The Amoralists is a theatre company that explores complex characters of moral ambiguity. We’re interested in “good guys” who are sometimes bad and “bad guys” who are sometimes good. Now that we know each other… The Bad and the Better is a classic detective story that sets modern issues against the stylistic backdrop of a classic film noir. The play tells the story of the Lang Brothers, two NYC police detectives, who find themselves with too much information in a conspiratorial plot to get a corrupt politician elected Governor of New York. The more information the brothers find out, the more their principles, loved ones and lives are put into jeopardy. The playwright (and Amoralists co-founder) Derek Ahonen set the play against the ideas of the Occupy Wall Street movement. The play examines some of the most morally ambiguous questions of our time: the dangers of blind loyalty; corruption in both radical movements and governments; the influence of money and power; belief in causes and how that can affect family relationships; and the duality and duplicity present in each individual. True to our mission, each character (and there are many) has moments throughout the play when you love them and moments when you loathe them. The Bad and the Better is the largest, most ambitious project The Amoralists have ever undertaken. We’re used to creating theatre at a break-neck pace and on a shoestring budget, but this show is on a whole other level. The piece calls for 35 actors, 8 set locations and the rental cost of our largest theatre to date. It is a project that most other theatre companies (regardless of their size or budget) wouldn’t have the confidence or gumption to attempt. But we believe we have to embrace these challenges to create a truly epic production that represents not only the scope of the play’s story, but also the societal challenges it illustrates. It’s so hard to fund theatre. Many playwrights play it safe and write plays for 4 characters and one couch center-stage in the hopes that some underfunded theatre can afford to produce it. It really inhibits the creativity that can come out of the art form; things start looking the same and getting really boring. Our goal is always to inject life into the theatre. Nakedness. Gunshots. Limbs flying. Punching through walls. That’s (part of) what The Bad and the Better is going to be and we can’t wait. We are excited to move from the black-box theatres of the East Village to The Peter Jay Sharp Theater on 42nd Street. We’re also thrilled to work with one of our favorite directors, Daniel Aukin, who is jumping into The Bad and the Better straight after his critically acclaimed run of 4,000 Miles at Lincoln Center Theater. It’s going to be a good time, so we hope you’ll all join us. Our General Manager Anthony Francavilla, Director of Marketing Seena Hodges, and I successfully crowdfunded another show, When Last We Flew, through RocketHub two years ago for the NY International Fringe Festival. With the exception of the three of us, the team is completely different so it’s like comparing apples to oranges in terms of base of supporters (though actually, that’s the least of the differences). I would say that our previous work with RocketHub definitely gave us the experience needed to be prepared for this project, which is so much more massive in scale. When Last We Flew had a budget of $8,000, $6,500 of which we crowdfunded through RocketHub. The Bad and the Better has a budget of around $75,000, $15,000 of which we are attempting to crowdfund, alongside a broad range of other fundraising initiatives: applying for grants, soliciting more major donors, planning several special events, and seeking in-kind donations. For us, because we do multiple shows a year, I don’t think crowdfunding could ever be our only tactic. But it’s playing an absolutely pivotal role as one source of support amongst many. It gives us the ability to have a central project page with compelling content; built-in marketing opportunities by being a part of the larger RocketHub community; and the ability for people to share the project very easily. People so far have been really enthusiastic and supportive of the project, and we’re hoping to leverage that going into our last 1.5 weeks of the campaign. You’ve had a lot of success, any advice for others looking to crowdfund a similar project? Well, to begin—you have to have an interesting product. There’s no point starting a project unless it’s exciting. Figure out what’s special about what you’re offering and really play that up. Develop materials that reflect that: videos, images, copy, etc. Emphasize what’s new and different and tell people why they should care. Once you have all that in place—start close to home. Before you go wide with the campaign, you want to hit up close friends and family members who you know will donate so you build up a base of support. It’s a psychological thing—people are automatically more likely to support something that they see other people have already supported. Few people like being the first one to do something. Once you have a good amount in the coffers, then go wider. The key after that is personalized follow-up and putting out interesting content that validates your interesting project (through emails, social media channels, etc.