To perk or not to perk (or percolate) – the BIG RISK for my INTERLUDE crowd-funder!

Among the more annoying and often-ignored fan film guidelines is number 6e: “No unlicensed Star Trek-related or fan production-related merchandise or services can be offered for sale or given away as premiums, perks or rewards or in connection with the fan production fundraising.”

Boo. Hiss. Expletive.

And as I’ve said elsewhere, a number of post-guidelines fan film crowd-funding campaigns have ignored that one…offering posters, patches, and a bunch of other perks. Thus far, CBS hasn’t seemed to mind. In one case, the production even got permission from CBS to offer perks!

However, I’d be naive to believe that CBS won’t have me and my production under a microscope. So I’m taking great pains to keep INTERLUDE completely separate from Alec Perets’ Axanar sequels (other than having Alec play Garth) and to establish very clearly and publicly my intention to follow ALL of the guidelines.

And that means…no perks!

Man, it’s a huge risk. Perks are exciting! Perks are cool! Perks make people think they’re getting something tangible for their donation (which, if you think about, isn’t that different from simply buying that perk…which is probably why CBS doesn’t want fan productions to do it).

But perks also cost money to make and to mail. In addition to the patches or posters or T-shirts or mugs, you’ve got to buy shipping materials and pay for postage. And heaven help you if you’ve got backers from places like Asia or Australia. That $10 donation is likely gonna cost you $25 just to mail them a frickin’ patch!

So I’ve obviously got a pretty good reason NOT to offer perks. I’m already trying to raise about $20K. Add in perks and packaging and postage, and you can increase that number easily to $22K or $23K!

So instead, all I am going to be offering as a “perk” is getting your name in the credits. But are people going to want to donate simply to see their name at the end of my fan film??? Granted I do have some fun categories for listing the names:

  • Ensign – donate up to $10
  • Lieutenant – $11-$50
  • Lieutenant Commander – $51-$100
  • Commander – $101-$250
  • Captain – $251-$500
  • Commodore – $501-$1000
  • Admiral – $1001-$2500
  • Associate Producer – $2501 and up
    (no Fleet Captain…that rank’s reserved for Garth!)

The idea is that, the larger your donation, the higher your rank and the larger your name in the credits. And for the Associate Producers (assuming I get any), they will also be invited to join us at ARES STUDIOS for filming. They’ll have to pay for their own transportation and lodging—but I figure if they can afford thousands of dollars to donate to a fan film, they shouldn’t have a problem with a plane ticket and a Holiday Inn Express.

And there’s one more fun thing I wanna do…!

For whichever backer gives me the highest donation, they will have their name written on a special paper coffee cup (possibly from the Federal Coffee House) that will appear somewhere in one of the scenes of the Interlude fan film. It’ll look completely out of place, just like in Game of Thrones, and the cup will be angled to make certain the donor’s name is visible (and possibly even purposefully misspelled…does that happen to any of you folks at Starbucks?).

Now, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, while there won’t be perks, there might—MIGHT!!—be a “thank you” gift. If we take in enough to send out some extra patches to people, I will. And if we reach a level high enough, there’s a really, really cool item I’d like to print and send out. It will have zero Star Trek intellectual property in it, but Axanar fans will love it.

Isn’t a thank you gift just a “perk by any other name”? Not really. Perks are expected, and usually determined based on amount given (the higher the donation, the better the perk). For my campaign, nobody is guaranteed anything other than their name in our credits (and possibly on a coffee cup). And indeed, if we miss our goal or only barely clear it, I can pretty much guarantee nobody will get anything. So donations should be given with no expectation of anything arriving in the mailbox.

Is a thank you gift a “reward” (also a no-no)? Hard to say on that one, but I don’t see it as such. Rewards tend to be gestures of individual merit. I see a thank you gift as more about “sharing the good fortune” of a successful crowd-funder among all of our donors. And to be honest, CBS should be happy that I’ll be wiping away any surplus I have left after covering expenses. After all, better that than have a fan pocketing “profit,” right?

So why don’t I simply shut down the campaign when we hit the goal (assuming we do)? Why keep raising funds we won’t need? Because I don’t know for sure that we won’t need them. What if something major and expensive goes wrong? What if we end up needing an extra filming day or the costumes are more expensive than we thought? What if Alec Peters eats all of the sushi??? Better safe than sorry, right?

Anyway, that’s the risk we’re taking here: no perks, possibly/probably no thank you gifts, pretty much nothing to justify you donating your money to our project other than your desire to help a bunch of filmmakers who love Star Trek and Axanar make a fan film that we hope you all will like.

Will it work? We’ll find out soon. My crowd-funder is scheduled to launch in a week and a half…!

