All Articles Tagged "kickstarter"
People love to add slashes to their titles, conveying they are double and triple threats. Nowadays it can get a little gratuitous, reflecting ego more than experience. That’s not the case with Eunice Kindred. She’s a true renaissance woman bringing her love for art, music, and dance into her creative expression. She’s an artist, a DJ, a choreographer, and a dance instructor, on top of holding down a full-time position as an art director for a major advertising agency in New York City.
That may sound like a heavy load. But Kindred finds every aspect of her life enriches another. “It’s good to have all these influences because I never know what I can pull from to come up with an idea,” she says. “Being involved with so many different things gives me a richer background to pull from… Managing all of it can be a challenge, but I do what I love.”
Raising And Rebuilding An Artist
Kindred has been a multifaceted creative for as long as she can remember. Blame her father’s boom box blasting in the delivery room. When people outside of her family expressed concern that little Eunice should focus on one thing, her parents always encouraged her to pursue what she loved, whatever it was.
She found appreciation for her paintings early on, selling pieces for over $1000 as a high school student before attending Harvard University’s Visual and Environmental Studies program. After college she pursued graphic design professionally, only recently deciding to dive back into the art world. But New York galleries weren’t so anxious to welcome her into the fold.
“They saw me as a new artist when in reality I’ve been painting for so many years,” she said. “It was kind of like starting from scratch, but it was humbling to have to know all the stuff I had to change to be successful. Finding galleries to accept my work and even the process of pitching [my work] was new to me.”
There are some artists who just do not make it “big” in the way we think they should. Singer Alice Smith is absolutely one of those people.
Her style is eclectic, mixing rock, funk and soul music into one sound. Her first album, For Lovers, Dreamers and Me, was a critical success with many publications dubbing her the “next best thing.” She even reached daytime status when she performed on Ellen. But despite having an undergound following, Alice’s career never fully took off.
Over the last seven years – when her first album was released – Alice has been signed to a major label and finally was able to get off in or around 2010. Fans didn’t know if they’d ever get any new music from her and all they could do was replay the debut album and watch live Youtube videos. Oh, did I forget to mention she has a four octave vocal range? Yeah, she does…and it might even be five on a good day. But anyway, it could have virtually been the end of a career that didn’t have a fully chance to develop.
And then, Alice took to Twitter in 2012. She informed her fans that she was now an independent artist and was ready to start recording an album tentatively titled She. In order to get it done, she would need help with funding and to do so, Alice started a Kickstarter fund to gain financial help from fans and supporters. She ended up raising about half of the money needed and She was officially a go!
Alice released She in March and it is a gem. From the opening a capella of the “Cabaret (intro)” to the end of the album which closes with “She,” the title track, Alice takes the listener on a journey of a love lost and also find the love of your life. You feel every emotion and every note has the ability to pierce right through your heart. She even remade Ceelo Green’s “Fool For You” which is, arguably, better than the original…just don’t tell Ceelo I said it.
Let’s get to the bottom line here: I know I can’t turn everyone into a believer, but you have to give Alice Smith a chance.
You can trust me…I wouldn’t steer you wrong. But if you don’t believe me, check the “Fool For You” video below.
Are Fans Willing To Pay To Make A “Girlfriends” Movie Happen? Mara Brock Akil Hopes So, Thinking About Kickstarter Campaign
I don’t know if you heard about the Kickstarter campaign that was started by producer and screenwriter Rob Thomas in the hopes of raising $2 million to shoot a Veronica Mars movie. Of course, Veronica Mars was that lone white show on UPN back in the day, that was actually pretty good, that had actress Kristen Bell portraying a high school and college student moonlighting as a private investigator. It had such a major cult following, though it only ran for three seasons, that when Thomas started the Kickstarter, everyone was blown away by the fact that it raised the $2 million in just a matter of hours. HOURS. It became the fastest fundraising campaign the site has had, and it already has people thinking and talking about what other shows and movies could be rejuvenated with a Kickstarter campaign. One of those people is Mara Brock Akil.
