Indie Game Studio from Québec Crowdfunds a New Way

I’ve founded Nine Dots Studio with one goal in mind: to contribute to the video game industry in a meaningful way. Our industry is afflicted with a myriad of bad practices and it takes its toll on the developers. Working for 100 hours a week to complete a project which was mostly designed by the marketing team before being fired upon completion of a project isn’t my idea of a fulfilling career. A lot of people will say that “you knew what it’s like in the video industry before getting in, so if you don’t like it just do something else with your life.” Sorry for the bad language, but fuck that. These are not your only options. It is time to show the naysayers that you can make video games for a living, raise kids and make sure everyone in the project feels involved. …and this is why I love the RocketHub community. Guillaume Boucher-Vidal, the man behind Nine Dots Studio and the new game Brand, represents a new way for making good creative work. His crowdfunding campaign has been visited by thousdands and is quickly becoming a hit. So why is Brand important to me? It’s a pilot project. It was made following the principles behind the company. I don’t expect Brand to be the best game ever, but it is our very first game. We’re building a foundation, and I am sure that our next project will be bigger and better. We’ve learned so much and that’s exactly what we were looking for. We’re a team of five who worked on this project for nine months, full time with no salary. Considering this, we don’t even expect to make minimum wages in sales with this game. As they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will our success be instantaneous, unless we get incredibly lucky. However, the amount of support we will receive for Brand will be a very determining factor on how fast we will reach our bigger ambitions. You’re well on your way to meeting your goals with Brand. How has your experience been as a crowdfunding pioneer in the world of indie-gaming and self-publishing - how are your supporters responding? So far we’ve received a tremendous support. I’m so happy to see that our cause is important to others and that we aren’t alone in this. It goes without saying that it’s not as easy as it seems at first to run a crowdfunding campaign, especially when you don’t have a community already behind you. A lot of successful projects were launched by people or groups that had a following from years of work behind them, such as the incredibly talented team at Extra Credits. Being new to the scene ourselves, we are trying hard to reach out as much as we can, but it’s a noisy world and it’s hard to get heard. We’d love to be featured on big gaming websites, but we can’t force things either. So far, the contributors have been very generous and we’re so grateful. It’s not just about money either; we’ve been contacted by talented individuals who were interested in contributing to our projects at Nine Dots with their skills in many different fields. We were offered free services from writers, video editors, visual artists, designer, composers and even a lawyer! We’ve been attracting talent with our cause. What this tells us is that there are a lot of people who believe in a healthier game industry and we’ll keep pushing for them. Your passion and dedication is very evident and fans around the world are taking notice. You’ve built a lot of momentum - any advice for Creatives looking to crowdfund a similar project? The number 1 thing that got us this visibility was our appearance in Extra Credits. Back when they started their first funding campaign for Allison’s surgery, I instantly jumped on the occasion to support them. I bought the $1000 perk, which is to let you choose the subject for an episode. They were kind enough to reference us in their video and help us get some visibility with their audience, which started our momentum. I think that crowdfunding is all about solidarity, and helping out Extra Credits has returned us even more benefits than what it had cost me initially. I also started an association called Indie Québec and I organized a launch event that featured the RocketHub campaigns of three studios (Anonymality, Scarecrow Digital and us). It took place in a bar and we had over 200 attendees, so it was a major success for the whole association. But we quickly realized that people weren’t comfortable with using their credit cards on online services during a public event. Some of them did get to fund the projects while they were there, but there were much more contributions made in the following days from those who had time to ponder if they would contribute or not. So here’s my advice: concentrate your efforts in online media, where potential contributors are a few clicks away from fueling your project. Not a lot of people are aware of how crowdfunding works, it’s a relatively new concept and you will spend half of your time explaining what it is and the other half explaining what is your project. That’s a lot of information and they need to assimilate all this at their own pace, in front of their computer. Also, if you don’t have a massive following behind you, then find people who do and who might be interested in sharing info on your project. Your own Facebook, Twitter and blog probably won’t be enough. It’s all about working together! Great advice - thank you Guillaume and thank you to Nine Dots Studio. Your first game is a success and it hasn’t even come out yet. Grab a copy, here. -Vlad

