"I'm super excited about the project and really looking forward to working with such super talented people!" - Laura Intravia. Ditto, Laura!
One of the many exciting aspects of working on This Is Art is the ability to assemble a creative team that can perfectly execute mine and Anne’s vision for the show, and have a great time while doing it. Anne and I were ecstatic to recently announce a new addition to the team: Laura Intravia. Laura is the official This Is Art composer, and she will be writing all the original music and scoring for the show. Not only is Laura an exceptionally talented musician, she’s a perfect fit for the This Is Art team, and I’m here to tell you why.
Come with me, if you will, on a journey back in time. It’s the summer of 2008. Laura Intravia, a student at Ithaca college studying vocal performance and competition, has entered the Masquerade talent show/costume contest at Otakon in Baltimore. I am sitting on my couch in Manhattan watching Paprika while this goes on, as many of my friends are busy attending Otakon without me this year, but that’s neither here nor there.
All I can say is this: Laura walks on that stage in her Link costume, and magic happens. And, of course, that magic later appears on YouTube for the rest of the world to see.
The year is 2009 when Laura joins the VGL tour, which is also the year I snag tickets to see Video Games Live at the Beacon Theater in New York City. I take my seat at the Beacon totally expecting the Warcraft segment to be my favorite, but Flute Link blows me away with her talent and, of course, the unique aspect of her performance. When I leave the theater, it’s the Flute Link segment, plus her unexpected vocal abilities in some of the other segments, that have me raving.
Fast forward to the year 2011. Anne and I are cast in the Beautiful Soup Theater Collective‘s production of Alice Au Pays Des Merveilles at the SoHo Playhouse. Halfway through rehearsals we learn that “Beautiful Soup,” the one musical number of the show, is being written by composer Laura Intravia.
Laura as Flute Link
I’m sure you all can picture the total nerd freakout I had when I realized that I was going to be singing music written by Flute Link.
I finally met Laura when she came to see Alice. Of course, it’s always nice when you find out that someone of whom you’re a fan is also a totally cool, incredibly nice person; Laura is and was both of those things.
So when Anne and I lost our original composer and were tasked with finding a new composer for the show – and quickly, too! – Laura immediately came to mind for both of us. Working with her during Alice had been great, we were both fans of her work, and she shares so many passions that Anne and I share – passions that went into the making of all the other aspects of This Is Art and deserved a place in its music, too. Besides, Laura’s unique career is the perfect example of an artist using new media to share their art with the world. From the beginning, This Is Art has sought to widen the community of artists in the world of new media, and Laura is definitely an inspirational figure for that community.
We approached Laura about composing for us and she hopped on the project at full speed. Now, as the calendar quickly approaches our production dates in October, we are working with Laura to put together the musical numbers of the show. I have to say, it’s incredibly thrilling to have your work come to life through the eyes of a collaborative artist. Hearing Laura’s musical demos has inspired an exhilarating new excitement in us. More than ever, Anne and I can’t wait to get This Is Art off the page and on its feet. Now, thanks to Laura, the musical piece of the puzzle is solved, and we’re that much closer to making it happen!
We’ll try and keep you posted about musical-related developments as we head into production, without giving too many surprises away! Meanwhile, check back here to learn more about our recent additions to the This Is Art team!
It has been exactly 24 days since we started the campaign, so that gives us 10 days to spare. Here are some more tips from the last week of our crowdfunding efforts.
Set More goals: We were very close to the $5000 landmark earlier in the week and we knew from our research that once we were less than $1000 from our goal, more people would probably donate because they would feel our goal was attainable . So the first thing we did was to create another incentive program wherein we would release a fun surprise video if we hit that goal within a few days. This was our biggest incentive goal yet; 5 days to raise $420 and hit $5000 funded.
We were so grateful to see our supporters rise to the occasion again not only by donating money, but by posting our links all around the web. We had our greatest number of retweets and shared links this week since starting the campaign.
Entertaining Video Updates: So many people just rely on posting their link everywhere. The problem with this is that people begin to turn a blind eye. They see the same link over and over and they may not even read about your progress. This is why our video updates have been so successful. They create a bold new way for our supporters to interact with the campaign. It’s fresh, it’s alive and it’s entertaining (or at least we do our best to make sure it will be!).
