To perk or not to perk?
Crowd-funder perks are a great motivator for donations, but they come with a few drawbacks. First of all, physical perks that cost money to produce and ship can nibble away (or even gobble away) significant chunks of what you raise. And of course, keeping track of who ordered what, tracking down correct mailing addresses, boxing and shipping, and dealing with undelivered merchandise can be a royal pain in the butt.
Going perkless isn’t necessarily a donation-killer. INTERLUDE‘s GoFundMe offered no perks and took in $25K. And last year, AVALON UNIVERSE‘s GoFundMe likewise offered no perks and raised more than $13K. That money has gone into producing four new fan films: AGENT OF NEW WORLDS, the just-released THE NEEDS OF THE ONE, and the upcoming KNIGHTS OF THE VOID and THE TRUTH WITHIN.
And so, when Avalon showrunner JOSH IRWIN asked me for advice about his new crowd-funding campaign for next year’s ambitious CRISIS ON INFINITE EXCALIBURS multiverse crossover fan film, the first question we needed to answer was “To perk or not to perk?”
After weighing the pros and cons, Josh decided to perk…which meant switching over from GoFundMe to Indiegogo, since the former doesn’t allow for perks. You can watch the ask video below (it’s quite good!)…
With just about 5 weeks left, the Indiegogo is doing pretty well at $$3,620, or about 45% of the $8K goal. And of course, I encourage anyone who can afford a few bucks to support this project by clicking the link below because Team Avalon produces some really top quality Star Trek fan productions, and there’s some very nice perks…
Today’s blog is going to discuss those perks and how Josh and I came up with them—as some of them might inspire other fan filmmakers with ideas for their own perks. Let’s dive in…
The first thing that Josh and I discussed was how to make certain that every donor gets something—even if they donate as little as $5. Of course, at that level, the perk has to be entirely digital since any shipping costs will swallow up that donation faster than you can say “Engage!”
Offering a downloadable mp3 of the wonderful music that composer ADAM MULLEN has created for Avalon seemed like a no-brainer. The guy is truly a genius who manages to capture a unique TOS flavor while still keeping things totally original. It’s uncanny! So every donor will get Adam’s Avalon music.
But then I came up with an alternative idea that Josh and I liked so much that we couldn’t decide whether to it should be offered to every donor INSTEAD of the music. So Josh decided to provide BOTH! The idea stemmed from one of the higher-level perks we’d be offering—a digital Avalon desktop wallpaper to make into a computer screen background. Then I thought: “Hey, smart phones have wallpaper backgrounds, too!”
To my knowledge, no Star Trek fan film has yet offered a digital smart-phone wallpaper as a perk…although I now suspect that many will! But I wanted this one to be special. As some of you know from seeing my blogs on the SHOWRUNNER Awards, I’ve grown quite fond of the NewProfilePic.com website and how it allows people to turn photos like this…
…into illustrations like this…
Of course, smart phone screens aren’t squares, so I needed to make a vertical rectangular image. I’m not going to share my secret of how I managed to “trick” their algorithm into rendering an illustration of a starship (the app is coded to only recognize faces and crop out everything else), but here’s how the finished wallpaper background looks on my iPhone…
Want one? It’s yours for as little as five bucks…!
(I know; I’m shameless.)
The next few perk levels were easy enough to populate (perkolate?): your name in the credits, digital download of the 4K version of the finished film, and the aforementioned digital desktop wallpaper posters. That takes us through the $50 donation level. But once you hit $100, you kinda need to start thinking about physical perks.
Fortunately, Avalon has a perfect item that’s inexpensive to both manufacture and ship: the U.S.S. Excalibur uniform’s chest insignia. 3-D printed by DAN REYNOLDS of WARP 66 STUDIOS, where Avalon films on their TOS sets, the insignia are small and light, so shipping won’t cost much. And they’re pretty fast to print.
However, the $175 perk was where things got REALLY interesting. At this level, a donor gets all of the above plus something else that I don’t think any fan film campaign has ever offered: an actual smartphone case!
Customizable, durable hard cases for iPhone and Samsung Galaxy smartphones have been available from imprinters like Shutterfly and CaseApp for years now, and the print quality is excellent. The trick lies in creating a design that allows for the “hole” where the camera lens(es) is/are. But that’s not too tough.
Once again, I utilized the NewProfilePic website, spent a full day tricking the algorithm into doing what I wanted rather what it wanted, and wound up with this eye-catching perk…
Donors at this level will need to provide the make and model of their phone, and we’ll order each one individually, carefully placing the artwork in the correct place to avoid the opening for the lens area. In my opinion, this is the coolest of all of the perks, and I’ve put my money where my mouth is because I ordered one of these myself along with one for Josh, and they’re currently protecting each of our iPhones.
The next two perks are both wearable: a T-shirt and a production crew jacket. Granted, they both kick in at pretty high donation levels ($300 and $450, respectively), but remember that those levels also come with everything at donation levels below that, meaning a manufacturing price of $39 for the phone case plus the cost of the 3-D printed badge. Both the T-shirt and production crew jacket will look pretty cool, though, with the jacket having an Avalon Universe logo embroidered onto the left chest…
The top tiers are for the really BIG donors, and those are typically few and far between. Donors at that level aren’t really looking for more “stuff” because they can probably afford anything they want anyway. So for them, you have to offer something that money can’t usually buy. And that’s why Josh’s top three tiers offer a $700 donor an Associate Producer credit, a $1,000 donor a full Producer credit, and a $1,500 donor an Executive Producer credit…and each of those producer-level names will also appear on the Crisis on Infinite Excaliburs page in the IMDb website.
Also, the producer-level names won’t be grouped with all of the other donors. The Associate Producers will get their own screen in the post credits, Producers will each get their name on their own screen in the post credits, and Executive Producers will get their own screen in the credits at the beginning. Plus they get all of the other goodies.
Producers are also invited to record their voice for a line of “background chatter” on the bridge, and Executive Producers, assuming they don’t mind traveling to either Arkansas or Georgia, will actually get a walk-on role as an extra in the final film. As I said, something money can’t otherwise buy…unless it’s a donation to a fan film. And as it happens, there has actually been one $1,500 donation for an executive producer credit so far.
By the way, I am happy to advise and/or assist anyone planning a crowd-funding campaign for a Star Trek fan film. Just be aware, however, that Jonathan helps those who help themselves. Minimal effort yields minimal results, so if I’m going to help out a fan filmmaker, I need to work with them, not for them or instead of them. If they put in the effort, then I put in the effort.
And that includes promoting their campaigns here on Fan Film Factor by listing the link to their campaign THREE times in the same blog…!