The first week of June 2011, I announced a project that I wanted to film and deliver for the greater good of HBCU’s underprivileged youth who could not afford to go on College Tours and for the sake of my creative mind that jumps for joy when it gets to shine without constraints from clients or sponsors.
If you are reading this post and are not familiar with the project, please view it HERE.
I am writing this to give you an update on the project and an explaination on several barriers that came into play between the time my project was successfully funded in July and today.
Kickstarter is a GREAT way to express your ideas of projects and give potential backers the confidence that the project is screened for authenticity as well as verify the creator to some extent. Initially, I submitted my project to Kickstarter and I had back and forth dialogue each day for a week with two of their moderators. Even though it became discouraging for a second, I appreciate the fact that they actually read and re-read my project for clarity and made sure that I was not just a schemer trying to get your Western Union account info to transfer millions of dollars to your bank account from the Royal Bank of Nigeria. I will get this out early and then move on, KICKSTARTER is DOPE, it was a great tool with a great staff and really makes things easy behind the scenes as far as organization of your project backers and the tracking of your goal.
With that said, here are the challenges I ran into:
- I created my project in June with loose dates around the actual filming on NCAT campus. Kaiya was scheduled to still go to pre-orientation to solidify her dates. The date that I thought I was going to actually begin filming was the last week of August. Well Kickstarter has a policy to hold your funds for 14 days after being successfully funded, then Amazon(who handles the CC transactions) holds your funds for an additional 3-5 business days. Well, it ends up I was off on my dates by 2 weeks. The trip to NCAT was going to happen on the 10th of August. As soon as I found out, I contacted Kickstarter Admin because there is no option on the back end to modify your donation end date. I was informed that if I wanted to change my date, I would have to remove my project and re-upload it with the modified date. That was a major problem because at that point, I had hundreds of dollars in donations that would be cancelled and I would have to solicit them again. BOTTOM LINE: I had to come out of my own pocket around $3,000 on travel expenses to complete my project. My money did end up coming in, but after my flights to LA and NC with corresponding hotel rooms, rental cars and food consumed.
- “No Fundraising”: At the $100 donation mark, backers would not only be donating to the creation of this project, but also would be contributing DIRECTLY to the book and supply fund for Kaiya. Once I had officially launched my project and actually started getting donations, one of the mediators obviously went back to re-read the project in depth and categorized that book fund reward to be a “fundraiser” which Kickstarter does not condone. The forum they provide is meant to raise funds for the final project and not raise funds on behalf of someone else. BOTTOM LINE: I had to remove that section of my project. I still held true to my backers at that dollar amount, I just could not list it in my project.
- “All or Nothing” - Kickstarter allows you to post your project with a GOAL dollar amount. The issue is that if you do not raise that amount, you do not get ANYTHING! So, I broke out the paper and pen and started drafting a budget; what it would cost with minimal damage to my own pocket. I came up with something in the middle of modest and shoestring; $3,000. I knew that after the fees were drawn out, that I would have roughly $2,500. This was my first time asking for money for a project, so I admit I was VERY nervous seeing that I had a goal to meet in less than 60 days. My nerves were put at some kind of ease when, in the first 30 days I was more than halfway to my goal. Again, the same as the project donation end date, I wanted to up my goal amount, but I could not without removing my project and re-posting it. I knew I needed more funds to shoot it the way I wanted so I had to just reach out to everyone and express my interest to start the project in LA and explained the funds needed to do so. BOTTOM LINE: Budgeting your project is THE MOST IMPORTANT ASPECT of using Kickstarter. Make sure you factor in the fees associated with your goal amount. You will also have to factor in people’s card #s changing, LIFE happening to backers making them unable to match their pledges and having to monitor the CC transactions for “failed” notifications due to number typos or expired cards.
The Project Name aka Delay #1. The name of my project initially was “First 48: HBCU Yard Edition”. I named it such just due to the concept. I thought it would be cool to follow an incoming freshman for their first 48 hours on campus. I remember my first 2 days at Howard took a lot of adjusting on my side; realizing I couldn’t just go home after class and that mom wasn’t going to be cooking dinner at night. At some point during the donation process, I really began to think about the title and how it could be receive a negative connotation as A&E TV’s program, First 48 is centered around violent crimes. I wanted to create something with a positive vibe; I just didn’t know what I wanted to call it and I had already started marketing it as such heavy on Twitter and Facebook. After everything was all shot and I was back home, I started brainstorming with my brother about the name of the project. After several crumpled up pieces of paper, one name really embodied what the project was all about- “Leaving Home: An HBCU Story”. BOTTOM LINE: Don’t let your creative project become a victim of copyright infringement and make sure the project’s title embodies the feeling, vision and idea you want to convey.