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  • December 9, 2011

Curating.info - Crowfunding a Fellowship

A guest post by Michelle Kasprzak about her Curating.info platform and an innovative approach to funding a fellowship: I was inspired to create a Fellowship for curators because it is difficult for curators to find time to commit to a period of research. This opportunity will give a curator paid time away from their usual situation to react to the rich cultural fabric of Glasgow, conduct research and produce their own exhibition, which is a very powerful combination of factors. I think this Fellowship could really make a fundamental change to an emerging or mid-career curator’s professional trajectory. It was also time I did something concrete with Curating.info (http://curating.info), the curating website I’ve been running since 2006 as the web’s premier resource for contemporary art curators. The site has incredible momentum, and the team has now grown so I have four people working with me on the site, not to mention our thousands of fans on Facebook. A Fellowship seemed a natural thing to include atthis point in developing Curating.info and its growing community. Crowdfunding is still a relatively new concept and I have to be patient and explain how it works, but many people have captured the concept instantly and reacted very well. In Europe we are facing heavy cuts to the arts and I think that if crowdfunding is not as known now, it soon will be as people get more creative in their approach to supporting their projects and building community around them. It’s been heartening to see the quick surge of support in the beginning – now I am gearing up for a big finish! What are some of the lessons you’ve learned from your crowdfunding adventure? I would say to follow the advice that you folks have kindly provided here on RocketHub! Send out personal appeals to friends and family, get a video together, and give your rewards some careful consideration. Use all the social media tools at your disposal to keep spreading the word – don’t worry about sounding like a broken record! One thing I have learned the hard way as a newbie to this is that I have set my financial target quite high. Look at what other projects that are similar to yours have made, and shoot for a target in a similar range. I was thinking ambitiously but maybe should have aimed for a more modest target my first time out. Great work Michelle. Everyone can support this new way to curate and discover innovative arts in Glasgow and beyond. -Vlad

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  • December 7, 2011

One Hot Kitchen - The Debut of Opera Electronica

Catch the C train to the sexiest apartment building in Hell’s Kitchen where you will meet a couple fresh from the Midwest, two gay men suddenly free to make it legal, mismatched roommates, a booty call gone bizarrely awry, and a tragic hypochondriac. Some are spicier than others and some like it hot, but everyone is just trying to make it in the Big Apple in ONE HOT KITCHEN. Wow! That opening paragraph definitely caught my eye. When I dug a little deeper, I learned that the team behind this crowdfunding project, Metropolis Opera Project, was inventing and exploring a whole new genre of live entertainment: opera electronica. From the composer Kristin Hevner Wyatt: My inspiration for this piece was to combine two genres that are seemly very separate in our world today — but, in fact, not as far apart as some may think. The majority of my music studies have been in classical music; however, my iTunes is packed with hip-hop, dance, electronica, dj remixes as well as my favorite classical music. This piece in particular, uses the colors and technology of current electronica dance music as its base, while featuring operatic/musical theater vocal lines to highlight each singer and the emotion only a voice can carry. Both genres aim to do the same thing: tell a story. To me, combining electronica and opera allows for a unique expansion of expression in both respective genres that can only be captured in this way. Makes total sense! What has your experience been converting this new genre to the crowdfunding realm? The experience continues to be a learning one and quite exciting! Setting up the initial account and filming the intro video were such amazing motivators to help us understand how involved our contributors were going to be in this process. We are kind of like the ambassadors of electronica opera and couldn’t be happier or more thrilled about it! It’s a fusion of so many different musical genres and really allows people to have such a unique theatrical experience. Between the groundbreaking musical effects and soaring melodies, these performers are telling such a riveting story about NYC today and what we have to deal with in our everyday lives. Issues concerning everything from extramarital affairs to gay marriage, with a dash of “occupy wall street” — with the core of it all being about human relationships and how we are all affected by the simplest of interactions. To quote the show ONE HOT KITCHEN, “Everything can change, but the past. Occupy the real world with me.” What makes for successful crowdfunding? Our advice for anyone working on projects in crowdfunding is most importantly be passionate about the project! If you don’t believe your own project is worth fueling than no one else will either! Don’t be afraid to reach out to anyone because you never know who might be interested in contributing and it’s important to have a really supportive team working to make it all happen! If you stay positive and have something truly wonderful to share - the world will embrace it! Thank you for bringing this uniquely awesome and innovative work to the RocketHub community. Get your tickets and other rewards, here. -Vlad Photos courtesy of KadeemaBK Photography.

