There aren’t too many movies that make me want to buy the DVD as I’m leaving the theater, the closing credits music ringing in my ears. Pirates of the Caribbean? You bet. Serenity? Once I started breathing again after Joss killed [spoiler!]? Heck, yes!
The last time I wanted to buy the DVD on the way out was this past July when I saw Treasure Trapped on its tour of the US. (I wrote a rave review of the film for GeekGirlCon here!) It’s a documentary of epic proportions filmed in the United Kingdom and several European countries about Live Action Role Play (LARP) and the people who participate. It’s not like other LARP film I’ve seen; it’s smart, respectful, and completely engrossing. I don’t LARP myself, but as a writer and reader of fantasy and science fiction stories, LARP is fascinating to me.
Thank goodness geek girls come in all shapes and sizes! After all, the world would be a truly boring and pretty awful place if we didn’t. GeekGirlCon celebrates the female geek in all her forms, and one of our longtime staff members Terra Clarke Olsen is putting together a project that celebrates all of us, just as we are, as a new way to tell our stories as geek girls.
Hiya, readers! For this installment of Artist Corner, we at GeekGirlCon connected with Nicole Dieker of Hello, The Future! She has been reaping the successes of her recent Kickstarter and took the time out to answer a few questions from us in between shows.
Hello, The Future! punching in the hours to make music for a nerdy world.
1: For folks not familiar with your music, how would you describe your sound?
“Nerd folk” is probably the most accurate statement. I say “geekrock” a lot too. Sometimes I tell people I sound like “girl Jonathan Coulton,” which I really don’t, but there’s a lot of overlap between people who like JoCo and people who like my songs.
2: You have recently completed a successful Kickstarter! What was the most rewarding part of the whole process?
Learning that I have a fan base willing to support an unfinished project.
By this point, I was nearly three years into performing as Hello, The Future! and I looked at the Kickstarter as a bit of a milestone marker; if I couldn’t get support for this project, I should step back from the full-time independent musicianry.
Then we not only funded the project, but also funded two stretch goals. It was an amazing feeling, knowing I had a team ready to support and back my work.
3: What are some obstacles you have faced as you were promoting The Geek Girl EP?
Boosting the signal is always the biggest obstacle. There are so many musicians and so many Kickstarters and so many tweets and videos and Facebook posts.
In my case, I started telling the story of the Kickstarter long before I actually announced the Kickstarter. I involved my audience in the process from the very beginning, showing them drafts of songs and drafts of rewards, letting them know how invested I was in this project and how much I wanted to give them the best work I could.
This helped because when we were ready to launch the Kickstarter, the audience was already ready to back. I didn’t have to spend the first week of the Kickstarter explaining it to people.
The other smart thing I did was get on as many podcasts and websites as I could. I would watch the stats, and every time I did an interview (even for a small podcast) the signal would boost and more people would back the project.
4: What is the most valuable advice you can offer for someone thinking of starting their own Kickstarter?
I have two pieces of advice.
1: Test your project and rewards with your fans before you launch the Kickstarter. I put an early draft of my Kickstarter online and asked my audience to tear it apart, which they willingly did (the internet seems to enjoy that kind of thing). They gave me a lot of useful information, including which rewards they liked (and which rewards they didn’t like at all) and helped me shape the final draft of the project.
2: Do the math, for both the money and the time. Make a budget. Create an estimate of how much it will cost to produce the main project, and then add on how much it will cost to produce and ship all of the rewards. Remember that Kickstarter and Amazon each take their cut, and that there’ll likely be taxes you’ll need to pay as well. Then figure out in which order you’re going to fulfill and ship the rewards, and how much time you’ll need to produce each of them (while you’re simultaneously working on the main project). That’ll help you create a realistic plan of action for the Kickstarter.
5: What are you geeky about right now?
I am coming late to the Song of Ice and Fire series, having discovered it through the Game of Thrones HBO show. Nearly finished with A Feast For Crows at this point. Because I am a redhead, I’m making a Hipster Melisandre costume for Halloween which includes a t-shirt that reads “I served R’hllor before it was cool.”
Thanks again for taking some time out of your hustle for GeekGirlCon, Nicole! Congratulations again on not only a great EP, but a successful Kickstarter!
Hi everyone – Shubz reporting! Come through to Room 202 for How to Do Your Own Kickstarter with Caytlin Vilbrandt and Tristan J. Tarwater!
Planning your campaign: decide if your project will happen “no matter what.” It will determine how you write your pitch and your donation tiers.
Kickstarter vs. IndieGoGo
About 10% of your audience will be willing to donate.
Have a budget. How much will it cost to make product, ship product, etc. Plan for the worst case scenario.
Figure out your tiers. The main price point that most people hit: $25
Treat the people who are backing you as patrons. Give them great incentives for donating.
Make sure you have enough time for your campaign. Check shipping times for people giving things to you.
Communicate with your backers. Stay in contact.
People want to give! If you have a great project and are good to your patrons, they will be excited to be your fans and give you feedback.
Learn from prior kickstarters – what works and what didn’t work.
Promotions: Word of mouth, Twitter, Facebook, Website
Stretch goals: Create them! What will you do if you’ve exceeded your initial goal? If you had the money, what would you do?
Tell people to buy your stuff! Be direct about your promoting, be excited about it, and DON’T BE SHY about your project. Cross-promote with friends that have other projects going.
How crucial is video?: DO IT! Get your face on the video. This creates a human connection.
Points to take home
Take it seriously
Treat your patrons well. They are your customers.