—if you have that all set up; if not, then through personalized outreach). You don’t want your only message to be “Give us money.” Put out funny videos, pictures, Facebook posts, whatever you’ve got. Introduce them to the project a bit at a time to pique their interest. Often, people have every intention to give to a project but get busy or forget or the email gets pushed to the bottom of their inbox, so it’s really important to follow-up—personally, not via mass email—and remind them about the project an impending deadlines. In my opinion, it’s absolutely critical to get a few larger donations throughout the campaign, especially if you have a high financial goal. They get you to your goal quicker and ease the burden of having to find, say, 600 people to give $10 each in order to raise $6,000 (not an easy task). Having a couple of people who can give $500 or $1,000 makes the goal much more achievable. Figure out who these people might be beforehand so you’re not scrambling to figure it out in the middle of the campaign. Most importantly, thank your fuelers and let them know what you’re using the money for. People should get their gifts and see the result of their donation. Invite them to the show/reception/whatever you’re offering. Let them see their donation in action so that they’ll be happy to support you again. - Caroline Hendrix and The Amoralists, Theatre Company
Team RocketHub is proud to host the #SciFund Challenge 2: 75 scientists from around the world raising funds and telling the stories of wonderful science projects. We went live on May 1st - and #SciFund 2 has quickly become the largest crowdfunding initiative for science, ever! It’s been an awesome first week. The #SciFund Challenge 2 is about to cross the $45,000 mark and all of the projects have received support! Two projects have already reached their goal: 7-Toed Terrestrial Dolphins: Bored to Death! and Save lives, one filter at a time. And the press is covering individual projects and the overall endeavor. Here are a few neat projects you should check out - we will be highlighting more as The Challenge continues. Freshwater Turtles: Who needs ‘em? Watching Clouds in the Cloud Forest Making Brains!
My inspiration has always been, and will always be, the people around me. I wanted to create a project that captured real life and featured the true emotions behind those moments that we experience every day. The main topic of “A Good Man” involves my neverending exploration of relationships. The use of improvisational filmmaking and the availability of digital cameras have allowed me to explore that topic. I also wanted to dedicate this story to my Dad (who passed away recently) since he was the one that taught me what it truly means to be “A Good Man.” Crowdfunding gives you as much as you put into it. I believe that you just can’t put a project up there and expect people to give you money. You have to engage your audience and make them feel like a valuable piece of the process. My involvement has always been to keep creating content for my potential fuelers and show them what I can do. My supporters are happy to be a part of the process and devoted to the cause. Be as passionate about the project as you’d want others to be. People will see your passion and want to be a part of that. You can never fail as long as you believe in what you want to achieve. - Steve Strangio, Screenwriter, Playwright, Comedy Magazine Writer, Screenwriter for Interactive Films, Background in Improvisational & Stand-up Comedy, Actor in Films, Television, Radio, and Stage
Well, we all have long hair and are pretty nice guys in general but, I figured that wouldn’t grab anyones attention per se. I decided to take the video idea a little further. Instead of making a straight forward video laying out our intentions (which works great for most bands), I wanted something a bit more “out there.” A drama teacher friend of mine was telling me about a ‘kidnapping’ play he was working on with his students and that’s all I needed to hear. Most of my friends in NYC are actors, including myself, so it was an obvious choice: Let’s make a ridiculous short film. I brainstormed with some friends and decided to make an homage to one of my favorite movies of all time, The Big Lebowski. I hired a filmaker friend of mine, assembled a few talented actor buddies, and dove in. I wanted it to be over-the-top and crazy but, most importantly, I wanted it to lay out our intentions in a clear manner. And, after lots of editing, we accomplished that as strange as it turned out. People even told me they donated more because of the effort that went into the video and creative rewards we came up with. Most importantly, we are stoked on how this EP is turning out. It’s shaping up to be a great little collection of tunes and tastefully produced! What has your experience been as a crowdfunding pioneer in the world of multi-genre music in Queens, Brooklyn, and beyond - how are your supporters responding? I like this question. This whole process, especially as a self-managed indie band, comes with plenty