14 July, 2020 at 2:36 pm (film, imdblr)

November 2015 was my fifth anniversary of my first joining and participating in the Kickstarter community. Slightly less than a year later, I backed my one hundredth project. In that time, I’d spent approximately $1,200 each year on autographs and comic books and albums and wedding presents and lithographs and fundraisers and film productions. I’d read articles decrying the fact that Kickstarter took advantage of funders because it wasn’t an investment system. If I’d been a producer on those films and albums and comics, and they’d proved to be successful, then I would have enjoyed a return on my investment. Instead, I would receive a shipment of tat, critics scoffed, and someone else would reap the real benefits.

I’m sure that somewhere in those 17 projects each year that I backed, one or two of them would be considered “successful”, but for me, the main draw of Kickstarter has always been the projected sense of “participation” in a given creative project. The updates from the creators are key to this: a regular series of follow-up messages about the progress and process of the actual project do make me feel like I’m involved, even if all I did was be part of the crowd of funders. It’s the — perhaps illusory — feeling of participation and pride that is the best part. And so the ability to point at one’s name and say, “I made this happen!” has become the real reason I continued with Kickstarter so avidly for so long.

Shortly after the end of the projects listed here, I backed off of Kickstarter. Not because of the money — although that clearly should have been a consideration, now that I crunch the numbers — but because I did come to the understanding that my internal sense of my “involvement” in these things was overinflated, and that they were part of a larger project of retail therapy I’d been participating in for some years. I enjoyed the vicarious thrill of the projects and the stories I was able to absorb from the production updates, but what I was really doing to a large degree was spending money to have exciting mail show up at some unexpected future date — and with Kickstarter projects, that date was almost always in significant flux… I needed less stuff in my life, and I needed less momentary novelty and excitement provided via the acquisition of said stuff.

There are still eleven outstanding film projects that I have backed — only four additional since I hit a hundred backed projects four years ago — and only three of which I believe will list my name in any manner (not including the Kurt Vonnegut documentary that already has me listed on their website). While I’m no longer actively chasing this kind of validation, I might as well keep cataloguing the last five projects that do name me and the last five that didn’t…

STANDING IN THE STARS: THE PETER MAYHEW STORY (Raised its minimum funds on Sept. 14, 2013, still unreleased)



Availability to be in the credits: For all pledges of $35 or more.
Expectation of me being in the credits: Yes. Made it on to the second screen.
In good company: The above screencap is from, as you can see from the watermark, a digital Kickstarter preview of the film from 2015. Despite the IMDB production date of 2016 attached to the film, there has been no festival release or formal public screening of the film to my knowledge. And if you go to the comment section of the project, you’ll find the standard litany of angry protests that follow behind any stalled or unfulfilled Kickstarter.

I’ve kept the project unchecked as “Fulfilled” in my project list because I was supposed to get a “Wookiee Awareness pin” that never arrived. However, fortunately for me, I did receive the major item I pledged for: a print co-signed by Mayhew and comic artist Adam Hughes, as Hughes’ manager and wife Allison Sohn very kindly reached out to me in 2016 and took care of that. So in terms of financial loss, I am quite fortunate. After Mayhew’s death in 2019, one might have thought there would have been an effort to… — I don’t want to say “capitalize” — use the occasion to memorialize him by finalizing the documentary, which would also possibly provide a moment to reach out to backers. But that doesn’t seem to have happened, and there must be other considerations about which the creators aren’t being transparent. With roughly eight hundred names listed, that’s potentially a lot of disappointed people.

JOAN DIDION: THE CENTER CANNOT HOLD (Raised its minimum funds on Nov. 21, 2014, released October 27, 2017)


Availability to be in the credits: Being included in the credits for this production was never listed as a pledge option. Most rewards were digital memorabilia, and the signed books were very expensive. Still, to be involved with something by Griffin Dunne about Didion felt worth it, just for the sense of adjacent glory.
Expectation of me being in the credits: Nope. I pledged for the signed Vanity Fair book, the least expensive way to get a physical item with an autograph. I page through it every so often to see how hard it would be to get other figures to sign their surveys, a fun yearbook of celebrity moments. The answer is: quite difficult. They are A-list echelon, and many are deceased.

FOOD FIGHT (Raised its minimum funds on Jan. 11, 2015, released in Feb. 2016)


Availability to be in the credits: For all pledges of $50 or more
Expectation of me being in the credits: Yep! About 350 of the roughly 600 backers should have expected to see their names listed.
In good company: To be honest, I was much less interested in seeing if I knew anyone else who backed the project and more interested to see if anyone I knew was in the footage. My work clientele are often employed at Market Basket, and the Tilton, NH site was one of the protest centers. (The Tilton 59 store director who appears on camera is the father of former students of mine.)