15 thoughts on “To perk or not to perk (or percolate) – the BIG RISK for my INTERLUDE crowd-funder!”

  1. I’m in for $20. More if I can swing it. Just call me LT. For what it’s worth man I think you’re doing the right thing. Like you said GREEDBS is going to be targeting you already.

  2. Jonathan, I think there are other non-material perks that can be offered that don’t run afoul of “No unlicensed Star Trek-related or fan production-related merchandise or services.”

    For examples, chances to work on or visit the productions, a chat session with the actors, writers and/or director, maybe a critique of their own fan film script or pitch, etc. Some of those are location specific (tho it sure seems like fan film folks love to travel), but others can be executed by Skype, email or phone call.

    (I’m my own example – my biggest non-merchandise/service Axanar perk is that my photo and name will be included in the roll call of casualties of the Four Years War in the upcoming “Axanar: Heroes.”)

    I’m not advising one way or another, but I once went through this conversation with a guy who wanted to write a book about the Iowa women’s basketball team. He was all tied up in knots about how NCAA and university rules prohibited any perks of financial value, and while it was too late for him (his Kickstarter crashed and burned) I was able to point out a whole lot of creative perks that Iowa fans would have loved while staying clean with the NCAA and Iowa athletic department.

    Just my two credits.

    1. Some good suggestions, Charlie. I figure I’ll see how things go without perks of any kind, and if we come up really short, I can always add in some later as special offers. We’ll see what happens…fingers crossed!

  3. Boo guidelines. Hmph. Ah well, perks or not, I’m still donating. This. Film. Needs. To. Be. Made. May fortune’s winds guide you in the “direction” 😉 you wish, sir! (That’s a fancy way of saying “good luck”)

  4. I’m not all fired enthusiastic about my name in the credits. But the ability to have something there is more motivating. Of course, I expect some criteria such as nothing political or Trek related or for that matter covered by copyright. I am feeling creative juices flowing at the mere possibility of something fun in the credits if such is possible.

    So what say you? Can I specify what I’d like subject to your good judgement?

    1. If you’d like for you name to be Trekkie Trekkerson, then no problem. If you’re looking for C. B. Sucks…not so much. So yeah, feel free to contact me after the crowd-funder to let me know your preference.

  5. So offer NASA artwork, not fan production or Star Trek related.
    I printed a bunch of the NASA Space Tourism posters for Yuri’s Night.
    Artwork is public domain.

  6. A thought just hit me and I wish it had during the lawsuit because it might have helped Alec’s case. If a series is the property of CBS, can it even be called intellectual? Asking for a friend.

  7. OK, despite protesting poverty elsewhere, I’ve decided I’ll contribute to your crowd-funding ─ 25 bucks or something like that, a trivial sum but I guess get enough trivial sums and they become useful. I’ll do so because I believe I have come to know you a little, have come to respect you, and so would like to support what you are doing, no matter how limited that support must be.

    My reason for commenting is that I believe the apparent need to give ‘perks’ is an unfortunate practice.

    Most perks have a novelty value for a short period then, in the main, get forgotten ─ a waste of money that could have gone toward the production. Surely, if you are going to donate toward a crowd funded project you are doing so because you believe in the project and want to support it, not to have some of your contribution wasted on fripperies. Even having your name appear in the credits may mean a negligible increase in production costs, but who’s going to read through a couple of hundred names moving at near light speed up the screen? (OK, I exaggerate!)

    So, when crowd-funding opens for your project, without wishing to sound self-righteous, I will give my unfortunately paltry contribution content that I’ve played I tiny part in making the project possible. That awareness will be sufficient as a ‘perk’.

    1. Well, I do appreciate any little bit that someone can afford to give. So thank you, Bryan.

      As for why perks are so important, they just kinda are. That’s why Hare Krishna’s used to give away flowers. (Later, they gave American flag pins because it was harder for people to throw them on the ground before walking away.) Perks create a sense of balance and reciprocity: you give me something; I give you something in return. But to me, that’s just commerce in a different form. I’ve got patches from Axanar, patches from Horizon, a poster from Star Trek Continues, and a bunch of other perks that–as you so correctly point out–I never use or even look at. I would have donated to all of those campaigns even without perks.

      So I suppose that’s why I’m trying this little “experiment.” Maybe perks aren’t necessary. Or maybe they are and, in four more weeks, I’m gonna have to think of something cheap to give away! 🙂

      1. Thanks for that feedback Jonathan. On credits in the movie, I overlooked contributors of substantial sums ─ I was thinking of small-fry like me. For those who donate large sums, having credit on the film (Assoc. Producer or whatever) is most certainly warranted. However, I wish you luck on low-cost giveaways (and giveaways that don’t involve international shipping costs!).

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