Category Archives: kickstarter

Entrepreneur Article About Crowdfunding For Books

Recently, I had the pleasure of working with Samita Sarkar, on the topic of crowdfunding to self-publish a book. Since she was the one writing the article, I didn’t know what quotes she would use from me versus other people who also had experience in crowdfunding, so it was interesting to see the end result.

In her article, “Crowdfunding Your Self-Published Book? Here Are 3 Things You Need to Know” the latest Kickstarter stats show that over out of 349,504 campaigns, just 123,447 succeeded – a 35% success rate. Some 14% of projects finish without receiving a single pledge.

In the three tips listed, lessons learned includes preparing a lot of videos and illustrations prior to the campaign start, then using social media a lot for the duration of the campaign. I talk about how I’ve mastered more software skills – quite frankly, this is because some people that I’ve hired in the past weren’t that great. Sometimes you just have to roll up your sleeves and do things yourself!

With Kickstarter campaigns there is always a risk that it will fail. But obviously I believe this is a risk worth taking as I’m slowly becoming a serial Kickstarter campaign runner! At dinner tonight I warned my friends that I will be emailing them once again to ask for support for the Trump anthology. There was a lot of moaning about how they were tired of Trump, but they were intrigued anyways! (or so I think)

 

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An Editor’s Notes on Submissions (Trump, Canada Anthologies)

Dark Helix Press has two different anthologies open to submissions at the moment: Trump Utopia or Dystopia? and Futuristic Canada. Deadlines for both are April 31, 2017.

First, thank you to everyone who has submitted their works so far! It’s been a lot of fun reading through the diverse stories with their different voices. Works have been sent in from all over the world – US, Canada, Italy, Sweden…just to name a few places.

Here are a few notes from moi, the editor, on these two anthologies in particular:

-We are looking for more stories for the Canada anthology in general.

-For the Trump anthology – more sci-fi and fantasy. Lots of Trump horror stories were submitted, making it difficult to choose among them.

-For the Trump Anthology if you are sending in work, send in an utopia and dystopia piece. We only have dystopic views at the moment. Utopic stories can be dark too, look at stories such as 28 Days Later (movie), Happiness (movie) or American Dream themed works, where among tragedies there is a glimmer of hope.

-World building is not including one sentence stating who is the leader of a country. To make me believe that the world you created is different, you will need to give me some details. For example, Trump was elected, then X, which led to X and your characters in the novel doing X. What do people eat? Are there new customs? The details are clear in your head, but the readers don’t have access to it!

-Please don’t send in horror pieces with senseless violence and killing. They really bore me. If there is death, why did it happen and how did the other characters react? Example, many Japanese haunting stories have a tragic tale of why the ghosts are haunting people.

These are my two cents for now. Am working on a Kickstarter campaign for the Trump anthology as a marketing strategy to find new readers. Will post more details when ready!

 

 

Q & A with Simon Horrocks, Third Contact Director

Happy New Year everyone!

The year 2014 is the year of the horse which means that many people will be working hard and creating new projects this year.  No exception to this is Simon Horrocks, who is not only a director; he is also a cameraman, composer, cinematographer, editor and screenwriter.  He may also be a makeup artist and gourmet chef, but I didn’t see that in the imbd credits of his new film.

We met on twitter on December 31, 2013, as he was busy spreading word his Indiegogo campaign to bring his film, “Third Contact” to CanadaThird Contact received its World Premiere at the Internationale Hofer Filmtage on 25 October, 2012 in Hof and was a successful Kickstarter campaign with 435 backers for a London BFI IMAX event.

3C screenshot 1

Hi Simon, thanks for taking the time to do this quick Q & A with me.  I watched the trailer for your Indiegogo campaign and was quite intrigued as I used to work in a mental hospital and love dark films.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and why you decided to create this movie after years as a professional composer?  You did some work on short films; did they serve as a catalyst for you to start working on your own film project?

I was a professional composer, writing music for TV shows such as Oprah and NBC sport, BBC daytime shows, plus the occasional Playstation game. My main passion was filmmaking. I’d wanted to be a director since before I knew what it meant. So I’d also been writing a lot, selling and optioning a few screenplays, but none of them made it into production.