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  • December 5, 2011

Omaha Rocks - Where the Spoken Word Comes to Life

Brittany “Epiphany” Mason, a native of Omaha, Nebraska, has been using her gift in writing and performing spoken word poetry to reach the masses with a unique style and creativity. Epiphany’s raw and honest style caught my ear as soon as her campaign began on RocketHub. I wanted to learn the story behind her talent and passsible. My inspiration for this project is to give the world something it has never heard before. It has a message that is creative and motivational. This is my very first poetry album, and the musical beats make the words really come to life. The last lines of the first poem on the album are the reason why it’s called “Say it to a Beat”: In every word I speak You can hear my heart beat So I don’t just say it to a rhythm I say it to a beat It is my hope that everyone who hears it will be encouraged. I have received tremendous support for this project! Using Rockethub has not only helped me fund my album, but it has also helped me get a lot of great publicity! Supporters have been spreading it on Facebook and through email, so it’s really gone far beyond what I could have done by myself! Awesome! What’s worked so well for you and your campaign? What advice can you give? Plan, plan, plan ahead! (If you’re going to do it you might as well do it right!) Before I launched the project I made sure my page looked compelling by gaining inspiration from other RocketHub pages that had been successful. I also read the tips on Rockethub and they were really helpful. I even got a team together before the launch by asking for help in a post on Facebook: “Hi Friends and Family! I need your help! I’m putting together a team to spread the word about my very first poetry album that will be released soon! If you would like to support please inbox me. It won’t take more than 10 minutes of your time but it would be a great help! Anyone who joins the team will get a free copy of the album and my never ending love and appreciation :-)“ It got several responses and they really helped me spread the word! Some of them even fueled the project! Thank you Brittany for giving us a glimpse into your inspiration. Grab your copy of the upcoming album, here. -Vlad

