Kickstarter: Debriefing

Okay, so. I’m not particularly used to being completely out there about financial matters so this is a bit hard for me to write. Obviously we’ve been open about our need for funding to complete the film, and I’ve written before about why the film has been so expensive to make.

In my interview with ESFI World, I mentioned that I’ve been paying for the film on my credit card up until now. I chose to invest my own money in the project before looking for financing for several reasons. Largely because I wanted to be able to prove to potential donors/investors that I could deliver on what I promised before asking them to help me with their money.

We started our Kickstarter campaign at the end of September. I made the goal only one third of our production budget, specifically because I wanted it to be a goal that we could reach (Kickstarter requires you to reach your goal or you receive nothing). I also didn’t want to ask for more than I had already been willing to give myself.

Almost exactly a week into our campaign, we reached our goal. I was ecstatic. I saw a dream coming true. One person had pledged our top amount, $5,000, and I thought it meant that somebody else believed in my dream just as much as I did.

It turned out that I was incorrect.

Today, one week from the end of our campaign, Kickstarter notified me that three donors had errors with their payments that were not corrected. They notified those backers multiple times and ask them to fix the errors. One of these people was the $5k pledge. I personally emailed him twice and received no response.

I didn’t know that this was even possible. I have been completely blindsided by this entire situation, and I have absolutely no recourse to do anything but consider that money lost (or more accurately never gained to begin with).

I’ll be clear, I don’t know the full story. Two other donors also had errors which were not cleared, though for far smaller amounts. I can assume that they had some sort of financial or personal emergency, though I do think that in that case they might have responded to my queries.

What I do know at this point is that by pledging an amount that they either could not or would not provide, this person has not just hurt the project but also hurt me. If that was their goal, well, they can celebrate now that they achieved it.

I have no doubt that this pledge actually cost us money. I cannot know how many people saw that we had achieved our goal and decided not to donate. People who could have actually delivered on their pledges chose not to give. In addition, we had over $500 in cancelled or decreased pledges over the course of the month. How many of those people thought that it was okay to cancel or lower their pledge because we had reached our goal so we would be okay?

So the question you probably have is: are we going to be okay?

In a word, yes. I have invested over ten thousand dollars of my own personal money in this project. I’ve also invested a year of my life. I did this because I know how good this film can be, I can see it. That’s my job as a director, to be able to see the finished product and make it happen. And I will. I’ve come this far, and for me to quit or change course now would be a waste of the time and money I’ve put into it. It also would be an insult to the 182 people who DID believe in the film and backed us on Kickstarter. It would be an insult to the team, who has supported me so far. I will not let those people down.

Stopping is not on the table. It never has been.

What is on the table?

Well, filmmaking is problem solving. I have to employ my creativity and I have to fall back on my experience and skills. I’m a professional, this is what I do. My crew is made up of professionals, and we are used to making our art in difficult circumstances.

We are going to go ahead and continue with our plans. What this means for the film is that instead of having the funds I needed to finish production, I merely have the funds I need to pay off the outstanding debts I have from October and cover the expenses we will incur for November.

This means that in order to finish the film I’m going to have to do more fundraising, and I’m going to be looking even harder for new and different ways to find the financing I need to make this the great film that I know it can be. In the next day or so we’ll be putting out a set of perks that will be available for Paypal donations.

I have a few ideas, and I’ll be keeping people informed as things go on. I’m also open to suggestions, if anyone has an idea to help me finish production, pay for a trip to Korea, and then pay for post production.

This film will be made. And it will be amazing. It will be a great celebration of esports and the people who love it. I will do whatever it takes to accomplish that. But I do know that I can’t do it alone, and so I hope that if you want to see this amazing film, you will stand with me.