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16 Kickstarter-Funded Films Are Headed to the 2019 SXSW Film Festival

Feb 11 2019

Films include Boy Howdy! The Story of Creem Magazine, Strange Negotiations: The David Bazan Documentary, and festival favorite Knock Down the House

Another amazing lineup of Kickstarter creators will bring their documentaries, narrative features, and shorts to Austin, TX, for the SXSW Film Festival (March 8–16, 2019)).

“The SXSW Film Festival is known for welcoming fiercely independent, smart, fun, and often irreverent filmmaking. It's no surprise that Kickstarter creators often make up a significant portion of the festival's lineup,” says Kickstarter Film’s Liz Cook Mowe.

Kickstarter’s Film team will also be at SXSW this March cheering on Kickstarter-funded filmmakers at their films’ world premieres (Follow @Kickstarter on Instagram for live updates), enjoying too many breakfast tacos, and meeting with filmmakers interested in running campaigns. Will you be at SXSW too? Get in touch with our Film team at film@kickstarter.com

Learn more about the films headed to SXSW below.

Nothing Fancy by Elizabeth Carroll  

Award-winning cookbook author, diehard environmentalist and feisty British nonagenarian Diana Kennedy reflects on an unconventional life spent mastering the cuisines of Mexico. (World Premiere) 

Community First, a Home for the Homeless by Layton Blaylock 

Community First, A Home for the Homeless, is a feature documentary about a totally unique concept for mitigating homelessness. Conceived and created in Austin, Texas, Community First! Village is truly transforming the lives of homeless people. (World Premiere) 

Red Dog by Luke Dick and Casey Pinkston 

In the early 1980’s, the only family that toddler Luke knew were the strippers, bouncers, and outcasts that made OKC’s rowdiest strip club their home. (World Premiere)

J.R. “Bob” Dobbs and The Church of the SubGenius by Sandy K Boone 

This film explores the underground movement that has galvanized the imaginative, the artistic, the nerdy, even the deranged—to examine the simmering dystopia in their culture, and do absolutely nothing about it… except, maybe, poke fun at it all. (World Premiere) 

Tito by Grace Glowicki 

A desperate man seeks refuge from the predators hunting him by befriending a cheerful intruder. (World Premiere) 

Boy Howdy! The Story of CREEM Magazine by Scott Crawford 

Ripping back the curtain on legendary rock rag CREEM Magazine‘s wild and disruptive newsroom; a dysfunctional band of unruly outsiders who weren’t all that different from the artists they covered. (World Premiere) 

Brainiac: Transmissions After Zero by Eric Mahoney 

The film explores the seminal 90’s band Brainiac from Dayton, OH, and its creative force Tim Taylor. Just days before signing a major record contract Taylor was killed in a bizarre auto accident leaving his family and bandmates to pick up the pieces. (World Premiere) 

The Chills: The Triumph and Tragedy of Martin Phillipps by Julia Parnell and Rob Curry

The story of lyrical genius, Martin Phillipps and his band, The Chills, is a cautionary tale, a triumph over tragedy, and a statement about the meaning of music in our lives. (World Premiere)

Nothing Stays The Same: The Story of The Saxon Pub by Jeff Sandmann 

Nothing Stays the Same celebrates the last 30 years of live music in Austin, while also examining the challenges faced by musicians and music venues in one of the fastest-growing cities in the country, all through the lens of the legendary Saxon Pub. (World Premiere) 

Strange Negotiations by Brandon Vedder 

A documentary exploring the existential, artistic and family life of musician and former evangelical, David Bazan (Pedro The Lion), set against America’s own crisis of faith highlighted during the 2016 presidential election. (World Premiere)

Becoming Leslie by Tracy Frazier

Becoming Leslie reveals the inner and bizarre world of Leslie Cochran, a cross-dressing homeless misfit who became the most iconic and unlikely civic symbol of Austin, Texas. (World Premiere)

Knock Down the House by Rachel Lears

Four women run for Congress, overcoming personal adversity to battle powerful political machines across the country. One of their races will change the country forever.

Raise Hell: The Life & Times of Molly Ivins by Janice Engel

Six-feet of Texas trouble, Molly Ivins, a legendary journalist and a warrior for the Bill of Rights, fought Good Old Boy corruption with razor-sharp wit that left both sides of the aisle laughing and craving ink in her columns. Raise Hell y’all!

