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A conversational documentary webseries about comedy, performance, life & clown.

Clown is the moment you are born, your pure innocence, and the rest of your life you are trying to get it back again. – Jango Edwards

Welcome to the “finishing funds” Kickstarter campaign for the second season of “A Fool's Idea”, the documentary web-series about comedy, performance, life & clown.

Blight Productions & ClownMa dell'Arte on set shooting the Kickstarter video.
Blight Productions & ClownMa dell'Arte on set shooting the Kickstarter video.

What is it?

The concept is simple: We are interested in exploring this crazy, powerful and historically amazing art form called “clown” and its practitioners. We also thought that there might be a few other people in the universe curious about what these amazing artists have to say, so we decided to find individuals who have dedicated their lives to the art of clowning and ask them questions about topics other creative people might be interested in.

Each episode (with the exception of a few specials) is focused around one thesis question. Once asked, each artist responds with his or her educated perspective on the matter. You might not agree with everyone, but doesn't that make the conversation more exciting? Our goal is not to define concrete answers to each question, but rather to build a dialogue about creativity, performance, life experience, comedy and process.

This project is about more then just a web-series; it is about building community, collaboration and support for the performing arts all around the world. It's about reconnecting with historical artistic traditions and discovering something new about yourself and the world in the process.

Why produce a series like this?

Everyone loves a clown whether they know it or not; however, the word “clown” has been bastardized in modern culture to the point where many people no longer remember its historical relevance or what it even is! The thoughts generated with the word “clown” are often negative in tone and associated with horror movies, serial killers and fast food. This is culturally and creatively irresponsible.

What most people have forgotten is that the clown has historically been a significant figure in almost every culture since the creation of fire. From the shamanic fools of ancient Native American cultures to the court jesters of the middle ages, clowns have always been there to remind us of our stupidity. When people spiral out of control, it’s up to the clowns to bring us back down to Earth. In its purest form, the clown is the greatest communicator in the world, able to transcend language and connect to an audience without words.

Before there was sound in film, it was clowns that ruled the big screen, from Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin, to Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy and W. C. Fields. Even as audio exploded on screen, the clown community still dominated with the likes of the Marx Brothers, Jackie Gleason and Red Skelton. The broad comedy of these early clowns was enjoyed and accessible beyond just an English speaking audience, thus creating connections of shared experience across cultural, social and language barriers. Over the years, comedy has become more culturally exclusive and based in intellect, so that it can no longer easily bridge cultural divides. Most modern comedians have a difficult time communicating culture-specific language-based jokes to an audience from a different nation. This kind of dysfunctional communication is well documented in films like Albert Brooks’ “Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World” and Philip Rosenthal’s “Exporting Raymond”. However, just like the golden years of silent film comedy, clown-based experiences such as “Slava’s Snowshow” and the many incarnations of Cirque du Soleil have had the ability to play all over the world and appeal to a broad audience, regardless of cultural background.

In a nutshell, the core concepts of what the world knows as comedy owes everything it is, was, and will ever be to the clown. The clown is our most basic human instincts, our worst fears and our greatest moments of joy. The essence of clown has nothing to do with makeup, oversized shoes and polka-dotted pajamas, although these elements help the performer exaggerate their character in different creative and fantastical ways. The essence of a clown has everything to do with the discovery of innocence, honesty, humanity and communication in the creative space.

“A Fool’s Idea” is our way of helping society learn how to rediscover its innocence so that we all can remember what it means to be human.

Who is featured in the series?

A Fool's Idea - The cast of season one.
A Fool's Idea - The cast of season one.

During the first season of our series, we managed to get some great interviews with iconic clown performers and historians such as Jango Edwards, the creator of “The Fool’s Militia" and The Nouveau Clown Institute; Jef Johnson from Cirque du Soleil, "Slavas Snowshow" and the New York City Clown Lab; Eric Davis from Cirque du Soleil and the Red Bastard; John Towsen, physical comedy teacher and author of the book “Clowns”; Deanna Fleysher, creator of Butt Kapinski, Pwivate Eye; Christopher Leuik, founder and host of the New York Downtown Clown Review; Gabriela Muñoz, founder of Clown Me In; vocal acrobat, Zero Boy; and former Ringling Bros. clown, Michael Bongar.

What is the goal of the second season?

For this new season, we traveled all the way to Barcelona, Spain and documented some of the most brilliant creativity we have ever witnessed.

