Andrew O writes:
What are your thoughts on crowd sourcing and crowd funding, especially with regard to TV? Is it good, bad, the future of the industry? Are crowd funded Web series a good launching pad for TV writing careers?
I'm curious because I'm working with some friends on the Web's first full length, multi-camera, shot in front of a live audience sitcom. We taped the pilot last month at a theater in Hollywood and we're getting ready to launch our fundraising campaign soon. Are we blazing a trail or trying to push a boulder up a hill only to watch it roll all the way down at the end?
"It's hard making predictions, especially about the future," said Yogi Berra. Time will tell if he was right. It's impossible to say whether crowd funding will be a flash in the pan (probably not) or the Next Big Thing (probably not). It is becoming clear what works well in crowd funding, though. If the principals are famous people, more citizens are likely to chip in money for their projects. If the designer of a well-loved computer game puts out a call for his passion project, he'll probably get money. After all, people want to play his game and they know he can execute. I think Felicia Day would be able to crowd fund a Guild Wars-like project easily enough.
It's harder for someone to crowdfund something that's a stretch for them. Jane Espenson was able to raise $60,000 for HUSBANDS; I think she could have raised more for something more Whedonesque.
If you're not a known quantity, then I think crowd funding becomes a more official way for you to hit up your friends for money. If you have a lot of rich friends, that could work.
You can crowdfund for other reasons than funding your project, though. You can crowdfund to prove to a distributor that there are people who want your movie. You can crowdfund to develop a cadre of supporters for the project who will talk it up on social media once it's made.
Regardless, crowdfunding is a huge amount of work. Count on spending a month prepping your Kickstarter, and then figure the month of your Kickstarter you are doing nothing but pushing your project on Kickstarter by any means necessary. So you're hoping you can raise more money doing than than you could, say, doing your day job.
As for crowd sourcing
TV, I'm not even sure what that would mean. Are you looking for 1000 people to help you do punch up? I'm not sure how many good jokes you'll get. Writing talent and skill are rarer than many people realize. But why not? Try it and see.
Thanks. Most of us are gung-ho about going all out and raising the funds to do at least two more full length episodes. But, a few people think we should hold back, put the pilot on the Web and see if we can build a following before going to Kickstarter or Indi-gogo.
Absolutely put the pilot up first. If it's a hit -- ideally if it goes viral -- then you start your crowdfunding with a bunch of people already interested in your show. If it's a flop, you can then decide not to spend a couple of months crowdfunding more of it.
As with most financing, the more you have, if it's good, the easier it is to get the rest.