According to Shadow and Act, Akil took to her Twitter account this morning to ask fans if they were down for a similar campaign to bring Girlfriends back in a film, saying “Do
#GirlfriendsFans want to start a KickStarter Fund for a movie? If so hit me back at @MaraBrockAkil & “like” @AKILPRODUCTIONS FB pg”
Who knows, it could all be a ploy just to get you to like the Akil Productions Facebook page so that they can gain more followers, but if she’s absolutely serious about a Girlfriends movie, that’s the best news I’ve heard all day (hey, it’s early). In all honesty, the last season or two of Girlfriends I sort of tuned out from, probably because it moved to the CW and because I was a big fan of the trifling but lovable Toni Childs character, who ended up making an unexpected exit. But now that there is so much reality TV crap, I can say that I do miss the all-black cast representing us well and story lines of Girlfriends. Hell, I miss UPN as a whole, they were telling our stories, ya’ll! So if Mara Brock Akil actually starts a campaign and is serious about this film, I’m all for it, and I think I would try to financially support (but who knows what my money might look like later…). But the question is, would you?
Aaron McGruder And The Kickstarter Fundraising Failure: Were People Really Ready For A Live-Action Uncle Ruckus Movie?
Nearly a month and a half ago, Aaron McGruder, creator behind the wildly popular The Boondocks comic strip and animated series, took to Kickstarter and pitched to the fans of the show, a live-action big screen version of Uncle Ruckus, everybody’s favorite self-hating Negro.
According to the appeal page, the proposed film, which had no investors nor distribution commitments, is currently still in the draft stages. However, while no definite script had been completed, McGruder wrote that the proposed film would definitely be R-rated and featured Gary Anthony Williams, who does the voice of Uncle Ruckus on the animated series. Additionally, none of the other regular Boondocks characters, including Huey and Riley, from either the series or the strip, would be featured in the film. Instead, the proposed movie would “explore a part of the Ruckus family not seen in the show.”
Perhaps, hoping to bypass possible questions as to why not a full-length, live action Boondocks film, or even animated feature with all of our favorites, McGruder explained that a live-action Huey and Riley would be “essentially impossible to cast.” For some reason he didn’t elaborate on it, but he said a live action Uncle Ruckus movie would only cost a fraction of the estimated 20 million dollars it would cost to produce an animated feature Boondocks film. Writes McGruder:
“This whole thing is kind of an odd idea, so we’re starting with Kickstarter on this one and we’ll just see what happens. Crowd funding, however, is a big deal. It represents an entirely new relationship between fan and creator. It also represents a new financial model for making stuff, and that’s exciting.
Uncle Ruckus has a lot of supporters out there. If they want this to happen, they can make it happen.”
That was on February 1. About 30 days later, the project fell short of its $200,000 goal by a little over 70 thousand dollars. This is even after daily plugs via social media sites and online publications, as well as taking live-action Ruckus on the road to places like the NAACP Image Awards. At a time when folks rightfully sound off about the lack of quality entertainment, particularly black entertainment, a smart and funny comedy should have been an easy sell. Yet for all of the show’s supporters, and judging by the animated series’ Facebook Fan Page, there are at least 6.3. million of them, so you have to wonder why McGruder struggled and eventually failed to raise a measly 200k.
Maybe it has something to do with Aaron McGruder the person?
