2014-04-29

Ask the Creator: Diahnna Nicole Baxter – Cowboy’s Girl

Part four in our series “Ask the Creator”. Diahnna Nicole Baxter is an Emmy Award winning actor / writer / producer based out of Los Angeles. Currently, she is running a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter for her short film “Cowboy’s Girl”. The story of the film is based on Diahnna’s own relationship with her estranged father. We talked with her about her inspiration for the project, how she heard about crowdfunding for the first time, and how she prepared for the campaign.

CAPITAL C: Hi Diahnna! Before we talk about your short film, could you please tell us about your background in film?

Diahnna: I first got involved in film as an actress and writer. I started off in NYC and did a lot of Off-Broadway shows. I came to Los Angeles with one of them and stayed because I thought there would be more work. I soon realized there was more work but it didn’t mean quality roles, especially for a black actress. So I decided to take my career in my own hands. I teamed up with a director and we created Satacracy 88, a sci-fi, choose your own adventure thriller. We co-wrote it together and released it on the web. This was in 2006 – pre social media landscape except Myspace. The series ended up being a hit and we won the first Emmy Award for broadband content. You can still check out the series on Hulu! Unfortunately you can’t choose the ending anymore but its still fun sci-fi. Cowboy’s Girl is my first film and I have a feature about Billie Holiday in development now as well.

CAPITAL C: How did you come up with the idea for “Cowboy’s Girl” and what is it all about?

Diahnna: Cowboy’s Girl is inspired by my own relationship with my father. He isn’t an actual Cowboy, nor does he know much about them, but he reinvents himself every few years and he chose to rename himself and assume the identity, Cowboy.

A few years ago, I went to Las Vegas to visit my father for what I thought would be the last time. Years of drug addiction had taken a toll on his body and he was told he didn’t have much time following his recent heart attack.

Over the years, family secrets began to surface. There was whispering and there were doubts about whether he was my biological father. He himself denied me more than once (although he took it back repeatedly). Armed with a DNA test, this was my last chance to find out the truth – and perhaps knowing the truth would set me free.

Cowboy’s girl is inspired by this particular encounter. It re-examines identity, family, forgiveness, and acceptance.

CAPITAL C: Have you cast anyone yet for the role of Cowboy?

Diahnna: Yes! We just signed on screen legend Tony Todd! I am so excited about this because he’s one of the rare actors who are capable of embracing the unique blend of brutality, vulnerability, instability and charisma that this character demands. Most people know him as “Candyman” and for his horror films. I have had the opportunity to see other work from him on stage and he is just a powerful actor no matter the genre. He is going to breathe life into the character and we are honored.

CAPITAL C: Why did you choose crowdfunding over any other form of funding your movie? How did you hear about it the first time?

Diahnna: I chose crowdfunding for Cowboy’s Girl because I wanted to reach an audience that could relate to the film. The universal message of children without fathers taking a quest to find out why they where abandoned. It’s a haunting, poetic film, being made by a crew who are used to making a ‘product’ and taking notes that come down from the corporate level. Through crowdfunding, we can make a true piece of art; a film told in the most compelling way possible. And we are doing it with our supporters who think likewise.

CAPITAL C: How did you prepare your Kickstarter campaign?

Diahnna: We prepared an awesome pitch video as well as shot additional video content to be released throughout the campaign.

We have a social media director, Khalil Anthony, and he works with a group of assistants who each have an arm of social media assigned to them: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, blogs, etc. We all monitor what the other is doing. The director and myself constantly feed that team with information, pictures, original video content, and links. We have been storing up those items for months.

CAPITAL C: Last but not least: Pitch us your project in 1 headline and 3 short sentences!

Diahnna: A daughter journeys to Las Vegas with a DNA kit to discover if her ailing, mercurial father was ever truly her dad.

The film follows Karina, a successful academic, who travels to rundown Las Vegas to see ‘Cowboy’, her estranged and unpredictable father who has recently reinvented himself in the mold of a western hero. Years of family secrets and Cowboy’s own denial of her as a child has led Karina to believe he may not be her biological father. Because of his failing health, it is her last chance to discover the truth about her identity, and she knows this volatile man will not easily give up the answer.

2013-11-12

Ask The Creator: Jackson Robinson – Sherlock Holmes playing cards

Part three in our series “Ask the Creator”. When we met Jackson Robinson for the first time earlier this year, we had no idea that the story of this guy would become one of the main stories of CAPITAL C. We can’t wait to show you his compelling story in the final movie. As long as the movie is still in production, we would like to introduce him to you guys here and today with a short interview in our “Ask the Creator” series. Learn from one of the most passionate crowdfunders we have ever met (and we have talked with quite a few). Also, don’t miss his third crowdfunding campaign for his wonderfully drawn playing cards on Kickstarter, the first officially licensed Sherlock Holmes playing cards!

