It’s finally here.
On Monday, after months of planning, researching and hand-wringing, we’ll be launching the Kickstarter campaign to support the production of I AM BIG BIRD, our documentary about the life and work of Caroll Spinney, the puppeteer behind Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch.
By now, you probably know what Kickstarter is, but if you’ve stumbled onto our blog by way ofthe internet vortex, Kickstarter essentially helps artists raise money from individuals in exchange for products or experiences and has raised more than $45 million for film projects. The terrifying thing about Kickstarter is that if you don’t hit your goal, you don’t get any money. If you set your goal for $1,000,000 and raise $999,999.99, you’re out of luck. Enter the hand-wringing.
We went back and forth for a long time about what our goal should be. We tried to find a number that was realistic, but not such a small amount that we’d be back at Kickstarter, hat in our hands, looking for more money in a few months. We settled on $100,000. A lofty goal, yes, but make no mistake: the movie will cost much more than that and we’re hoping to eclipse that number.
So how do you do that?
Great question. We have always tried to be mindful of cramming inboxes full of pleas for help, so we had to get creative. We’ve built our 30-day Kickstarter campaign on a mix of traditional and social media as well as brick and mortar events that will hopefully engage and inspire the public to support the making of the film. Here’s what you’ll see from us over the next few weeks:
TRADITIONAL MEDIA: Caroll’s work has reach. He’s been on Sesame Street for over four decades. His appeal crosses generations and we know we can’t just Tweet our way to his fans’ hearts. So, to get the word out, we’ve crafted a standard press release that we’ll send out next week. We’ll be using a wire service to maximize our coverage, so hopefully, you’ll read about I AM BIG BIRD in your daily paper.
SOCIAL MEDIA: It seems like the success of most Kickstarter campaigns depends not just on the caliber of the idea, but also on the ability to harness social media. We have the advantage of having access to Caroll’s archives, which contains both videos and photos from his life and work that are extremely compelling. From this archive, we’ve selected over 100 photos to release via Twitter during the campaign. Our hope is that these photos will drive traffic to our Kickstarter site where people who want to see more will pledge to support the film.
We’re also relying heavily on video—both from the film and Caroll’s archive—to engage people. Caroll really has shot everything he’s ever done and the clips we’ll be Tweeting over the next four weeks have never been seen by the public. They include some amazing stuff, including behind-the-scenes footage from Follow That Bird, a celebration of Sesame Street’s15-year anniversary party held at the Muppet Mansion (which features a touching speech from Jim Henson), and yes, to the delight of Muppet fans, we’ll even be sharing a clip of Caroll’s rarely-seen character, Shivers the Penguin.
We’re also enlisting what we’re calling “Kickstarter Ambassadors”—people who agree not just to pledge to the campaign, but also commit to getting 10 others to pledge as well (interested in being one? Contact us HERE).
EVENTS: Finally, in this sort of campaign, we feel it’s important to not overlook actually interacting with the public. To this end, we worked with the Kings County Cinema Society to hold a preview of the campaign a few months ago to get people excited. On Saturday, July 21st, we’re pairing with Tough Pigs to co-host a Muppet Vault at Nitehawk Cinemas in Brooklyn, which will feature exclusive content from the film. We believe that people will feel more committed to supporting the campaign if they’ve experienced the film (and our passion to make it) in person.
So that’s our plan. 30 days of Caroll Spinney awesomeness. We’ll report back and let you know how it goes. Enjoy the ride.