This is taxable income. It is NOT free money!
Do NOT cold message people about your project. Create rapport first. It is also against Kickstarter TOS.
I have two words for today’s GeekGirlCon ‘12 preview: Anita Sarkeesian. We are incredibly lucky to have her at our convention this year. If you didn’t know her name prior to this year, it is likely you have heard about her by now. She’s been busy lately.
For those who need the introduction, Anita is a feminist pop culture critic who produces an ongoing web series of video commentaries from a feminist/fangirl perspective at FeministFrequency.com. She explores representations of race, gender, sexuality, class, and ability in popular culture.
Recently, Anita posted a Kickstarter project to raise money for a video series, “Tropes vs Women in Video Games,” that explored female character stereotypes throughout the history of the gaming industry.
Tropes vs. Women in Video Games Kickstarter
Despite the fact that she had yet to even produce one of the videos, the trolls deployed in full force. They left hateful comments on Anita’s YouTube video, repeatedly vandalized the Wikipedia page about her, and sent a number of threatening messages that went as far as threats of violence, death, sexual assault, and rape. This New Statesman article (Major trigger warning: there are some very disturbing examples) provides perhaps the most detailed look at how Anita was treated.
Anita didn’t back down, and neither did her supporters. You see, despite the horrible treatment, there is some good news to share. While she only asked for $6,000 to create this video series, Anita ended up raising over $158,000! Geeks and pop culture fans of all types came together to show their support for her project. Now that’s a movement we can all get behind.
We had a few moments to catch up with Anita and chat about this project, as well as the panels she’ll be participating in at GeekGirlCon ‘12. Enjoy!
1) Let’s talk about something positive! Tell us what it’s like to have a community rally behind you and support you, as many did with your Kickstarter project.
I’m actually not sure how to describe the feeling, but it was pretty incredible especially considering I wasn’t entirely sure I’d be able to raise my initial funding goal. In the midst of all the horrific (and at times scary) harassment, I received an outpouring of support by way of comments, private messages, video responses, and even fanart from both my long time supportive viewers and also from folks who had not heard of my web series before the Kickstarter. I feel inspired and tremendously lucky to have so many wonderful people defending and supporting me in the face of all the trolling, hate, and abuse.
2) What messages are you hoping to share at GeekGirlCon ’12?
This year I’ll be participating in a few different panels and workshops. In “Go Make Me A Sandwich: Barriers to Women’s Participation in Online and Fan Spaces,” I’ll be sharing my experiences with online harassment, as well as some strategies other women can hopefully use to protect themselves online.
During “Let’s Get Critical: Fans, Creators, and Social Justice,” I’ll be talking about the complexities of being a fan within a media landscape that is largely created for (and by) straight, white men and how we can love our fandoms while simultaneously being critical of the more problematic aspects.
Lastly, I’m co-facilitating a video making workshop called “Really Make Your Own Videoblog” with Reel Grrls. We are going to teach the basics of how to record a captivating and engaging video blog. We’re bringing filmmaking equipment and all participants will be invited to make their own videos during the workshop.
3) Aside from your panels, are there any panels or special guests you are particularly looking forward to seeing at GeekGirlCon ’12?
I’m excited about everything, and I’m trying to figure out a timey-wimey way to be at every single panel! I’m thrilled about the “Once More, with Feeling Buffy the Vampire Slayer Sing-Along” (I still believe it is one of the best hours of television, ever).
I’m looking forward to hearing Greg Rucka talk about “Why Men Write Women Poorly, and How to Get a Clue” and learning about Corrinne Yu’s experience working in the video game industry. I’m also really happy to see the subject of harassment in geek culture as the focus on a number of panels this year. I’m looking forward to learning about other women’s experiences and sharing strategies on building stronger communities to fight against sexism in geek spaces.
4) What sort of things are you geeking out about right now?
I am a big fan of the Portal video game series so I was anticipating the release of Kim Swift’s latest project this year. Quantum Conundrum is endearing and quite challenging, plus the whole game is narrated by John De Lancie giving it that extra geeky charm.
I also recently read a book series calledThe Steerswoman’s Road by Rosemary Kirstein. It’s such a great example of a captivating, creative and brilliant fantasy novel that stars a genuinely complex, interesting, female protagonist. I don’t want to spoil it for those that haven’t read it yet, but it’s now one of my all time favourite books which I recommend to everyone!
Thanks for your time, Anita! We look forward to hearing more from you at the convention.
You have some new visitors, and they want to say “Hello” to their new city by opening a social gaming cafe this fall. Jessica Schattie and her husband just moved to Bellevue from Fort Collins, Colorado. They currently have a Kickstarter campaign for Gaslamp Social Games Cafe in Bellevue, which they say will be “a comfortable spot to hang out, play games, and enjoy our amazing coffee and snacks while you spend time with friends new and old.” Check out the video below.
You’ll never be able to complain that Seattle gets all the cool events and businesses! We caught up with Jessica to ask her a few questions about the Kickstarter project, which ends on June 17. Check out what she has to say about coffee, board games, and her vision for Gaslamp below.
Can you tell us a little more about your vision for Gaslamp Social Games Cafe?
My vision for Gaslamp Social Games Cafe is a place where folks can come to create a community. My husband and I have met so many wonderful people through gaming, and we want to create a place where others can make those connections. I envision it something like a personal library from the 1800s – warm tones, comfortable seating, vintage-y touches here and there, wrought iron accents, and of course shelves stacked full of games. Add in a cup of coffee or tea and a few friends to pass the evening with, and you’ll be all set.