LEARNING & GROWING: Why It Costs $1.11M to #BringBackTheAquabats!
It's your BFF, The MC Bat Commander, back with another update. Yesterday was a pretty good day, my friends – because now we're over $200,000, and still climbing!
But it's time for some real talk, homies. I'm no techno-wizard, but I've been keeping up with all of your questions and comments, and that's how I know that a lot of you have been asking what I like to call "The Million Dollar Question."
That question is...
"Why do The Aquabats need so much money to make more music and television? How much could it really cost?"
Well, my friends: to tell you the truth, I'm glad you asked. Remember, you're in the "circle of trust" now, which means I can be 110% honest with you… and honestly, I don't understand much about budgets and numbers. If Jimmy the Robot were here, I'd make him handle all of that, thanks to his computer brain.
But since I still have to find Jimmy the Robot and convince him to re-join The Aquabats and help us gather the Legion of Righteous Comrades… well… PLAN B!
Now, I want you to meet another very important member of The Aquabats Family who you might not know: our friend, director, and co-creator of The Aquabats! Super Show!, Jason deVilliers. He's been with us since the beginning, and he totally understands numbers and budgets and stuff. So… take it away, Jason!
It's good to officially meet you. Like the MC Bat Commander said, my name is Jason deVilliers, and I've been working with The Aquabats for since 2005, when I directed the music video for “Fashion Zombies." I'm also the co-creator of The Aquabats! Super Show!, and directed most of the 21 episodes in our first two seasons. And the Bat Commander is right: I can help explain the budget we need to make new episodes.
So, I know the biggest question a lot of you have––
Yeah, Snakey, I do. You're wondering why a show like The Aquabats! Super Show! needs $1.11 million just to make one new episode and one new album.
The honest answer, CobraMan? I wish it was more than we needed.
The truth is, it's barely enough. Even if we raise that much, we don't get to use all of it on the show... and the amount we will use is actually really tight. In fact, it would still mean shooting each new episode(s) of Super Show! for a lot less than we did back in 2012-2013.
I'll walk you through all of the details, but the basic explanation is pretty darn simple:
1. We don't get to keep all of the money we raise on Kickstarter.
This part is pretty straightforward. When we do reach our minimum goal of $1,110,000, here's how it gets spent:
15% - CAMPAIGN FEES & EXPENSES
No matter what we raise, we first have to pay 8-10% in PLATFORM FEES to Kickstarter and the credit card processor. Then, we need another 5-7% to cover all of the CAMPAIGN EXPENSES, like shooting and producing our videos, holding special events, and hiring a team to help with things like fulfilling all of your rewards.
25% - MAKING REWARDS
We also have to cover all of the costs involved in designing, producing, printing, sorting, and packing all of the rewards that we're offering in our pledge packages. (That's why some of the rewards might seem expensive – because this isn't a store, it's a fundraiser so that we can bring back The Aquabats!)
Bottom line: Out of the first $1.11 million we raise, we have to spend almost 40% ($450,000) just to cover this Kickstarter and your rewards!
That means that, after expenses, we've got about 60%, or $650,000, left.
2. There are a lot of startup costs.
Now, $650,000 would still would be an amazing budget... if we got to spend that entire amount making a single episode. The problem is, it's not that simple.
To shoot new episodes of the Super Show!, there's a lot that has to happen – and a lot of people who will need to be involved.
Here are just a few of the things we'll need to do, whether we end up making one new episode or an entire season:
- Find and hire all of the important production roles and crew positions.
- Rent studio space for sets and offices
- Fix up the existing BattleTram: repair the engine, replace parts, repaint, etc.
- Rebuild the interior Battletram set from scratch!
Even though we're planning to call in all of the favors we can, that stuff won't be cheap. When all is said and done, these "one time" costs will run about $265,000.
3. Making TV costs more than you'd think.
Based on all of that math, here's the bottom line: Out of the first $1.11 million we raised, we'll have about $350,000 to make the first new episode of the Super Show.
Now, if you've never worked in television or film before, that might seem like a lot… but here's a list of some of the things it has to cover:
- Hiring writers, actors, crew and guest stars
- Designing, building, and decorating sets
- Planning, designing and buying props and costumes
- Scouting locations and paying for shooting permits
- Renting cameras, lights, trucks and all sorts of equipment
- Paying for editors, audio engineers, visual effects and animators
- Writing and recording new music and songs for every episode
And on top of that, it has to last a lot longer than you might think: From start to finish, a single episode of The Aquabats! Super Show! takes between 7-10 weeks of work, and involves hiring between 50-80 people!
Just to give you a little perspective: when we shot the last season – back in 2013 – we had a budget of about $400,000 for each episode. And when we met with one of the major streaming platforms recently, they told us that their cheapest "kid's show" costs $500,000 for each episode, and a lot of them are closer to $1.2 MILLION per episode!
Anyway, the point is: $350,000 for each episode is a really small budget!
4. Making music also costs more than you'd think.
On top of that: If we reach our $1,110,000 goal, The Aquabats have also promised to write and record a brand new, extra-long studio album. If we spend $350,000 on a Super Show! special, that'll leave them $35,000 to make a new album.
And again, that might sound like a lot… until you look at the math:
WRITING THE ALBUM will take at least 3-4 weeks, since it'll probably be at least 10 new songs – and The Aquabats will want them to be awesome. And that's if they work fast: some bands take years to write a new album! Then...
RECORDING THE ALBUM will take another 3 weeks in the studio. And that's if everything goes really smoothly, since you have to record each track separately. And then...
PRODUCING THE ALBUM will take another 3 weeks, while producers mix and master each new song, to make sure it actually sounds right.
FROM START TO FINISH, each new album will probably take at least 8-10 weeks of work, and will involve all 5 members of the band – which also means they can't keep working other jobs, and would need to focus on this full-time. And...
- OTHER COSTS stack up fast: they'll also need audio engineers, mixers, a studio for recording… You get the idea. There's just a lot that goes into making a record.
Point is… that $35,000 budget is going to be stretched pretty thin.
And look, I know this is a lot of boring detail, and you'd rather be reading an update from the MC Bat Commander. (Dudes, I would too.) But here's the thing:
We're asking you to trust us with a large amount of money, so you have a right to know exactly how we're planning to use it, and why we need it.
So, to wrap things up, here's a single graphic that shows you the entire plan:
If you've got any other questions about the budget, or how we're planning to make the show, or anything, we want to be sure we're answering them... Feel free to ask in the comments below, and we'll try to get to everything as soon as we can!
And seriously, thank you so much for joining us and helping #BringBackTheAquabats. We love making this show for all of you, and your support means the world to us.
The MC Bat Commander + Jason deVilliers