of challenges. I think our supporters have responded immensely well. I’ve never been involved in a crowdfunding project so this whole campaign has been one big experiment for me. We’ve been lucky. Being based in NYC is great and is completely humbling. There is so much amazing artistry, talent, and innovative songwriting in this town. It challenges us to rise above even our “mediocrity.” Our fans as well as the venues we frequent in the NYC area are awesome, and most already have our music in their lives. Most of our financial lifeline as band has been touring and selling our merch to crowds across the US. All of these connections have been personal and awesome, and we want to provide a good quality listening experience. It seems the biggest challenge has been reaching most of those who are on the bubble about pre-ordering. I honestly think a lot of everyday music lovers don’t know the process it takes to keep bands afloat these days, especially without label support. It’s a fine line between asking for a handout, and really letting them understand that it is not easy. Social But, luckily, lots of our supporters have trusted that we’re committed to the process and donated generously beyond our belief! For crowdfunding success, use your creativity beyond making good music. Sometimes that is the hardest part but its the only way to set yourself apart from others. Surround yourself with active, positive energy and people. Make it personal, keep an open mind, and trust your effort. Honestly, I’m learning everyday just like most people. Does anyone have advice for me? Honestly, I’d LOVE to hear any and all! - Aaron LaVigne, Singer, Songwriter, Actor, and RocketHub Rocker See Aaron perform live at his Brooklyn residency every Tuesday in June - at RocketHub’s partner venue, Spike Hill.
Team RocketHub is proud to host the #SciFund Challenge - Round 2: Over 70 scientists from around the world raising funds, and telling the stories of some very fascinating science projects. We went live this morning - and what has happened since the launch has been kind of incredible. Support is rolling in and nearly all of the projects have already gained momentum and funds. This is the largest crowdfunding for science initiative in human history, where scientists are being funded by “the people,” as opposed to endowments, wealthy patrons, or the government. Even cooler, for the #SciFund Challenge, the public gets new access to the excitement of making modern science. Here are a few other projects that are worth taking a look at - we will be highlighting more as The Challenge continues. The Face of Pain Overcoming Drought on U.S. Farms Roads of the Ocean
“Is it real!?” - was my first reaction when I saw the trailer to the incredible Serbian documentary Battery Man (Biba Struja). Biba Struja (the Electrical Biba) is seemingly capable of collecting electricity and controling its power. Yes - apparently that’s possible and this film delves into the interesting life of the Battery Man. I wanted to learn more, so I spoke with the Belgrade-based filmmaking team. Biba Struja (Electrical Biba) is capable of accumulating electricity and he can consciously control its power while discharging it. Thanks to the powers he discovered by accident as a teenager, this fifty-one-year-old man has spent his entire life experimenting with electricity and proving to himself and others that electricity can not harm him. He exposed his body to electric shocks of high voltage (up to 20,000V), entered the The Guinness Book of Records twice and he wasn’t allowed to try the electric chair. When we first saw Biba (Slaviša Pajkić) as kids performing his electric stunts, we wanted to know who this man really was. And when we finally met him and felt Biba’s “electric healing” on our own skin, we realized The Battery Man really lived in our neighborhood. After that, we couldn’t stop wondering how it felt to be a battery? He was our hero from childhood and we remember him as a guest star from TV shows in Serbia. Since Biba has supernatural powers, people think of him to be different, so he often feels isolated and lonely. People avoid him, they don’t want to shake hands with him, and we wanted to bring that feeling into the movie - how does it feel when you are a different? Also, one of the first things we learn as children is not to put our fingers in a power socket. What would your life look like if you found out electricity could not harm you? That’s an incredible story and a smart idea for a doc. What next for this film? The national premiere is coming up at Beldocs International Documentary Festival on the 4th of May 2012 in Belgrade and we are so excited to share this film with the rest of the world. The project won Best Pitch Award at IDFA 2010 (IDFA is the most important documentary film festival in the world) and Best Pitch Award at Zagreb Dox 2010. Thank you for sharing this awesome man with the world. Check out the project, here. -Vlad
