It’s Here, the Fandom of the Opera!

Director James Herron sets up a shot with Chad and Emily at Broadway New York to create Cami's dayjob, the Fandom of the Opera

Director James Herron sets up a shot with Chad and Emily at Broadway New York to create Cami’s dayjob, the Fandom of the Opera

No need for warbly operatic screaming – even though I know you’ve been practicing it in your bedroom. This Is Art’s third episode, Fandom of the Opera, is on Youtube for the world to see!

I am so excited to share this one with you guys, particularly because this episode features one of my favorite scenes, filmed with my favorite character to write – Jim, Cami’s boss. Jim is played to perfection by cast member Chad Anthony Miller. Let me tell you something about Chad – he was a casting day DREAM. Anne and I both loved writing Jim’s part in the first season and we knew we needed the perfect actor to bring him to life. When Chad walked in the room, we loved him right away and knew we wanted to work with him. Then he nailed the audition, and we couldn’t be happier.

Here’s a little behind-the-scenes info for ya. The first half of Episode 3, along with the other scenes that take place at Cami’s day job, were all filmed on a chilly October morning between 1 am and 4 am at Broadway New York, a souvenir store in Times Square. We had to be in and out between cleaning crew shifts and while no customers were around. We were all dreading the crazy hours but this turned out to be one of the most fun days of the shoot. We loved the location, everyone brought the energy we needed to make the scenes happen (Starbucks helped, too), and working with Chad was amazing.

Chad has done a plethora of other webseries and Indie film work, and now works out of L.A. I encourage you to check out his Facebook, follow him, and see what he’s up to!

BUT FIRST, feast your eyes on Episode 3: Fandom of the Opera! Let us know what you think!

– Emily

Even More IndieGoGo Tips!

Yesterday we hit, NAY, exeeded our goal on our Indiegogo campaign!

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!

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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.

I’d consider us to be very successful on this front because @Indiegogo began tweeting at us and sharing specific perks of ours that they liked with their followers. They also featured our campaign in their monthly newsletter which was just so awesome!

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.

* * *

I hope this insight into our campaign has been helpful to anyone considering this method of funding their work. We are so ecstatic to have reached our goal and even more happy to have the chance to raise even MORE money before our campaign ends.

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.

Kathleen Moran
Wendi Richmond-Brown
Bryan Munden
Terry Floyd
Christopher Feyrer
Anonymous
Andrew and Lizzie Park-Floyd
Anonymous
J. Sibley Law
Jenna Freed
Jon Riddleberger
Nancy and Howard Ansorge
Victor Solis
Linnea Haley
Michele Baltazar
Anonymous
Hall Morrison
Anonymous
Jason Leake
Sean Fearon
Gavin Linkens
Josephine Morrison

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!

Anne Richmond
@annerichmond
@followthisisart
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Indiegogo Home Stretch Video

Once again, we set a goal and our amazing community has risen to achieve it!

With exactly two weeks left in our campaign, we are over $5000 funded. Thank you so much for all of your pledges! As promised, we have attached our Homestretch Announcement video for your enjoyment. In the video, we not only have a lot of fun, but we make two huge announcements for the webseries!

 

Announement #1: Donation Matching
Now that we have gotten within $1000 of our overall funding goal, an anonymous supporter has offered to match each donation up to a limit of $500 to help us reach our $6,000 goal.

If you haven’t yet donated to get us into production, here is a chance to make your gift work twice as hard. If you have given, thank you for getting us to the point where a like minded angel has decided to make this generous challenge grant.

Announcement #2: We’re having a USTREAM Party!
We’ve noticed an amazing community growing around “This Is Art.” Emily and I want to bring the community together in cyberspace to celebrate the home stretch of our campaign and to make sure all of you have a chance to meet each other. That’s why we’ve decided to throw a USTREAM Party so that you can interact with us in real time and living color while getting to know the many incredible individuals who have been getting involved with the show. This is your chance to ask us any questions you might have about our project and/or our process. We will be announcing the date of this LIVE streaming event as we approach our final $6000 goal. Make sure you follow us on Twitter, Like us on Facebook, and check here on our blog so you don’t miss out on the event details.

Lastly, we want to take a moment to thank our most recent donors. Without you, none of this would be possible!

Kathleen Moran
Wendi Richmond-Brown
Bryan Munden
Terry Floyd
Christopher Feyrer
Anonymous
Andrew Park-Floyd
Anonymous

I continue to be profoundly moved by your support of our show.

Anne Richmond
@annerichmond
@followthisisart
Facebook
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More Indiegogo Tips

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 IndiegogoLiking 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.

Continue to set attainable goals for your contributors: When we got close to the $4000 mark, I decided to launch another incentive. I talked about this a little bit in our other post and I’ve found it to be one of the most useful ways to inspire people to donate. I announced that if we reached it within two days, we’d release another exclusive character sketch. True to fashion, our supporters rallied to our battle cry and helped us reach our goal. Monday morning, I released the following character sketch for Cami: The Musical Theater Fanatic, played by Emily Floyd. Nothing says “razzle dazzle” like fringe!

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:

Joseph Amiel
Anonymous
Michele Jarrett
Justin Nichols
Annie Stoll
Sheila Floyd
Anonymous
Agatha Bochenek
Yelena Sabel
Eileen Murphy
Hanna Floyd
Tim Ferrara

You guys are the best and we wouldn’t be here without you. We cannot wait to share this project with the world!