Music: aka Delay #2. 90% of my regular YouTube videos have soundtracks of popular songs that were hot on the airwaves when the video was produced. On YouTube, all you have to do is give credit to the artist and/or copyright holder and they will let you rock with it. The YouTube bots skim your content and then allow the record label to advertise on your video in an effort to sell the track on iTunes. This project is a bit different as it will not only live on YouTube. Thanks to a very good friend, Ted Darlington, once all of the episodes are compiled, they will be burned onto DVDs and be delivered to 50+ middle schools along the East Coast. The video will be shown to children in order to get them intrigued into pursuing higher education early and as designed, will be a virtual tour for children who may not have the financial means to attend college tours. Because of this, I had to solicit original music and get agreements from artists and producers to use their content. BOTTOM LINE: Don’t leave the door open for a lawsuit. This would ultimately mean either court proceedings or you having to remove your video from any online channel to re-edit, subsequently losing any viewership you may have gained.
All of that about sums up what I had to deal with for the past few months of delivering my brainchild with 100% ownership of my content.
I want to end all of this with a few “Thank You’s”
- First and Foremost: Kaiya Watson, Natam and Dwayne Laurent – The incoming freshman and her parents. It was a shot in the dark asking someone who I had never met to follow them with a camera for 3 days, inside of their home and during an event that is not only stressful but private as there are a lot of emotions that are running rampid dropping a loved one off across the nation.
- My Brother- “Be” Moore: This is a personal project but is directly in line with our first brainchild, AlumniRoundup, so it naturally included him. He has been instrumental from the budgeting, being available for last minute questions on the road, to watching and time-stamping footage, to editing the project in a way that is absolutely in line with my vision.
- Genevieve Ascencio: Officially my first backer. I remember I uploaded my Kickstarter project late one night, wrote a tweet and was just anxious awaiting to hear ANYTHING, to see any kind of support. Around 2am I saw my first donation notification and it was from Gen. I was so happy, I couldn’t contain my smile! I did a little jig around the house and my dream went from a just an idea to a movement.
- E. Isis Adewale: My coordinator, Kaiya’s comfort system and the person who was willing to listen to all of my hair-brain ideas for Kickstarter until I finally found one that would really mean something to me instead of just producing content because I thought it was cool.
- Erin from EMQ Networks: Just when my donations were slowing a bit, I got a notification early in the morning saying that someone pledged $500. Mind you, I have never met Erin before, so I was trying to contain my jubilance until I found out if this was real or if someone accidentally typed an extra zero on their pledge. I sent Erin an email back that morning asking her to confirm the donation. I swear the next few hours, I was nervous to the point I was nauseous. Mid-afternoon, I got a response from Erin and she confirmed it. This was the real deal… At that point, I think I was within a few hundred dollars of my original goal. The project was so attainable at that point that I could taste it.
- Adrienne from Youth Roundup: Adrienne was an early backer and supporter of the project, but once she saw that I was only a few hundred dollars away from my goal, she upped her donation and met my goal + $1. IT WAS OFFICIAL & not only that, I still had about 20 days left to raise funds!
- Johnny Jones of TYPE Media: Johnny, a good friend, HU Alum and fellow creator, was willing to come out to Greensboro with me and help document this project. Johnny not only helped grab footage, both behind the scenes and B Roll, but he was a very integral part of obtaining interviews and keeping good conversation going. I can honestly say the project would not be the same without him there. His assistance and creative eye was priceless.
- All of my backers: This project would not have been possible without the support from my friends, family and alum of varying HBCU’s. I was truly amazed by the support of this project from backers who who had NO affiliation to #NCAT. You all believed in me, my vision and this project. It was truly humbling and I cannot thank you enough. I am so glad that I have had the opportunity to thank many people in person and I look forward to staying in touch with all of you.
Here is Episode One:
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