Washed Away by Ben Kallam 

A teenage girl in an evangelical church youth group must deal with the fallout when her trust is publicly betrayed. (World Premiere)

In the Dark by Jessie King 

Reading isn’t natural. It’s a struggle for each of us to master, but those with dyslexia fight to read their entire lives. In the Dark is about performance, persistence and Phyllis, a woman in Austin, Texas, who says she can reverse dyslexia. (World Premiere)

Lavender by Matthew Puccini

In 2017, Brooklyn-based filmmaker Matthew Puccini’s short The Mess He Made premiered at SXSW and was later featured by Short of the Week. His newest short, Lavender, is a raw and realistic portrayal of a young gay man as he grows increasingly entangled in the marriage of an older couple.

Film descriptions courtesy of SXSW.

Meet Kickstarter’s 2019 Thought Leaders

Feb 6 2019
Kickstarter's 2019 Thought Leaders
Kickstarter's 2019 Thought Leaders

Thought Leaders are an international group of Kickstarter creators who are celebrated as leaders in their fields.

In 2017, Kickstarter introduced our first Thought Leaders, an international group of Kickstarter creators and advocates selected for their wisdom, experience, and contributions to the creative community.

Since then, Thought Leaders have teamed up with their communities to lead events and launch groundbreaking projects. Here are just a few of the things they accomplished:

We're proud to welcome 13 new creators to the Thought Leaders program in 2019:

Ema Ryan Yamazaki (Japan/UK) is a documentary filmmaker and video editor. She has directed two documentary shorts, Neither Here Nor There (2011) and Monk by Blood (2013), as well as the Kickstarter-funded documentary feature, Monkey Business: The Adventures of Curious George's Creators (2017). As an editor, Ema’s work has screened on HBO and PBS, at the Sundance, Toronto, and Telluride Film Festivals, and at the Director's Guild of America, among others.

Héctor Pérez Bejarano (Mexico) is the founder of Enigma Cards, a playing card company “with a passion for cardistry and magic” and a two-time Kickstarter creator.

Hugo Hoppmann (Germany/U.S.) is a designer and art director working between Berlin and New York City for clients including Nike, 032c, Prada, and District Vision. He has spoken at Apple and Yale University and is currently working on publishing the Kickstarter-funded Present magazine, an exploration into work and life methodologies.

Indhira Rojas (U.S.) is the founder and creative director of Anxy, a Kickstarter-funded magazine about mental health. For over a decade she has worked in the intersection of branding, editorial, and interaction design for publications including The Bold Italic, Once, Modern Farmer, Atlas Obscura, and Medium. She also leads Anagraph, a publishing and design consultancy in Berkeley, CA.

John Kestner (U.S.) is an industrial designer, engineer, and entrepreneur based in Austin, TX. He likes building tools to help people solve their own problems, but the most press he’s ever received was in regards to a wallet he made that gets harder to open when you’re broke. He’s also the four-time Kickstarter creator of projects like Range, a smart cooking thermometer.

Matthieu Salvaggio (France) is an art director, graphic designer, and typeface designer. He’s the founder of Blaze Type and teaches graphic design in Lyon, France. He’s also successfully funded two Kickstarter campaigns focused on typography, and inspired 20 new campaigns as part of Kickstarter’s Bold Type initiative.

Miranda Wright (U.S.) is an independent producer and performance curator who has produced collaborated projects in Cuba, Uganda, Rwanda, and the Czech Republic. Through Kickstarter-funded projects with Los Angeles Performance Practice, Miranda has worked with several leading artists in contemporary performance from L.A. and New York including Milka Djordjevich, d. Sabela grimes, Lars Jan, Okwui Okpokwasili, Andrew Schneider, Marike Splint, and Netta Yerushalmy.

Moo Yu (UK) is the co-founder and programmer of Foam Sword, a London-based game studio working on Knights and Bikes, which raised £125,000 on Kickstarter in 2016. Before starting his own studio, he worked at Media Molecule on LittleBigPlanet, Insomniac Games on the Ratchet and Clank Series, and Mind Candy on Moshi Monsters. He is currently serving as a member of the BAFTA Games Committee and was recently featured as part of Ensemble, a London Games Festival exhibition highlighting the work of games industry creatives from diverse ethnic backgrounds.

