When we started the Dan Fogelberg Website and Facebook pages, we got a wonderful response. Of course our friends and loved ones were supportive, but the real magic came from you, the Dan Fans and admirers of this brilliant man and his music. The comments we received were “How can we help?” “What can I do?” “We can’t wait to see a Musical using Dan’s music!” It was obvious, you were meant to be part of the plan.
So we researched the various crowd-funding sites, and sat down to explore what we hoped to accomplish. Our first “Staged Reading” in Los Angeles, certainly. But Equity rules only allow a combined 29 hours of rehearsal for a Staged Reading, a fairly simple process (we presumed) of actors, holding their scripts, reading dialogue and singing the songs with a piano accompaniment. Sure, that would be extremely valuable to us, but would it be enough? After hearing our story come to life on stage with Dan’s music, surely we would want to rewrite the script, cut and add, finesse and refine. Wouldn’t it be great to take that new rewrite and really put it on its feet? A “Workshop” would give us a much longer rehearsal period, we could include an actual 4-piece band, some set pieces, costume changes – the actors would be able to memorize their lines, the music, and perform the show not just for us, but for producers, investors, and Artistic Directors from the top regional theatres! This step in the process would truly help us keep our forward momentum.
With some help from theatre pros, we budgeted $50,000 to accomplish both a Staged Reading and a Workshop. It was a little overwhelming to think about reaching enough people who would want to help us reach that goal. But we had some wonderful collaborators: Jean Fogelberg, Deb Jelinek, and Eric Mills. They not only encouraged us by letting us know that Dan’s fans would love the chance to be part of this musical, but also, they generously offered to share our posts on their own websites and Facebook pages, and those sites honoring Dan Fogelberg that they oversee.
We ultimately chose Kickstarter as the venue for our fundraising for a variety of reasons. We liked the platform, it seemed to be the most popular, and friends of ours had successfully used it in the past. The only downside to Kickstarter is that you have to set a goal, and if you don’t reach that goal within 30 days, you don’t get to keep any of your contributions. It all gets returned to the backers. That means if we set a goal of $50,000 and only raised $48,000 in 30 days, we would not see a penny of it! It was daunting, but we were up for the challenge and we met it head on.
We went to work creating our Kickstarter campaign (to see the site, click here). We started setting levels for “rewards.” Backers needed to get rewards, whether it was your name on the website, or a copy of our program book signed by the cast, or an invitation for you and a guest to attend the Staged Reading and/or the Workshop... Some of the ideas came right from the fans, who talked about how cool it would be to get a t-shirt, or a mug with the Part of the Plan artwork. One fantastic idea came when Karen said that maybe Jean Fogelberg, being an artist, would design an original piece of art for the campaign. With Jean’s immediate offer to do just that, we were able to give away signed and numbered posters to those “backers” who contributed $500 or more. Jean sent us her “phantastical montage” for Part of the Plan, and we loved her design so much, it became our artwork for the whole campaign and the Staged Reading.
Then there was our Kickstarter video. If we were going to raise $50,000 we needed to enthusiastically share about our concept, the other creatives involved, how we would put the funding to very good use, and more. On video. We learned that what looks awesome to the naked eye doesn’t necessarily work on the screen. And who among us enjoys watching themselves on film? I decided to wear a hat. Karen said my hair looked better under a hat (bad hair day anyone?). After several missteps, we finally got a version that we felt truly reflected our hopes and our passion. Our New Media guru and overall helper, Angela, shot it on her iPhone and edited the video on her laptop. Karen and I then included our “game plan,” the bios of the principals involved, a section on “risks and challenges,” and opened an account with Amazon for processing!
Finally, we were ready. After considering the schedule, and all our options, we came up with the only decision that made sense – to launch the one-month campaign on Dan Fogelberg’s birthday, August 13th, at one minute after midnight. We sent out hundreds of press releases announcing it. We were interviewed on the radio and on various podcasts to get the word out! “Part of the Plan” launches on Dan Fogelberg’s birthday!” Hooray for us! We were so ready! On the morning of August 12th I hit the submit button. (I figured we’d need 12-15 hours to make sure there were no bugs in the system.) And then the fine print appeared on the screen, saying something to the effect of "Kickstarter staff needs two to three days to approve your materials.”
WHAT?!?! Two to three days?!? Karen’s obsessive, I’m compulsive. Between us, how did we miss this very important detail??? We had promised the Dan Fans, each other, and the world at large that August 13th was our day to launch. We did not have two to three days, we screamed!!!!
We were not about to take this lying down.
- Kate Atkinson