I’d also been involved in a few shorts. When I fell on hard times as a composer, I had to get a ‘day job’ for the first time in 20 years, working in a cinema. But this gave me the opportunity to decide I was ready to write and direct my first feature film.

Often bad things that happen to us can be used as an opportunity to change ourselves. I took that opportunity.

In regards to your Third Contact, can you tell us a bit about the plot and themes?  

The film is about a psychotherapist who has lost faith in the world, but when disaster strikes, he uses it as an opportunity to rejuvenate himself and embarks on an obsessive investigation into the mysterious deaths of two patients.

Although the film is part scifi, exploring philosophical implications of ideas in quantum physics, its also a love story and a story about madness, depression, obsession, regret, loss. So I believe we can all connect with these themes.

The interesting things is, although it might be considered an ‘arthouse’ film, I’ve found people who don’t normally watch those kind of films get something from Third Contact that they weren’t expecting.

How was this story inspired?  Did it take long to write?

It was inspired from what one critic described as a ‘goldmine of ideas’. I had already worked on a script back in 2006-7 using the idea of quantum suicide. So I approached the subject again, but in a different way. I wrote the first draft in about a month or so, then had my filmmaker friend, Verity (who I met working at the cinema), read the script and give me notes.

I wanted Verity to help because she is a very unique and talented filmmaker, who I knew would be sympathetic to the work. I knew she wouldn’t impose any screenwriting rules, she would just assess it as a story. So after about 3 drafts and 6-7 month, I was ready to make the film.

When did you first learn about the idea of quantum suicide and why is this so intriguing?

I read an article about it around 2005, while I was looking into various quantum mechanics ideas. It had such a striking name, I had to find out more. The idea of subjective-immortality was very interesting, and I thought about this idea for a long time. It certainly changed the way I saw the universe and life in general.

I think a lot of current ‘scifi’ stories are basically future tech stories, which are old stories dressed up in fancy new clothes. Star wars and the current Star Trek films, for example, are basic action films with laser guns and spaceships.

I like my stories, and particularly scifi, to be thought-provoking. And subjective-immortality is certainly that. I could probably make films for the rest of my life on that one subject and never fully explore it.

How many people or countries have seen this film and are you happy with their reaction? 

While we were running the kickstarter, we realised we were now selling the film to the entire planet, as this was the way crowdfundng via the internet works. So we realised we couldn’t just focus on a UK premiere as the main attraction, it had to be a global premiere.

We decided to broadcast the film live over the internet, simultaneously with the film showing in the BFI IMAX, and hold the Q&A taking questions from the audience in the theatre and the online audience via a twitter feed we projected up onto the big screen.

The premiere was seen in 22 different countries by almost 1000 people, including the 300 or so in the theatre.

The reaction was amazing. Better than we ever dreamed of. So many people not only expressed their love for the film but returned days later to say the film had stayed with them.

Filmmaking is very expensive, how did you fund this movie and did you ever think about making it commercial via film festivals or selling the script?  Is script querying similar to novel querying, taking many years to find an agent?

Filmmaking doesn’t have to be expensive. The budget for Third Contact was £4000, which included the cost of buying the camera and the mic. Anyone can pick up a camera and make a feature film. But it will require a huge amount of effort, dedication and people putting their time in for the love of the project.

Someone came up to me after the IMAX premiere and told me I should make the film more commercial, if I wanted a career. I said – we just hired the biggest, most prestigious cinema in the UK and made a profit, outselling all the other shows on the night combined (we are talking films made for $100m +) – the film is commercial. He had to agree.

You have to remember, nobody knows anything. How many publishers turned down Harry Potter? Presumably, because they thought it wasn’t commercial. The idea that Harry Potter isn’t commercial is an absurdity to us now, but for how long did Rowling have to listen to that?

I don’t know anything about getting a novel published, but I did have a screenwriting agent in LA for about a year. From that experience, I realised I didn’t want to be anybody’s writer. I wanted to develop my own vision, and that could only happen outside the industry. The industry are too scared to take risks on anything. If they’re too scared to take a risk on Harry Potter, you know they are really incredibly conservative.

