Tuesday, July 6, 2010


It has been harder and harder for me to share my thoughts and experiences with you from the confines of this blog. That is why I am forcing myself to make the time right now to put down a few words.

I believe what I am going through these days is what all creatives are going through. We are simply overwhelmed.

There has been so much that has been racing through my mind, so much that I have wanted to share here. Yet, I have been pulled into too many directions regarding too many projects. By no means am I pointing any fingers. I believe everything I am doing is out of necessity. Though on many days it is hard to know if I am moving in the right direction or not.

My current circumstances have me thinking more and more about efficiency. This past Sunday and Monday (July 4th & 5th) were the first two days that Karen and I have had in a long time where we didn't have to race around to be somewhere. We actually had a little down time where there were less demands on our shoulders. I had almost forgotten what that was like. (With less pressure on us, we were actually quite productive.)

In the today's world, the pressures, the responsibilities, and the demands all seem to increase daily. It is tough to keep up with it all. Everyone wants more, yet they give less.

Racing thought, There have been so many advances in the last 3 years and the masses are oblivious to the opportunities in front of us. For the first time ever, no matter what your passion the cost of entry is virtually zero. And on the other side, the cost of distribution is also virtually zero. This mainly due to the ever increasing power of the internet and the tools available. Never before have we seen this. This is unfreakingbelievable. 50 years ago, people dreamed for the opportunities that are in front of us right now. This really is a pivotal time.

We are going to see more and more people who follow their passions and create a sustainable living for themselves. They might not be millionaires, but they are going to be able to do what they love and they are going to earn a very respectable income doing what they love.

Back to Efficiency. While I have been quiet here in this format, I have been working steadily to put myself in a position to open up revenue streams for my creative efforts. These efforts include identifying and assembling a team of go-getters who are talented, creative, passionate, humble, and intelligent. Of course I am blessed to have my dearest Karen Worden who is at the heart of it all. She really is the heartbeat. She doesn't get the recognition she deserves. So here in this space, I would like to shine a little light on her. She is amazing.

If you are going to carve out a career for yourself pursuing your passions, you will be best suited with a strong team around you. Though he is getting absolutely thrashed right now, LeBron James understands the power of surrounding yourself with those who compliment your talents and can push you to new heights. We view Shaquille O'Neal a lot differently today because he fled Orlando where he may have never won a championship. (I can literally feel the heat right now just for writing those few lines.)

In terms of my team needs, I dream of the day where we have a full time assistant editor who can handle web videos and behind the scenes stuff. I also dream of a full-time graphic designer. I do want to thank Filmmaker Julian Tancredi who has been excellent in helping us finalize the artwork for our NBTW DVD cover. One day maybe we will even have an assistant, that would really help with efficiency.

Where am I right now? As you can see above, we are literally in the final stages of finalizing our Night Before the Wedding DVD. I was with DVD Author / Filmmaker Cory Reeder all day yesterday delivering assets and conceptualizing the menu. Believe we have a simple yet dynamic menu that suits our current needs perfectly. The last step is to now find our DVD manufacturer. We are only going to run off 300 copies in our first run. It really feels great to be in these final stages and to be so close to delivering the film to those who have waited a long time. The other news surrounding the film is that we will be screening it in New York City on Friday September 24th.

The focus has been with NBTW for the last few weeks to get this work done. Shortly my focus will turn back to Goodbye Promise where our editor Aric Lewis has been shaping the rough cut. My days will require watching dailies over and over again and working with Aric to figure out the spine of this film.

In addition to all the work required on the two project above. Karen and I have been extremely busy with our Film Courage radio show. I am really excited about some things we have on deck for the show. We really have some tremendous guests scheduled and our listener ship has been on the rise with more and more folks discovering the show overseas.

Our Film Courage Interactive series at the Downtown Independent is now booked up through February. We have had so much demand that we have added a date in September and are awaiting confirmation on a second date in October. We have seen the event grow from average attendance of 40-50 for our first four events to an average of over 100 at our last two. We certainly hope we can maintain that kind of momentum. We are really proud to have partnered with Producer John Paul Rice (One Hour Fantasy Girl). 50% of the box office for our July 26th event is going to the Downtown Women's Center. It's an event we are really looking forward to. In addition to OHFG, we will also be featuring the works of Julie Keck, Jessica King, Suzy Benfatto & Shawna Baca.

We have a couple of other projects in the works that I cannot mention until they are further along. Now you can see why I have efficiency on my mind.

My question to you, how do you stay efficient?

(Though I understand if you prefer to discuss 'The Decision.' For the first time ever, we got Gary Vaynerchuk to respond to us. Here is what he wrote us about LeBron.)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

My Kickstarter Experience: The Good, Bad, and Ugly by Joey Daoud

I read this posting by Filmmaker Joey Daoud back on May 27th, 2010. Didn't realize he had given me permission to repost it. I believe it is worth the read, so I have included it as mandatory reading in my Crowd Funding Cheat Sheet. Joey blogs frequently at his site Coffee and Celluoid and I recommend that you become a regular reader.

Thank you Joey, for allowing me to share your posting here.

My Kickstarter Experience: The Good, Bad, and Ugly
by Joey Daoud

It’s four days before the deadline for my Kickstarter project reaches its end. I’m only about a third of the way to my $9000 goal – a seemingly impossible feat.

A few hours later the goal is reached! So sudden? Anti-climactic? I know.

Now I wish I could say I received a miracle flood of donations in the 11th hour, or a mysterious backer stumbled on the project and became very interested. But no, it came from a phone call I made asking for an emergency bailout.

A few days later I wrote a check repaying this money. This is my Kickstarter experience.