Anne Richmond
@annerichmond
@followthisisart
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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!

Launching our Indiegogo Campaign

Things have been very busy for the whole This Is Art Team. We had our first table read of the script with our cast and we have been tweaking it and making some changes that were illuminated by this process. After a year of hard work, writing, and planning, I’m very proud to announce that our fundraising campaign on Indiegogo is now LIVE!

We have 34 days to raise $6000 in order to fund our project. Our production team is currently ready to shoot the entire first seasons if This Is Art at the end of August. We have a big idea, the passion, and the drive to make this happen, but we’re reaching out to everyone we know to ask for your help.

So please, take a moment to view our introductory video featuring test footage and behind the scenes interviews with some of our cast. You’ll find more information about the show and our goals listed below it on our campaign’s page. Spread the word on Facebook, Twitter, and by email. Each donation comes with it’s own thank gift or “perk” so take a look on the right side of the campaign page to see what we have to offer! Please consider donating to our project because you’ll not only be helping us realize our dream, but you’ll also be supporting new media entertainment, an industry that redefines what art is every single day.

 

 

Anne Richmond
@annerichmond
@followthisisart
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Celebrating Our Cast

This Is Art is about what it takes to make art happen. Our cast lives that story every single day. We want to celebrate their successes, give you a taste of their current projects, and tell you how you can see their work.

When cast member Christopher Ruth was approached about playing a show at The Duplex in NYC by fellow Boston Conservatory alum, Morgan Pate, he was offered a rare opportunity to bring his guitar out of his bedroom and play in front of a live crowd. Their first show was titled A Jew, A Gentile, and a Guitar. That show cemented a creative relationship between Chris and Morgan and they have continued to cover songs and imbue them with a new personal twist ever since. Wednesday May 18th, they are playing their first official show under their new band name, Shepherd’s Crook. You can join them at Arlene’s Grocery in NYC and cheer them on! The show starts at 7PM and the cover charge is $8. For a taste of what’s in store, check out their cover of “Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?” by Paula Cole.

Chad Miller is about to head off to the premiere of the independent film, An Ordinary Family, at the LA Film Festival.

An Ordinary Family is a surprisingly humorous drama that follows two brothers dealing with their conflict of belief over homosexuality and their own personal baggage in a story that asks the simple question; “At the end of the day, are we still family?” The film begins as the annual family reunion gets rocky when Seth arrives with his new boyfriend. No one bats an eye except his brother Thomas, a married man of the cloth, in this fresh, bittersweet exploration of frayed family ties. ~www.anordinaryfamily.com

Chad plays Seth’s boyfriend, William. He told me that the show had a very unusual process. The whole cast lived together during the shoot, becoming more comfortable with each other both as actors and as their characters. At the outset of the project, they started with the basic story outline and script, but before each day of shooting, the cast met with the Director, Mike Akel, Writer, Matt Patterson, and Assistant Director, Melissa Dalley. They discussed the story and collaboratively offered lines of dialogue that they felt would move them through the events of each scene. Once the cameras started rolling, the cast improvised, experimented, and developed these scenes into what has become a very organic feeling film, from what I can tell based on their trailer. They are premiering the film on June 19th at the LA Film Festival, so if you’re on the west coast, get your passes to the festival or purchase an individual ticket for as little as $12! You can follow the film on Twitter and keep up with them on Facebook as well.

 

AN ORDINARY FAMILY – Official Film Trailer! from Matt Patterson on Vimeo.

Emily Floyd and I have been rehearsing for ALICE AU PAYS DES MERVEILLES, a new Beautiful Soup Theatre Collective production based on Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, written and directed by Steven MacCasland, and playing Off Broadway at The Soho Playhouse June 1-5. Emily first began working with Steven and Beautiful Soup in their production of Hamlet, in which she understudied Ophelia. She was also featured in their production of the new musical, Crossing Brooklyn.

Steven wrote ALICE AU PAYS DES MERVEILLES with Emily in mind for the title role, which is always a great honor as an actor. He was holding a reading and needed more actors, so Emily asked if I would like to participate. I was delighted to join in and support her. We had recently performed together in Alice LIVE at the Rabbit Hole with Box Full of Wasps Theatre Collective and I was very familiar with Lewis Carroll’s world. Unlike that production which focused on deconstructing Wonderland for an adult audience, Steven’s Wonderland is refreshingly close to the book and just begging to be staged. When he cast the show, Steven asked me to be a part of it based on the reading, and I happily accepted. We began the process with a workshop on Viewpoints, a technique for composition using movement and gesture that was developed by Anne Bogart and Tina Landau in the 1970’s. Throughout the rehearsal process, we have used Viewpoints to block the show and it has created a very interesting world that relies on theatrical rules we have imposed on the space, the imaginative performances of the actors, and minimal use of stage props and costumes. Emily is charming and whimsical in the role of Alice, and I will be featured the Gryphon, which I must say is riotous fun to explore.

Buy tickets and $5 of every ticket will be donated to Project Night Night, which provides “Shelter Kids” with tools to enhance their literacy and packages of essentials to help them take the best possible care of themselves. Plus if enough people come to see the show, we may get an extended run!

So get out there and see some great work by the cast of This Is Art!

Anne Richmond
@annerichmond
@followthisisart
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