Despite the large fan base, McGruder’s work, particularly the unabashed and unrelenting way he goes in on black culture, has been known to spark a visceral response among some viewers, who question whether or not he actually has love for the black community at all. Most specifically among some folks, who take issue with McGruder’s almost pathological attacks on black women. I have written previously about the lack of positive black women on his animated series, particularly how women are either portrayed as dimwitted, prostitutes and gold diggers. Likewise, his satirical lampooning of Tyler Perry on the “Pause” episode from the animated series, particularly hinting that the black Hollywood mogul might be a closeted homosexual, not only drew ire from Perry himself, but also sparked a whirlwind of criticism for perpetuating stereotypes about black sexuality and identity. Or as Mark Anthony Neal pointed out on his blog, New Black Man (In Exile):
“As Perry is a man who has essentially built a career and empire on his cross-dressing alter ego, McGruder sloppily links Perry’s performance of Madea to rumors of his homosexuality. McGruder’s depiction of Winston Jerome as effeminate is demeaning and homophobic, in the suggestion that homosexuality is tethered to gender (i.e. gay men really want to be women or lesbians really want to be men). In that there is a rich comedic and literary tradition of cross-dressing by black men and women, there is nothing remarkable about Perry’s performance. What marks Perry’s performance as notable, is that his intent is quite different from earlier performances of cross-dressing—Flip Wilson, Moms Mabley, Grace Jones, to name just a few, which often employed gender bending to offer comment on middle class mores of respectability. In comparison, Perry deploys Aunt Madea to actually buttress those mores—Madea is little more than black patriarchy in drag, a doppelganger for the all the wannabe prosperity (pimps) preachers.”
Regardless of how one feels about either of these criticisms of McGruder’s work, you have to admit that as a polarizing figure, he doesn’t exactly illicit trust or even inspire folks to want to blindly support, especially not financially. And especially not with a film centered around a self-hating Negro like the Uncle Ruckus character, which leads me to my next point: who really wants to see a black man make anti-black jokes for 90 minutes or more?
Perhaps that might appeal to racist white (and other) folks and the self-hating Negros amongst us, but what is usually a funny yet brief wink-wink-nudge on a 30 minute (20 if you take out all the commercial breaks) series has the potential to quickly turn into an awkward modern-day version of Stepin Fetchit. Although, a part of me was and still is curious about what a film around Uncle Ruckus’ family might look like. Just based on McGruder’s previous offerings, I wouldn’t be surprised if it turned out to be a another tongue-and-cheek swipe at Perry, particularly Meet the Browns or any of his Madea films. However, that is all just speculation. And that’s my point. Without clear concept, including a finished script, there was really nothing much for folks to go on. And without much to go on, we are back to that whole trust thing again.
Yet whatever objections folks might have over how he represents black people, or even the lack of clarity of this film project in general, probably dwarf the fact that ultimately, people just weren’t enthused about the idea of a live action film. In fact, a quick scroll through the comments on the animated series’ Facebook Fan Page revealed that even among his most ardent supporters was a strong backlash to the project. Instead, fans felt that McGruder should be focusing his time and energy on getting a season four of the popular animated series back to television. And as Jasmine Golphin writes for Shadow and Act: Most people were concerned this film was going to be in lieu of a forth season, which they (we) have been waiting three years for. There was an announcement made in May 2012, two actually, but that was the last update anyone got from the page. A quick reminder that season four is in fact happening would have helped silence some detractors.
Activity on the fan page has been pretty much muted since the project failed to reach its fundraising goals. And so far, McGruder has not announced whether or not he would continue with the Uncle Ruckus live-action film project, despite its lack of appeal to fans. Although he failed miserably, McGruder should be applauded for his attempt to at least engage his fans and for attempting to make them part of his work. However, his failure too should also serve as a lesson that when you’re trying to be ambitious, particularly with a project, which might go against the grain of what folks want to see, you might just have to do it on your own. Sometimes, folks don’t know what they want until you give it to them.
The internet and social media have made it easier than ever for entrepreneurs and business people to take an idea, product or business to the masses. Sites like Etsy allow individuals to create online retail stores to sell their handmade and vintage items, while crowd-funding sites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo give entrepreneurs and artists a way to get funding for projects.
While these sites have taken off, the black community was a bit slower to get into the game. For example, according to audience measurement site Quantcast, only six percent of Kickstarter visitors are African American, compared to nine percent of overall internet visitors who are black.