Either that, or its an elitist club, where everyone is doing each other favours. Which means that if you don’t have the right friends, or are not very good at making the right friends, you have no career.

Film festivals work exactly the same way; the major ones do, anyway. Its all about who you know and if you send your film in blindly with the submission fee, you are essentially paying for your own rejection letter. How many of the films which are programmed do you think paid the submission fee?

So, if you don’t have the right friends, be prepared to fight to get noticed. Give it everything, if you really believe in what you are doing. Ignore the naysayers.

What are the steps from script to actually finishing a film?  Did it take a long time?

It took roughly 3 years from writing the first word to finishing the final edit. The steps are long, partly because I was teaching myself how to do things as I went. I’d never shot a film before, so I had to learn how to use a camera. I’d never edited a film before, so I had to learn. Which means re-doing things again and again, to get it right.

We re-wrote the music score 3 or 4 times to get it right. This is very time-consuming.

Do you have any advice for budding film makers?  Would you recommend they try crowd funding?

You don’t need money to make a film. You do need money to promote a film and get it seen. Having said that, crowdfunding is there, and if you show you are committed, people will back you. Filmmaking is about your audience.

If you don’t have an audience, there’s no point making a film. Crowdfunding is a way to engage your audience and involve them in what you are doing. Its a fantastic opportunity to develop your filmmaking voice with your fans, who will be cheering on your risk-taking rather than throwing a wet towel over it, like the industry will.

Will your next film project be a dark story or something lighter? 

I don’t set out to make something dark. I write stories I’m inspired by and passionate about. I personally don’t enjoy ‘happy ending’ films, or films which try to force a positive message on you, because I think it’s a lie. Nothing ends neatly and ‘happily ever after’. Life is messy, complex, bittersweet.

The ‘heroes journey’ template which Hollywood, and supposedly ‘commercial’ cinema, follows slavishly is incredibly patronising to it’s audience. Its saying you are too stupid to deal with any complex reflection of reality, so its going to be simplified for you.

I personally believe its possible to reflect reality and entertain people without patronising them. Why do Shakespeare’s plays still hold up 400 years later? Why do Dickens’ stories still draw big audiences? Because they are gripping stories which reflect the complexity of life.

Back to Third Contact, can you give us a final pitch on how awesome it would be for the audience if they contribute to your campaign?  What are the goodies they receive?

We find ourselves in a position with Third Contact where audiences love the film, but the industry are refusing to take a risk with it. So we have developed a new way of showing this film in cinemas.

We are using our own ‘cinema on demand’ method, using the IndieGoGo.com platform. If you would like to see this film in one of the cinemas listed, you need to make it happen. If we don’t get enough seat reservations, by the events deadline, the show will not go ahead.

For the shows in Canada, you can pledge for a seat for $10. There are other options as well, such as a signed poster of a CD of the original score, or the official Third Contact t-shirt. You can add these for a little extra contribution, which will help us reach the target, so we can then go ahead and hire the cinemas.

If we don’t reach the target, IndieGoGo will refund you. But we hope it won’t come to that. By reserving your seat, you are helping independent cinema to develop its own voice, away from the risk-free industry.

If this works for us, other indie filmmakers will be able to follow us, so you will be reinvigorating cinema and encouraging filmmakers to come up with fresh ideas, by getting involved and supporting us.

Have a great New Year and may 2014 be the best year yet for Third Contact!  Please have a look at his link to his Indigogo campaigns happening all over the place for this film and hopefully it will be showing in a local theatre new you.  The links below are for his campaigns if you want to see something thought provoking!

January 30 – Cube Cinema, Bristol

February 12 – The Cinema Museum, London

February 18 – Ultimate Picture Palace in Oxford

February 22 – Central Kino in Berlin

February 24 – Rio Theatre, Vancouver, Canada

February 26 – Mayfair Theatre, Ottawa, Canada

February 28 – Carlton Cinema, Toronto, Canada

March 6 – Tyneside Cinema in Newcastle

March 7 – Late Show at The Sheffield Showroom

March 12 – The Forum, Norwich

Third Contact Poster (small)

Check out my kickstarter article on Authors Helping Authors!

