NEW STRETCH GOAL: $20,000
It's ambitious to think we can get $5k more in just 3 final days of the campaign, but we hope you aren't deterred from donating since we met our baseline goal. Because of the all-or-nothing funding on Kickstarter, we aimed for a more achievable goal—75% of our project's total budget. So, additional contributions are still needed and appreciated! They'll help cover editing costs, music production, equipment, illustrations, and more. Thank you!
The Too Long, Didn't Read version: We're creating a narrative podcast as the fourth installment of our serialized Instagram stories. Expect lots of fun musical components thrown in; it's as much a dance party as it is a podcast.
The I'd Rather Read This Than Do My Actual Work version:
After three Instagram-published series and nearly 750 posts—which, altogether are as long as the first two Harry Potter books—we're rounding a new corner with The Prospectives. For its fourth installment, The Prospectives will be a podcast.
With 60 episodes, each around 10 minutes in length, the series will combine a first-person narrative with music and sound experimentation. We won't abandon our Instagram channel, though: The Prospectives reader community is the highlight of this project, and we want to keep readers engaged with the story and with each other. So, we'll be posting cover imagery of each chapter to Instagram, which will serve as a comment forum for the various themes discussed in the story.
Check out this video of some of these followers—from every continent—and hear what they have to say about the series.
MEET OUR READERS
ABOUT THE PROSPECTIVES
Here's how the project started: In 2013, I got news that I had performed well in a big screenwriting competition—the top 5% of 7500 entrants submitted. It was validation for the effort, but I still was disappointed. It was disheartening to feel like I wasted an entire year writing, editing, and rewriting that story... and it all came to that moment; suddenly the project felt done, dead, pointless. I realized that I was on an unsustainable, unfulfilling path as a writer. I wanted readers, I wanted a community, I wanted interaction and feedback and excitement and support.
First, I recalled Tales of the City, a serialized anthology by Armistead Maupin that had run in the San Francisco Chronicle and Examiner in the 70s and 80s. I fell in love with those bite-size tales when I lived in San Francisco in the late aughts—and even lived at the same intersection where they filmed the miniseries. (I liked imagining the ghost of Mary Ann Singleton, played by Laura Linney, jaywalking across Union and Taylor.) The story was so encapsulating of that iconic era in SF; its characters were megaphones for the young people of that time, and the city was as much a character as any person. While its protagonist was a straight female, TOTC's supporting cast gave color and depth to the LGBTQ community at a crucial time.
Using Instagram to serialize my stories became a solution to my problem: I realized I could give people a steady, digestible story, without asking them to do any heavy lifting. If I could appear in their feed every morning, they could keep up with the narrative. I could hire talented illustrators to give each series its own identity, and ideally I would pick up a few strangers along the way. Turns out, I picked up a bunch of them, and from all over the globe.
All of these Prospectives stories focus on LGBTQ characters, and some facet of a changed or new identity; we're a community filled with vibrant, colorful personalities, each of us having questioned our own identity in pursuit of confidence and assurance. Whether it's through love, introspection, aging, or work, the potential for evolution and growth is something I like to discuss and dramatize. At any point, we are all a prospective something, and how we confront that change makes the story worth telling. (The double entendre of The Prospectives comes from each story's setting, in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. It was my first home in New York City, and my favorite neighborhood still.)
ABOUT THE FIRST 3 SERIES
Series 1 of The Prospectives focuses on a budding talent manager who, along with his peers, struggles to accept that his hard work is finally being realized; he's no longer a "prospective" anything. He's the boss now. It's very "this is 30".
When I contacted readers to share testimonials of what they love about the series, three of them pointed to my own favorite episode of the entire project: Episode 41 of this first series. The protagonist, Eric, imagines what it would be like to have dinner with past selves—one from every year—as each recites the general sentiment of his year, the mistakes made, and the lessons learned. They go around the table and we understand why Eric is as he is now, and why it's sometimes OK to feel stuck or depressed.
Here's what those three readers had to say:
Series 4 will embrace this same idea, honing in on a short window of time that has our protagonist changing his own POV very rapidly from one year to the next, and struggling to make sense of the shift and its trickle-down effects.
For the second series, I wrote about my own experiences as a gay man in New York, with a plot that unfolded every other week. The alternating weeks featured interviews with friends of mine—real life "prospectives", if you will. These people added color and commentary on the story's theme, which was kind of like "Hey, life is a shit storm. It gets peskier with time. Accept that, and learn to deal with it." The majority of readers who sent testimonial videos cited this series as their favorite of the three.