People get tired of hearing and reading the same thing over and over again. If you want to get your information heard, package it in a new ways. Some people respond to the incentive goals we’ve been running but others like to see how you’re faring personally on the journey. This is where videos can be a great tool. They don’t need to have high production value. They just have to get the information across and they should be fun. We like to put as much color into ours as we can manage just to make the images pop off of the screen.
In our most recent video, Emily and I decided to announce some new incentives for the campaign, but in order to make that more entertaining, we decided to frame that information within the constraints of our rampant geekitude. That way, we gave some insight into our own personalities and camaraderie while also providing more insight into our plans for the campaign and our excitement over the growing community around our project. Give it a try. I filmed everything on my computer and edited it together using iMovie. I’m never the one behind the camera, but it’s easy enough to figure out and with a little time and effort, you’ll provide something fun that really makes your campaign feel alive to the people following it.
If you haven’t had a chance to view the fruits of our labors, here’s the video we released!
Donation Matching: We were lucky enough to be approached by an anonymous donor who told us that after we hit $5,000 funded, they would match every donation until we hit our goal. This was one of the things we announced in the video and within hours of releasing this information, we had an influx of 5 new donations by people who wanted to make their contributions count for twice as much.
Now you may not be approached by a volunteer, but if there is someone who you know you can get to donate a large sum of money, ask them if they’d be willing to donate some at the outset to get you rolling and then some at the end. If they agree, approach them about helping you use the second portion to create a donation matching program. That way you can finish out the campaign with a rush of momentum that’s very exciting for both you and your donors. Most likely, your donor will be very excited to be an integral part of your campaign.
Getting people to link your campaign: Some people will do this naturally. We’ve certainly had some very kind souls who shared our campaign with their friends. If you feel this isn’t happening as much as you’d like, don’t be afraid to ask for help in your social media status updates. It will remind people that passing the word on is equally as important as donating.
This is a chance for the world to start hearing about your project. You want to get it into as many ears as possible. As for those that do help you, thank them and let them know the impact they’ve had. I told individuals whose referrals I could see on our IndieGoGo analytics just how many people they sent to our site and that over 5500 people have viewed our campaign. That’s pretty impressive considering we don’t even have a product to show yet and we definitely could not amass that many views without the help of our supporters.
Follow Up Email: When we hit exactly 14 days left in the campaign, I decided to send out my final follow up email to coincide with our video release. I was originally going to wait till there was only a week left, but I wanted to capitalize on the matching grant from our anonymous donor whilst it hadn’t been used up yet. I knew I was inundating our social media outlets with info, so I limited myself to two mass email calls to arms. The first one gave all of the info on the project and the impact the donations could have, etc., while the second one was shorter, more to the point, and mentioned our matching grant. By now, all they would have to do was to view our page on IndieGoGo to see the progress of our exciting developments for the campaign. The other benefit was that those who had seen this as an impossible task at the outset of the campaign would now see how very close we were to victory and perhaps that would encourage them to donate. This plan proved very profitable because just a few days after sending this follow-up email, we hit our overall goal.
Increase your GoGo Factor: This next tip is specific to Indiegogo. I’m not sure if Kickstarter has a similar aspect, but if it does, please share it and/or your advice regarding it in the comments.
IndieGoGo doesn’t leave you hanging if you take the appropriate measures to run an active campaign. They measure the activity and effectiveness of your campaign with something they call “GoGo Factor.” According to IndieGoGo:
Your GoGoFactor is automatically measured by the number of times you share your campaign, update your contributors, update your campaign, or refer people using your custom URL. It also measures the overall level of contributor activity, including funding, comments, and pageviews. Campaigns with a high GoGoFactor are featured on our home page, in our social media outreach, and at conferences or in the press.
The great thing about this is that you can control half of the things they mention. You can link your own campaign as many times as you want and you can also control the number of updates you make. Crowd funding should not have a “set it and forget it” approach. You control the activity of your campaign. How invested you appear to be in making your campaign fun and interactive has a direct effect on how much your contributors help you spread the word and find more supporters.
The coolest part was that we learned that this had happened through the many people that saw us in the newletter rather than being told by IndieGoGo. It really helped us visualize how many people we were reaching. None of that would have been possible without the help of our growing This Is Art family. It’s truly amazing to think about all the people who have had a hand in our success.