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It’s been about two weeks since the Kickstarter ended and I still haven’t recovered.  In hindsight, doing National Novel Writing month at the same time was not a good idea as combining the two took up way too much energy!

I learned that a campaign was actually a 3 phase thing: beginning, middle and end.  During each phase, I worked madly to build and keep up momentum of the campaign going. It’s a really hard thing to do as you will find out that lots of people really don’t give a crap and will tell you to your face.  So you learn to develop a thick skin because for every nice person, there is also a super nasty one who will hate you because you are in front of their faces.

Lessons learned, tips and resources were written into an article called “Tips for Running a Crowd Funding Campaign”  and submitted to a site called “Authors Helping Authors“. Lots of excellent resources here for people who are interested in writing and publishing!

A book as a product is more difficult to sell on Kickstarter. Innovative thing-a-ma-bobs are easier to sell because they are quirky and general.  Books are aimed mainly at readers and there are so many of them listed under publishing that it is mind boggling. I could barely find my own kickstarter campaign when it was running under the category of “publishing” and had better luck looking for it under “Toronto” projects.

Will I run another Kickstarter in the future? Well, it depends on how well the book sells in general. People that have a lot of readers and press tend to do very well with their Kickstarter projects.  Also, for a third or fourth book, authors tend to give the first two away, which makes better incentives as well. I should never, say never to anything, as I might become involved in other projects. Who knows what the future will bring?!

 

Conversing with The Freak Fandango Orchestra

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As I was preparing for my upcoming podcast series, “The Literary Elephant”, I went through hundreds of tracks on the Free Music Archive (FMA) looking for lead in and lead out music. Part of the issue was that I was open to all sorts of music and it was difficult to narrow down the choices to one or two upbeat, energetic tempo tracks.

But as soon as I heard the whimsical melodies of The Freak Fandango Orchestra, I knew that I would want to ask for permission to use their music. This band was formed in 2006 and they are from Barcelona (Spain).  To me, their music sounds like upbeat gypsy folk with a dark twist. One of their tracks I want to use, “Monkey Said” is about a conversation with a monkey who wants to be like humankind. Since 2007 they have been preforming many live concerts around Barcelona and played the New York Gypsy Festival 2011.

Their two EPs, “Love, Death And A Drunken Monkey” (2009) and “Tales Of A Dead Fish” (2011) are both distributed for free listening under Creative Commons License on Jamendo and FMA. They have been downloaded 540, 000 times! You’ll find yourself astonished by some of the melodies and wanting to dance along with them, as they are just so good.

FFO monkey

FFO fish

“We’ll Save the World!” is a new cd from this Balkan-punky Barcelona band and it is a crowd funding project on Verkami, a site similar to Kickstarter, but based in Barcelona. It is an all or nothing campaign and the time is set for 40 days of fundraising. The band has an awesome video for this project, so have a look and save the world with them!

The Freak Fandango Orchestra consists of seven musicians:
Armin – Trumpet & Voice
Xavi – Bass Guitar
David – Drums
Yuri The Blade – Guitar & Voice
Jordi – Violin
Noe – Accordion & Voice
Vitto – Saxophone

The Freak Fandango Orchestra was ok with me using their music for my podcast and was kind enough to let me do an interview with them as I was quite curious about this band and their fabulous music.

First, thank you for spending time answering this Q & A. Your music is fantastic! You definitely have me as a new fan! On FMA, The Freak Fandango Orchestra bio says it is a “multi-ethnic band from Barcelona (Spain).” Where is each band member’s background and how was the band created?

OK, maybe multi-ethnic is not really the best description of the band, but the band members are from all over Europe. Each person brought a little bit of their own culture and music taste to the band. There are people from Germany with East-European origins, from Switzerland, Italy and of course from different parts of Spain. We all met here in Barcelona. First it started as a jam session between friends and then more and more people joined us and we formed The Freak Fandango Orchestra.

I remember taking counterpoint music composing lessons and the teacher kept saying, “write what’s in your head!” Alas, I couldn’t do the translation from head to manuscript properly. Is it as simple as that? What kind of process is used to create the music? Or perhaps someone starts with a melody and people start giving ideas?