Nancy Borowick (U.S./Guam) is an internationally renowned photographer, author, teacher and speaker. She delivers more than 50 speeches each year at universities, hospitals, oncology units and community groups around the world. Over the past decade, Nancy has used photography to tell personal stories about illness using compassion, humility, and trust as tools to connect with and explore the lives of her subjects. Nancy funded The Family Imprint, an intimate photobook about her family, on Kickstarter (you can hear her story on the first episode of Kickstarter’s Just the Beginning podcast).

Sean J Patrick Carney (U.S.) is an artist and writer whose work and research focus on the relationship between contemporary art and comedy. He is a former Kickstarter Creator-in-Residence, founder of Social Malpractice Publishing, an independent artist book press, and the host of Humor and the Abject, a weekly interview podcast. He was previously a member of New York artist collective The Bruce High Quality Foundation, and co-directed their tuition-free experimental art school, BHQFU.

Shing Yin Khor (U.S.) is a cartoonist and installation artist whose work explores the intersection between race, gender, immigrant stories, and queerness. She has run five successful Kickstarter campaigns, including her most recent, Strange Friends, a postcard book featuring strange and wonderful creatures from unknown parts. You can find her work in The Toast, Catapult, The Nib, Electric Literature, Upworthy, and Bitch magazine.

Thomas Negovan (U.S.) is the founder of Century Guild, a museum, publisher, and gallery specializing in Art Nouveau and cabaret art from 1880—1920. He has launched 40 Kickstarter campaigns, and backed more than 230 projects. His debut solo album, By Popular Demand, includes original songs recorded without the use of electricity on an early 20th century wax cylinder recorder designed by Thomas Edison.

Zainab Akhtar (UK) is an Eisner and Angouleme-award nominated comics critic, editor, and publisher. Based in the north of England, she founded and runs ShortBox, an independent comics imprint which uses the mail-order box model to publish and distribute contemporary comics and art from around the world.

How will Thought Leaders support the Kickstarter community?

As public figures, Thought Leaders are a resource to Kickstarter’s creator community at large. By hosting talks and events, they will share their expertise and advice on how to use Kickstarter to launch new creative ideas, build communities, and take creative careers to the next level. We endorse them as advocates and encourage members of our community to attend their events and trust their advice.

In addition to leading community events, Thought Leaders will work with Kickstarter to develop helpful educational resources and give crucial feedback on new product updates and features.

Keep tabs on the 2019 Kickstarter Thought Leaders and their events by following Kickstarter on Twitter and Instagram. Learn more about the Thought Leaders program here.

Exquisite Objects: Discover Rare and Beautiful Books on Kickstarter

Feb 4 2019
A Kickstarter-funded facsimile of Fortunato Depero’s Bolted Book. Photo by Lauren Renner.
A Kickstarter-funded facsimile of Fortunato Depero’s Bolted Book. Photo by Lauren Renner.

Throughout the month of February, Kickstarter will celebrate Exquisite Objects, a collection of artful publishing and design projects created to delight the senses. Here, Kickstarter’s Director of Publishing Margot Atwell shares a bit more about the initiative.

Spending an afternoon in a rare or secondhand bookshop is one of my favorite things to do. Trailing my finger along the spines of gorgeous leather-bound gold-embossed hardcover books; sliding a book out of its protective slipcase and thumbing the deckled edges. Beautifully published books create new entry points into classic works and encourage new ways of experiencing old stories. They can also signify that a text is worthy of a reader’s time and attention.

This month, we’ve invited a few of our favorite creators to dream big and make something truly stunning and out of the ordinary. We call these works “Exquisite Objects” because the care put into their creation far surpasses the common paperback—these works incorporate an attention to detail worthy of a museum display. To borrow a phrase from Josh O'Neill of Beehive Books, these books are "refined, gorgeous, and elegant, but still somehow kind of punk rock."

A few of the projects you’ll see this month include:

You can explore all Exquisite Objects projects here.

Reviving artisanal practices

In addition to creating beautiful works, many Exquisite Objects projects preserve ancient artisanal techniques and carry them into an age when many books are digital or cheaply made and disposable. Thomas Negovan of Century Guild told us that bringing one of his projects to life “takes a collective of craftsmen and designers who are dedicated to perpetuating technologies and ideas that would otherwise be lost.”

