July 11, 2013: The “autumn rhythm” documentary Kickstarter project page was up.
Our email campaign to 3,000 friends, family & acquaintances was in full motion.
We hit the 10% pledge mark on Day 7 with a troubling statistic: not a single pledge was received from people we didn’t know–a crowdfunding death-blow–so I’m told.
It was clear the project was not resonating with Kickstarter regulars and in my gut I thought I knew the reason: we didn’t project my sister’s victorious spirit. The tone of our presentation was just too heavy.
The subtitle of the film was a play on “pain & suffering.” My video presentation was akin to the prelude to a funeral.
The copy weighed too heavily on her diseases and their destructive path and didn’t fully capture Donna’s spirit of perseverance and transcendence.
(This, in fact, was a wrestling match both Daniel & I & Sherman had before we launched. So it was not a new issue. I confirmed my suspicions with a few highly valued creative experts.)
That day we were scheduled to launch a social media and press blitz with Crowd Campaigners, a crowdfunding PR firm, and that’s when I made messaging changes that had deeper consequences: I worked with Daniel to make 3 changes to the Kickstarter page to correct the messaging:
- We changed the working title of the film to: “autumn rhythm” – a film about painting over your head (not great, but pressed for time I went with it)
- Daniel moved an engaging video of Donna to the top of the page where my sister talks about giving her brain tumor the nickname “Boomah Da Toomah” so she and her children could write funny raps about it
- Daniel & I changed the subtitle BOLD text that appears right under the video to a more positive message:
A documentary about my sister Donna—
her life, her artwork, and her victory over every struggle.
It all happened during lunch on a crazy-busy workday, so I banged through it as quickly as possible and went back to work. 30 minutes later I got an email from our Director, Sherman, and 10 minutes later, another. Suffice to say he was extremely unhappy. On July 24th, after a few more “fun” emails, he filed a copyright infringement complaint with Kickstarter and the page was hidden from sight with a notice sent to all backers.
A house divided cannot stand.
It has been a painful experience thus far. Donna is visibly upset. I’ll be sure to write an update as the issue plays out to completion. But, the film isn’t dead by any means, I’m working through it and will follow this up with another post in the next few days…
Funny anecdote: For the few days the messaging changes were online we actually got 3 people to back the project we didn’t know. A small victory.
Running a successful SBE is a lot like driving a car in New York City: we all hit big potholes, the question is how quickly we climb out, dust ourselves off and get back on the road.