As a matter of fact 95% of the music is composed by the guitar player. He has the melodies in his head and then the band brings them to life. Normally he sings a melody and the violin player writes down the notes. Then we start all together with the arrangements; this is when we start to argue, fight and insult each other until it begins to sound good and we’re happy again. Sometimes it only takes a few hours until a song is finished and sometimes it takes forever. Also there are ideas that don’t work out and we have to bury them.

Two of the tracks – “Monkey Said” and “Requiem for a Fish” – what are the stories behind them?

Monkey Said, actually is a very old song. We played it already in the beginnings of the band. It got transformed several times. The actual version of this song, for example, is quite different from the version on our first record.

Requiem for A Fish was written only a few weeks before we went to the studio for our second CD. It started with an idea and it basically wrote itself. It was fun to play and so it got on the CD. Actually its by far our most popular song.

The artwork on your albums is colorful and delightful. Who is the artist?

Its our drummer who does all the artwork. He is a illustrator.

Many of your songs are in English, was it a group decision to do this? Do people already have individual projects in Spanish and wanted to reach a wider audience with English songs?

It just happened. Since most of the people are not originally from Spain it was like more natural to sing in English. Also it is easier to write a song with our music in English than in Spanish.

I admit I was surprised to find out that I could listen to your albums for free, but then again, with the internet being so open, even free music has tons of competition! On a practical note, I know making music, distributing, marketing, etc. costs money. Do you hope fans to support you via going to your concerts or purchasing merchandise? I guess I’m trying to understand the business model because for myself, as a writer, I really like to eat from time to time!

Oh, we do make some money with our music even if its free. For example we make money selling licenses for commercials, websites or stuff like that. We release under creative commons license Attribution-ShareAlike which means you can use our music for free but you have to respect some limitations. Now if someone wants to use it beyond these limitations they have to pay (or ask us nicely). This is where a big part of our money comes from. The biggest part, however, comes from our live-concerts. Putting our music out for free means we get a bigger audience and that means playing gigs gets easier.

Another part of our income is from donations. A lot of people who likes or music decides to pay for it, not because they have to, but because they want to. That’s quite cool.

And as you know, we started a crowd funding campaign to cover the costs for our third CD. As it turns out it is working really well!

Making money while being an artist is not easy. That’s why we all have other jobs to pay for rent and food. It would be nice to make a living out of music but on the other hand, this way we don’t have to obsess us too much about the money and can just make music.

What are the big dreams for this band? Does it include travelling to different cities in the world?

We’re quite happy the way that things are right now. I mean, you always want more, get more audience, be more famous, earn more money, that I think is quite human; but we are real good at the moment with our band. We have an audience when we play live, our music is listened to all over the world and we even got our new album financed by our fans and friends so there is not much left to ask. It would be nice though to play more international shows.

OK, one thing I really hope for is to be there in like 20 years, still playing music, still having fun and still having an audience who wants to listen to what we do. I guess that would really be a great thing.

Once again, thank you again for spending some time with me!

Readers, please have a look on Verkami for The Freak Fandango Orchestra’s We’ll Save the World cd project…I had to support them in saving the world, someone has to do this dirty job!   As mentioned in their video, their music will lift up our spirits from brainless shadows and broken spirits!

Introducing Sammuel Bowden, the creator of Twisted Eden

Recently I posted some tips on Kickstarters on Google+ and was contacted by Sammuel Bowden, a talented writer and artist from Bronx, NY. He just recently started a project called Twisted Eden, which is an innovative take on the traditional graphic novel format. His kickstarter just started for this book.  The video is pretty slick and artwork super unique; I’ll let him explain his revolutionary ideas, which are quite exciting as I love reading graphic novels!

Twisted Eden Cover 1

Hi Sammuel, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with us. Can you introduce yourself and let us know a little bit about your background? Your artwork is quite unique (similar to air brush styles), did you have any art training or is it a natural talent you possess?

Lol, not to sound cocky, but it’s a natural talent. I have been drawing since I was seven years old, but I always wanted to take art classes to perfect my style! Natural talent is one thing, but professional training is another for the fact that it is a lot more technical.

The title of your kickstarter is “It’s not just a Graphic Novel, It’s a new Beginning!” and you mention that the difference between your book and the traditionally published graphic novel is the fact that it is a “True Hybrid Book”. Can you explain a little bit about what this means? How did you come up with this?