CON MAN (Raised its minimum funds on April 11, 2015, released in Sept. 15, 2015)

CON MAN -- title card
CON MAN -- Kickstarter credits

Availability to be in the credits: For all pledges of $100 or more.
Expectation of me being in the credits: Over 4,000 people claimed the base-level credits perk, so I was alphabetically lucky enough to have my name on the screen at the same time as the director and star. (Start at the ampersand, got up seven rows, and three names to the right.)
In good company: If you think I’m scouring all those names to look for any I recognize, you’re crazy.

THE DROWNING (Raised its minimum funds on April 15, 2015, had a limited release on May 10, 2017.)

THE DROWNING -- title still
THE DROWNING -- Kickstarter credits

Availability to be in the credits: Not listed as an option, except for, one assumed, the $10,000 associate producer level.
Expectation of me being in the credits: Nooooope.

REVENGENCE (Raised its minimum funds on May 21, 2015, released October 15, 2019 after a few festivals in 2017.)

REVENGEANCE -- title card
REVENGEANCE -- Kickstarter credits

Availability to be in the credits: Despite the twenty-five names appearing in the above screencap, there was not an explicit pledge level that offered a named shout-out. I have a memory of some Kickstarter project listing people in the credits because their original pledge — to appear on film in a mural or cameo — ended up not being filmically feasible. An email search doesn’t indicate it was this project, so I don’t know where these names came from.
Expectation of me being in the credits: Nah, I didn’t think it was possible. I’d backed this after attending a screening of Plympton’s Cheatin’, and snagging an original cel from the animation afterward was the goal for this campaign as well.
In good company: Aside from “Vimeo”, I don’t believe I’ve heard of any of those people. Certainly not Frank.

FOR THE LOVE OF SPOCK (Raised its minimum funds on July 1, 2015, released Sept. 9, 2016)

FOR THE LOVE OF SPOCK -- title card
FOR THE LOVE OF SPOCK -- Kickstarter credits

Availability to be in the credits: For all pledges of $50 or more. And for $450 you could be in a photo montage at some point in the film!
Expectation of me being in the credits: There were two Boston-specific pledge levels: one where one could attend a screening and “unofficial” afterparty, and another where one received a copy of the “Leonard Nimoy’s Boston” documentary. Both included a credit listing, and I went for the latter.
In good company: I was backer number 8,151 out of 9,438 supporters.
And despite a very elegant and reader-friendly layout (and alphabetized by last name!), that’s just too many to scan…

HEDDA GABLER (Raised its minimum funds on October 31, 2015, available locally on DVD as of Jan. 3, 2018.)

HEDDA GABLER -- title card
HEDDA GABLER: Kickstarter credits

Availability to be in the credits: For all pledges of $100 or more.
Expectation of me being in the credits: None. $100 was a little more than I was ready to pledge. I, instead, went for a $55 screen-worn cravat, which I thought would be a useful costume piece to have around. (It has never materialized, and I have not chidingly emailed the creators.) However, there I am!
In good company: Emma Bull, Peter Segal, and “kate mckinnon” all backed the project, with Segal and Joel Hodgson also providing special perks.

MST3K: The Revival (Raised its minimum funds on Dec. 12, 2015, released April 14, 2017.)

MST3K: THE REVIVAL -- title card
MST3K: THE REVIVAL -- Kickstarter backers

Availability to be in the credits: For all pledges of $85 or more.
Expectation of me being in the credits: This was a very complicated campaign, with 41 different pledge levels at its conclusion, many of which were added as it progressed. Also, it went through various stretch goals, and a chart was needed to keep track of what one was or wasn’t receiving at each tier. I spent much of the updates waiting for when I was going to get my survey for my name, and eventually realized that I’d supported at a level that was ten dollars below the cut-off. Missed it by that much! But by god, I’m going to be in the next season!
In good company: At more than 48,000 backers — I’m not sure how many qualified for credit — the names were divided up over the entire season of the revival. I’m sure they scrolled past me on the screen (I really enjoyed the Har Mar Superstar contributions to the soundtrack), but I did not read them all.

A REALLY GOOD GUY (Raised its minimum funds on Sept. 22, 2017, and was released on Vimeo on Nov. 1, 2018)

A REALLY GOOD GUY -- title card
A REALLY GOOD GUY -- Kickstarter credits

Availability to be in the credits: All pledges of $5 or more were supposed to be listed on, which doesn’t seem to exist beyond a blank BlueHost page.
Expectation of me being in the credits: None. To be honest, I was a little hazy on the whole fact that it was being made into a film (I had been told about it, and forgot, and backed it in a flurry about an hour before the campaign ended). A mention of film permits on the page was buried near the end, but I was in it to race, and being on film — which I totally am! — or being listed in the film was just a bonus.
In good company: My friend Megan, a serious runner, joined us. Part of the shtick was that all registrants won in their respective category, but she actually reached the finish line first. She’s still vaguely embarrassed to have participated in such a jape and regrets that there’s a record of her involvement.


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