Kickstarter Review - 1 of 3
It's been a long and frustrating journey, but the Kickstarter campaign for the Lizzie Bennet Diaries DVD boxed set is finally wrapping up. All DVDs and perk items were shipped from the DFTBA warehouse last month, and we're now in the process of tying up loose ends and taking stock of what happened. If there is an issue with your shipment or items, please email email@example.com
As promised, we're giving our supporters a thorough, three-part review of the entire saga. This update will deal with the start of the project way back in January 2013, the overall funds we raised and how that money was used. The next update will explain how the DVDs were manufactured and what caused the delays, and the final update will tell you what we’ve learned and where we’re going from here.
But, first things first.
We owe our backers and everyone involved in this project our deepest thanks for supporting us, and our sincerest apologies for the long wait, the complications and the miscommunications we experienced. The Pemberley Digital and DFTBA teams shared in your frustration every step of the way and are genuinely grateful for your patience throughout all of this.
What was the goal of the Kickstarter?
Hank Green and Bernie Su got the idea for a Kickstarter campaign in early 2013. Despite the fact that "The Lizzie Bennet Diaries" is available for free on YouTube, Pemberley Digital was receiving many requests from fans around the world to produce a DVD boxed set once the series was finished. But Pemberley had no extra assets at the time, so the funding would need to be crowdsourced.
They ran the numbers and decided the project was worth a shot. "We figured if there was enough demand for a thousand boxed sets it would be worth it." says Bernie. "Even if we only broke even on it, we would have a DVD. That's a win."
Hank drew up a budget for producing a basic DVD set with six hours of content and no special features. He launched the Kickstarter campaign on March 22, with a funding goal of $60,000 and an estimated delivery date of July 2013.
But when LBD's Kickstarter backers blew past the goal within a day and delivered a grand total of $462,405 a month later, Hank and Bernie decided the fans deserved a better product and new content.
"Because the Kickstarter did so well, we felt we owed them a lot better things," says Bernie. "That's why we tried to do a seven-language DVD, which was totally over-ambitious in hindsight. We were like, 'We have all this extra money, let's at least try.'"
The project expanded to include nine hours of DVD content including special features and international subtitles, a new fandom-oriented mini-series to bridge the gap between LBD and "Emma Approved," a selection of extra perk items, and bonuses for the cast and crew. Pemberley Digital started working on blooper reels and brought in the actors and writers for commentaries and featurettes, while Jay Bushman and Margaret Dunlap developed "Welcome to Sanditon."
How was the money used?
Here is an approximate overview of how the $462,000 Kickstarter fund was divided up:
To break it down further:
Miscellaneous cast/crew expenses included:
- compensating the team for DVD commentaries, interviews, voicemail messages, signed posters etc;
- filming the Collins and Collins videos;
- production crew expenses such as makeup, wardrobe, set design, lighting etc.
- residual payments to actors and writers from DVD sales;
- Screen Actors Guild (SAG) fees;
- awards submission fees;
- a slush fund for cast/crew attending VidCon, LeakyCon, the Emmys, etc.
For the 1st round bonuses, each member of the cast and crew, including Bernie, received 100% of the total amount they were paid over the course of LBD. This arrangement favored those who worked more hours, meaning that aside from the show’s main stars (Ashley Clements, Mary Kate Wiles, Laura Spencer and Julia Cho) the writers and crew tended to receive higher bonuses than the actors. Bernie's bonus covered 12 months of writing, directing and showrunning.
The money for "Welcome to Sanditon" was spent largely on paychecks for people like Allison Paige, Daniel Vincent Gordh, Margaret Dunlap, Jay Bushman, Jenni Powell, Alexandra Edwards and other LBD production crew. The series was initially budgeted at $17,000 but ended up at $32,000. "We wanted it to be better, we wanted to make more videos and we wanted to compensate people more," says Bernie.
Pemberley Digital operating expenses included paychecks for one full-time administrative assistant, one part-time DVD producer and one summer intern, all of whom spent a large chunk of their time handling the Kickstarter project. These employees stopped receiving paychecks from the Kickstarter fund in August 2013, when funding streams came in from Deca, the Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet book deal and LBD advertising.
Stay tuned for our next update, which will explain where the project ran into trouble.
Hank and Bernie