We’re proud to partner with eMusic for the next evolutionary step in crowdfunding. Here is what they had to say about it - we’ll have much on this in the coming weeks: eMusic Selects has served as a launch pad for up-and-coming independent artists since 2008. Today, the program has expanded through partnerships with RocketHub and Death and Taxes magazine. eMusic has announced that the Iranian post-punk band The Yellow Dogs, who are the 25th artist to join the eMusic Selects roster, will be the first to participate in the expanded program. RocketHub provides an innovative way for eMusic Selects artists to raise funds and awareness. Fans now have a direct way to support the artists that are signed to eMusic Selects – a program that provides marketing, publicity and editorial support for emerging artists to help them breakthrough in the industry. The Yellow Dogs RocketHub campaign will be featured on the eMusic site. eMusic is also the first RocketHub partner brand to match funds raised through their projects. The Yellow Dogs crowdfunding campaign starts today and will help to fund the band’s first-ever World Tour. To support The Yellow Dogs, fans can visit their RocketHub project page. “We created RocketHub to help artists and other creatives connect directly with a community that is as passionate as they are,” said Brian Meece, Co-Founder of RocketHub. “The eMusic Selects program is a perfect fit for us. We’re excited to be a part of it.” As part of a media partnership, Death and Taxes magazine will also be voicing their support for eMusic Selects artist, The Yellow Dogs, on their site. The indie music news site will help tell the incredible story of the Brooklyn-based, Iranian post-punk outfit The Yellow Dogs and track the progress of their RocketHub campaign. “eMusic has long been a supporter of indie artists, and we’re happy to work with them in this unique capacity,” said Stephen Blackwell, Publisher of Death and Taxes Magazine. “eMusic Selects is a program that we’re particularly proud of. We’re excited about the new partnerships that we have formed to give more exposure to The Yellow Dogs and future eMusic Selects artists,” said eMusic Editor-in-Chief, J. Edward Keyes. “Yellow Dogs is a great fit for this program –their biting post-punk has definitely resonated with eMusic members and their story is inspiring.” The Yellow Dogs’ EP “Upper Class Complexity” is available exclusively on eMusic for a limited time. The Yellow Dogs is comprised of long-time friends from Iran’s fledgling punk scene. The band members met in a park called “ghorbaghe”—“frog” in Farsi—where rockers, skaters and street artists of all types would congregate, albeit carefully under the eye of Iran’s strict laws. This lifestyle, which represented influence of Western culture, was illegal in Iran. The band used its limited means to garner a popular following around the area, eventually bringing their talents to the U.S. and settling in the indie rock bastion of Brooklyn. The eMusic Selects program started in 2008 to spotlight talented, unsigned bands and has served as a launching pad for some of today’s most sought-after indie bands. The Yellow Dogs are 25th band to be signed to the eMusic Selects program. Best Coast, the Rural Alberta Advantage, Crystal Stilts and Julianna Barwick all released some early albums through eMusic Selects. To watch a video on The Yellow Dogs amazing story, click here.
We have sung together for 10 years in different venues, but only began songwriting about 2 years ago. We would sit in our living rooms, drink tea, and write about our life experiences. Through this process, we discovered that we love to create music that gives voice to the bitter and sweet in life. Our project is all about sharing this with the world - and hoping people can find their voice in our music. What has your experience been as a crowdfunding pioneer in the world of country music in Canada - how are your supporters responding? We love that you consider us crowdfunding pioneers! Canada has an amazing music scene, although a lot of it isn’t necessarily mainstream, and most artists struggle to find “success” on a bigger scale. There are so many talented musicians in Canada, and it’s a shame that not more of them get noticed on a larger level. Luckily for us, social media has changed everything, and although it is still challenging to “get noticed”, we feel strongly about using social media as a means to raise awareness, share our music, build our fanbase and put ourselves out there as a band. It no longer matters where you’re from, how much money you have behind you, and what resources you have at your fingertips. The world (aka access to fans and exposure) is our oyster thanks to Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, RocketHub and other social media platforms. It’s an amazing time to be a musician! Our experience with crowdfunding has been incredible thus far. We have raised almost 40% of our $5,000 goal in the first 5 days of our campaign. We have found that people are excited to get in on the ‘ground floor’ of a project and partner with us to bring this project to life. Unfortunately, no one has taken us up on our $5,000 reward level to date. The reward is a hot date with Zoe, one of the lead singers of our band. But there’s still 24 days to go - so who knows?! Any takers? Bueller? Bueller? Our advice for crowdfunding success: 1. Share your passion for the project you are working on - people want to partner with a passionate initiative! 2. Spend time on your video - craft and tell a story that inspires! 3. Be creative with your rewards! 4. Share it with your network - and encourage people to share it with their networks! - Zoe & Ali of The Lovelocks