Isaac Newton's 'Principia Mathematica' reissue, published by Kronecker Wallis. Photo by Lauren Renner.
Isaac Newton's 'Principia Mathematica' reissue, published by Kronecker Wallis. Photo by Lauren Renner.

Kickstarter is very much of the modern age, but the model we draw upon is very old. Luke Pontifell of Thornwillow Press reminds us that “presenting a book for prepublication subscription, which is what we do on Kickstarter, is how books were published for centuries. In the 18th century, John Baskerville had subscribers ‘back’ his books before going to press. He would print the list of subscribers, as we do, to accompany each copy so history can bear witness to exactly who was part of our community of ideas.”

In addition to making these publishing projects possible, Kickstarter backers are “supporting a growing community of artists and craftspeople,” says Pontifell.

Connecting creators with supporters who care

Just as the slow food movement revealed the differences between factory farms and locally sourced produce, Exquisite Objects projects underscore the effort and resources it takes to make something unique versus something mass-produced. The supporters who rally around these projects on Kickstarter—like the 1,315 backers who pledged $254,971 to publish an exact copy of Fortunato Depero’s 1927 Bolted Book—show that there is an audience for books created outside of the norm of modern book production. Their support and enthusiasm makes it possible to produce books that will last a lifetime and beyond.

“Backers on Kickstarter respond to the odd, the ambitious, the quixotic, the seemingly impossible,” says Beehive’s O’Neill. “Qualities that are seen as fatal flaws in the quick-and-dirty, ever-shakier world of traditional publishing become remarkable virtues in our model. Kickstarter is how we make these crazy things happen, and our vision would not be realizable without some model like this.”

Yuko Shimizu's illustration of Oscar Wilde's "The Happy Prince," published by Beehive Books. Photo by Lauren Renner.
Yuko Shimizu's illustration of Oscar Wilde's "The Happy Prince," published by Beehive Books. Photo by Lauren Renner.

Join us as we celebrate Exquisite Objects this month with a collection of books and other brilliantly designed objects produced using the highest possible standards. We hope you are as excited about these phenomenal projects as we are.

Discover all the Exquisite Objects projects here.

Comics on Kickstarter Keep Hitting New Highs

Jan 23 2019
Camilla Zhang, Comics Outreach Lead at Kickstarter.
Camilla Zhang, Comics Outreach Lead at Kickstarter.

The Kickstarter Comics category had a massive year in 2018, with backers from around the world pledging a record $16 million to projects large and small. For nearly a decade, comics makers have been coming to Kickstarter in pursuit of creative autonomy. This sense of independence has fostered the robust community of comics lovers we see on Kickstarter today. And it keeps growing!

Here’s the breakdown from last year:

  • $16 million pledged to all projects, up 26% from 2017.
  • $15.3 million pledged to successfully funded projects, up 27% from 2017.
  • 1,457 projects funded, up 14% from 2017, the previous best year, and nearly triple the amount in 2012.
  • 70% funding success rate

What I love most about these projects is that they don’t need mass appeal to be successful and have an impact. With cool comic projects like (Be)Loved and Burn Man, independent creators can make something unconventional and niche with 100 backers or less. That kind of intimate and direct connection between creator and backer is way more meaningful than followers or likes.

Breaking Down Barriers

I’m especially proud that Kickstarter has become a place where women, artists of color, and LGBTQ creators come to create work their own way, build and engage with their communities, and bypass the typical gatekeepers.

A big part of my role is to nurture new creators, especially those from marginalized communities. 

Mainstream publishers and media tend to treat diversity like a trend. But you can't just create a cast of characters that look like a Benetton ad and call it a day. We need to dig below the surface and find out which creators are getting the resources and support they need to make new work. To really foster stories that promote empathy and break the cycle of oppression and inequity, marginalized creators need to benefit financially and have more opportunities to keep creating. 

And it’s now more important than ever to spread empathy and bring people together. Kickstarter was born in New York, but we know that supporting marginalized communities must go beyond U.S. borders. That’s the reality of globalization. Our creators and backers know this too. Just take a look at Singapore’s first ever Queer Zine Fest. The creators started with local outreach, which grew to rally and unite supporters around the world. Comics projects have that kind of power. It’s truly amazing.