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  • December 2, 2011

SARCIA, Where Indie Games Meet High-Art

SARCIA is an indepedent video game series that exemplifies the beautiful merger of art and gaming. It even adopts the format of a stylistic TV series. Each month, a new episode will be brought to the public with an expansion of the storyline. I connected with Michaël Lavoie, the man behind this visually stunning vision and crowdfunding campaign, to learn more. Well, as far as I remember I always wanted to create my own and personal Universe. I created so many stories in my head since I was a young boy that I lost count of them a long time ago. So as I wanted to do share this Universe with the whole world, I took the means to do it. As I think that the Video Game media has so many things unexplored yet I wanted to create an interactive way to share my Universe with others, so what better way than the Internet and the exploding Indie Gaming public? Very young, I started to create video games, I did not ”want to work in the video game industry” I just wanted to create my things. At the age of 12 I found out that awesome software called RPG Maker 2000. This software was very user friendly and it let me create very simple games. But as time goes on I was never really happy with the result, I always wanted it to be more original, more personal, like I saw it in my head. So, when I finished High School, I went to a 3D animation school and I learned it during 3 awesome years. While these 3 years passed, I always worked on my universe on the side, always thinking of it. And many of my school works were, in fact, based on this universe, like some sort of tests to see what it would look like. During this time, I also lost a bit of interest in video games and instead developed a very high appetite for movies, so I was thinking maybe I could do an animation film instead!? So for my final school work, I did a very short animation teaser of what my Universe was at that time in my head. Which is pretty close to what it is today again in fact.  So what brought me back to the video game media? Simple, a few months after that, I discovered some awesome independent video games. (Sword & Sworcery, Knytt, Knytt Stories, Braid, Limbo, etc…) and I read an awesome article (Superbrothers’ Less Talk, More Rock!) and I found out that video games still have some very awesome features that just began to emerge. So I thought, why not try to bring my two favorite media more together. I decided to bring some of the movie media into video games! It is not a new idea, It is simply an idea that is not developed enough in my sense and SARCIA is the result of all this. I think that Video Games are highly about immersion and imagination. When you play a video game, you immerge yourself in an alien world to you. You live a unique version of a story, your version of a story. This is what the first episode of SARCIA is all about. I give you a world to explore, a frame to experience, it is the player that will make his own vision of it. You’ve had a pretty long and winding journey to this point - I commend you for your dedication. Now at this stage, what has your experience been as a crowdfunding pioneer in the world of indie-gaming and self-publishing - how are your supporters responding? My experience for the moment is pretty good. My Fuelers now are mainly friends and people that believe in me and I had a pretty good start thanks to them. I could not do this without their support. They saw what I can do for my Universe, how much work I put in it and how passionate I am about it and I am glad that they chose to support me. I owe them a lot. Also, about the time that I started my RocketHub Campaign, I presented the project to some indie game developpers forums and the response is highly positive so I cannot be more happy about that! I think it is very nice that in our world today, creatives are no more obligated to pass by an editor to publish themselves. It is probably one of the most beautiful features of the internet in fact. The ability to share information, games, music, movies almost instantly to the whole world is kinda one of our greatest invention in humankind history. It brings our minds all close together to a same place while being so far away physically from each other. We’re proud to have your beautiful game as part of the RocketHub community. Do you have any advice for Creatives looking to launch a similar project? The best advice that I could give to Creatives is surely to make people talk about your project. Don’t be shy to share it on forums of people you think will like your project. Creating an official website and a Facebook page for example are also good means to get talked about. Also, if possible, giving regular news about the project is very interesting for people that like your project. People love to see the Creatives at work. Another advice for creators is, listen to your public. When your project goes out, listen all the comments, and take out the most interesting points. Your work will surely get better. Communication between the creator and his public is always a good thing I think. Perfect advice and project. Thank you Michaël. You can grab your copy of the game and the first installments, here. I already did. -Vlad

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  • December 1, 2011

Charles Frank Creates Coming-Of-Age Film

Doodle is a short film about a teenage girl who comes to understand how she can be true to herself within the framework of her Mother’s expectations. The idea of someone appropriating their parents’ values on their own terms resonates with me because of the experience I have had at a private high school. The boarding students there inspire me, as they choose to follow their own dreams without being overtaken by those of their parents. Ultimately, this is why I decided I wanted to pursue this project. It was only natural that I felt that I could best express these feeling through film. This message of identity, growth, and nostalgia resonated with me. Charles Frank’s success as a student filmmaker and crowfunding pioneer needed to be told. So I caught up with Charles to learn a little more. This is my first attempt at crowdfunding, and it’s been a great experience. It has been an extremely convenient way to reach people on a personal level through the page. I believe without a platform like RocketHub, my project would not be visible to a widespread audience like it is now. My supporters are enthusiastic about being a part of the film-making process because they know that they are integral into making my dreams, and this film, come alive. We have received a great response to our video, and to the incentives that we offer. One of our supporters, when publicizing our project on Facebook, wrote, “Please help him out by giving just a little bit of cash. You’ll feel good about it— trust me.” I am humbled by the level of support I have been receiving, and I can’t wait to see what the future of crowdfunding holds for me. That must be a good feeling. What are some best-practices that you can recommend for other crowdfunders? First off, I would say the most important part of the process is to identify people that can be evangelists for you. Send out template letters for them to use to email their friends and to expand your circle of influence. You want people that want to promote you of their own accord. Getting the people attached to the project to do social media blasts has been very helpful in generating buzz as well. Also, be realistic as to just how much money you need and what portion of your project budget you hope to raise from crowd funding. This is what I have done so far to help my project get one step closer to being funded. I will definitely be back on RocketHub for my next venture - thanks for operating such an awesome site. It definitely goes a long way to helping make independent films come to life. Thank you Charles. Good luck with your film - anyone can get involved, here. -Vlad