However, some entrepreneurs and business people from the black community are starting to notice a shift.
“People of color, African Americans specifically, are realizing that if we have something we’re passionate about, we have to do it ourselves,” said Vanessa Anderson, publicist for filmmaker Issa Rae, who recently funded her Web series, The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl, via Kickstarter. “When you have popular sites that are trusted like Etsy and Kickstarter, people can use these to bring people into the fold and give them an audience ad a community.”
“When I first started playing around on Etsy, maybe two or three years ago, there were a lot of Caucasian moms making cool stuff and selling it on Etsy. Or people who already had shops were selling on Etsy,” said Krystle Sims, owner of young.black.nappy, an online t-shirt company. “But over the last year or so, I’ve noticed more brown and black faces on Etsy. It’s a really cool stepping-stone to whatever you want to do.”
Etsy, which launched in 2005, is an online marketplace for people to sell handmade and vintage items. Several African-American artists using Etsy have been featured and highlighted, including Tiesha Houston, owner of flyTie clothing, and Tabitha Brown of ThePairabirds, who were chosen in recent years by the Huffington Post as black-owned Etsy stores to check out for Black Friday.
Houston joined Etsy in 2005 and uses it as one place to sell items from her clothing label, though she also has a website and leverages Facebook and social media. While her customers are of all ethnicities, she said her customer base specifically on Etsy is generally white.
However, she added, “I’m seeing new shops run by African-Americans, selling everything from clothing to art to jewelry. Not just on Etsy, but entrepreneurs in general.”
Brown, owner of ThePairabirds, has been using Etsy since 2007 to sell illustrated snapshots of nature, human, and animal life.
“One of the main audiences I try to attract are those who want contemporary artwork featuring people of color,” she told Madame Noire via email. “There have been times when customers will tell me, either through Etsy, Facebook, or Twitter, that they are happy to find artwork of people that look like them. And, that’s what makes Etsy a really great marketplace. It allows art, design, and styles that are pretty much ignored by the mainstream to congregate in one spot.”
Brown highlighted the forums and groups on Etsy, which allow black entrepreneurs to connect and help each other succeed on the site. Stevonne, the owner of Beija-Flor Naturals, also told Madame Noire that she used the forums when getting started on Etsy in 2008. She mentioned the groups Etsy Artists of Color and Creators of Color.
Beija-Flor Naturals sells organic and natural beauty products, including items for the natural hair market. Stevonne told Madame Noire that often times in the natural hair market, bloggers and social media comments will send people directly to her website. Etsy, she said, helped expand interest in her general skin care products.
Using Etsy and connecting with customers via social media has changed the way businesses get off the ground these days, she said. “I don’t know how people would find other like-minded people if it wasn’t for Etsy.” She added that she is also planning to turn to Kickstarter to raise money to start her own store, a bath and body boutique.
Antonique Smith, perhaps best known for playing Faith Evans in the Biggie Smalls biopic Notorious, is launching a real-life music career with help from Kickstarter. Over the weekend, the actress exceeded her fundraising goal of $50,000 (by $27). The money will cover the cost of finishing and promoting her debut album “Speechless.”
Smith has a solid acting career, having also appeared on Broadway in the musical Rent and in the movie Abduction (starring Twilight’s Taylor Lautner). This year, she’ll appear opposite Zoe Kravitz and Gabourey Sidibe in the film Yelling to the Sky. She talks with Black Enterprise about the risks and benefits of embarking on a music career that’s been crowdsourced.
“It’s not just fundraising; it’s also the growth and awareness of the brand. We don’t want to just do an album and put it out in a couple of months,” she tells the site. “We are creating the anticipation. We are centralizing my fan base.”
There is a rule about returning all of the money if you don’t reach your goal by the campaign deadline. But she was able to build a group of 217 “core supporters,” some who donated in excess of $7,500.