And the Award Goes to…

Kickstarter creators are winning some of the most prestigious awards in their industry. In 2018, Taneka Stotts won an Eisner, Joamette Gil was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award, and Jeanne Thornton won the Lambda Literary Judith A. Markowitz Award. Kickstarter creators like Tee Franklin and Ngozi Ukazu also got to reach a wider audience after their successfully funded books were picked up by bigger publishers.

What’s Next

I’m excited to keep building on the momentum of 2018, especially as I head to some of the industry’s most important events. I just wrapped a visit to the Schomburg Center's Annual Black Comic Book Festival, and throughout 2019 look for me at ECCC, TCAF, SPX, and BlerdCon.

One of my goals this year is to make Kickstarter’s Comics & Illustration page a content destination, where folks come to find projects they’ll love by creators they don’t know yet. The first step is to make projects more easily discoverable, so I’ve carved out genre sections. Check them out here!

I’m also planning workshops to help creators get their projects off the ground. For comics creators who want to get a head start, start building your community before you even think about raising money. In the meantime, I’m here to help! Watch this space for more soon.

Apply to Become a Kickstarter Creator-in-Residence this Spring

Jan 22 2019
2018 Creator-in-Residence Maëlle Doliveux with her dog Leeloo.
2018 Creator-in-Residence Maëlle Doliveux with her dog Leeloo.

We’re excited to announce the open call for Kickstarter’s Spring/Summer 2019 Creators-in-Residence program

Launched in 2017, our Creators-in-Residence program invites NYC-based creators who are in the process of planning, launching, or about to fulfill a Kickstarter campaign to join us at our Brooklyn HQ for a three-month residency. Past residents have included choreographer Raja Feather Kelly, artist and author Adam J. Kurtz, and artists Jennifer and Kevin McCoy.

The Spring/Summer 2019 session will run from Monday, March 4, through Friday, May 31. During the residency, each creator will be paired with a staff mentor who specializes in their area of interest and will offer guidance on how to manage a Kickstarter campaign. Residents receive access to a dedicated workspace, as well as our theater, recording studio, library, meeting rooms, and kitchen. They also have opportunities to be featured in Kickstarter-produced editorial content, and are invited to attend regular workshops, talks, performances, and feedback sessions that put them in conversation with other creators and Kickstarter staff.

Interested in applying? Applications are due by Friday, February 8. Creators will be notified by February 22 if they’ve been selected for the program. Apply here.

2018 Creator-in-Residence Julia Kwamya and the cast of 'Intimate Apparel'
2018 Creator-in-Residence Julia Kwamya and the cast of 'Intimate Apparel'

The Creators-in-Residence program supports Kickstarter’s mission IRL

As part of our mission to help bring creative projects to life, we're always looking for ways to help artists and creators find the support and resources they need to make their ideas a reality. Since launching the Creators-in-Residence program in 2017, we’ve welcomed more than 30 Kickstarter creators into the building. They’ve accomplished a lot: they launched and fulfilled projects, used the Kickstarter office in creative ways, and hosted performances, workshops, and events.

The Spring/Summer 2018 Creators-in-Residence
The Spring/Summer 2018 Creators-in-Residence

Last summer, we welcomed 16 residents to Kickstarter to work on Film, Arts, Publishing, Dance, Food, and Games projects

Here are some highlights from the class of Spring/Summer 2018:

  • Maëlle Doliveux of Beehive Books funded a large-format hardcover art book collecting the works of the definitive early 20th-century illustrator and cartoonist Harrison Cady. 
  • Raja Feather Kelly + the feath3r theory held a 24-hour “Tele-Gala-Thon,” which raised funds for the company’s upcoming season and concluded with a dance performance in the kitchen. 
  • Jennifer and Kevin McCoy funded Cleaner, the second project in a trilogy of experimental art films about contemporary architecture, class, and economic precarity. They choreographed and shot the entire film throughout our library, conference rooms, and theater. 
  • Azikiwe Mohammed funded a project to create enamel pins that let people know where you stand. 
  • Dan Schoenbrun and Vanessa McDonnell funded the second season of The Eyeslicer, a DIY variety series Indiewire called "one of the craziest TV shows you'll ever see.” They transformed our library into a haunted house to film their Halloween special.

“Through the residency, I learned how I was going to make this kind of creative life happen,” Food creator and former Creator-in-Resident Jenn de la Vega told us. “I went in not knowing what my day to day would be like after leaving a cushy tech job. Now I'm excited to have ongoing projects that will propel me forward.”

