Kickstarter has gained considerable steam in 2012, as reflected in its 70 per cent annual growth in pledges in the first three months, a period in which videogame designer Tim Schafer took in a $3.3 million advance for his project Double Fine.
Not only it is now considered realistic for an idea to exceed $1 million in advance crowdfunding, but more physical spaces are certain to surface on the website, after a proposal to build LowLine, the first underground park in New York City, met with mass media enthusiasm.
The concept has been slower to catch on in Canada, though, partly because Kickstarter remains inaccessible to those who lack access to a U.S. bank account. But anyone imaginative enough to raise money for a project from scratch can figure out a workaround.
James Cooper, a filmmaker who took in $20,000 in pledges last fall for his short Elijah the Prophet — which goes before the cameras this weekend with a cast that includes veteran Canadian actors Art Hindle and Tonya Lee Williams — was one of the featured speakers at a recent Test the Impossible event designed to explore how the process worked.
Putting a few boldface names and familiar credits in the forefront was integral to getting noticed through social media, explained Cooper. And making each backer somehow feel like they were personally invested in something helped secure 134 of them.
An association with the Canadian Short Screenplay Competition — which Elijah won last year — also helped to juice enthusiasm. A complimentary entry in the next contest helped lure 29 pledges at the $100 level. Connecting with others who have ambitions to produce something of their own seems integral to Kickstarter success, too. But the goal was also made more attainable by the fact that half the final $40,000 budget was raised in advance.
The fact that funds are only disbursed if the goal is reached has also contributed to the potential for alternatives. Indiegogo was a preferred route for the apocalyptic transmedia project ZED.TO, since will be unveiled in increments during the Fringe Festival and Nuit Blanche, leading up to the takeover of a campsite north of Toronto for an immersive theatre experience. Trevor Haldenby, one of the principals behind the venture, outlined the ambition to raise $20,000.
Based on the level of intrigue at the Academy of the Impossible, these projects will be watched closely by others who have previously been overwhelmed by the efforts required to seek specific funding sources — in favour of a system that allows anyone to be a patron in exchange for a reward. Accessories that can be produced with minimal overhead are also certain to proliferate: SurfEasy, a privacy plug-in designed in Toronto, gained enough Kickstarter momentum to score an advance that was nearly six times its $12,500 goal.
The local designers behind Coupon Quest, which successfully sought $3,800 in funding to build an iOS mobile game that connected players with retailers, have also been encouraged enough to try again. The Revolution Mosaic App, an effort to create one iconic image through 320,000 uploaded photos, will be created if $2,012 is raised by mid-April — even if it ends up coming in a buck at a time.
Meanwhile, there is now a Facebook group dedicated to Canadian Kickstarters. Test the Impossible will feature another night focused on crowdfunding projects in Toronto later this spring. Contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to get on the radar.