The goal for the second season of “A Fool’s Idea” is to bring a much more dynamic perspective of the clown world to the conversation. Jango Edwards decided to host one of the largest, most diverse semesters of his international clown school, The Nouveau Clown Institute, in Barcelona, Spain, and he invited us out to interview as many of the wonderful students, performers and physical comedy teachers as possible. We jumped at the opportunity to document one of the most interesting collections of artists to ever come together in one place.

We managed to get interviews with physical comedians, teachers and clowns from all over the world including Spain, England, Australia, Italy, Brazil, Russia, Switzerland, Canada and more!

The cast of season 02:

1. Adam Zimmerman – Canada-based performing artist, actor, comedian, absurdist and student at the University of Ottawa. He can juggle, sculpt balloons, and breath fire. (For more about Adam, please visit HERE.)

2. Artem Zhimo – Russia-based “yellow clown” in the touring company of “Slava’s Snowshow”. (For more about Artem, please visit HERE.)

3. Barbara Villa – Italy-based teacher, dancer and clown. (For more about Barbara, please visit HERE.)

4. Chris Lynam – UK-based performance artist, comedian and clown. (For more about Chris, please visit HERE.)

5. Diana Gadish – Spain-based dancer and clown. (For more about Diana, please visit HERE.)

6. Francisco Quirós – Spain-based clown, theater actor and physical comedian. (For more about Francisco, please visit HERE.)

7. Giovanna Bellina – Italy-based dancer, teacher and clown. (For more about Giovanna, please visit HERE.)

8. Guillem Albà – Spain-based musician, theater performer, director and clown. (For more about Guillem, please visit HERE.)

9. Jessica Arpin – Italy-based circus performer, clown, comedian and explorer. (For more about Jessica, please visit HERE.)

10. Johnny Delight – Spain-based clown, theater performer and physical comedian. (For more about Johnny, please visit HERE.)

11. Mila von Chobiak – Spain-based front man, clown, MC, improviser, composer and director. (For more about Mila, please visit HERE.)

12. Pepa Plana – Spain-based actress, teacher, director, and clown who is currently performing with Cirque du Soleil. (For more about Pepa, please visit HERE.)

13. Rich Potter – US-based artist, juggler, clown and Ringling Bros. veteran. (For more about Rich, please visit HERE.)

14. Sanjiva Margio – Australia-based musician, sculpture artist, designer, mask maker, comic actor and clown. (For more about Sanjiva, please visit HERE.)

15. Tom Greder – Switzerland-based artist, writer, director, teacher, juggler, musician and clown. (For more about Tom, please visit HERE.)

This season we asked the following questions:

1. What is your origin story?
2. Why did you become a clown?
3. What is clown?
4. What is play?
5. Why do clowns wear red noses?
6. What is freedom?
7. Do clowns have to be funny?
8. Why are some people afraid of clowns?
9. Are you afraid of death?

These questions were just the tip of the conversational iceberg, resulting in something that turned out to be much more than what we could have expected. In total, this season will be about 12 episodes, with bonus extras dropped in along the way.

What will the money be used for?

Your hard-earned cash will pay for translations, subtitles, post-production, music, graphics and promotional campaigns, so that we can continue to bring our inspirational documentary series to the world!

What are the incentives?

$10 - THE FOOL: A special thanks credit on the "Fool's Idea" website.

$15 - THE OLD SCHOOL TECHNOFOOL: Digital downloads of all 8 episodes from "A Fool's Idea" season 01 and a special thanks credit on the "Fool's Idea" website.

$15 - THE FOOLISH STICKER PICKER: A special thanks credit on the "Fool's Idea" website and two different awesome "A Fool's Idea" stickers.

$20 - THE POKE HOLES IN YOUR FOOLISH JACKET PACKET: A special edition square "Blight the Clown" button, a special thanks credit on the "Fool's Idea" website and two different awesome "A Fool's Idea" stickers.

$25 - THE BASIC TECHNOFOOL: Digital downloads of the first season, "A Fool's Idea" season 02 poster signed by Brian A. Bernhard, a special thanks credit on the "Fool's Idea" website and two different awesome "A Fool's Idea" stickers.

$50 - THE OLD SCHOOL FOOL: A DVD of all 8 episodes from "A Fool's Idea" season 01, a "Fool's Idea" season 02 poster signed by Brian A. Bernhard, a special thanks credit on the "Fool's Idea" website and two different awesome "A Fool's Idea" stickers.