I’m a very analytical person. Whenever I watch a good movie, show, or read a good book, I ask myself two questions:

What makes me like this show/book so much?

What elements do all the things that I like have in common?

Asking those questions over and over again, had given me an idea. That Idea was to blend in as many elements as possible to make the “ultimate” story. Originally, I wanted to make an anime series, but not having any knowledge or networks in animation…I knew it would be impossible at that stage. So, Instead of an animated series, I wrote the plot to a book series and kept my drawn characters.

I always loved shows with a narrator, so I thought that it would be a good fit to make my book a First Person Narrative. But, making my book a written novel took away some good scenes that I had imagined for an anime series. Certain things are just better told through a sequence of art panels, where you can actually see the action.

So, wanting to keep my highly detailed writing, I decided to make a way to merge comic and narrative together! Then, as I played around with words and formats, and displayed my Half-Novel/Half-Graphic novel story to my friends. I realized that I may have the next big thing.

People who prefer words read my book for it’s writing while appreciating the art, but comic lovers enjoyed my book in reverse to the novel lovers. Also, kids who hated reading books would read the long pages of my story just to find out why two characters were fighting in a comic strip. Not a single person has disliked my content.

I felt like I accomplished my goal in blending in all elements of a good story. But, more importantly, I was able to combine two separate worlds of story telling together (Hence the name True Hybrid Book).

On your website you talk a little bit more about Twisted Eden and that you had actually thought about this story and its characters for a long time. How did you come up with this story?

Well…being born in the 90’s made me appreciate Anime in a big way. Seeing shows with intense action like Dragon Ball Z is one of the things that kept me drawing at a young age. But, as I got older and became more analytical, I knew that I needed something more than a basic story with big fights.

When I first made my story, I noticed that my characters didn’t have enough internal conflicts to make them relatable. So, I went back to the drawing board and started giving each character an internal conflict. That’s when I thought of the classic “memory loss” idea for my main character. A person trying to uncover their lost memory always added that “mystery” element to the book that most people love!

My main character’s loss of memory was a good way for me to give him more depth while giving the story an unpredictable plot. In total, I believe it took me around three years to put everything together. Lol, I think I just realized that I sacrificed hanging out with friends in High School and college for this book…sheesh!

Can you explain why you chose to name your book Twisted Eden? Without spoilers can you hint on how it fits into the story line?

Well, most of us know about the classic story of the Garden of Eden from the Bible. So, I wanted to make a fiction book that “twisted” the story of human’s origin. In the Garden of Eden, there were two trees that wasn’t to be touched. One granted man the power of Knowledge while the other Granted man the gift of life.

Twisted Eden is a Fictional of how things probably could have been if Adam ate from one Tree, while Eve ate from the other…

There are different realms in Twisted Eden with two sets of beings – humans and the Dominants, who govern humankind from within the shadows. What kind of creatures are these Dominants and why do they need to rule in secret? Do they have super powers?

You can picture Dominants as Angels. They are in the form of “Man”, have influence over Humanity, and have wings and cool powers. Some are good, some are evil, but the plot isn’t so simple. What is percieved as good and bad is through the eyes of the beholder… You’ll see these conflicts of Morales versus Circumstances a lot in Twisted Eden.

In your book excerpt you start off with a young Prince from another Realm. Is this Prince human or a Dominant? Will there be lots of twists and turns in this story? Lots of fighting?

The Prince is a Dominant, so he has those cool wings and powers. Yes, there will be lots of twists and turns in the story. I purposely wrote the plot to make a person think something is going to happen when it doesn’t. And yes…there will be lots and lots of fighting! Not as much in the first issue though, because I want to paint the picture before things start exploding!

Let’s talk a little bit about Fusion Book Publishing, is this your own company? Was it difficult setting this up?

Yes! I Found Fusion Book Publishing to help beginner Authors for free! I love helping people, but I favor self publishers since we have a good reputation of producing bad stuff…(thankfully that’s changing) It was really hard to get the ball rolling at first, but it’s finally getting some momentum! The main blog is at http://sammuelbowden.blogspot.com/. The home page shows what’s new while the Free Help page connects you to the Facebook community where you can contact me for help.

