than the filmmaker who made the film Guilty Pleasures and my research is more comprehensive. I am also working with the Library of Congress, the American Library Association, and the Center for History and New Media as they develop their Popular Romance Project programs.
The total film production budget of $851,000 (which covers work done after the development phase) minus the $616,000 from the NEH brings us $235,000 short of the total film production budget. The more I can raise now, the more time I can spend on filmmaking and project development, rather than fundraising. I have applications in to other funding sources. I am trying every avenue I can think of. Kickstarter is a viable source.
As I wrote on the Kickstarter page, we can finish our main shooting and begin editing with the NEH production funds. If we raise $50,000 at Kickstarter those funds would be used to
• edit the film (a process that takes many months for a complex long-form film). More detailed info: an experienced editor for a documentary makes between $2000-3000 per week. To edit for 28 weeks at the bottom end of that range would cost $56,000 plus benefits. Then there is my salary working with the editor and the salary for an assistant editor. Fyi, I pay myself less than I pay my editor.
• continue to make videos for our website, to share what we are doing, take you behind the scenes, and get input from you. More detailed info: I have been spending 1-2 days per week cutting the videos for PopularRomanceProject.org myself, writing the text that goes with them, uploading them, and getting the word out each time we post a new blog. Someone at the Center for History and New Media has also been tweeting, posting at our Facebook page, etc.
• do pickup shoots (the shooting one does while editing). More detailed info: During editing, one invariably has holes to fill. With this film, events in the lives of our main characters might unfold during our editing phase. Shooting costs include travel (airfare, hotel, meals), crew salaries for a director of photography and sound person (paid at per day rates), and equipment rental (I have gotten very good deals but camera and lighting equipment per day is typically $350 or more per day, and sound equipment is typically $150 or more per day)
• pay to help keep PopularRomanceProject.org going strong (we don’t want to disappoint all of the people, from more than 120 countries, who’ve been visiting the blog!). More detailed info: $71,000 of our total budget is allotted to keeping the website alive and growing. The Center for History and New Media has to pay for development, content management, and project direction personnel for the upkeep of the website over at least 9 months, and probably longer.
I hope this answers your questions. If you want more detailed information about how we would spend larger amounts (if we are fortunate enough to raise them at Kickstarter) I can spell that out for you, too.
I would be happy to answer further questions you might have.
Producer/Writer/Director, Love Between the Covers
Executive Producer, The Popular Romance Project
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Be an outreach partner. For any pledge of $5 or more, we will thank you, officially, at the SUPPORTER PAGE at our website, PopularRomanceProject.org. You can spread the word on Facebook. Tweet it. Shout it from the rooftops. You will be one of our Kickstarters!Estimated delivery:
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For a $10 pledge, you will get a personal email from me (the producer/director of the film) and a credit at the SUPPORTER page of our website, PopularRomanceProject.org. Every gift counts, and we are thankful!Estimated delivery:
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For any pledge of $25 or more, you will receive a fabulous, fun magnetic bumper sticker (no sticky mess!) that reads either: "I SUPPORT LOVE BETWEEN THE COVERS" or "ROMANCE MATTERS, SO I SUPPORT THE POPULAR ROMANCE PROJECT." Both look great (you can see images below the text to the left...scroll down), and they are directly related graphically to the film project. It's a major fashion statement -- and when you display it you will be supporting the documentary! You will also receive a personal email from the producer, and a credit at the SUPPORTER page of our website!Estimated delivery:
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For a pledge of $35, you will get a DVD of "Love Between the Covers" when it is officially released. In the meantime, you will get credit at the SUPPORTER page of our website, PopularRomanceProject.org, a bumper sticker, and a personal email from the producer/director of the film.Estimated delivery:
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Pledge $50 and get an elegant, colorful "Popular Romance Project" cloissone pin that anyone would be proud to wear. This is an elegant way to show your support! (We're deciding on the final design...red on white or white on red....let us know which you prefer! You can see a mockup if you scroll below the text on this page.) AND you will get a credit at the SUPPORTER page of our website, PopularRomance Project.org, a bumper sticker, and a personal email from the producer/director of the film!Estimated delivery:
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Pledge $75 and you will get a signed DVD of "TUPPERWARE!", Laurie's previous film, which is NOT AVAILABLE now on the open market. You can't get this anywhere else! AND you will get a credit at the SUPPORTER page of our website, PopularRomanceProeject.org, a bumper sticker, and a personal email from the film's producer/director!Estimated delivery:
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Pledge $100 and you will receive a signed DVD of the film "Love Between the Covers" when it is completed -- BEFORE IT IS RELEASED TO THE PUBLIC! And you will get a thank you IN THE CREDITS at the end of the film! Delivery date is unknown at this point, since it's dependent upon funding. But I promise you will receive your DVD as soon as it is finished, when you can only see the film at film festivals!! (And you will get a credit at the SUPPORTER page of our website, a bumper sticker, and a personal email from the film's producer/director!)Estimated delivery:
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For a pledge of $150, a ROMANCE EDITOR from a publishing house will critique the first chapter of your romance novel. These editors are savvy and experienced. There's lots to be learned from them, and who knows where it will lead? THANKS to the editors who are helping out! (PLUS all donors of more than $100 will receive a thank you in the FILM CREDITS on the DVD, get a credit at the SUPPORT page of our website, a bumper sticker, and a personal email from the producer/director of the film!)Estimated delivery:
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For a pledge of $150, you can get a PUBLISHED AUTHOR to CRITIQUE THE FIRST CHAPTER of your romance novel. Authors in the community have been incredibly generous, and we are VERY grateful! (PLUS all donors of more than $100 will receive a thank you in the FILM CREDITS on the DVD, get a credit at the SUPPORT page of our website, a bumper sticker, and a personal email from the producer/director of the film!)Estimated delivery:
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For a pledge of $200, you will get a copy of the Love Between the Covers poster. This will be a limited edition poster. (PLUS all donors of more than $100 will receive a thank you in the FILM CREDITS on the DVD, get a credit at the SUPPORT page of our website, a bumper sticker, and a personal email from the producer/director of the film!)Estimated delivery:
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For a pledge of $500 you will receive TWO VIP TICKETS to the FILM PREMIERE and post-screening PARTY for "Love Between the Covers." It will be a night to remember!! Delivery date is not known, since the completion of the film is dependent on funding. So please help us out, and we'll be able to get the film made! (PLUS all donors of more than $100 will receive a thank you in the FILM CREDITS on the DVD, get a credit at the SUPPORT page of our website, a bumper sticker, and a personal email from the producer/director of the film!)Estimated delivery:
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For a pledge of $1000 you will receive SIX VIP TICKETS to the FILM PREMIERE and post-screening PARTY for "Love Between the Covers." With yourself and a friend, PLUS two other couples you love and cherish (or any other combo of six people total), it will REALLY be a night to remember!! Delivery date is not known, since the length of time it takes to make this film is dependent on funding. But with every donation, we're closer to getting the film made!! (PLUS all donors of more than $100 will receive a thank you in the FILM CREDITS on the DVD, get a credit at the SUPPORT page of our website, a bumper sticker, and a personal email from the producer/director of the film!)Estimated delivery:
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For a pledge of $2,000 you can spend a day in the editing room. See how the film is being put together. See outtakes. Hang out with the filmmakers! (PLUS all donors of more than $100 will receive a thank you in the FILM CREDITS on the DVD, get a credit at the SUPPORT page of our website, a bumper sticker, and a personal email from the producer/director of the film!)Estimated delivery:
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For a pledge of $5,000 I (Laurie Kahn, the filmmaker) will fly to YOUR home town, anywhere in the continental US, for a intimate PRIVATE FILM PREMIERE!! (You can invite some friends and family.) I will tell behind the scenes stories about the making of the film, and the evolution of the larger Popular Romance Project. Your guests will get bumper stickers, too!! You will have a year after the film is completed to collect on this pledge. If you've ever wanted to have a really special party, this is it!! (PLUS all donors of more than $100 will receive a thank you in the FILM CREDITS on the DVD, get a credit at the SUPPORT page of our website, a bumper sticker, and a personal email from the producer/director of the film!)Estimated delivery:
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