Any additional funds that we raise over the next ten days will be put toward promoting This Is Art, submitting the show to festivals, and finding sponsorship for season two. If you’re wondering about the impact this kind of thing can have on a webseries, check out Emily’s recent blog post, Conventions and Community. Now that we know we’ll be able to make a great product, this extra money will help us make sure it gets into the right ears, which is exceptionally important because we don’t have any recognizable faces in the project to catch the eye of industry executives.
Lastly, I want to honor our recent donors. We are so touched by your support and moved by your will to see us succeed in this endeavor. Words will never be enough to express our gratitude.
Andrew and Lizzie Park-Floyd
J. Sibley Law
Nancy and Howard Ansorge
And of course: Our Anonymous Angel Donor who provided our generous Matching Grant.
Look out information on our USTREAM party in the next few days!
I’m very pleased to report that we are 77% funded on Indiegogo after two weeks! We are just $1430 from our goal with nineteen days of fundraising left. Not only that, but we are the fifth most popular campaign on Indiegogo and we’ve been featured on the front page of their website for a few days. That’s pretty incredible and it’s all due to to our supporters out there in cyberspace. All your liking the campaign on Indiegogo, Liking us on Facebook, retweeting us on Twitter, and emailing your friends is very visibly paying off judging by our campaign diagnostics. Whatever you’re doing to help us get the word out, please keep doing it!
Here are a few tips that we can pass on to all of you who might be currently conducting or planning to conduct your own crowdfunding campaigns.
Avoid the lull: After raising over half our funding in one week, we expected a bit of a lull in donations and we planned accordingly. In order to keep the momentum going forward, we strategically pulse out ask letters to new groups of people every few days so that we can keep the money coming in regulary, even if it is in smaller amounts as we approach the tail end of the campaign. People like to see progress and it gives us something to report and therefore gives us an excuse to send out our campaign link on all of our social media outlets whenever we hit a new milestone.
Use every tool available to you: If you are a member of an online forum, post your info. Contact friends with blogs or podcasts and see if they’ll interview you about your project or help you retweet your information to their followers. Go to the facebook pages for your high school and your college and post your information there to drive more attention and more traffic to your page. Find relevant fan pages on facebook and like them as your show. If there are industry events that you can go to, attend them and meet people. They might contribute to your show, but more than that, they may have very useful tips on how to improve your strategies. Your peers are one of your greatest resources so support them in their work and they will support you in yours.
How to handle friends that say they can’t donate: Continually encourage these folks to help you spread the word about your campaign. It’s not all about making money here. It’s about making sure your project falls on the right ears. Treat your friends like gold and make them feel like they are valuable assets to the team, even if they can’t help you monetarily. They can still help reach untapped audiences.
Facebook Tagging is your friend: One other tip that was given to us early on by one of our cast members was to tag as many relevant people as possible when posting on Facebook. Inspired by this advice and by a campaign used by our friends at the Beautiful Soup Theater Collective to promote their show, I decided to launch a campaign introducing all of our actors and crew. Each day, we release a bio (written by the actor/crew member) and a headshot in order to introduce a member of our team. This way, it shows up on our stream and also on their page so that others may discover our show and hopefully our Indiegogo campaign. Today we began this series with Clint Okayama!
Meet Clint Okayama (KUKAOO)! He grew up in Honolulu, Hawaii. He thought he was going to be a novelist or a chemist until 8th grade until he acted in the modern masterpiece There’s a Boy in the Girl’s Bathroom as an 8th grader. As testament to the power of arts education, he has pursued acting ever since. He also soloed with the Honolulu Symphony on the 1st Rachmaninoff and 2nd Prokofiev concerti, and won the Hawaii high school division of NATS in classical singing. At NYU, he performed in numerous productions including the role of Song Liling in M Butterfly. He is currently auditioning like a madman, writing a screenplay entitled “Green Dreams” and is very, very pumped about This is Art.
Lastly, I’d like to honor our week two donors. These are the incredible people who are allowing us to bring our story to life:
You guys are the best and we wouldn’t be here without you. We cannot wait to share this project with the world!
P.S. If you live in the NYC Area, Emily and I are both performing in Alice, a new Off Broadway adaptation of Alice in Wonderland written and directed by Steven McCasland and playing at The Soho Playhouse. We open this Saturday and have an open ended run, performing every Saturday at 1PM. Tickets are $25. Come enjoy the show and romp through Wonderland with us!
P.P.S. Bloggers get in free in return for writing about the show! Contact me at thisisartwebseries (at) gmail (dot) com for more info!