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  • November 30, 2011

VinoMatch Brings Wine to the Future

I love the VinoMatch project and the VinoMatch team. The VinoMatch idea brings together some of my favorite things - technology, entrepreneurship, innovation, simplicity, and wine! Their team has raised over $10,000 on RocketHub already and shines as a major crowdfunding success. I connected with the team (Olivier, Pierre, Marc, and Sonya) to learn more about their inspiration, system, and crowdfunding experience. What was the inspiration behind the international wine and business project you are currently running on RocketHub?  We set out to answer the simple question: “How does it taste?” Why you might ask? Because we, like 80% of wine consumers, are completely confused when making a wine purchase.   Our founders being the geeks they are had the right skill set to get the job done. Although admittedly, they had no idea just how complicated and long the journey/adventure before them was going to be. Isn’t it the same with most new technology? In answering this simple question for all consumers our team has built the first and only sensory based search engine. Not Google, Yahoo, Yelp or Amazon has done so. Only VinoMatch. Technologically speaking this is profound. Second, we have managed to standardize how the “vast majority” of people will communicate about wine. No small task.   Third, we have created a valuable massive data base of wine criteria like no other before. Fourth, we have put it all together and packaged it into an easy to understand visual code anyone can understand. In the end, for most of us, it’s a matter of taste and personal preferences. That’s a big endeavor that must inspire your team. Why is it important to you? VinoMatch helps consumers have the knowledge needed to choose wines they will love for themselves, wineries to find their perfect target audience for their product and merchants to have a laser target reach into the largest market group they could only have imagined before.   We are most proud our service will help small businesses. Small businesses are the foundation of the American economy. Anything which improves profits and market reach for small businesses in this country is good for everyone. Wineries aside from their wine production are farms growing grapes. Producer/Farmers are the back bone of America. Many of these wineries have small production with little to no marketing avenues or budgets. Often they depend heavily on receiving a high wine score from industry critiques. Unfortunately, if they receive a low score, their sales can suffer and their prices may be compromised.     Who is to say if one wine is better than another for you? VinoMatch unlike wine rating systems does not attempt to determine if a wine is good or not. We only give a clear understanding of how a wine tastes and smells with an easy to understand visual code anyone can understand. This way the consumer can determine for themselves if they like a particular wine or not rather than relying solely on someone else’s taste preferences.   In doing so, VinoMatch levels the playing field for wineries giving consumers the ability to choose wines based on personal taste preferences. Through our service wineries have a direct equal opportunity to connect with potential consumers who will love their wines which would not have been possible before.  It is free for wineries to enter their wine tasting profiles into the VinoMatch database.   On the merchant side, there are 80% of wine consumers that wine merchants could not possibly be able to afford to blanket market to. They would go broke trying to do so. With VinoMatch we will be sending prequalified targeted consumers to merchants/restaurants selling particular wines. Many of these merchants are also Mom and Pop owned small businesses, again the back bone of the America.   With our service, gaining economical laser targeted consumers will help their businesses grow and prosper without breaking the bank. They will be able compete toe to toe with larger businesses. We are proud to offer a solution which is compelling to purchasers, grower/producers and merchants alike! What has your experience been as a crowdfunding pioneer in the world of wine, technology, and entrepreneurship - how are your supporters responding? We have loved being crowdfunding pioneers. It has been an amazing growth experience. We went into this knowing we were at a disadvantage. The product we are developing is a virtual online product available to the public for free which is not yet available (we will open in closed beta December this year). We do not have a loyal customer base and our industry is not one which is traditionally supported by contributions (like the film, art, music, science or charity causes).   Literally, we entered into crowdfunding with our hearts on our sleeves. We said “what have we got to lose.” We are pioneers in our industry and crowdfunding is a natural choice for us to trail blaze for raising seed funding.  We are overwhelmed with our success considering our lack of success factors.  