Several years ago my friend photographer Naomi White and I had the idea to shoot a piece about Clara Bow and Louise Brooks because we loved the look of those women and the style. We tossed around ideas about the tool of “silent film” as a way of expressing the difficulty of speaking one’s mind. Then we got busy and life passed. But the idea kept popping up in my mind, so last year I wrote the script of Mary & Louise with Naomi’s blessing. Turns out, when writing the story, I discovered needed more conflict between the two characters. (Clara Bow and Louise Brooks were both known for being vamps) I decided I to look for an America’s Sweetheart type character and chose Mary Pickford as a prototype. Then I just really got into writing the story, and everything else just came from there. The 1920’s and 1930’s was such an arresting era visually. That makes the project especially fun. People in general are very excited about the film. Turns out we are not alone in our admiration of that time period! So many wonderful people have come forward with support. We recently did an amazing interview with Mary Pickford’s great nieces, who were so sweet and funny, and who introduced us to Cristal Schmidt, who is writing a book about Mary Pickford for the Library of Congress. Some really great photographers expressed interest in photographing us as our characters and covering the shoot after seeing our rockethub page. Obviously the silent film style is very loved, and I think crowdfunding allows people to contribute even in a small way to projects that interest them, which I think is great. Of course It helps that the script is a finalist in the LA Comedy Shorts 2012 script competition. We are very grateful for that. I didn’t know we were pioneers! I just figured that if I’m really interested in something then there must be at least a small group of people also interested. Dark comedy is such a wonderful way of turning the dark stuff into light. What has really helped us is our promotional video. We were very very blessed to have been lent remarkable skills Rose Callahan, who took the pictures for our site, and William Philbin, who shot the interview and photo shoot. Jenni Higgins did a remarkable job with the make-up, etc. Jeffrey Morris of Kotorino (also my husband) did the music. Our friend Rachel Cohen lent clothes, as did my mother, and K Chang cut the wig for Louise. Also, the rockethub team has been very helpful all along. For crowdfunding success, I think you need to start with a strong story and well put together image. It’s very important to spend time and care with your presentation. If you are working with a specific theme like we are with silent film stars, you have to know that there are people out there who share your interests. Then you have to find them. - Amy Staats, Critically Acclaimed Actress, Writer, and Filmmaker
The inspiration for 23 Skidoo, came from this legend that I heard about the Flatiron building creating a windy slice in the New York Skyline which would blow women’s skirts up in the early 1900’s causing men to loiter and watch. This image stuck in my mind and brewed into this huge project where I am replicating the image with 110 performers. This project is at the heart of site-specific dance, where an architectural structure informs a narrative, a movement and a phenomenon. I am also inspired to work with a site that is so iconic to NYC as a sort of homage to my personal legend of a family who immigrated to NYC around the time the building was constructed. This is the 110th anniversary of the Flatiron buidling and thus I am inspired by that too, as the project lands this spring. This is my second crowd-funding campaign. Last year I went to Buenos Aires with a collaborator to work with local artists there on a dance film project. We were successful and it made our project feasible~ So far, since the launch of my campaign, my supporters are excited about the project. They have spread the word to their dancer friends, as this is an opportunity for many people to perform. There is room for them to get involved as well and/or they know they can come see the performance on June 21st and be a part of this huge NYC based event. I have a reward for supporters to come to rehearsals which means they can also offer their creative feedback. I think its important for there to be an outlet for supporters to be involved creatively with the project as well as monetarily. I am planning to have the 100 performers contribute $5-10 to the campaign which will ‘literally’ crowd fund the cost of my rehearsal warehouse. I like the idea of a project which exudes the crowd-funding concept, many people getting involved to support a vision. Want to get involved as a dancer/actor? RSVP here! - Shandoah Goldman, Artistic Director/Choreographer of her own interdisciplinary artistic practice Photo 1 & 3 by Christopher Lovenguth, Photo 2 by Omar Nasir