Please note that the clown will not make it into a card design (hopefully). Cool child drawing though.

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CAPITAL C: Congratulations on your third successful playing cards project! Before we talk about the current project, how did you come up with the idea of designing cards?

Jackson: Art and design has always been a big part of my life. I’ve been drawing since I could hold a crayon. As a kid, I also remember trying to invent or create my own games. I’d cut up hundreds of little pieces of paper making decks of cards. My love of art continued throughout my education and career. As I branched out to create my own business, it was then that my love of art/design and passion for the art of playing cards began to converge.

CAPITAL C: Why did you choose crowdfunding for your decks?

Jackson: I just love the whole concept. A creator brings his idea to the masses for approval instead of the traditional way of doing it, for example, getting a loan or showing my designs to a company or corporate buyer and seeing if they want it. The reason I chose crowdfunding is because it takes the power out of the hands of the few and puts it in the hands of many.

CAPITAL C: What are your top 3 tips for successfully crowdfunding a project?

Jackson: I have learned so much with each project. Hopefully this advice will help someone else be successful too:

1 – Make your ‘funders’ an integral part of your project. People love to feel connected and like they have been heard. They are likely to give more and publicize more on your behalf, if they feel a personal connection. You can achieve this by a number of ways including: updates, letting the funders/backers vote on aspects of the project, or giving them tasks as a part of the campaign.

2 – Plan Ahead. Before you ever sit down at a crowdfunding website and ask people for money, have a plan, a back up plan, and several alternative plans. There are so many moving parts to these kinds of projects and these are not always going to go smoothly. But if you have contingency plans, that will help a lot.

3 – Let your personality shine through your project. People want to feel connected to a real person. There are so many ways to share who you really are through campaigns like these. Use opportunities like an informational video, campaign updates, photos and other communication to let these supporters know who you are.

CAPITAL C: Your current project is the first officially licensed Sherlock Holmes playing card deck. What is so fascinating about Sherlock Holmes, and what can we expect during the rest of the campaign?

Jackson: Sherlock is fascinating to me because of the characters and stories. I also fell in love with the original pencil and engraving illustrations that were published with it. I have lots of stuff in store for my backers in the Sherlock Holmes project from limited edition decks to screen printed posters.

Show Jackson some love on Facebook:

Kings Wild Project

2013-08-13

Ask The Creator: Enzo Tedeschi – The Tunnel Movie

Part two in our new series “Ask the Creator”: Today with Enzo Tedeschi, co-writer and co-producer of the award-winning horror movie “The Tunnel”. Enzo and his team used the power of the crowd, even without a crowdfunding platform. We talked with him about his experiences and some secret (not anymore now) tips for a successful campaign.

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CAPITAL C: Your movie “The Tunnel” received positive feedback, not only for its story but also for its way of financing. Could you tell us about your way of crowdfunding and what the 135K project is all about?

Enzo: When we decided to turn to crowdfunding, the current platforms were in their very early days, so we decided to go it on our own and create our own system. Shooting at a PAL frame rate: 25fps x 90 mins = 135,000 frames, so we thought selling each frame for $1 would be a great pitch for getting people to contribute to the project. It wasn’t so much a donation or a pledge as it was a transaction: they were buying a unique, numbered frame (or several) from the film which would be sent out to them at the time of release. On top of that, we felt that asking the internet to fund the film, then ask them to pay for it again to be able to watch it didn’t really add up – so we made the call to release The Tunnel for free on peer-to-peer. We have since racked up over 11 million downloads of the film, as well as tens-of-thousands of DVDs and VOD views. We managed to raise enough from our campaign to get us on set and shooting, and as a result of what we were able to show of initial production we were able to get other sources of funding over the line: DVD distribution, TV, in-flight, Apps etc.

CAPITAL C: What do you think how crowdfunding is changing the world of filmmaking? How did it change your approach to making movies?

Enzo: I think filmmaking is really feeling the power of the crowd in a lot of ways. The direct connection with an audience is allowing filmmakers to get a feel for what people want to see, and what kind of audience is out there for their content, not to mention shortcutting the process of finding the audience at release time. I’m not sure it will ever replace other funding sources for massive budget productions, but it is certainly a viable option for filmmakers in their early careers, or for even those with more runs on the board as a part of a larger finance plan.