Submit your application for the Spring/Summer 2019 Creators-in-Residence program here. All applications are due by February 8, 2019. If you have any questions, please email us at creators@kickstarter.com.

What You’ll Hear on Kickstarter’s New Podcast, ‘Just the Beginning’

Jan 17 2019

Announcing Just the Beginning, a new podcast from Kickstarter featuring stories about how independent creators bring their ideas to life. The first episode comes out on January 24, and you can listen to a preview now:



Creative work benefits us all—and makes the world less boring.

If you’ve ever sat through a predictable summer blockbuster or watched that empty storefront in your neighborhood become yet another bank, you know we have a sameness problem. The same handful of companies and people decide what gets funded, gets made, and gets out into the world. Kickstarter exists to solve this problem—to help bring creative projects to life, even ones that might be kind of out-there.

On this show, we’ll share stories from creative people who made the choice to stay independent and remain true to their own visions—even if mainstream culture and its gatekeepers didn't buy in. Some of them have been ignored, told to change their ideas, or even laughed out of the room. But they believed in what they were doing, and they found people to help them bring their ideas to life.

You’ll hear stories from creators of all kinds.

We have an expansive definition of creativity here at Kickstarter. It’s art, music, theater, and film—but also food, games, technology, journalism, and so much more. We’ll hear from creators across these categories about what inspires them, scares them, and keeps them going. And we’ll talk about the value of creative work. Not in monetary terms—whether someone can turn a profit or pitch it to advertisers. But how it benefits all of us. How it challenges us—and empowers us to challenge authority. How it helps us face the hard truths of the world—and sometimes escape them.

You’ll meet people making things that bring them joy.

People who have been pursuing their creative dreams since they were kids.

People who create things because … what else would they do?


And people who use their creative skills like superpowers to get through tough times.

The show is like a creative companion—and we want to hear your questions. 

Just the Beginning is for anyone who believes that creative work is essential to our society but often undervalued. If you’re working on projects of your own, think of it as a creative companion—some friendly voices to listen to for inspiration.

Towards that end, we have our own advice columnist: artist and author Adam J. Kurtz. Adam has published books and made a name for himself on social media with his funny but sincere takes on the challenges creative people face. In a recurring segment on Just the Beginning, he’ll respond to your questions and quandaries about your own creative projects. You can call 914-381-0233 to leave a voice message asking Adam for advice. We’ll pick the most interesting, relevant, or just plain weird ones for him to respond to.

Adam J. Kurtz, Excerpt from Things Are What You Make of Them
Adam J. Kurtz, Excerpt from Things Are What You Make of Them

Subscribe now.

So join us for an honest conversation about the value of creative work and stories about all the hard work, twists and turns, breakdowns, and breakthroughs that go into it.

Kickstarter has been helping to bring creative projects to life for the last decade—and this is Just the Beginning.

Catch our first episode on Thursday, January 24. You’ll hear a new one every two weeks. Head here to subscribe now. Or find us wherever you listen to podcasts.

2018 Was a Record-Breaking Year for Games on Kickstarter

Jan 15 2019

Just when you thought the Games category on Kickstarter couldn’t get any bigger, it did. 2018 was the category’s best year yet, featuring over 3,300 funded projects from both household names like Homestar Runner and new voices like Miguel Angel Espinoza

We at Kickstarter are very proud to be part of such a powerful, positive, and proactive community. Here, we look back at 2018 in numbers and projects. 

Backers pledged $200.9 million to Games in 2018, up 18% from 2017 

In 2018, the Games category broke records in terms of both pledges and funded projects. Here are a few more stats from last year:

  • 3,301 Games projects funded in 2018, up from 3,023 funded in 2017. 
  • 868,084 backers pledged to Games projects in 2018, up from 768,818 in 2017. 
  • $946 million pledged to Games since Kickstarter launched nearly 10 years ago. 
  • 3.1 million people have backed a Games project on Kickstarter.