For the third series, which just concluded, I wrote about a multi-generational lesbian love triangle, with some supernatural elements thrown in. It's very All About Eve meets Ghost...melodramatic, spooky, and a lil' saucy. Personally, it's my favorite of the three, perhaps because it was the biggest leap away from my own day-to-day life. If you pay close attention, you'll see that this series had the quietest reaction on Instagram. I suspect it's because it's lighter on theme, heavier on plot. It didn't solicit responses the way the others had. (Or maybe it's just garbage. But it's MY garbage, and I'm proud of it!) Lesson learned, though: Give the readers lots of topical themes to discuss. So, for series 4, we will again!
The fictional Series 4 takes us from Brooklyn to Berlin, and relies on confessional-style narratives and mood-setting soundtracks to tell its story. Each episode will live as a podcast on iTunes (and elsewhere, available worldwide), and the supportive imagery will be posted to Instagram, which is where our readers (nay, listeners) can leave feedback and engage with other followers as well as the creators.
I spent a few months in Berlin at the end of 2016, as I was ideating where to take this podcast. I was again reminded of Tales of the City, because it felt like Berlin was experiencing the same kind of revolution that San Francisco had in the 70s and 80s—and had been since the early 90s (after the wall came down). I wanted to encapsulate that, and, upon reading Christopher Isherwood's introduction to his own Berlin Stories, I wanted to rise to a challenge that he proposed. Here's what he wrote:
I hope some young foreigner has fallen in love with this later city, and is writing what happened or might have happened to him there.
I had never before felt the freedom and weightlessness that I experienced in Berlin last year. I cannot wait to share those feelings and anecdotes—real and imagined—with you now.
ABOUT ADAM HURLY (CREATOR, WRITER, PRODUCER)
Adam is a writer from Sioux Falls, SD, USA, who resides in Brooklyn, NY. He is a contributor for GQ, and has written for Esquire, Bloomberg, Men's Fitness, and more.
ABOUT PAUL TULLER (ILLUSTRATOR)
Paul is an illustrator in Brooklyn, NY, USA. His drawings have appeared in GQ, Bloomberg, Billboard, Wall Street Journal, The Advocate, Winq, and more.
ABOUT ADY TOLEDANO (MUSIC PRODUCER)
Ady Toledano is a DJ in Berlin, Germany via Tel Aviv, Israel. He has performed at some of Europe's and Israel's top venues, including Tresor, Cocktail D'Amore, Schwuz, and Dalston Superstore. Have a listen to one of his sets here:
REWARDS for DONORS
While many Kickstarter projects back a physical product or publication, this one is intangible. The finished product is yours to enjoy, but it won't collect dust on a shelf. Best of all, it will be available for new people to discover, whenever. For this reason, our rewards are focused on minimizing shipping costs and physical fulfillment, so that the majority of funds can be spent on the artists' work and on the project at hand. So, by donating at any level, you help fund the most important reward of all: the finished podcast. With 60 episodes on deck, a $50 donation would run you just 83 cents per episode—for dozens of hours spent on that one episode by those of us involved. We hope you'll factor this in when considering your donation; it goes a long way!
That being said, we do have an array of rewards, so we hope you'll consider increasing your donation to maximize the goods that come back in your name.
HOW FUNDS WILL BE SPENT
As mentioned, many of the funds will be spent to cover the hundreds of hours that both Paul and Ady will be putting into the project. While the creative direction and narrative are my own pets, I am hiring them to give this fourth series its visual and audial personality. None of this $15K will be profit for me; it's still a passion project and I wouldn't ask for your money if it were any other way. Another big portion of the funds will go to equipment, software, hosting costs, hired help for sound effects or editing. And, if we exceed the goal, we hope to have some money to pay the artists whose music we feature in the project. The soundtrack is an imperative part of this series, and we want to acquire top-notch work from independent artists and small labels.
Featured song in intro video:
Anytime to Funk by Sunner Soul
Thank you to all readers who submitted testimonial videos for this campaign!
Risks and challenges
The three Prospectives series to date have been written while they were being published; we would start publishing once 10 or 12 weeks had been completed, and after that, we'd write/edit/illustrate/publish simultaneously until fruition. This project, however, will require more completion up front, before we bring the finished episodes to life. The biggest obstacle will be in developing the back-and-forth relationship between audio production and music production/mixing. For that, I'll be traveling to Berlin this spring (on my own dime), and will be establishing a good working rhythm with Ady; for the most part, I'll be recording everything remotely, and he'll be soundtracking it all in Berlin.
While we're targeting a fall launch, that's just an estimate, one that will keep us on track and give us manageable deadlines (but not overbearing ones). We'll also spend that time getting permission from dozens of musicians to incorporate their songs into the production, and I'll be directing Paul on each episode's imagery, to have everything prepared for our eventual launch.
So, while we know what the end result needs to look and sound like, we are going to wait until this campaign is over to actually workshop that back-and-forth. You can trust that the project will get completed and be ready within the calendar year, but we're keeping the launch date soft, so that we don't rush ourselves.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (32 days)