$50 - THE DRINKING FOOL: A special edition Blight Productions beverage coaster set of 2 featuring 2 different clown illustrations from Brian A. Bernhard, digital downloads of the first season, a "Fool's Idea" season 02 poster signed by Brian A. Bernhard, a special thanks credit on the "Fool's Idea" website and two different awesome "A Fool's Idea" stickers.

$75 - THE DRUNK FOOL: A special edition Blight Productions beverage coaster set of 4 featuring 4 different clown illustrations from Brian A. Bernhard, digital downloads of the first season, a "Fool's Idea" season 02 poster signed by Brian A. Bernhard, a special thanks credit on the "Fool's Idea" website and two different awesome "A Fool's Idea" stickers.

$75 - THE GOOD GESTURE FOOLISH VESTURE: A "Fool's Idea" season 01 or 02 T-shirt, digital downloads of the first season, a "Fool's Idea" season 02 poster signed by Brian A. Bernhard, a special thanks credit on the "Fool's Idea" website and two different awesome "A Fool's Idea" stickers.

$75 - THE DANCIN' FOOL: Original "Fool's Idea" season 02 soundtrack (delivery of the disc will be delayed until December 2013 because all the music must be composed and mastered for season 02 first), digital downloads of the first season, a "Fool's Idea" season 02 poster signed by Brian A. Bernhard, a special thanks credit on the "Fool's Idea" website and two different awesome "A Fool's Idea" stickers.

$100 - THE WELL-DRESSED OLD SCHOOL FOOL: A "Fool's Idea" season 01 or 02 T-shirt, a DVD of all 8 episodes from "A Fool's Idea" season 01, a "Fool's Idea" season 02 poster signed by Brian A. Bernhard, a special thanks credit on the "Fool's Idea" website and two different awesome "A Fool's Idea" stickers.

$100 - THE OLD SCHOOL MEETS NEW SCHOOL FOOLISH TECHNOFOOL SCHOOL: A DVD of all episodes from "A Fool's Idea" season 02 (Delivery of season 02 DVD will take extra time, because all of the episodes need to be edited and premiered first, however everything else in this package will be delivered in May of 2013), digital downloads of the first season, a "Fool's Idea" season 02 poster signed by Brian A. Bernhard, a special thanks credit on the "Fool's Idea" website and two different awesome "A Fool's Idea" stickers.

$150 - THE OLD SCHOOL MEETS NEW SCHOOL FOOL SCHOOL: A season 02 DVD and a season 01 DVD (Delivery of season 02 DVD will take extra time, because all of the episodes need to be edited and premiered first, however everything else in this package will be delivered in June of 2013), a "Fool's Idea" season 02 poster signed by Brian A. Bernhard, a special thanks credit on the "Fool's Idea" website and two different awesome "A Fool's Idea" stickers.

$200 - THE WELL-DRESSED OLD SCHOOL MEETS NEW SCHOOL FOOL SCHOOL: A "Fool's Idea" season 01 or 02 T-shirt, a season 02 DVD and a season 01 DVD (Delivery of season 02 DVD will take extra time, because all of the episodes need to be edited and premiered first, however everything else in this package will be delivered in June of 2013), a "Fool's Idea" season 02 poster signed by Brian A. Bernhard, a special thanks credit on the "Fool's Idea" website and two different awesome "A Fool's Idea" stickers.

$200 - THE FOUR CLOWNS COMBO: A voucher for two tickets to one Four Clowns* performance within one year of reward purchase, digital downloads of the first season, "A Fool's Idea" season 02 poster signed by Brian A. Bernhard, a special thanks credit on the "Fool's Idea" website and two different awesome "A Fool's Idea" stickers.
* Four Clowns is an award-winning southern California-based clown troupe. Voucher good for select performances only.

$200 - THE TEN WEST COMBO: A voucher for two tickets to one Ten West** performance within one year of reward purchase, digital downloads of the first season, "A Fool's Idea" season 02 poster signed by Brian A. Bernhard, a special thanks credit on the "Fool's Idea" website and two different awesome "A Fool's Idea" stickers.
** Ten West is a southern California-based vaudeville-inspired clown troupe. Voucher good for select performances only.

$200 - THE CLOWNMA COMBO: A voucher for two tickets to one ClownMa dell'Arte*** performance within one year of reward purchase, digital downloads of the first season, "A Fool's Idea" season 02 poster signed by Brian A. Bernhard, a special thanks credit on the "Fool's Idea" website and two different awesome "A Fool's Idea" stickers.
*** ClownMa is an amazing southern California-based, Commedia dell'Arte inspired silent clown troupe featured in our Kickstarter video. Voucher good for select performances only.

