Blog

Musings by Snehal aka Fearless, a filmmaker with a hankering for technology and science.  

My thoughts on Kickstarter Campaigns

Most are useless wastes of money. I've been fooled into supporting a dozen such campaigns over the last year. Some in very small ways: a few bucks here, a dime there. In return I get loads of email marketing, updates and pleas for more money. Granted, everyone believes very strongly in their product so they really try hard to meet their goal. It's not bad that I'm asked to post about it or maybe donate a bit more closer to the last date. I'm happy to do it. But where's the accountability? Let's take for example a film campaign. How many Kickstarter films have actually been delivered? Feature or short film. Heck even webs series or pilot for a web series. 

Achieving your fundraising goal is not last step in the process, but the first. You must deliver what you promised. Otherwise us investors are getting the short end of the stick. Do you realize that every kickstarter campaign which meets its goal, gets to keep most of the money (minus fees) and spend it any way they see fit. There is no contract with anyone. Just the promise in those emails after emails that still exist in everyone's inbox. Some people will balk at my use of the term "investor" but yes, that is what I am. I invested in your idea, so give me the goods. We are all investors when we donate. It's no different than your Uncle financing your student film project. He had no expectations of getting his money back, just of coming to the premiere with Auntie and your two crazy cousins.

I like the idea behind Kickstarter, I think it's brilliant that we can raise money for ideas amongst our peers and fans. Just realize that it's difficult for a lot of people to keep their obligations and promises they made to you. Choose wisely. Demand what you are due, politely of course. Expect your deliverables (those cute packages they put together: DVDs, tickets to the premiere, signed posters, cupcakes) on time and definitely expect the film. Make sure the people stay true to their promises and use the funds wisely. If I see another piece of uh uh where I know for a fact they spent 1/5 of their donations in making their product and the rest on who knows what, well I'll...

So here's an idea: why not donate to a campaign for a film done be a professional? Like, I don't know...maybe that Spike Lee guy? The one that makes all those amazing feature films. Delivers them on time, get's them distributed and in the theaters, gets critical acclaim, blows my mind, etc. ect. 

Check out his campaign. The deliverables are kinda cool. It will definitely keep him pretty busy fulfilling all those promises and will cost a chunk of change to handle, but I'm sure he'll be fine. Although I am a bit disturbed by that PA workshop where people can pay to fight for a spot as a peon on the film. I would chose the premiere tickets over that any day. Who would have thought that the day would come when any ole person could invest in a Spike Lee Joint and help make it happen? Exciting stuff.

Oh, and don't forget those lesser known independent filmmakers with an actual track record. Believe me, if they can make awesome content with their own dough time after time, it's worth investing in them. Art needs patrons. If you are looking for such a project, try the Miss India America campaign.

Now, I gotta follow up with that NoodleMaker Kickstarter campaign. Its sounded like a good idea at the time: hamster powered noodle maker. Uses no electricity so very good for the environment. I got the hamster part done a while ago but he's been waiting for his machine so he can get busy.

 

Halloween Visit to Chicago & Columbia College

I was back in Chicago making a few visits and enjoying Halloween with the family.  Did you know that my nephew is a working print model? That's him on the left!
Halloween Visit to Chicago & Columbia College

BTW, I dressed up like a Taco this time:
Halloween Visit to Chicago & Columbia College

My niece was a princess and nephew a knight.  Exciting!
While in the City I also visited my old film school at Columbia College - Downtown Chicago Campus.  I caught some students filming with a Bolex and it made me nostalgic.
Halloween Visit to Chicago & Columbia College
I was quite impressed by the new Media Production Center which is basically an awesome studio with everything the young filmmakers need to shoot their next production:

 

 

 

Arri LED Lighting Test filmed on Alexa

Here is a lighting test that I filmed as Director of Photography.  

It was a challenge to expose various LED lights to match with our baseline - an Arri tungsten setup.  We achieved this by mounting all the different light heads in similar 3-point lighting positions and paying attention to the readings on a light meter.  The intensity of the light was controlled by varying the distance from the subject.  I referred to both incident and reflective light readings to make sure we were able to balance everything correctly.  We even checked color temperature readings to make sure they matched.  To they eye, the colors seemed to match between different brands of lights, but looking through the camera, you can clearly see how various light sources render differently.

As for the camera - we used an Alexa plus camera in 16x9 configuration.  The camera was set to record REC 709 onto the SxS cards.  No color correction was done to the images - what you see is exactly how we recorded on-set.  The same lens was used for the whole test.

The L7-C light from Arri is amazing in it's ability to emulate existing studio lighting.  It's definitely closer in color rendition to tungsten lighting than anything else on the market.