“Some people were from random countries like Austria and Finland who gave large amounts. Some are family and friends and people I went to 5th grade with. It was good to see names I haven’t seen in years,” she tells the site.
For more about Antonique Smith and her Kickstarter campaign, click here.
St. Mark’s Bookshop, a 35-year-old bookseller in New York’s Greenwich Village, is trying to save itself by appealing to others. Using Lucky Ant, a crowdfunding site that caters to local businesses, the bookshop’s owners are trying to raise $23,000 to move to a less expensive location.
St. Mark’s Bookshop is among the tons of aspiring small businesses that are using crowdfunding sites to get the cash it needs. Over on Kickstarter, perhaps the most popular of these sites, Live & Let Dye is looking for funding to “take our printing operation to the next step”; a band called Secret Mountains seeks cash to put the “finishing touches” on their debut album; and the filmmakers behind a documentary called The Wireless Generation is asking for funding to complete their movie and go on a screening tour.
But before you open up an account on one of these sites and start your fundraising efforts, there are a few legal things you ought to know about.
President Obama signed the JOBS Act in April, which gave the average Joe the opportunity to invest in a private company even though their net worth is less than $1 million. However, come January 2013, there will be new Securities and Exchange Commission regulations that entrepreneurs will need to suss out. Donations have always been acceptable, but now there will be rules for large projects.
“…[I]t’s expected that all companies pursuing a crowdfunding path will need to have their financial statements in order, certified by an accountant if seeking more than $100,000, and audited and prepared by an accountant if raising in excess $500,000,” writes Reuters. Overall, the key word is “transparency.” The new rules will require a business plan (which you should already have, to be honest) and, overall, paperwork to account for your dealings.
Crowdfunding supporters say these sites give ordinary people willing to take a risk the chance to invest in what could be “the next big thing.” That may be true, but the government is trying to keep scammers from taking advantage of these sites as well. Meaning anyone who’d like to turn to crowdfunding will have to have their house in order before they do so.
Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee are a classic Hollywood couple and their grandson, Muta’Ali Muhammad, wants to bring their story of love and light to life with a feature-length documentary titled, Life’s Essentials with Ruby Dee. Muhammad describes his vision as a “documentary style film about love, art and activism [that] tells the story of one of the most enduring couples of our times, Ossie Davis & Ruby Dee. “According to a description on Kickstarter.com:
Ossie & Ruby’s achievements in love (sustained marriage for 57 years), art (pioneers in black theater) and activism (always using their influence to help “the people”) parallel nearly a century of change in America. With this story being told through the lens of their grandson (filmmaker), an innate hunger to learn everything possible about Ossie & Ruby’s lives and apply it to today’s fight to preserve love, art and activism is always present.
Based on candid questions, revealing conversations, and never-before-seen family archival material, Life’s Essentials with Ruby Dee shares the wisdom of the ages with this present generation and carries the legacy of Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee forward in history for the first time in feature documentary form.
Muhammad is attempting to raise money to create the film which is why he started a petition on Kickstarter. He’s attempting to reach his $50,000 goal in the next 37 days and if it worked for Issa Rae and Awkward Black Girl, we think it can work for him.
Check out a snippet of what the film will show in the clip below and tell us what you think. Will you support this effort?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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In 2001, Shari Griffith and Katrina Kelly were seniors in high school when Kelly suggested that they enter their school’s annual business plan competition. They both loved to cook and would often prepare meals together with each of them making a signature dish: Griffith always made her infamous chicken wings and Kelly mastered the desert course with her cake baking skills. It was during one of these dinners that the girls jokingly decided to combine their skills in the kitchen into a business plan for a catering company that combined their best recipes.
And although it all started out as a joke, they won the business plan competition and soon realized that they their idea might be a food pairing made in heaven. Soon after, they used their winnings from the competition to launch their home-based catering company, Cake N Wings.