What do you hope to do in the future with Fusion Book Publishing as you grow bigger?

I want it to be a second chance for Authors! Everyone has the power to make a good book, but just need guidance on how. I want Fusion Book Publishing to grow to help as many people as possible to do what they love to do. I also want it to serve as a place where readers and fans can reach out directly to the industry to express what they want.

It’s been great learning all about your Twisted Eden project and I hope that it takes off as some of these ideas really captured my imagination! Tackling a new take on a traditional format of anything is a courageous task! Please have a look at his website and send in some support to his kickstarter!

Making Loch Ness: The Web Series, Q & A with Christina (Donna)

One day I received an email that I had a new Kickstarter backer for The Undead SorceressOdin’s Song Productions. What a cool name! After thanking them I checked their profile page and it turns out they have an awesome Kickstarter campaign going on for Loch Ness: The Web Series. So I gave them a kick back of support and asked them to tell me a bit more about this project.

This web series follows the journey of Donna, Joey, Kyle and Steve; four high school metal heads who dream of making it big with their folk metal band “Loch Ness”. But first, they need to figure out where to find a lead singer and survive overbearing parents, lack of funds as well as a bass player who manages to get it wrong more than right.

Based on a true story of a now defunct folk metal band from Omaha, Nebraska, the series is told through the lens of original Loch Ness band member, Christina. If you take a look at their Kickstarter video you will see that their production and lighting quality work are extremely professional. They have a great sense of humour as well!

We are going to have a conversation with Christina Marie Leonard who is the creator/writer, and plays Donna in this head banging series.

LNKickstarterTitle

 

Hi Christina, thank you for taking the time to do this Q & A with me as I know that you must be super busy with your Kickstarter campaign!

First, can you tell me a little bit about your role in this project? How did this project start?

CML: Thank you JF! Well, I am the writer of Loch Ness: The Web Series, and I will also be playing the character Donna who is the keyboardist of the band. I got the idea to write the series in March of 2013. I had gone back home to Nebraska to visit and while I was there I hung out with my friend Carl who was in the band with me and a lot of fun memories came flooding back. I had been going through a tough time in LA, so when I returned from my trip to Nebraska I really immersed myself in writing this series and it has become very close to heart.

Your goal for the Kickstarter is $10K which actually isn’t too crazy for video production projects. What do you hope to accomplish with the funds?

CML: Our goal of $10K is something we definitely believe is achievable, but there are a lot of expenses. We need the $10K for production insurance, locations, permits, food, gas, equipment, and costumes for the actors.

What is involved in the making of a web series? Is it as glamorous as people are led to believe? In general, a lot of video production looks great because only the perfect takes are shown and the many hours for a few seconds of work are not seen!

CML: Making a web series is definitely a huge thing to take on. The writing process in itself took several months of rewrites before I had something I was really happy with. Then getting a production team together and all the planning that goes into pre-production has taken a lot of time. It is all worth it, though- we have a project we all really believe in, and working with people I love being around makes those long hours seem not so long!

How were the cast members found? Is everyone from Nebraska? Do they really know how to play their instruments?

CML: We had some table reads early on during rewrites of the script, and brought in actors who were the right ages and types for the parts. Later on when we were casting, we asked those same people to read for us again, as well as having casting calls on LA Casting and CAZT.com.

We saw a lot of really great people and we ended up casting actors both from the casting calls we put out, and the pool of actors we knew from the table read. Of those actors, just myself and Chris Muckey, who is playing Joey, are from Nebraska, although ironically Chris and I did not know one another until we moved to California!

The characters are never seen close-up playing their instruments in the series- usually they are setting up or dismantling their equipment from a show- so we did not make it mandatory that the actors auditioning know the instruments their characters play. However, several of our cast members actually do know how to play guitar and/or drums which will likely open up fun opportunities for improv in the series.

In the story line, there is mention about finding a lead singer. What is involved in this and why is it so hard to keep a band together? What should people expect from this series? Is it a comedy and drama mix?

