Kickstarting “Beardo the Movie” posted 04.07.14


We’re currently Kickstarting distribution for our original documentary co-production "Beardo the Movie," of which the act of Kickstarting is actually distribution too.

If you’re not familiar with Kickstarter, it’s “a new way to fund creative projects," crowdsourcing funding for projects. Those projects range from physical objects to performances and events to digital media and everything in between. You make a thing, or plan to make a thing, people can support you by pre-ordering the thing and getting other “rewards.” You make your budget, they get your stuff plus other cool stuff. Movies get made off Kickstarter budgets, the least of which is the recent release “Veronica Mars” which raised over $5 million from backers….

Let me back up.

Five years ago with director Jeff Tocci we pre produced, shot, and post produced a documentary on the World Beard and Moustache Championships. …that’s exactly what it sounds like, what you’d expect, "A documentary about the World Beard and Moustache Championships, and the rivalry for the "Best Facial Hair in the World." For the first time ever the WBMC were being held in the U.S. Alaska. the summertime!

The whole production was a great experience. The people who appear in "Beardo" speak from the hip and heart about why they come to the (admittedly silly but actually quite serious) World Beard and Moustache Championships, how society views their facial hair, why they even have facial hair, what facial hair has done for their lives... We made new friends, showed at film festivals, talked to a few TV networks about licensing the movie for broadcast, licensed footage for IFC’s “Whisker Wars” pilot, and were almost on “Oprah” before the segment was cut. Seriously, uploading gigs of footage to “Oprah” on a Saturday. 

(Sidebar: there are few moments in life or your career you don’t know who to reach out to. “How do we talk to Oprah?” was one of those moments. The producer we talked with was awesome, there’s a reason why Oprah is “Oprah.” But man, the “Oprah wants footage” call is not one you forget.)

Often, documentaries are passion projects. They’re not usually profitable, they take time. Since we didn’t really have a mechanism to release “Beardo" commercially, we never released “Beardo,” and kept on with clients and other side interests.  So we had a great time making and promoting “Beardo the Movie.” Over 25,000 views of the teaser trailer, we got to meet and work with some new clients after they saw the trailer, and, hey, “Oprah.” 

We still got inquires about where people can get a copy, we’re premiering “Beardo the Movie” in Chicago at C2E2, the Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo, April 27th with a Q&A afterwards, and the teaser continues on. People ask about seeing the movie on Netflix or iTunes. To submit to digital platforms like Netflix or iTunes, the recommended way is through a third party distributor. And, rightly so, there’re costs associated with submitting to a third party distributor. 

Enter Kickstarter and crowd funding. We figured out the budget we’d need to submit to one of a couple third party distributors, and figured a Kickstarter campaign would allow us to test the market and see if folks wanted copies of “Beardo the Movie.” 

As of this writing we’re 83% funded with 24 days ago. We’re aiming for a small amount, enough to cover submitting to a distributor, pay for any manufacturing costs, and cover the 8-10% of campaign goal that goes to Kickstarter and Amazon Payments for processing.  The goal is modest, the stuff you get is pretty straight forward: a digital download, a special edition DVD, wallpapers, t-shirt, signed “Facial Hair Handbook” copies and more. We feel good about our chances of hitting the goal, though like most endevaors the journey is really the play.

And, like the original idea behind making “Beardo,” the Kickstarter has been a lot of fun and learning.

Who would've thought we'd get so far talking to people about facial hair? 

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