Our supporters are $10,000 strong and growing. As we suspected, most of the press is awaiting our product launch, however it has not stopped us from trying. You cannot succeed at something you have not tried. Our advice to other projects in our position based on our experience crowdfunding – Go For It!!! You have nothing to lose and much to gain. Congratulations on all the success! Since you’ve built a lot of momentum - any advice for Creatives looking to crowdfund a similar project? Our best advice for all Creatives, regardless of the nature of their project, is something we did not read anywhere in any literature about crowdfunding. Make sure you are ok asking for money. Not the idea of it … but actually straight forward bold in your face asking for money from “your friends and family.” This seems obvious, but I can tell you that in our case, it was not. We spent about a month developing our project to include a mini website, copy, developed and scrubbed our contact lists - broken down into 4 levels of contact and a very cute video to describe the indescribable. We launched our campaign and within about two weeks noticed that one member of our team was enjoying much more success than the rest of us. This team member was very comfortable asking for money. He called all his friends directly, had them go to our crowdfunding page while he was on the phone with them and walked them through the video and asked for financial support. Guess what they did, they gave their financial support. The rest of us, who were very uncomfortable asking for money, were asking our contacts to go look at our funding page and to send it out to their friends and family (feeling they would see our funding page and know we needed their financial support). Guess what, they did exactly what we asked. Looked at our video, told us how wonderful it was and sent it to their friends asking them to watch it as well (without giving financial support because we did not ask them to do so). And so the pattern developed of people sending people to our project to get excited about our project without financially contributing. Luckily one of our friends who gave $100 was kind enough to email us. He said he was happy to support us … but the whole process was confusing to him. It took him a great deal of time to put two and two together to figure out we wanted him to support us financially. We were shocked! Thank goodness he was kind enough to inform us of this huge oversight. In our discomfort of asking outright for money we had unknowingly undermined all our work. Good news is we were able to recognize our discomfort, reframe our thinking from asking for money to allowing the people who love us and want us to succeed to help by giving a small amount of money. We changed our focus of all communication from help us get the word out to please support us financially and ask your friends and family to financially support us. DON’T BE AFRAID to ask for money! Most people will not figure it out for themselves. They are busy with their own agenda. Be direct about what you need so they can give it to you. If they want to help and can they will, but only if you are very direct. This one issue had spilled over into our video, which is now too long because we had to go in and add an ending where we actually ask for money. We had to revamp our copy to include asking for money.  We had to change the focus of our communication with our contacts as well. Luckily we realized it before it was too late. To date, we have raised over $10,000! We are humbled and honored so many people have supported us. Giving your ask a comparative is also most helpful. “For the price of a nice glass of wine ($10) you can join us on our journey and help get us one step closer to our dream and earn some pretty cool rewards for yourself.” You get the idea. RocketHub has an amazing website filled with great advice on how to build a winning project. Follow their advice closely and you will have a great foundation. Most importantly … Ask for Money! Anyone building a campaign should go to our project page to study our awards structure.  We went against common advice to have a tiered award structure where all the previous rewards are included in the next monetary step up.  Our campaign enjoys the same amount of $100 supporters as it does $10 supporters, we believe, because of the way we have structured our rewards!   Our final advice. Participate on RocketHub. Fund projects you like. Although we need our money for our own project we felt it necessary to be submerged in the process. It is vital to experience being on the other side of the coin. We have funded over 20 projects!  It is something we will continue to do even after our project is complete. There is something magical, empowering and satisfying about helping people help themselves. Being a part of someone else’s dream is fulfilling. It will change the way you interact with your supporters in a way that can only happen once you have contributed to another project. You should do this as soon as you decide to begin a project. Before you put your project to screen as it will give you a deep understanding of what you are asking others to do for you. We want to take this opportunity to thank RocketHub for all of their support. You guys are so responsive in answering all of our questions. We could not have asked for a better experience. To everyone reading our blog interview … we hope we have been able to give some valuable insight into crowdfunding. If you like our project, our team or we have helped you in any way … please go to our project VinoMatch and spread some love. “For the price of a nice glass of wine ($10) you can join us on our journey and help get us one step closer to our dream and earn some pretty cool rewards for yourself.” Cheers! Awesome advice - thank you for your insights and passion. Join the VinoMatch movement and support this great new business. -Vlad