CML: The story line about finding a lead singer comes from the struggle that the real Nebraska band “Loch Ness” had with holding onto band members. It seemed like, at least when I was in high school, all the bands in the Nebraska music scene kept switching members.

With Loch Ness, it was usually just members not being interested enough, and being busy with other high school activities and dropping out. Once, though, our guitarist cancelled right before a show. It was our first show and I insisted we went on anyway, so Billy the drummer ended up playing guitar that night, and a drummer from the band “Talos” that was playing the show with us was just fantastic and learned the drum part for our set right before going on.

In the web series, most of the vocalists either quit or get kicked out because they get romantically involved with Donna… that may or may not be based on a true story as well. You can leave that up to the imagination! Overall, you should expect a lot of laughs- this series is definitely a comedy, in the vein of “Detroit Rock City”, “Empire Records” or one of my favorites, “Todd and the Book of Pure Evil”.

What has happened to the real Loch Ness band? How long did they exist and what venues did they play in? Do you still keep in touch with them?

CML: The real Loch Ness band broke up a few years when we all graduated high school. We played for the latter half of high school, Junior and Senior year, and we played in several venues around Omaha, NE- The Rock, Club Roxbury, Jacket’s Bar, Sokol Underground, and some smaller venues as well. It was hard to juggle acting in plays and be in a band at the same time, so when I was doing a month-long run of “The Crucible”, at the Omaha Community Playhouse, we could only play on Monday nights. Fortunately, my band members were really supportive of that, and we found a place called Shea O’Rileys that had shows every Monday night that worked perfectly for us!

I’ve kept in touch with the guitarist Carl ever since the band broke up, but lost touch with Billy, Matt, and Jason- the drummer, vocalist, and bass player for awhile. Fortunately, creating this web series has brought us back together. In fact, I recently did some interviews with all of them about their experiences in the band and what they look forward to in the web series. Billy’s interview is already available as an update on our kickstarter page and more will be coming soon!

This is the first time I’ve heard of “folk metal band”. Can you explain what this is?

CML: You’re not alone in being unfamiliar with folk metal. I didn’t know much about it until Billy involved me in the band. Basically, folk metal is a branch of heavy metal that stems from Viking metal. Folk metal originated in Europe in the 1990s. The lyrics usually talk about mythology, and there is often accordion, bagpipe, or some other folk instrument incorporated (or keyboards with settings to replicate that, like we had) to add that folk element to the heavy guitars and vocals.

Will there be original songs involved with this production?

CML: There will definitely be original songs involved in Loch Ness: The Web Series! We have several songs from the Nebraska “Loch Ness” band that will be used, and we are open and excited to collaborate with any metal artists that want to have their music in the series as well!

What is the story behind Odin’s Song Productions?

CML: Odin’s Song Productions consists of myself, Mijoe Sahiouni, Max Holm, Rachel Gunnerson, and Melanie Recker. Mijoe and Max both studied at the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film with me at UNL in Nebraska.

Mijoe stage managed some of the shows I was in, and I directed and wrote many shows in college as well. I have always respected her directing style and professionalism and was excited to work with her in LA.

Max, a film major at UNL, directed me in his Thesis Film “Lilith”, a thriller, which was one of my favorite roles to play and a great experience. I became great friends with them both, and I knew I just had to involve them in “Loch Ness: The Web Series”. They were the first ones to jump onboard and help create Odin’s Song Productions.

Rachel is a really great writer who I met through Mijoe, and during the rewriting process of the series, she helped me a lot in making Loch Ness as funny and solid as it can be. I am so glad to have her onboard as a producer for the full run of the series.

Melanie is another Nebraskan who I did not officially meet until moving to LA. (However, we ran into each other several times at auditions in Omaha over the years thinking “hey, that girl looks familiar!”). Melanie is a great actress who is awesome at bringing people together- she has created several social media groups for that purpose, and actually was the first person to introduce me to Chris, who plays Joey. Melanie is producing several other projects as well as Loch Ness: The Web Series, and will be moving on once pre-production is over, but we are lucky to have her, as she has been an initial part in getting this thing off the ground!

Well, I’ve learned a lot from you about making a web series and I wish you and Odin’s Song Productions the best of luck on your Kickstarter! Please check out their fantastic project here and send in some support!

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