$500 - FOOLISHLY ORIGINAL ART: One of 5 original black & white, ink on paper clown illustrations from Brian A. Bernhard, matted black and displayed in an archival black wooden frame, digital downloads of seasons 01 & 02 of "A Fool's Idea" (season 02 will not be available for download until after all episodes premiere, April 2014), "A Fool's Idea" season 02 poster signed by Brian A. Bernhard, a special thanks credit on the "Fool's Idea" website and two different awesome "A Fool's Idea" stickers.

Click this image to see a higher resolution version of each work of art.
Click this image to see a higher resolution version of each work of art.

$1000 - UNDERWRITER PACKAGE 01: A 5 second "brought to you by" sponsored spot produced by Blight Productions (promoting you or your company's website or product) edited to the end of a single episode of the series from season 02. NOTE: The spot becomes a permanent part of the video and will forever be attached and associated with the online episodes of "A Fool's Idea", which is why the value is high.

$3000 - UNDERWRITER PACKAGE 02: A 15 second "Promotional Spot" produced by Blight Productions (promoting you or your company's website or product) edited to the end of a single episode of the series from season 02. NOTE: The spot becomes a permanent part of the video and will forever be attached and associated with the online episodes of "A Fool's Idea", which is why the value is high.

$3500 - UNDERWRITER PACKAGE 03: A 5 second "brought to you by" sponsored spot produced by Blight Productions (promoting you or your company's website or product) edited to the end of 4 episodes of the series from season 02. NOTE: The spot becomes a permanent part of the video and will forever be attached and associated with the online episodes of "A Fool's Idea", which is why the value is high.

$5000 - JEF JOHNSON'S CLOWN NOSE: The big red nose handcrafted and worn on Broadway by Jef Johnson while performing in "Slava's Snowshow" (with certificate of authenticity) + digital downloads of seasons 01 & 02 of "A Fool's Idea" (season 02 will not be available for download until after all episodes premiere, April 2014), "A Fool's Idea" season 02 poster signed by Brian A. Bernhard, a special thanks credit on the "Fool's Idea" website and two different awesome "A Fool's Idea" stickers.

Jef Johnson (wearing the nose) as the green clown & Artem Zhimo as the yellow clown performing in Slava's Snowshow
Jef Johnson (wearing the nose) as the green clown & Artem Zhimo as the yellow clown performing in Slava's Snowshow

$10,000 - UNDERWRITER PACKAGE 04: A 15 second "Promotional Spot" produced by Blight Productions (promoting you or your company's website or product) edited to the end of 4 episodes of the series from season 02. NOTE: The spot becomes a permanent part of the video and will forever be attached and associated with the online episodes of "A Fool's Idea", which is why the value is high.

By supporting “A Fool’s Idea” directly, you help eliminate the possibilities for any corporation to water down the content, that way we can remain as true, open and honest as the artists we interview. Please donate to our Kickstarter campaign right now and help us inspire a new generation of creative thinkers!

And if you haven’t yet seen the first season, after you donate, please visit http://www.afoolsidea.com/ and enjoy the first 8 episodes.

Take a moment to watch a few episodes from season one:

What is your stretch goal if you raise more than $20,000?

Any money that is raised above and beyond our original goal will be rolled into season 3, so if we make our goal for this season, please do not hesitate to keep donating so that season 3 will be even better!!!!

Who is making this stuff?

Brian A. Bernhard (Producer/Editor) is an illustrator, animator, performance artist, musician, painter, photographer, documentarian, filmmaker, and four-time NYC EMMY-nominated television producer. He began his creative life and developed his passion for the art of clown during his high school years, when he landed a part-time job as an entertainer in a fun house, a wax museum and a haunted house. It was the wax museum that contained the circus display and a wax figure of Emmett Kelly as “Weary Willie” that caught his attention and inspired his imagination. He began to perform as a clown inside the hallways and various scenes of both the wax museum and the fun house in order to make the experience for the audience a little more special.

He continued his studies at Virginia Commonwealth University, where he majored in sculpture, minored in painting and earned a BFA for his efforts. His artwork and performance continued to be inspired by elements from the clown world. Eventually, he began to record his odd clown performances on video and created a series of clown video installation work.