The fact that we were on set while our campaign was running (it still is – you can still buy frames at www.thetunnelmovie.net) created an interesting mindset. Usually, you’re stressing on set, wondering if what you’re doing is going to resonate with an audience. We were on set knowing that it was our audience that put us there, specifically because they wanted to see what we were doing come to fruition. As filmmakers, you can’t really ask for much more than knowing your audience believes in you and your stories. It was a massive gust of wind in the sails for the entire cast and crew to see the frame tally ticking over daily.

CAPITAL C: What are your top 3 tips for successfully crowdfunding a project?

Enzo: 1 – Make sure your project is suitable for a crowdfunding campaign. Historically, certain types of content fare better than others. I probably wouldn’t be looking to crowdfunding to raise money for, say, a historical period drama. Science fiction, or a superhero movie on the other hand plays right into the crowdfunding wheelhouse.

2 – Let your presence as a filmmaker be felt. Don’t hide from the camera. Make the video component of your pitch personal. Let the crowd hear from you directly. People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

3 - Communicate and engage. Talk to your audience, not AT them. Have an idea of what you’re going to be posting on social media throughout your campaign. Create discussion, don’t shout through a megaphone. People want to feel engaged and a part of what you’re doing, not that they are being sold or advertised to. Talk about things that are not about your project but that are relevant. I’d recommend posting a Facebook update daily, for example, and a campaign update maybe once a week, or when something notable occurs. Think about how you’re going to extend that communication into other people’s blogs, papers etc.

CAPITAL C: What projects will we see next from you and your friends at Distracted Media, and will it include crowdfunding mechanisms again?

Enzo: We are now getting ready to run our next crowdfunding campaign for our new series ‘Airlock’. It’s a sci-fi series and it is pretty ambitious. We already have some backing from Screen Australia, and we’re also investigating other funding sources now. As you can imagine, science fiction can be quite expensive by comparison to something like a first-person, or found-footage horror film! We’re aiming high on this one for sure! So yes, we still see crowdfunding as a very viable and crucial part of the funding strategy for this project.

Show Enzo and his team some love on Facebook:

Distracted Media

The Tunnel Movie

2013-06-27

New Series: Ask The Creator!

From today on we will regularly blog about a broad range of crowdsourcing based projects that we think are worth supporting. We hope you like the projects as much as we do! Do you have any suggestions what we should ask the creators? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, and email!

We recently met with the “Family Adventure Guy” Charles Scott, who left the corporate world to become a writer and family adventurer. He takes his young children on crazy endurance challenges around the world linked to charitable causes and writes about the experiences for National Geographic, CNBC, the Huffington Post, and others. He is the author of Rising Son: A Father and Son’s Bike Adventure Across Japan. He was chosen by Red Tricycle as one of “New York City’s Coolest Dads” (he IS really cool) and the United Nations named his family “Climate Heroes” for their work to protect the environment (we think that is pretty cool, too).

He also recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund a book and lecture series about his latest adventure: cycling 1,700 miles along the Lewis & Clark Trail with his 12-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter.

We talked with him about his project, what he thinks about crowdfunding, and why the heck he is doing crazy things like this in general.

CAPITAL C: In a recent Huffington Post article, you wrote, “We are living in a time when artists no longer need approval from a gatekeeper in order to share their vision with the world.” Weren’t you one of those gatekeepers?

Charles: (laughs) Yes, although I was evaluating entrepreneurs rather than artists. I was a deal maker in the venture capital group at Intel Corporation. Companies made pitches to receive an investment from Intel, and we turned down most of them. I learned from that experience that being rejected by a venture capitalist doesn’t mean your idea won’t be a success. Being rejected by a VC may just mean that you don’t fit into their particular investment profile. This experience gave me the confidence to create “Family Adventure Guy” and put it out there to the world. Some people won’t be interested, but others may be inspired to come up with their own family adventures. And I want kids in particular to recognize that they are capable of doing a whole lot more than most adults think.

CAPITAL C: Speaking of kids, you sure do ask a lot of your own. You cycled the length of Japan – 2,500 miles in 67 days – with your son when he was only 8 years old?! You cycled the circumference of Iceland over 46 days with your son at age 10 and your daughter, who was only 4 years old. You also rode bicycles with them across Germany, Switzerland, France and England. And this summer, you expect them to cycle 1,700 miles across the western U.S. You know that there’s a big mountain chain in the way called the Rockies that your kids will need to ride over, right? You said that kids can do a lot more than most adults think, but are you sure this isn’t too much to ask?