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  • November 29, 2011

From Kenya to the World, Making a Film about Identity

Kenny Mann lets her experience and unique perspective shine. She was born and raised in Kenya where she studied zoology, botany and chemistry at the University of Nairobi. She earned a postgraduate Diploma in Film and Theater studies from Bristol University, U.K. and has worked on many notable film and T.V. projects around the world. Now she is working on an extraordinary film about her family’s emigration to Kenya and much more. I spoke with Kenny about her inspiration and dedication. I have made several traditional documentaries targeted mostly towards the educational market. Since I am from Kenya, almost all of them deal with issues in African countries. For example, my last film, WALKING WITH LIFE, detailed the impact of human rights education on the Islamic communities of Senegal. But a few years ago, I also made a 15-mn short titled SURRENDER, which was a black-and-white experimental film that was broadcast on the Independent Film Channel for several years. In a very poetic way, that film asked questions about identity. It featured a woman meditating on her past, present and future lives, using the activities of people on a beach as metaphors for the human condition. In my new film, BEAUTIFUL TREE, SEVERED ROOTS, I find myself asking the same questions, only this time, based on my own life and that of my parents, who arrived in Kenya as Jewish refugee immigrants in 1942. They adapted to Kenyan life as though born there and never ever considered returning to Eastern Europe. I was born in Kenya and raised to have an extremely international, global outlook. Although we are Jewish, we never practiced  - in fact, my parents were agnostics - and I learned nothing about being Jewish. I was white in an African country and Eastern European in a British colony. In addition, the presence of the Equator running through Kenya, dividing the world into northern and southern hemispheres, had a huge impact on me at a very early age. So I have always felt the presence of several identities – past, present, and future – and thought that this issue was worth exploring given today’s global situation, where so many people are displaced for various reasons, and must be struggling with similar issues. Are we biologically programmed to need this thing called “personal identity”? And is the new digital age of instant global aliases and alliances breaking down traditional notions of identity on a national and global scale? You have a lot of important inspirations and themes running through this film. What have you found works well in crowdfunding? If it’s for a film, do it in small increments, for specific aspects of the project. This allows you to post new enticing videos and keep the interest level high. Make sure to include your professional background, if any, so that people see you are a legitimate producer and actually know what you’re doing. Provide compelling images. Definitely have a short video explaining the project and why you need funds. Everyone told me they loved my video. Don’t annoy friends on Facebook by sending out too many requests for help. Don’t forget to thank everyone personally – not just on RocketHub – who does contribute and be sure to provide the promised perks. It’s all about personal communication. Keep funders posted about your progress. Invite local funders to dinner and give them a reason to keep funding you. Offer barter – you’ll fund their project if they fund yours. Follow RocketHub’s advice about building a team of fans that grows exponentially. Choose a short period of funding time so that it doesn’t get old. You can always post again with updated materials. Thank you Kenny. I look forward to seeing your film come to life. Get involved, here. -Vlad

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  • November 28, 2011

Automation Lets You Become a Car Tycoon

Automation was first born out of a casual conversation between Andrew and myself about the old genre of tycoon games dying out, and there never was a really great Car Tycoon game. The ones that did exist treated cars like a generic product such as fridges. It then clicked that we had the skills to make the game we wanted ourselves, so we started to make Automation.  I grew up as a major tycoon-game geek - spending hours upon hours with the likes of Transport Tycoon and Railroad Tycoon. So this project really resonated with me. I wanted to learn more about Caswal and Andrew to see how they’re making the next great tycoon game. There are very few games for the car enthusiast, but loads of games for the racing enthusiast. There are a few that do a bit of both to various degrees, but Automation is for people who really care about cars, want to know how cars work and build cars of their own. Run their own car company the way that they want to.  Making a game, with an awesome community, about a subject I care about, it can’t get much better than that. I think the time has come for Automation. What has your experience been as a crowdfunding pioneer in the world of indie-gaming and self-publishing - how are your supporters responding? A little harder than first thought, by that producing a good pitch and a good video. Luckily we have a lot of friends to read over it give us advice and help craft it into something we were happy with. From our supporters I think we are asking a lot to believe in us. We have no actual product or demo released yet as well as not having produced a full commercial game before. In that regard we are unproven, for those who do believe is us and have funded us we thank you so much. We will try our best to not disappoint. I was sold when I saw your pitch and screenshots. You’ve built a lot of momentum - any advice for Creatives looking to crowdfund a similar project? If we were to do this again, we would of waited until we had a demo or open beta released and put into peoples hands. Also we would of liked to of orchestrated a planned series of press releases over the duration of the RocketHub project, this was our aim but it never really materialised. I think what also helps a crowdfunded project like ours is that it is a bit of a niche, rather than just another platformer. People care about niches, it is what they care about and makes it easier to get a community together to help get a project going. Thank you Automation team. I’m looking forward to playing the game and becoming a car tycoon. Grab your copy and show your support. -Vlad  