We saw old favorites reborn and new ideas burn bright

Here, our Games team shares some of their favorite projects from 2018:

Boyfriend Dungeon was a labor of love for the Kitfox team and it was so, so great to see the amount of work they put into this project immediately pay off. ‘Date your weapon’ really should have been the anthem of 2018.” —Anya Combs

Inhuman Conditions. Cory O'Brien and Tommy Maranges created a deception/hidden roles game that neither takes two hours nor creates divorces.” —Trin Garritano

“It’s too hard to pick one! I loved Deadball: Year II because the level of simulation, detail, and simplicity really speaks to me as a game designer. Super excited for the Nahual RPG, but I’m also so very curious about how Deus lo Vult is going to turn out!” —Luke Crane

Continuing the quest

Let's make more cool games in 2019! To start, Kickstarter Games will kick off the year with a nod to RPGs zines of yore with Zine QuestLearn how to take part.

Oriana Leckert Joins Kickstarter to Encourage Experimentation in Journalism Funding

Jan 9 2019

Today we’re excited to announce that Oriana Leckert has joined Kickstarter as our Journalism Outreach Lead. Oriana has spent more than a decade working in the media: She’s written for a variety of outlets, including Slate, New York Post, Gothamist, Atlas Obscura, and Curbed, and she has edited for many more, including MTV News, Hyperallergic, Pitchfork, Voice of Witness, and The Believer. Her first book, Brooklyn Spaces: 50 Hubs of Culture and Creativity (Monacelli Press, 2015), grew out of a multi-year project chronicling the rise and fall of under-the-radar creative places across New York City.

Oriana Leckert. Photo by Ventiko.
Oriana Leckert. Photo by Ventiko.
 

Heading into 2019, the media is in a state of flux. While many of the old ways of creating and distributing content are proving untenable in the internet age, there is an incredible amount of experimentation as reporters and publishers look for new ways to connect with readers and foster the dissemination of ideas throughout the world. Last year saw several of the most successful journalism Kickstarter campaigns ever, including the revival of Gothamist, the birth of Tortoise, and the transformation of Block Club Chicago. From nonprofit newsrooms to innovative podcasts to a broad array of community-supported reporting, it’s an incredibly exciting time to be working in the media, and Kickstarter is helping all kinds of journalists and publishers find new ways forward.

Q&A: Oriana shares her hopes and plans for her new role

What makes you hopeful about journalism today?

Despite the doom and gloom resulting from Facebook’s dishonest algorithm reporting, alarmingly high layoffs, and malevolent billionaires trying to stifle the news, there are so many people and organizations trying new ways to find stable footing for journalism. Civil’s blockchain experiment, though not yet wildly successful, is an exciting foray into democratizing the news. The Columbia Journalism Review has introduced Galley, a new forum to increase conversations between journalists and readers—without the baked-in toxicity of Twitter or most comment sections. The Correspondent, which was already one of the largest reader-supported journalism platforms in Europe, launched a record-breaking crowdfunding campaign to do the same thing Stateside. People in the media are innovating for their (professional) lives every day, and it is really thrilling to watch. I’m a pretty irrepressible optimist, so I can’t help being excited to see who’s going to do what next—and to hopefully play my small part in moving things forward.

How does Kickstarter fit into the media universe?

This is a unique position because Kickstarter is not as intuitive a fit for journalism as for other creative pursuits, like publishing, performance, or music. Because no one would be able to run an entire media organization on one Kickstarter campaign, it must be looked at differently, and I’m excited to nurture a culture of experimentation in this category by helping people and outlets identify finite but meaningful projects that can have a big impact on their future. You probably can’t permanently fund a whole newspaper with a Kickstarter campaign, but you could use it to fund a monthlong, deeply reported story, or a commemorative print compendium, or a suite of podcasting equipment.

There are benefits to running Kickstarter campaigns that go well beyond financial: these projects have tremendous community-building potential, not to mention the press that can be achieved by creating something wholly new in this precarious media moment. I’m very excited to talk to people all across the journalism landscape to see what sorts of unexpected ways we can come up with to use Kickstarter.

What are some of your favorite journalism Kickstarter campaigns?

I’m really thrilled by all the ways people are using Kickstarter to encourage community-supported journalism, whether for local reporting like the Colorado Sun, subject-matter expertise like The War Horse, or audience-targeted like the Common Sense Network. I love unexpected ideas like Off Assignment, which helps writers share the stories behind their officially reported pieces, and I love projects that lift up underrepresented communities, like Within, a magazine for women in leadership, and Anxy, one about mental health. 

Explore new projects in Journalism.