Charles: I love this question. The only time my 8-year-old son expressed self-doubt when we were cycling across Japan came when a stranger told him that a trip like that was too hard for a kid. My son turned to me and asked, “Daddy, is this too hard for me?” I suggested that he keep pedaling until we reached the end of Japan, then send that guy a post card saying, “I guess you were wrong!” I don’t know if my children and I can cycle over the Rocky Mountains — we’ve never done it before. But we’re going to try, and if we make it, I hope kids who hear about us will think, “If a 6-year-old girl can pedal over the Rocky Mountains, I must be able to do some amazing things too!”

CAPITAL C: You’ve just launched a Kickstarter campaign to self-publish your next book, Daunted Courage: The Perils of Cycling the Lewis & Clark Trail with Kids. Why didn’t you just approach one of the big publishing houses? You have National Geographic publishing your trip essays on their Intelligent Travel blog. The New York Times will run a story on you, and you already have a following from your previous adventures. I’m sure you could get a book deal with a major publisher.

Charles: Maybe. I haven’t tried, because I think the reality of the traditional publishing world is that most authors have to do the majority of PR for their book themselves anyway. I would prefer to own my work and reach out directly to people who are interested in what I’m doing. That’s what’s so great about the Crowd revolution. I don’t need to spend a bunch of energy convincing a gatekeeper in a publishing house whether I’m worthy of being added to their list of books. I’ll let the Crowd decide. By the way, my kids and I are also going to give a series of talks at schools and science museums about our experience on the Lewis & Clark Trail. And I’ve arranged for a film crew to capture our attempt to cycle over the Rockies. I’m going to make a short documentary about that experience. My goal is to encourage people to unshackle themselves from sedentary living, too much stress, self-imposed limits, and anything else that gets in the way of pursuing a healthy, meaningful life. And I hope the Crowd will help me do that.

2013-06-04

FIRST OFFICIAL TRAILER FOR CAPITAL C

Big news! Check out the first official trailer for CAPITAL C here and today on our brand new shiny website! Just click the video and enjoy – we’ll hang out here meanwhile:

Have you watched it to the end? Did you see the pink cats dancing in pajamas? No? Make sure you don’t miss them and watch it again!

With or without dancing cats, we hope you’ve enjoyed the trailer! We can’t wait to hear and read your feedback about it! And don’t forget: if you liked the trailer, please spread the word!

Even if it was just for a 2.5 minute piece, the editing was the most important part of the process so far. Compiled out of more than 100 hours of footage with billions of ways to do it, this trailer defines the overall tone of the whole movie.

The road is in front of us. We only have to follow it since most obstacles, uncertainties, and difficulties of making a project like this happen, are behind us. But of course, there is still a lot of work to do.

The last missing topics are defined and within the upcoming days we will start our last leg of filming. Join us in the making of CAPITAL C via Facebook and Twitter!

Once we are done filming, we will continue editing right away. So, expect more clips to come soon.

Yours,

the CAPITAL C team

P.S.:

You may have recognized some of them already, however, here is a list of the interviewees featured in the trailer (in order of appearance):

ZACH CRAIN – CEO Freaker USA
DAVID WEINBERGER – Harvard University
SCOTT THOMAS – Design Director President Obama ’08
MOLLY CRABAPPLE – Illustrator
ANDY BAIO – Co-Founder XOXO Festival
BRIAN FARGO – CEO inXile, Video Game Veteran
PROF. ERIC VON HIPPEL – MIT
JOSEF DUNNE – Co-Founder Babelverse
PROF. DAVID ALAN GRIER – President IEEE Computer Society

P.P.S.:

Keegan and his team at Reelhouse became a supportive force in our endeavor to get CAPITAL C out there. Reelhouse is a new and beautifully designed video platform that allows for distributing content directly to the audience. You can also share exclusive behind the scenes footage via the platform. We think that’s pretty amazing and we will definitely make use of it. (Side note: now even Sundance teamed up with them. Keep going Reelhouse!)

2013-05-28

Hey Guys!

To all of you who are not in touch with us in person or via social media channels:
this update is for you… and it’s worth reading!

As described earlier, this project has grown even larger than expected. So first we want to give a HUGE thank you for the ongoing support and generosity we’ve gotten so far from our Kickstarter backers and supporters!

After going through more than 100 hours of footage we have now finished our VERY FIRST TEASER CLIP of CAPITAL C, which will be aired on this website in the next few days. Until then, we have some screenshots for you.
We’ve also re-launched our website to keep you up to date on CAPITAL C. So expect more news to come soon!

Yours,
the crew of CAPITAL C

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