Upon graduating, he discovered that it was rather tough to pay bills with video art, so he decided to use the skills he learned while making video projections to land a job in television. He worked for a local television station for a few years before getting up the nerve to move to New York City. After a few years of working his way up through the ranks of an NYC public television station, he had learned enough about storytelling and professional video production to convince the station to allow him to develop his own television series about artists, and “ART or something like it!” was born.

He worked in professional broadcast television for over ten years and won two TELLY awards and garnered four EMMY nominations for his efforts. After working in the industry for a while, he decided to go back to school and chose a graduate program at Parsons New School for Design. Upon receiving his MFA in design and technology, he wanted to develop a new project dedicated to supporting and inspiring the performing arts world, so he is now focusing his energies on “A Fool’s Idea” and the potential future development of socially and creatively responsible documentary content.

Carmela Sinco (Soundtrack Composer) is a composer, pianist, music director and educator based in the New York City area. Her work in music for film and TV includes composing and producing music for television series aired on national PBS stations and local stations in NYC, as well as music for documentaries and short films screened in NYC and abroad. Among these projects was creating the music for some episodes of "ART or something like it!". As a composer of stage and concert music, she has written the story, libretto and music for a modern opera with dance ("Raya" and "Sag-In"), which received its world premiere on stage in NYC. 

Other works include commissions by musicians currently playing in the Tucson Symphony and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestras. As a pianist, her performances have taken her around the US and across borders into Europe, Africa and Asia, playing in music festivals and other concerts and events. 

As a music director, band leader, orchestrator, music arranger and keyboardist, she has worked with modern music production companies and off-Broadway productions primarily in NYC extending as well into other parts of the US, Africa and Asia. Experiencing NYC and all its music activity, she has also been keyboardist and vocalist for various independent original rock bands, performing in the NYC and New Jersey club scenes.

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

There are always risks and challenges related to the development of any creative project. An electrical storm could come in and fry our computers, or our editor might come down with some sort of horrible illness. However, we have already shot 99% of the documentary footage needed to build the series. Generally, many of the potential delays involved in a project like this one take place during shooting, which is dependent on many different variables and schedules. Since we are in the post-production phase, we are only at the mercy of our equipment. To combat any problems of that sort, the footage is backed up on three different hard drives. And fortunately, our editor generally doesn't get all that sick, so we do not foresee any issues with keeping to our premiere date of April Fool's Day 2013.

FAQ

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    FOOLISHLY ORIGINAL ART 01: "Where Have All The Clowns Gone?", an original 6" x 6" black & white, ink on paper clown illustration from Brian A. Bernhard, matted black and displayed in an archival 10" x 10" black wooden frame, digital downloads of all episodes from season 02 of "A Fool's Idea" (season 02 will not be available for download until after all episodes premiere, April 2014), + THE BASIC TECHNOFOOL.

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    UNDERWRITER PACKAGE 01: A 5 second "brought to you by" sponsored spot produced by Blight Productions (promoting you or your company's website or product) edited to the end of a single episode of the series from season 02. *NOTE: The spot becomes a permanent part of the video and will forever be attached and associated with the online episodes of "A Fool's Idea", which is why the value is high.*

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    UNDERWRITER PACKAGE 02: A 15 second "Promotional Spot" produced by Blight Productions (promoting you or your company's website or product) edited to the end of a single episode of the series from season 02. *NOTE: The spot becomes a permanent part of the video and will forever be attached and associated with the online episodes of "A Fool's Idea", which is why the value is high.*

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    UNDERWRITER PACKAGE 03: A 5 second "brought to you by" sponsored spot produced by Blight Productions (promoting you or your company's website or product) edited to the end of 4 episodes of the series from season 02. *NOTE: The spot becomes a permanent part of the video and will forever be attached and associated with the online episodes of "A Fool's Idea", which is why the value is high.*

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    JEF JOHNSON'S CLOWN NOSE: The big red nose handcrafted and worn on Broadway by Jef Johnson while performing in "Slava's Snowshow" (with certificate of authenticity) + digital downloads of all episodes from season 02 of "A Fool's Idea" (season 02 will not be available for download until after all episodes premiere, April 2014), + THE BASIC TECHNOFOOL.

    Estimated delivery:
    Add $25 USD to ship outside the US
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    UNDERWRITER PACKAGE 04: A 15 second "Promotional Spot" produced by Blight Productions (promoting you or your company's website or product) edited to the end of 4 episodes of the series from season 02. *NOTE: The spot becomes a permanent part of the video and will forever be attached and associated with the online episodes of "A Fool's Idea", which is why the value is high.*

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Funding period

- (30 days)