So this post is not going to be pretty and inspirational, like Miao Wang raising $10,000 to go to SXSW (half of which came from one donor), or Driven raising $25,000, $12,000 of which they raised in the last four days.

Instead it might be a hard hitting dose of reality, but I think it’ll balance out the more popular success stories that you read that actually make you think this stuff is easy. And at the end are some things I learned that you can take away and learn from.

(Some backstory: I made a Kickstarter project to fund my feature documentary Bots High, which follows high school robotics teams built combat robots)

The Good

Now please don’t get me wrong, I’m still a huge fan of Kickstarter. I think the main thing to takeaway is it’s a tool, not a magical source of funding.

The best thing about having the project is it gave me a hard deadline, and forced me to do stuff I’ve been meaning to do for a while.

So I created the project. Within an hour I got a $25 pledge from a stranger. Yay, hopeful start! I posted the link on all my social networks, and got a good response, mostly from people invovled in the documentary and friends. But then it stalled.

I’m at about $600 and suddenly $9000 seems like a ridiculous ammount. So I started doing what I had been meaning to do – I emailed blogs. Tons of them.

I emailed anything to do with robots, science, technology, teaching. I created a press area on the site so they could grab photos, videos, and logos easily. I got a good response.

A few popular robotics sites wrote about the film, and RSS subscribers went from a handful to a couple hundred. So awareness of the film definitely went way up. Plus I created connections with blogs (and kept a spreadsheet of everyone I contacted, over 100 different sites), which will definitely come in handy once the film is done.

The Bad

Despite the good writeups on various sites, and increased traffic and subscribers, none of that really converted into donations.

Funding was still stalled around $600. I’ve read studies that people are more likely to give if the funding goal is closer to being reached, rather than really low. So I put in $1500 to bring the level to over $2000. Not exactly close to the goal, but at least it was something in the four digits.1

My marketing campaign continued, and I feel like the awareness was great. I emailed all my mailing lists. A few weeks before the deadline I was the Kickstarter Project of the Day. The project was written about in the Miami New Times Blog (mainly because I was using Kickstarter).

So while awareness was great, that still didn’t convert into donations.

But you know what did work? Credible referrals. A super nice and famous robot builder that I met when he came to Miami wrote about my project on a robot forum. I got a few good donations from that, just because his opinion had a lot of weight and he liked the project.

The Ugly

You already know where this is going. It was a few days before the deadline and aside from a miracle I didn’t see anyway that I was going to reach the goal. I didn’t want to lose all the pledges I already had. Plus I couldn’t have an email going out to everyone saying the project wasn’t successful. I always said from the start that success or not, this is happening, it just depends how much hair I’m going to pull out and stress over.

So I called a relative and got bailed out. Not pretty. Not glorious. Not the ending I was hoping for (I could have used that money, especially now that I got rejected from the Tribeca Gucci Grant).


I learned a lot from this experience, and I think I know where I went wrong and what I can do better in the future (and what you can learn from my experience).

Larger Established Fan Base: Sure, I have a few hundred Fans on Facebook and picked up more fans while marketing the project, but this is my first film and I don’t have anywhere near Kevin Kelly’s 1,000 True Fans. It’s also harder to build a fan base and raise money in the early stages of a project, before you have something to show and spread. That’s why there’s so many finishing grants – they want to put their money on something that has a high chance of seeing completion.

People like a sure thing (preferably a completed thing): So I just touched on this, but it’s a tougher sell for a film in pre-pro or production. A lot of this stems from my short doc/experiment You 2.0. I had been pre-selling DVDs for a few months for $9.99. Got a few buys – I think 30 or so. Then when the DVD was actually done and I raised the price to $14.99, I got tons of orders. People weren’t willing to gamble on a pre-sale. They were fine paying more for a sure thing. So if you’re trying to raise funds while you’re in development or production, you just have to work that much harder to sell it to donors.2

Be a Hustler or Find Someone Who Is: So by my standards, I hustled more than I ever have before. But that clearly wasn’t enough, and I should have found someone who is a born hustler to get in touch with more blogs and groups to promote the film (Jon Reiss talks about this, though it relates more to booking films in theaters. Either way, if you’re not a hustler, find someone who is).

Get on a high profile blog: This is pretty elusive and I might as well have put “Create a Smash Hit Viral Video,” but it’s worth mentioning. If I were to have gotten Fluffy on fire or some other video on Boing Boing or Gizmodo, I would have been set.

Going back to You 2.0, I’m not actively promoting it and pay zero for advertising, yet I get a few sales a week. Most of that is coming from two Lifehacker write-ups – one of a video of a guy talking about his office, and the other about a program I had developed (and there’s also an article I wrote on another popular blog about creating that program solely to drum up traffic). That’s how powerful these big aggregating sites are.

Goal Amount: As far as the whole post on the True Cost of a Kickstarter Project, I still stand behind the issues brought up there. But I might add to throw in a dose of reality. I probably should have set the goal lower, maybe $5,000. After all, more can always be raised (Like Diaspora, which is nearly 1800% over their goal. Insanity! A NY Times article does help. And Signal vs. Noise has an interesting explanation as to why people are giving to them.)


I hope you found this useful. On a positive note, that survey I did that graphed behavior patterns of Kickstarter backers was spot on – all the donations I got pretty much matched the graph.

I’m curious to hear other Kickstarter stories that might not have ended so well, as well as other tips or things learned from fundraising. Leave them in the comments!

Goodbye Promise UPDATE 6/22/10

Believe it or not, it is easiest for us to provide this video update rather than other forms. It is raw and gritty. It was important for us to get something to you.

If you would like us to consider bringing 'Goodbye Promise' to your city, please visit
and 'Request' to see it.

You can also connect with us on Facebook

as well as on Twitter