Episode 4 of This is Not a Conspiracy Theory is still in production and slowly but surely headed to completion. Unfortunately, in recent months I've mostly needed to focus on freelance work and my efforts have been limited to evenings and weekends. Music production is drawing to a close right now, and there are a few video shoots coming up soon. After that, it's primarily about replacing the sloppy parts and finishing.
This episode has been a long time coming and it's been challenging to produce. But it's also the biggest, boldest and, I think, best episode yet of the series. And after this there's only about 20 minutes of run-time left to complete!
If you have yet to purchase This is Not a Conspiracy Theory, you can do see here and get caught up on the previous parts before Episode 4 launches. Use the coupon code SUMMER2016 to get 20% off!
Thank you to Matthew Bogart, who did the illustration above.
Below is the final Kickstarter Update for our successful fall campaign in which we raised enough funds to produce this spring's video Everything is a Remix: The Force Awakens. In it we talk about our 2012 Kickstarter for 'This is Not a Conspiracy Theory' in contrast to our 2015 Kickstarter for the 'Everything is a Remix Five Year Anniversary Celebration.' We're sharing it here on the site in hopes that it may be insightful for backers and crowdfunders alike.
We want to close out this amazing Kickstarter experience with a little recap of lessons learned and some behind-the-scenes numbers.
Here’s our frank assessment of our performance on Kickstarter thus far. We’ve done one good campaign (this one, The Five Year Anniversary Celebration) and one so-so campaign (This is Not a Conspiracy Theory). This campaign for the Five Year Anniversary Celebration went pretty much according to plan. We made the best quality rewards we could, and delivered them roughly on schedule. And we got to make an exciting new installment to the Everything is a Remix series that was an instant hit with fans and media alike. We hope we’ve pleased our backers and we’ve heard lots of good feedback along the way. In sharp contrast, This is Not a Conspiracy Theory is a gigantically ambitious project that outgrew the bounds of its funding and timeline. Kirby is very proud of the work he’s doing on TINACT, but has lingering guilt about how long it’s taking.
So we’ve done a good Kickstarter and a mediocre one. Here’s some of the lessons we’ve learned and mistakes we’ve made.
- Pulling off a Kickstarter campaign on your own is tough. Kirby designed and executed the campaign for This is Not a Conspiracy Theory on his own and it proved very difficult to handle all the creative and logistical challenges.
- There were two of us working on and supporting this Five Year Anniversary Celebration campaign. That means we had two people designing it, running the numbers, promoting it, executing rewards fulfillment, and communicating with our backers. With a two-person team we made less mistakes and had the required manpower to get everything done.
- Doing a crowdfunded project means you are getting into the customer service business. You need to have the time and resources to devote to keeping your backers happy and meeting your promises.
- We kept the scale of this project as small as possible. The bigger and more ambitious the project, the more likely it will change shape dramatically as it develops. That means you might deliver something much different than you intended, and it means it might take way longer than anticipated. For those large-scale projects, we recommend doing as much work as possible before Kickstarting, which will vastly reduce its complexity.
- Kickstarter takes a percentage of the funds raised (obviously), but this is also applied to shipping money collected, not just reward pledges. We didn’t take this into account which decreased our margins a bit.
- We ran the Kickstarter in fall 2015 and postage increased in January 2016. So shipping collected for the campaign didn’t go as far as we calculated. And for one reward level, the price changed enough that we lost $3-5 on shipping on every international backer.
- Printing expensive $15+ international postage is really nerve wracking. Hoping you got the address right, hoping it makes it through customs, hoping it makes it to the backer, hoping it has the right combination of rewards. If any one of those goes wrong, it’s a very costly mistake. If a batch goes wrong, it’s a disastrous mistake.
- Adding the color options to the rewards greatly complicated prepping, manufacturing, packing, and shipping. We wouldn’t do it again and recommend keeping the combinations of rewards as limited as possible.
- Total Pledged: $24,125.00
- Dropped Backers: 2% (people who pledged but didn’t end up giving us money)
- Kickstarter Fees: 8% (Kickstarter’s cut of the campaign)
- Shipping and Handling Costs: 17% (packing and mailing rewards to backers)
- Manufacturing Costs: 26% (getting the t-shirts and posters made)
- Taxes: 12% (well, we all know what that is)
- Net Profit: 35% (the money that went into our bank account and funded video production)
The new Everything is a Remix: The Force Awakens video took seven weeks full-time to research, write, and produce. The net profit of $8,443.75 funded six weeks of that production time. Costs for our two person operation include the hours it takes to research, write, produce, and promote the video, as well as direct expenses like media and research materials, software, hardware, administrative infrastructure, and health insurance coverage.
In these final moments of this project, we’d like to express our immense gratitude for your support. All backers large and small made this possible and we really enjoyed getting to make another Everything is a Remix video. We hope you enjoyed it too, and that it gave you a new tool of thought for how to approach your work and creative life. As a reminder to keep aiming for both the novel and the familiar, go grab the new Everything is a Remix desktop wallpaper.
We also want to thank the backers who pledged at the sponsorship level. These funds were essential to reaching our stretch goal and underwrote much of production. Thank you so much to Ramon Vullings of Cross-Industry Innovation, Mike Pendleton of pro-voke, and Ray Kimber.
If you’d like to keep up with the latest videos and other projects from us, sign up for our (infrequent) newsletter.
And there you have it. This Kickstarter is done! Thanks so much everyone!!!
I’ve been moving This is Not a Conspiracy Theory forward lightly for a couple months while doing Remix and other work, but now I’m back on TINACT part-time. So I’m looking at the material with fresh eyes and I’m really excited about what I see.
In Episode 4 things pick up in the wake of World War II. In this era of distrust and paranoia, the seeds of conspiracy culture are sown, and then later take root when John F. Kennedy is murdered in Dallas, Texas.
Episode 4 will probably be about 20 minutes long, bringing the total running time produced to almost an hour. After this episode, there are likely two episodes remaining.
I've just published an update for TINACT members where I invite people to check out the Moodboard Mix for Episode 4. This is a mix of various songs and sounds that have influenced this upcoming episode. If you enjoy the musical aspects of what I do, you might like it.
Finally, the Slack group where much of the collaborative work for TINACT production gets done is picking back up again. So if you’re a motion graphics artist, musician, designer, illustrator, photographer, etc., and you have some free time over the next couple months, click the link included in the members' video update and I will add you to the Slack group.
This is Not a Conspiracy Theory is a feature-length documentary released in episodes. Watch Episode One here. Make your series purchase now to get access to episodes as they are completed, as well as notifications when new behind-the-scenes videos are released. Each series purchase helps support future installments of This is Not a Conspiracy Theory.
For those interested in how my work has evolved over the years, check out the GIF above to see the timelines of my videos morphing over the years. (They look different beginning with This is Not a Conspiracy Theory Episode 1 because I switched from Final Cut to Premiere Pro.)
There was also an unseen leap in complexity between TINACT 1 and 2 because Nora and I started producing our own music, which spawned additional timelines in Logic Pro and Ableton Live. Also not apparent is the rise of collaborator contributions from people like Louis Wesolowsky, Adam Farnsworth and Joshua Michie. Their work in After Effects and Cinema 4d is only seen here as simple clips.
Nonetheless, the steady increase in the density of the edits is still apparent. By TINACT 3, the most sophisticated thing I've produced yet, the timeline has practically become a wall of clips.
Below is an early look at TINACT 4, which I've just resumed production on. As you can see, it's still early, but this episode will likely be even more intricate than TINACT 3.