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  • November 23, 2011

The Renaissance Men Sing a Sweet Tune

For roughly nineteen years, The Empire City Men’s Chorus has been committed to performing adventurous classical and contemporary works of the highest artistic merit. Additionally, the last two years, we presented music that served specific causes. In 2009, we unveiled a new 5 movement piece to promote dialogue about Marriage Equality. In 2010, we created and performed a new piece to promote the United Nations Secretary-General’s UNite campaign to end violence against women. After promoting meaningful advocacy campaigns, we considered the opinions of our audience, our core donors, and our singers and decided to pursue a program in true holiday style. Our Artistic Director Christopher Clowdus designed a holiday program that combined the seasonal spirit with an interesting historical journey through the Renaissance pieces that went on to form the basis of our modern musical sensibilities. More than simply a set of holiday songs, we wanted to present a musical journey through the underpinning of our modern holiday favorites in a solemn and beautiful setting. We also thought it would be interesting and informative for our concertgoers and would stand out amidst other holiday programs – both choral and otherwise – generally offered in the New York City area. The Empire City project caught our eye - both because of the musical talent and the worthy causes supported by their performances. Their crowdfunding journey has picked up a good deal traction, so I decided to catch up with Keith Soura - the Vice-President of the group. What has your experience been as a crowdfunding pioneer in the world of choir music in New York - how are your supporters responding? To be totally honest, our Board of Directors approached this concept with a bit of trepidation at first – and understandably. The traditional method of fundraising for the arts is a tried-and-true path of personal interaction and donor cultivation through private, exclusive events and subscription packages. I was insistent, however, that those methods of funding were fast becoming a secondary means of cultivation. Many people in our generation like to be immersed in the media of a project that they’re involved in…they want to have back-story and to know the people behind the vision. RocketHub facilitates this type of connection by allowing the streamlined delivery of project information, videos, audio, photographs, and text with an easy-to-use system that allows donors to tangibly see the impact that their donation – whether large or small – has upon any creative organization. Most importantly, it allows those same donors to share their cultural savvy and interests via all of the most important social networking tools of our time. Once we decided to proceed with the project, the initial response was soft. We were not quite sure how to best publicize our fundraiser to our traditional donors. After some time, we realized that a campaign of constant personal contact combined with the intelligent use of social media outlets really created a “waterfall” of support for the project. The most important and amazing aspect of this method is that it allows everyone in our organization – regardless of their personal ability to contribute funds – to take ownership of the project by promoting through Facebook, etc. This has created a ton of excitement among our membership which is trickling down to their friends andbroadening our fan base. It’s obvious that you’ve learned a lot throughout this process. What do you have advice for Creatives looking to crowdfund a similar project? Absolutely do it! The tools at RocketHub make it exceedingly easy to promote your project to friends. When combined with Facebook pages, Twitter, blogs, personal e-mails, letters, and phone calls…this platform is unbeatable. Now that we’ve gotten our feet wet, you can guarantee that we’ll be funding more of our projects and initiatives via this method! Thank you Keith and Empire City for taking a chance on RocketHub and on crowdfunding. Congratulations on your success. Listen and Fuel, here. -Vlad

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  • November 21, 2011