A few false starts caused them to put their business dreams on hold, but in March of 2009, they re-launched Cake N Wings and have been going full steam ahead ever since. Now, with clients across the Tri-State area, Griffith and Kelly are looking to take things to the next level by expanding the Cake N Wings business into the fast lane with a food truck. Knowing that they wouldn’t be able to cover the costs of launching the truck on their own, the ladies turned to popular crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, to give them a boost.
Madame Noire recently caught up with the girls to discuss their goal of owning a food truck and how they came up with their business idea during a slumber party.
Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »
In case you’re not familiar with the Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, it’s a comedic show that follows (you guessed it) an awkward black girl as she navigates through work, love and life. The creator, who is also the show’s star, developed ABG to showcase and embrace the awkward in all of us and to finally give black women a lead character in media they can actually relate to.
Let me repeat, ACTUALLY relate to…because we all know good and well no Sistah can actually relate to some of these women that are invading their TVs via reality shows as of late. I digress.
The reason why I am so intrigued by this series is for two reasons (in addition to being hilarious):
- ABG is a web series: African Americans are always [and rightfully so] complaining about the lack of representation on network or broadcast television. We know that the chances that a black (or minority) show getting enough support from networks to actually be popular is slim to say the least. It can even be a relatively positive show…It doesn’t even have to be all hugs and kisses – we’re easy to please.
But via digital media, anybody with skills (demonstrated by ABG’s creator, Issa Rae), a strong support system (I’m pretty sure the ABG cast/crew isn’t rolling in the dough), and a decent camera or two can shoot, upload, and spread their show to fans and completely skip the “Hollywood Experience.” Now, I’m not sure what Issa Rae’s ultimate goal is for ABG. Maybe it is to eventually land on network/broadcast television. One thing is for sure, instead of sitting back and getting the same run around that other talent gets trying to “make it in the industry”, she used digital media to do her own thing and turn an idea into a popular web series.
- The fans responded via Social Media: As with anything, doing a show, either on your own or with the help of a major network, takes resources. ABG has received great responses from the fans. They have subscribed to Issa Rae’s YouTube channel, retweeted and posted status updates and shared new episodes to their streams, and flooded the show’s website with praise. But, as much as Issa wants ABG to be great, as supportive as the cast/crew is, and as much as we love ABG, “money makes the world go ‘round”. In order for the show to survive the first season, Issa created an ABG Kickstarter project to raise funds to shoot more episodes.
Kickstarter is a service where anybody with an idea can create a site where people can visit, learn more about the project, and donate. Similar to most fundraising efforts, based on your level of contribution, you receive different levels of appreciation from the project’s creator. The hook to Kickstarter is your project only receives funding if you meet the pledge goal you set. All those who pledged funds, won’t see a debit from Kickstarter if the project fails to meet the goal. So it’s up to the project’s creator to spread the word to meet the goal and receive funding. I have pledged to multiple projects in the past and just about all missed their goals.
I’m happy to report (yes, I backed this one too) that ABG met and surpassed its goal with two weeks to spare. To me, this represents the power of digital/social media and its ability to give ALL of us a chance regardless of the barriers that traditional media puts up (See: “The Gatekeepers Are Gone”). No need to suck your teeth and roll your eyes at the TV of some ignorant chicks throwing drinks in each other’s faces doing “what it takes” to be relevant. The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl shows that there are other options for entertainment, and other options to create your own success…sans the whole glass ceiling (and ignorant) thing.
…and I will be looking for my awkward stuff in the mail
I’m a Husband, Father, Consultant, Writer and all-around “Jack of All Tech” who is constantly giving folks the “Low Down” on technology on my blog BrothaTech. I also get my tech-writing hustle on via various tech-related sites all over the interwebz. My main tech topics include: mobile apps, smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices, small business, social media and related web-tech. Yeah, I Tweet about tech (and some other stuff) too. Look me up @BrothaTech“